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Parks Gets Poor Grades in Union Poll

LAPD: Officers flunk the chief in management skills and give him no marks higher than C. The department calls the survey divisive.

November 28, 2001|JILL LEOVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the latest of a series of salvos against Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, the LAPD officers union released results of a survey Tuesday presented as a report card in which union members awarded him low and failing grades.

Leaders of the Los Angeles Police Protective League said members gave the chief failing grades in management categories and slightly higher marks in integrity.

In response, the department issued a press release saying the union's move is "part of continuing efforts to launch unfair attacks on the department while purposefully misleading the community."

The statement called the union's actions divisive and said the survey results raised "old issues that have already been addressed."

League leaders said 3,319 union members responded to mailed questionnaires asking officers to rate Parks' performance on an A to F scale. Respondents gave him a C in integrity, Ds in trustworthiness and communication, and Fs in innovation and collaboration.

The league has been intensely critical of Parks' leadership since he took office in August 1997. In the last 18 months, the union's leaders have even hired a large public relations firm to publicize the union's concerns about LAPD management.

The release of the union's survey on the chief anticipates the possibility of a public debate over whether Parks should serve a second five-year term.

Parks' first term as police chief ends in August. If Parks decides by mid-February to seek a second term, members of the Los Angeles Police Commission, who were appointed by Mayor James K. Hahn, may decide whether to keep him in the post sometime in May, said City Clerk Michael Carey.

Parks has not yet publicly disclosed his plans. Hahn has voiced support for Parks in the past but won an endorsement from the league in the recent mayoral election.

He has not yet said definitively whether he will support Parks' reappointment.

Union leaders made it clear that they think low morale among rank-and-file LAPD officers, which they say is rampant, should weigh heavily as political leaders consider whether Parks stays on as chief.

In recent weeks, the league has released a variety of public statements critical of Parks' leadership on a range of issues.

The union is especially unhappy with discipline policies that many officers consider too harsh and arbitrary, an allegation Parks denies.

The survey results "are basically saying the chief is trustworthy, credible and honest, but in terms of management and leadership, members grade him as failing," said league President Mitzi Grasso. "He is not a bad man, just a bad manager."

However, Grasso stopped short of calling for the chief's ouster. The department "needs new leadership," she said.

"But if he can step up to the plate and fix these problems, then we are willing to work with him," she said.

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