YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Let Chief Parks Ride Into the Sunset

April 04, 2002|RON SEBAN and RICHARD EIDE

Bernard C. Parks should not be offered a new five-year contract as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

His policies have led to mismanagement of the department. The cost of his policies in terms of the police mission, as well as the human toll, outweighs any benefit he may claim.

These are the issues that have characterized Parks' tenure:

* Recruitment. Parks has created a working environment of fear, hostility and distrust.

The exodus of young officers and tenured officers and the inability of the department to attract new recruits are a direct result of Parks' policies.

In 1998 the LAPD had more than 9,800 officers. Despite several costly out-of-state recruitment efforts and a vigorous local campaign, this number has fallen to 8,910.

* The disciplinary system. Parks' disciplinary system demands the same level of investigation, no matter how small or frivolous the issue, and has tripled the workload of those involved in the process.

One example: A citizen complained that a police helicopter was making too much noise.

He was told that officers were looking for a robbery suspect, and said, ''Great! I hope you get him.''

This still was considered a formal complaint, necessitating the full administrative process.

No one objects to being held accountable. What officers object to are the cost and the unreasonableness of the system.

While hundreds of homicides go unsolved because of inadequate investigation and lack of resources--in 1997 the homicide clearance rate was 70%; by 2000 it had plummeted to 43.8%--an inordinate amount of time and resources is spent on frivolous complaints.

* Community-based policing. Community-based policing is dead because of Parks.

The senior lead officers were the best personification of the department to residents and the most effective at dealing with community issues.

Parks removed them with no input from anyone.

The community police advisory boards are another casualty of Parks' tenure.

He has total control over their makeup and agenda, and, as a result, has limited input and severely damaged the relationship between them and residents.

* Morale. Parks has been absolutely devastating to morale.

In 1997 there were approximately 80 resignations. By 2000, this number had escalated to approximately 340.

The facts are clear from the number of people leaving and the 93% no-confidence vote in a police union poll by the rank and file.

In 1997 approximately 60% of officers leaving the department were retirements, with the remaining 40% from resignations. By 2000 this trend had reversed, with approximately 60% resignations and 40% retirements.

There are many reasons why officers are leaving: the climate of fear and intimidation Parks has created, the hostile and degrading atmosphere employees work under, the unfairness and double standard of discipline, the cronyism and lack of integrity associated with his promotions, his failed policies and the lack of hope for improvement in any of these issues.

If Parks is reappointed, the department, the city and the community will get another five years of what it has now.

Much damage has been done, and even after Parks is gone it will take years for the department to recover.

It is the community that suffers when a department is in chaos.

Those whose responsibility it is to correct this disastrous situation must do the right thing.

Reappointing Chief Parks to a second five-year term is tantamount to putting new shoes on a dead horse.


Ron Seban, former commanding officer of the Foothill Division, retired in 2000 after 27 years with the LAPD. Richard Eide, former commanding officer of the narcotics division, retired in 2001 after 26 years with the LAPD. This article was submitted to the Los Angeles Times through the Police Protective League.

Los Angeles Times Articles