YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Parks Decision

'His Leadership Has Fallen Short'

April 10, 2002

Excerpts from Tuesday's statement by Police Commission President Rick Caruso:

The Police Commission made a commitment to the chief and this city that the reappointment process would be fair, honest, thorough and guided by the interests of this great city as a whole. We have listened carefully and candidly to those passionately committed to making this city better, from people living throughout Los Angeles with different views and opinions.

Chief Parks has done many noteworthy things as chief and during his long career with LAPD. He has made the department more diverse. He has launched the computerized crime response system known as FASTRAC. And [he] has demanded a more disciplined department.

In Chief Parks' record there are also areas where his actions do not measure up, where his leadership has fallen short. Although his prior evaluation noted the need for areas of improvement as a leader in dealing with the commission, the need to be more flexible on his part in considering alternative methods of addressing problems and acknowledging that officer morale is his responsibility, we have seen no improvement. Nor have we seen a measurable effort to give this commission confidence that the chief will make a sincere commitment to change in these critical areas.

And although the chief should be complimented on instituting a discipline system that demands respect for all residents, he has failed to respond appropriately and quickly to revise the system to provide a sense of fairness and equity in dealing with the officers. It is that type of inflexibility and denial of a systemic problem within the department that in part has caused poor morale and attrition of officers.

Violent crime has continued to rise, while according to FBI statistics, cities such as New York and Chicago are experiencing a drop in violent crime.

The rise in crime needs to be juxtaposed against another fact: LAPD is 1,100 officers short. As crime rises, LAPD's ability to fight crime is diminished. LAPD statistics show that although crime is up, arrests are down.

The department is suffering a profound loss of confidence. Today the Los Angeles Police Department is in crisis--a department losing officers at an alarming rate while other neighboring police agencies such as the L.A. County Sheriff's Department have increased the numbers of officers. Veteran officers are abandoning the LAPD in record numbers as our academy struggles to fill classes. Trust and confidence between those in uniform and their chief has been mortally wounded.

This department, similar to all organizations, needs a leader who is demanding but fair, accepts responsibility and seeks solutions, who is capable of energizing and motivating the men and women in the field, who can communicate and relate to his subordinates. This organization is near the point where it finds itself no longer having the capacity to perform at its required potential.

Today we continue moving forward. There will not be backsliding from the reform and advances made to date. Today we begin a shared new chapter in our city's history, not to turn back to old policies but to continue moving forward to build a greater Los Angeles Police Department. As this commission said at the outset when all of us started on this mission many months ago, our task is to be fair and to truly look at the facts and to reach a true and just decision, and this we have done.

With regrets, the commission, by a vote of 4 to 1, must deny the chief's request for a new five-year term.

Los Angeles Times Articles