The Los Angeles police union is like an overly critical partner who never has anything good to say. The Police Protective League doesn't like Chief Bernard C. Parks. It wants a divorce; Mayor James K. Hahn delivers. The union demands a three-day workweek of 12-hour days; the mayor makes sure some officers get it, over the opposition of the chief and common sense. So far during Hahn's mayoral tenure what the police union wants, it gets.
Hahn must not allow the league to pick the next police chief or run the Los Angeles Police Department. He also shouldn't allow the union to stand in the way of reform.
LAPD discipline may be the next big test. The union criticizes the system that Parks put into place as excessively focused on minor infractions, too tough on patrol officers and too easy on higher-ranking officers or well-connected cops. But the next chief can't allow a return to the racism, rampant rudeness, lax discipline and kid-glove punishment documented a decade ago by the Christopher Commission during a time when cops could--in some cases, perhaps literally--get away with murder.
Hahn wants full implementation of the consent decree that, as city attorney, he negotiated with the U.S. Justice Department to avoid a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department. The union isn't likely to take kindly to that. But Hahn can't let it dictate policy in exchange for political support.