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LAPD: Merits of Finding a Chief in the Ranks

September 16, 2002

"The Next Chief of Police Should Be, First and Foremost, a Cop" (Commentary, Sept. 12) makes good points about on-the-street policing experience being a requirement for the next LAPD chief, but Jay Wachtel is off base when he implies that reforming "police culture" is not important. It is the police culture that gets police departments into trouble.

An example is the recent Donovan Jackson case in Inglewood. The original stop for an expired auto registration was OK, but the stop went bad when two additional police cars with four additional cops stopped to offer aid. What they did was abuse the boy and get themselves and their department in trouble. So it was the culture--of being so scared of every citizen that the additional cops thought it was necessary to join the investigation--that caused the problem.

Jeff Warner

La Habra Heights


I always wonder why cities around the country go on a nationwide shopping tour for a new police chief (Sept. 11). Isn't it logical to promote the next senior cop to the top job? If that person isn't fit for the chief's job, how did he or she get to be No. 2? And if the No. 2 or 3 or 4, etc., can't cut the mustard, why are they so senior in the department?

Any city ought to make certain that promotions and commensurate pay go to those who deserve both; and if that isn't the case, then the problem isn't inside the police department, and no serious law enforcement problem will be solved by hiring someone from elsewhere. Hire locally--at least the candidates know the territory.

Jim Steeves

Long Beach

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