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Hahn: What We Need in a New Chief

September 17, 2002|JAMES K. HAHN | James K. Hahn is mayor of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department is at a crossroads as we prepare to select a new chief of police. Our proud department has faced many challenges, but we are beginning to see positive changes at Parker Center. Officers are not leaving the department as they once did, morale continues to rise, new recruits and officers who left the LAPD for other law enforcement agencies are seeking to rejoin the LAPD's ranks, and a renewed confidence in the department is again visible in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

The next police chief must continue this progress. My expectations for the new chief are very clear: reduce crime, improve morale and recruitment, implement the reforms mandated by the consent decree, expand community policing and embrace the role of civilian oversight. The LAPD must get back to the business of policing. Fighting crime must be "job one."

Among the new chief's top priorities must be to return the LAPD to its fully authorized level of 10,000 officers. Additionally, he or she must commit to getting the LAPD's highly trained officers, many of whom are sitting behind desks at headquarters, back out on neighborhood streets. The new chief must change the LAPD from a top-heavy command-and-control department into a proactive, community-based organization.

We must create a Police Department that does not give lip service to reform. The new chief must lead the effort to build a Police Department that not only protects but also respects every community. It must be a department led by a Police Commission that understands its role as an overseer and works in partnership with a chief who respects civilian oversight.

The police union must also join with the new chief to shatter the police culture that has blocked reform. The chief must convince every officer to join in the task of reform. I will make it clear to each candidate that there can be no more Ramparts, no more code of silence and no more scandals.

The LAPD must also more closely reflect the city's diversity. Our residents deserve a police force that identifies with different cultures and is trained through life experiences to understand the needs of a diverse population. The new chief must rise to the challenge by recruiting and promoting more women and minorities.

The chief must be able to inspire the LAPD's rank and file and rebuild the morale that has been so damaged, advancing the changes we have made to boost morale. Shortly, the Police Commission will submit the three best candidates for my consideration. My commitment to the residents of Los Angeles is that I will select the candidate who best embodies the qualities and qualifications needed to make Los Angeles the safest big city in the nation.

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