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Shift in Membership of L.A. Police Panel

Alan Skobin works for Galpin Ford, owned by outgoing commissioner Bert Boeckmann.

June 14, 2003|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles' police watchdog panel will have a new member as of July 1: San Fernando Valley attorney Alan Skobin, vice president of Galpin Ford in North Hills.

He will take the Los Angeles Police Commission seat of Bert Boeckmann, who has served 17 years, outlasting most police chiefs. Boeckmann owns Galpin Ford.

He can't serve another term on the five-member panel because of term limits. Mayor James K. Hahn's office confirmed his replacement Friday.

The commission oversees all aspects of the Los Angeles Police Department, setting policy and providing direction.

The new appointee has deep roots in the San Fernando Valley and "deep knowledge of the Police Department," said Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 17, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
Police Commission nomination -- An article in Saturday's California section reported that San Fernando Valley attorney Alan Skobin had been named by Mayor James K. Hahn to the Los Angeles Police Commission. In fact, Hahn's selection of Skobin requires approval by the Los Angeles City Council.

"He's done a lot of Bert's staff work on the Police Commission," Middlebrook said. "And he's an attorney. He has a great understanding of police issues and understands the mayor's agenda.

"[Hahn] has known Alan for a long time, and it's an obvious choice."

Skobin, 51, of Chatsworth joins the commission at a time of change as Chief William J. Bratton undertakes a reorganization of the department, from the way it fights gang crime to the way it disciplines and monitors officers.

One of his goals, Skobin said, is to ensure that police services are distributed equally throughout the city.

"I'm very excited about what's happening at the LAPD," Skobin said Friday. "We have a strong agenda and commitment from the mayor to make the city safer and put more police officers on the streets."

His mentor, Boeckmann, has served under three mayors -- Republican Richard Riordan and Democrats Tom Bradley and Hahn -- and through turmoil from the Rodney King beating to the Rampart corruption scandal to the end of Chief Bernard C. Parks' tenure.

He began his career as a Valley car salesman in the 1950s, worked under Bradley on a budget committee in the early 1980s, and was first appointed to the police commission in 1984.

In 1991, he resigned after refusing to disclose his financial assets, a legal requirement.

The laws subsequently changed, and he returned to the panel in 1993.

When Hahn reappointed him in 2001, local leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union protested, saying he was too pro-police.

He previously had been criticized for backing officers who shot homeless woman Margaret Mitchell when the commission majority thought otherwise.

And in contrast to other commission members, he has said little publicly for much of his tenure.

Commission President Rick Caruso said Boeckmann, 72, has played a "stabilizing role" on the panel, often counseling less-experienced colleagues and acting as a quiet force in setting police policy.

"His hands have touched everything," Caruso said.

Skobin, a reserve deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, graduated from Cal State Northridge and received his law degree from the University of La Verne.

He and his wife have two adult children.

Gerald Chaleff, a former commission president who now works for Bratton, said Skobin "has shown his commitment to the community by his involvement in many charitable and civic endeavors, and his energy and intelligence will be a great addition to the commission."


Times staff writers Peter Nicholas and Jill Leovy contributed to this report.

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