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Police Commission's Line of Authority

March 05, 2003

Re "Watchdog on a Short Leash," editorial, Feb. 26: I am very concerned with the portrayal of facts relative to former Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General Jeffrey Eglash's authority and responsibility.

The responsibilities and chain of command for the inspector general are clearly outlined in the charter for the city of Los Angeles, which was approved by the voters. The inspector general reports to the Board of Police Commissioners, the body of five appointed citizens who oversee the LAPD. The inspector general position was born out of the Christopher Commission, which stated that the commission needed its own entity to review internal disciplinary actions and serve as a "watchdog" to prevent misconduct. There is no gray area in the inspector general's chain of command. The position reports to the Police Commission, not the City Council, not the Public Safety Committee.

Referring to police commissioners as weakened by the "secretive culture" of the LAPD and not maintaining their civilian overseer status is wholly inaccurate. This commission (2001 to present) has developed, approved and implemented some of the most sweeping reforms in department history. A short list would include the complete revamping of the complaint and disciplinary system, implementation of a flexible work schedule, return of the senior lead officers and the change in the pursuit policy. Internally, some like the changes and some do not. However, we have received overwhelming support from our supervisors: the people of Los Angeles.

The City Charter outlines my responsibility and that of the inspector general. I am always open to discussing how the Police Commission can be more effective, but I cannot disregard the laws that govern this board.

Rick Caruso

President

L.A. Police Commission

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