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Don't. Say. Another. Word.

July 19, 2006

EVERYBODY JUST SIT IN THE CORNER. Quietly. You're all getting a timeout.

You, City Council members Bernard C. Parks and Dennis Zine. So, you didn't like it when LAPD Chief William J. Bratton changed the rules to open police recruiting to candidates who once experimented with drugs, and you said so. Fine. You, Councilman Parks, are the former chief, and you, Councilman Zine, are a retired Los Angeles police officer who served on the police union's board of directors. So yes, you've got some perspective, and you both oversee the LAPD, so you spoke your minds. But then Bratton said what he thought of you and your opinion, and you got mad and demanded that the Police Commission conduct a personnel investigation of him. A little over the top, don't you think? Repeat after us: "Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us."

And you, council members Jan Perry, Jose Huizar and Tony Cardenas. You signed the letter. Look what you're asking the Police Commission to investigate: Whether Bratton's statement that Parks and Zine "don't know what the hell they're talking about" is the reason more people are filing complaints against police officers for saying nasty things to the public? You can't be serious. And after he's been chief for almost four years, you want Bratton to undergo some kind of "training" to teach him his proper role? Listen, we think he knows his role, and yours. You're not fooling anyone. You think he's humiliated you, so you want to humiliate him right back. Get over it. Grow up.

And Eric Garcetti. President of the City Council. This tiff was over. Done. The letter went out, it was reported in the newspaper, and that was it. But then you had to send another letter. At least you directed this one to Bratton instead of running to the Police Commission. But did you have to keep this mess going by trying to have the last word?

Now, Chief Bratton. Look, we know you're from the East Coast, where they do things a little differently. Speak a little more frankly, perhaps. A little candor isn't a bad thing, and we could probably use more of it in Los Angeles. But only if it gets us somewhere. No one knows better than you that we've been trying for years to have a frank talk about policing in this city, how the thinness of your ranks encourages a more aggressive style, and how divided a city we are in our attitudes about the LAPD. We were starting a good talk a little over a year ago with the debate about the police tax, and we have another chance with the latest Rampart report.

But calling out the City Council, justified as it may be, takes us the wrong way. Remember when you apologized for calling that activist a nitwit a couple of years ago? Very grown-up stuff. You backed off, defused some unnecessary tension, and we moved forward. So how about it? After all, someone has to be an adult here. And you're the most likely candidate.

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