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Politics and the police

October 25, 2009

Re

The Times scored big with its weekend editorial on keeping politics out of the selection of a new police chief for Los Angeles and Tim Rutten's powerful column regarding Chief William Bratton's departure.

Unless you are familiar with Los Angeles history, one does not know that during the 1930s, Los Angeles had one of the most corrupt city governments in the nation, and then-Chief James Davis was one of the worst in the city's history.

Keep politics out of selecting a new police chief.

Cliff Dektar

North Hollywood

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I have to take issue with some of your descriptions of the "old" LAPD. You stated the LAPD suddenly discovered its "latent cowardice" in the 1992 riots, which led to the attack on Reginald Denny and police headquarters.

Please assure your readers that the only cowardice shown that day was from the numerous gangsters and criminals who committed their crimes with impunity and the police command staff/mangers who failed to lead and take direct action in a timely manner.

There was no cowardice shown when my husband and his many peers worked that day (and night) and did the job they were sworn to do -- to protect and to serve.

Julie Godinez

Simi Valley

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The Times failed to mention that the mayor and community leaders had asked the police not to respond with force in 1992 should there be a verdict displeasing to certain constituencies. Unfortunately, the LAPD tried to follow the mayor's urging and had its commanders hold back. That was political pressure that cost our city billions in property damage, convention business and goodwill.

The Christopher Commission recommended the City Charter be changed to allow the mayor to make the final pick for a new chief. What is more political than that? What chief is going against what the "boss" wants?

During the 1930s, we had a City Charter like this one today, and we had crooks at every level. My father, Clifford E. Clinton, led the recall of that mayor, and the City Charter was altered to allow the chief of police civil-service protection from the vagaries of the mayor. It worked well for decades, keeping political pressure to a minimum.

Our current system of selection is fatally flawed.

Donald Clinton

Los Angeles

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