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Acceptance is the Answer

... enough is enough

Bill Murray - 4/14/02

Acceptance is the answer to all of our problems today ...

It's time to put the question of reappointment behind us time to get back to actual policing, and stop the political campaign. The Chief has failed to overcome his perceived shortfalls, failed by a substantial margin to convince the Board of Police Commissioners he deserves five more years.

The Chief should depart gracefully, accepting the decision, knowing that the City is grateful. For all of us his thirty-seven year career speaks for itself.

Los Angeles needs to heal, needs to look to the future, and the Commission needs to get busy seeking prospective candidates by doing a nationwide search both inside and outside the LAPD for the next Chief of Police.

In the announcement of the decision not to reappoint the Chief, the Commission laid out a lot of its criteria.

He or she will have to be a person who can offer a creative and an inspirational vision, someone who will address the important issues of discipline and reform, officer and community morale and the rising violent crime rates. Furthermore, the Board will seek someone who can fashion an image of LAPD that's attractive to potential new recruits.

In short, the next Chief will need to provide the Department and the community of Los Angeles with the kind of LAPD leadership it so sorely deserves.

Confidentiality vs. Freedom of Speech

Events over the past couple of weeks have revolved around issues of a need for maintaining confidentiality and a request for open forums.

But there's been a huge double standard in play

The suggestion that the Police Commission has "hijacked" the process by deciding to hold closed session discussions with the Chief is ridiculous. The move seemed to make perfect sense, if for no other reason than the Board wanted to get its work completed in a timely and relatively businesslike manner.

Recent meetings, which always included a Public Comment period, had in some cases been reduced to gripe sessions, free-for-alls during which no other Commission business could be conducted.

That's because in every case each person who asked to speak was heard.

At one point, the Chief was due to be at a Police Commission meeting to begin his evaluation but requested, and was allowed, extra time to prepare his presentation.

Then, just before he was about to finally meet with the Board, he abruptly suggested he'd like to "wave his rights" to personal confidentiality and have the sessions be conducted in an open forum this as the momentum mounted for what he must have incorrectly perceived as worthwhile and advantageous community support.

An opinion offered by the City Attorney's office indicated that no matter what the Chief wanted the Commission could not freely discuss possibly sensitive issues involving police officer relations without risking harm to the Officers and their rights.

In the end, the nine hours of evaluation testimony were conducted in two closed sessions.

It seemed evident the Chief was more than satisfied with how things had gone. It was widely reported that he emerged from the meeting on the second and final day of his presentation confident and smiling.

It's over or is it?

The notion that the Commission had conducted a "smear campaign" is ludicrous. At every turn they have sought to be forthright and candid, with clear explanations of how they planned to conduct the evaluation process, and of what they wanted from the Chief.

Their criteria were published publicly, and well in advance. Each repeatedly expressed that he or she had an open mind, and would assess the reappointment of the Chief for a possible second five year term based on the condition of the Department, his vision for reform, and on his merits.

The Chief, in turn, repeatedly stated that's all he asked.

On Tuesday afternoon, I stood outside Parker Center with scores of press, police officials and other activists patiently waiting for the Board to announce what decision had been reached. There was an amazing calmness there, and I commented to several people how in the composure we felt in that moment there was an obvious indication that the Police Commission had done something right.

Because no one knew for certain what the decision that day would be.

After the announcement there was near jubilation throughout the Department, a relief shared by an overwhelming majority of the City as a whole, as the spirits of officers, command staff and residents alike were lifted. We felt reassured, unburdened, and we thought we could now put the question behind us and get on with it.

We should have known better

Integrity is not the issue but it could have been

Characteristically, the Chief has decided to take this to the wall, and he's doing so based largely on a claim of his having been treated unfairly, of his "integrity" being damaged. It's rumored he's considering suing the City over this. He says no matter how it goes he'll proudly serve every day.

But it's not a sense of integrity at the center of all this, it's the requirement in the end to relinquish power it's wounded pride, and false pride at that.

No matter who the next Chief might be one hopes that he or she will never lose sight of the fact that the Chief of Police serves at the pleasure of the community.

The exercise of "power" is not to be used to secure a job. The position includes certain fundamental responsibilities to have an open mind and heart to the community, to be able to listen to all voices and maintain availability, to be flexible concerning policy and lead creatively and to provide vision for every officer currently in the LAPD, as well as be an inspiration for new recruits.

In short, the Chief's basic job should be to seek to improve the quality of life both inside and outside the Department, and in all parts of the City of Los Angeles.

The recent debacle involving the failing crusade waged by the Chief of Police has left me shaking my head there should be humility in being of service.

The fact is that many tactics used during the unprecedented, unseemly and ill fated "campaign" being conducted by and on behalf of Chief Parks, ultimately a civil employee until the very moment of his departure from office, were not only in bad taste, but perhaps could be argued as a dereliction of duty.

Some recent examples

How can the Chief justify his frequent habit of answering direct Board questions with indirect answers, and to refuse to see to it that the reports the Commission requests are completed and delivered on time, on point and in the format requested?

How can the Chief justify missing several regularly scheduled Board of Police Commission meetings, where he is expected to be, yet recently be widely reported by all the press on the same day as having attending the grand opening of a coffee shop?

How can the Chief justify missing a Town Hall meeting in the Valley, especially considering his proud insistence on how attentive he is to "the community," yet be widely reported by all the press on the same day as having attended an Urban League event instead?

How can the Chief justify spending taxpayer money over and over by promoting himself and his case for reappointment with press releases and editorials on the LAPD website, a publicly funded forum for the dissemination of information, not the promotion of a personal political campaign?

How can the Chief justify further wasting City time and money on a continuation of this obviously lost cause by asking for an opportunity to make a 90 minute speech in front of City Council meant to convince them to "take jurisdiction" away from civilian oversight?

How can the Chief justify holding hostage a City and a Department he claims to so dearly love?

Enough is enough

There's no obligation to allow the Chief to speak at the City Council ... but it will require a two-thirds vote by the Council to proceed. Although it's his right to ask for this, it can only further damage the City.

And personally, I've heard enough.

In Los Angeles, there are only two civilian Boards of Commissioners whose members cannot be removed from office without cause, without a gross dereliction of duty being involved the Board of Ethics and the Board of Police Commissioners.

And for good reason. The principal of civilian oversight is so cherished in these two areas that once these two Boards are established the Commissioners are protected from political review.

Furthermore, although you wouldn't know it, the Chief is not a political candidate not yet ... and this is not a political office.

The LAPD Chief of Police is the top administrative officer of a City service, a civil servant, and his over quarter of a million dollar a year salary is paid by all of us, the tax paying residents of Los Angeles (as will his nearly quarter of a million dollar a year pension be).

He works for us. And that's why there's civilian oversight.


Note: This list will not be shared with any other group, nor will it be used for purposes other than promoting Los Angeles Community Policing.

Yours in service,

Bill Murray
Bobbie Logan

Thank you for supporting your LAPD Officers.


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