No Respect 

Police Commission falters on Rampart

Wednesday, May 17 2000

Page 2 of 4

Drooyan suggests that ”people from each of the groups will be involved“ in the late-summer process of combining, editing and massaging the various task forces‘ work product. That this process is allotted almost as much time as the compilation of the eight subreports makes clearer that the shape and spin of the final product is, ultimately, in the hands of Drooyan and the two permanent staffers.

Ethnic-group advocates were not buying the new team’s composition -- of the 26 members announced April 12, only three were Latinos, three African-Americans and none Asians. NAACP Los Angeles branch president Geraldine Washington threatened to set up a parallel investigative body if the group wasn‘t made more representative, and suggested that -- since most police-abuse victims were minorities -- minorities should be a majority on the inquiry board.

James Blancarte, president of MABA (Mexican-American Bar Association), said his group insists on an independent review because the close cooperation of the commission with the LAPD creates ”the possibility and the appearance of a conflict of interest.“ Tom Saenz of MALDEF (Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) said the new body was not independent enough and its membership, developed ”through a process not particularly public,“ failed to reflect the community. The three Latinos appointed are retired Superior Court Judge Enrique Romero, USC public-administration professor David Lopez-Lee, and Cynthia Telles, UCLA professor and wife of state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg.

Related Stories

  • Energy Drink Age Restrictions in L.A?

    The folly of the L.A. City Council knows no bounds.  The political body that has in the past focused on such major metropolitan issues as the circus, cat declawing and e-cigarettes is now looking at requiring warning labels and even age restrictions for the scourge of hardcore street crime - energy drinks...
  • Gunning for LAPD

    Police searching the home and vehicle of Daniel Christopher Yealu, a 29-year-old suspected of opening fire inside an LAPD police station last night, turned up at least four assault-type rifles, a long gun, two semiautomatic handguns, five boxes of ammunition and more than two-dozen clips for reloading. See also: LAPD Officer Injured...
  • DUI Patrols

    After this week's April showers it's time to get out and enjoy spring in L.A. Just don't overdo it. The Los Angeles Police Department has been pretty consistent in recent years when it comes to cracking down on drunk drivers. The only good news here is that cops are warning...
  • Art to See This Week

    This week, a Skid Row - based collective improvises downtown while blow-up stick figures dance in Westwood.  5. The starlet who wasn't Glamorous rebel Priscilla Prescott, who took control of her 1930s movie career, purportedly died 25 years ago, in 1989. So Day magazine is releasing a commemorative issue. Day...
  • City Hall Fireworks

    Funny story. In 2011, when we broke the news that an annual 4th of July fireworks show at Exposition Park owed $40,000 to the taxpayer-owned L.A. Coliseum, the office of City Councilman Bernard Parks tried to distance itself from the event. See also: Bernard Parks' Office Owes L.A. Coliseum $40,000 For...

By April 25, the City Council joined the critics, passing by a 10-1 vote a call for the commission to expand the group for greater ethnic and occupational diversity. The resolution’s author, Councilwoman Rita Walters, said she was ”horrified“ at the preponderance of white males examining a problem affecting mainly people of color.

In the face of public reaction, the commission has been scurrying to find faces of darker hue, but its commitment to a broad color palette is belated. Almost two weeks before the first members were named, Councilman Ridley-Thomas responded to an Eglash request by offering five minority nominees -- one Korean-American, three African-Americans and a Latino. As of May 2, a month after the memo was sent to Eglash, none had been contacted by the commission or its staff. One of the five, the Rev. Mark Whitlock of First AME Church, wondered, ”How can we, in the 21st century, have this 19th-century thinking that only males, especially Caucasian males, have the intelligence to deal with problems?“

The commission announced new appointments Tuesday, raising the proportion of minority members, largely at lower levels, but these afterthoughts haven‘t brought minority leaders into the commission’s corner. Sixty-nine percent of the 118 members are white, but there are now 13 Latinos, 16 African-Americans and eight Asian-Americans.

As well as being overwhelmingly white and male, the appointees are almost all attorneys. About half those named April 12 are alumni of the U.S. Attorney‘s Office (where Drooyan served as chief assistant). ”We’re not going to get real change with a bunch of prosecutors looking at it,“ said assistant public defender Eric Zucker. ”Why not put a [police-abuse plaintiff‘s lawyer] Steve Yagman or a [longtime civilian-review-board advocate] Michael Zinzun on the board?“ Several of the selected attorneys have some experience on the defense side of the bar, though largely in defending corporate clients in white-collar criminal matters. Eglash says he himself handled civil rights cases as an assistant U.S. attorney, and that two others have experience in the area. Councilman Joel Wachs urged that ”a variety of life experiences -- from victims to policemen“ should be at the table. ”I wouldn’t want a panel of lawyers, no matter what color.“

Members of the Coalition for Police Accountability -- which has insisted for months that only a fully independent panel can clean house and restore public confidence in the LAPD -- took issue less with the body‘s membership than with its structure and limited powers. Putting Police Commission staff in the driver’s seat, they maintain, is dubious because of the commission‘s accountability to Mayor Riordan and its record of uncritically backing up Chief Parks. The commission’s propensity to protect the LAPD image would inhibit a no-stone-unturned inquiry, says coalition member Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Jay Z Grand Park Concert Is Official as Mayor Plans Announcement

    It looks like Mayor Eric Garcetti is going to officially announce that a two-day "Budweiser Made in America" festival is taking place  at downtown L.A.'s Grand Park. The mayor's office said today he " will make an announcement with Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, Supervisor Gloria Molina, City Council President Herb...
  • "Compton Division" Pimps Made Millions, Cops Say

    A trio of local pimps forced women to work the streets from San Diego to Las Vegas and beyond, cops say, and they allegedly made millions doing so. But now 31-year-old Robert Walker, 34-year-old Daniel Gunther, and 34-year-old David Sheffey, who called their crew the Compton Division, are behind bars, says...
  • L.A.'s Top 10 Streets for Bicycle Crashes Revealed

    You're probably already aware that there's a hit-and-run epidemic in L.A., and that bicycling in a car-crazed capital like Los Angeles can be hazardous to your health. See also: Critical Mass Bike Ride Recognizes L.A. Hit-&-Run Victims But the nerds at the MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group recently came up...