Twisting Slowly 

The final days of Chief Parks

Wednesday, Feb 13 2002

The debate is over on Bernie Parks. It‘s a foregone conclusion that the Los Angeles Police Commission will support the mayor’s wish that the police chief not be re-appointed for another term, and informal polling suggests the City Council will not override that decision.

All of the talk about ”process“ and the independence of the mayor-appointed commission is empty and should not give Parks much hope, city hall insiders agree. The panel has until May 15 to make its decision.

Former Police Commission President Gerald Chaleff noted that his own boss, Mayor Dick Riordan, ”sometimes didn‘t know which way we would vote . . . so give ’em a chance.“ Chaleff, in fact, led a three-member commission-majority vote against the wishes of Riordan and Parks and ruled that the shooting of the homeless Margaret Mitchell was not ”within policy.“

Related Stories

  • 4th DUI Checkpoints

    The 4th of July is, as you well know, one of the drunkest holidays across the land. America! But it's hard to celebrate United States' independence when you're locked up with a bunch of losers. And since this is the land of democracy, the LAPD is giving you a fighting...
  • A Cop's Killing

    Controversial Det. Frank Lyga said he once threatened to reveal to the media that his 1997 shooting of fellow cop Kevin Gaines was "a sanction hit on Gaines by LAPD," according to a memo purported to be written by an officer to Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger regarding a talk...
  • Here's a Story About a Naked Man, Psychedelic Drugs & 5 Hospitalized L.A. Cops 2

    It's not everyday that Los Angeles police officers get a whiff of a rare psychedelic drug like DMT. But that's what reportedly happened last night after cops responded to a report of a screaming man in Van Nuys. Officers responding to the reported screamer were "exposed to fumes and transported...
  • Bad Lieutenant 6

    Prosecutors allege that a Los Angeles police officer whose job was to check up on massage parlors forced masseuses to undress and fondled them while he was on duty. In the end the cop, identified as 49-year-old Oris Pace, didn't dispute that he carried out the crimes. The L.A. County...
  • Drone Destroyed at L.A. Kings Celebration Recovered by LAPD (VIDEO) 2

    A drone taken down by revelers outside the L.A. Kings' championship celebration Friday night is now in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department, an LAPD official says. See also: Here's the 411 on Today's L.A. Kings Victory Parade The unmanned aerial vehicle was hovering above fans outside Staples Center...

But, asked if he could remember a Police Commission ever voting against a mayor‘s preferences regarding the choice of a chief, Chief Legislative Analyst Ron Deaton -- the city’s top political eminence -- said, ”I don‘t ever recall that happening.“ City historian Gayle Johnson said her records indicated that this probably hadn’t happened since the city opted for the commission system 75 years ago. Ruth Galanter, the council‘s second-seniormost member, said, ”The chances [for the commission] to go against the mayor are zero.“

There’s a backroom city-government a22 consensus that Hahn, having gone public with his disapproval of Parks on February 5, after telling this to the chief privately, would likely have a bad working relationship with the chief for the rest of his tenure -- however long it might be. Such a relationship, some said, could be seriously damaging to the city. One lawyer close to City Hall remarked, ”The situation would be like that between Tom Bradley and Daryl Gates, where neither was speaking to one another for a decade -- and that resulted in the 1992 riots.“

Another observer, LAPD historian Joe Domanick, commented, ”I don‘t think that Parks has a constituency.“

But there was no sign of waning support for Parks in the African-American community. Najee Ali, the young Islamic community activist who initiated a recall campaign against Hahn the morning of his announcement, e-mailed Parks’ supporters word that he was inviting his ”friend and mentor Al Sharpton,“ the outspoken New York black activist, to come to Los Angeles to support the chief. All three African-American council members -- Nate Holden, Jan Perry and Mark Ridley-Thomas -- have strongly supported Parks. (Although interestingly, their recent and vociferous pro-Parks statements have not been posted on their official council Web sites.)

Most other council members, however, either kept talking about ”process“ or were outwardly opposed to Parks‘ getting another term. It would take 10 votes for the council to override the commission’s decision. ”Right now,“ said Galanter, ”the council is so [disorganized] that I don‘t think you could get 10 votes for anything.“

Parks’ major opponent on the council is 3rd District Councilman Dennis Zine, a longtime LAPD officer and onetime Police Protective League vice president. Zine said, ”It‘s about accountability and responsibility. This is why the voters passed [Charter] Proposition F. So a police chief can be evaluated,“ and not automatically re-appointed, as in the case of Daryl Gates and his predecessors.

Zine noted that, even in his relatively affluent district, there has been a shortage of police available to investigate and control crime. ”They say it’s a 1,000-officer shortage, but . . . it actually amounts to more like 2,000 missing.‘’

Neither Councilman Nick Pacheco nor Councilman Ed Reyes sounded enthusiastic about keeping Parks. The officer shortage has had tragic effects in their inner-city 14th and 1st districts, they said. “Parks took out detectives and other officers. Now we‘ve had 14 homicides in Hollenbeck [Division] since the first of the year,” Pacheco observed. Reyes also cited “a really high spike” of killings -- another 14 in his district during the same period. “I simply hope that the Police Commission will listen to our community and understand the pain that we feel,” Reyes said.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Scenes from the O.J. Simpson Circus
    In the months after O.J. Simpson's arrest for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in the summer of 1994, the drama inside the courthouse riveted the masses. But almost as much mayhem was happening right outside the building, as well as near Simpson's Brentwood home. Dissenters and supporters alike showed up to showcase art inspired by the case, sell merchandise, and either rally for, or against, the accused football star. Here is a gallery of the madness, captured by a photojournalist who saw it all. All photos by Ted Soqui.