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EDITORIAL : FRIEND OR FOE? ROLE OF LAPD WATCHDOG BEARS SCRUTINY.

AS L.A.'s first and only LAPD inspector general, Katherine Mader has drawn enemy fire often from the LAPD, its brass and the police union.

Given that her mandate from the voters is to assist the Police Commission in reviewing and handling complaints of police misconduct, naturally she's going to create animosity.

But when that animosity starts coming from the Police Commission, and when more attention is focused on the watchdogs than the LAPD, the public has a right to wonder whether reforms prompted by the Christopher Commission are starting to unravel.

Or is the problem with the person, not the process? Has Mader taken on Starr-like qualities, becoming a power and force unto herself?

To address those concerns, Councilwoman Laura Chick has requested that Police Chief Bernard C. Parks and the Police Commission report to the council in 30 days on Mader's role and authority.

Chick, chairwoman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said the report would be considered at a hearing to determine whether any action is needed to help Mader fulfill her duties.

It seems inconceivable that Mader, a former deputy district attorney and defense attorney with a reputation for tenacity, needs help from anyone in fulfilling her duties.

Her political and ideological agenda of pushing the LAPD to deal more severely with police officers with domestic violence problems has pushed the department to address a serious issue.

Unfortunately, her aggressive, take-no-prisoners style also has come off as overzealous and created tension between her and the Police Commission, which has taken steps to rein in her parade.

The concern among commissioners is that Mader has sometimes overstepped her authority and used an unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to those she deals with, including the LAPD's command officers.

If the commission feels Mader has overstepped her authority, it should deal with her directly, and not undermine the position itself with sniggling memos or create an opening for the council to meddle.

After all, the council is the last place that can claim it has maintained independence and integrity as a public watchdog.
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 29, 1998
Words:343
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