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3 MAYORAL CANDIDATES SAY THEY'LL LET PARKS GO.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

Voicing frustration and regret at the slow pace of police reform, three of the major candidates for mayor said on Wednesday they would not renew the contract of Police Chief Bernard C. Parks.

Councilman Joel Wachs, former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, told a crowded forum that they would take steps to not renew Parks' contract when it comes up in 2002.

Wachs said he had decided the step needed to be taken because of what he called Parks' failure to institute community-based policing and because of continuing morale problems within the department.

``If I am elected, I would appoint a new Police Commission and it would be their job to find the most qualified person for the job,'' Wachs said. ``I would not ask him to step down. That would be up to him. I would want a smooth transition.''

Villaraigosa and Becerra said they were more concerned at the failure of the Los Angeles Police Department to institute reforms called for by the Christopher Commission nearly a decade ago.

Parks had no comment, aides said. However, the department released a statement saying politics should not play a role in the selection of the chief.

``Proposition F, passed by the voters in 1992, gave the mayor a pivotal role in the selection and appointment of a chief of police,'' the statement said. ``We would hope any decision would be objectively based and not politically motivated. The people of Los Angeles deserve to have the best qualified person in such a crucial position of authority.''

Wachs denied that the politics of the mayor's race prompted him to change his earlier views - similar to those of other candidates who expressed a desire to wait until after the election and meet with Parks before making a decision.

``I have been thinking about this for a long time and when I was asked about it (earlier Wednesday), I gave an honest opinion,'' Wachs said.

In an interview with the Daily News last month, Parks said he would step aside and not launch a legal challenge if the next mayor wants to replace him. Under Proposition F - approved following the Rodney King incident - the chief is limited to two five-year terms.

Parks' first term will end next year. The new mayor will take office in July.

Wachs said he came to his decision because of what he sees as a recalcitrance by the LAPD to implement community-based policing.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 8, 2001
Words:414
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