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EDITORIAL THE LAPD'S CIVIL WAR HAHN AND THE POLICE COMMISSION MUST PLAY PEACEMAKER.

DEPENDING on which side you believe, the Los Angeles Police Department's biggest problems today come from a troublemaking union or from an arrogant chief and his top brass.

In the ongoing war between LAPD's management and the rank-and-file officers union, the Police Protective League, there's not much room for middle ground.

Take the union's latest complaint against Chief Bernard C. Parks. The PPL accuses him of blacklisting officers and denying them promotions because of past, already punished mistakes.

If the PPL is to be believed, then Parks and his top aides are guilty of serious violations. They are breaking the letter of the law and the spirit of their own department through their abuse of the promotions process.

But Parks tells a different story, namely, that he's using due discretion to make sure that bad cops aren't promoted. He says he's being fair, but thorough, honoring the reforms demanded by the Christopher Commission.

If this was just the ordinary tension between and the officers union, we could dismiss it and get on with more important business.

But the clash between Parks and the union has escalated over several years to the point where the losers are the people of Los Angeles. It's time for Mayor James Hahn and his Police Commission to step up and determine the rights and wrongs in this blood feud and fix what's broken.

For too long City Hall has stood on the sidelines while the LAPD's union and top brass slug it out in a costly brawl that has undermined officer morale, harmed officer recruitment and retention and stalled much-needed reforms.

Public safety cannot be compromised. City leaders must broker a peace settlement. If that means determining the rights and wrongs of the union's long list of grievances, so be it.

If Parks is the tyrant that the PPL claims he is, then he must face all appropriate sanctions and discipline. And if the union is fomenting discontent with exaggerated complaints in a cynical ploy to undermine the city's top cop or get payoffs like the shortened workweek, then its leaders need to be told in no uncertain terms to quit griping and get to work.

After being the subject of much debate during this year's mayoral and council races, Parks has been left dangling in the wind. His five-year term ends in July and he is expected to make a decision by January about whether he will seek a second term.

That gives Hahn and the Police Commission enough time to either give him a vote of confidence or tell him his time is up.

Enough is enough.

It's time to end the instability and the infighting that have made the LAPD the fodder for political shakedowns and a diminished law enforcement agency.

There needs to be a cease-fire, and it's up to Hahn and the Police Commission to play the role of peacemaker.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 20, 2001
Words:480
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