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PARKS TOLD TO WORK WITH D.A.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Police Commission, seeking to end the personal dispute that has marred the Rampart Division investigation, ordered Chief Bernard C.Parks on Friday to cooperate with District Attorney Gil Garcetti - something Parks insists he has continuously done.

Parks said he understood and agreed with the order. And he offered a tepid apology for his part in the war of words in which he engaged this week with Garcetti, who accused Parks of ordering Rampart investigators to freeze out the District Attorney's Office and provide information to the U.S. Attorney.

``If we have made a mistake in this process so far, it is that we have gotten into a verbal dispute with a person who has a sagging political future,'' Parks said at a news conference after the commission's unanimous vote.

``We will not make that mistake again because the Los Angeles Police Department personnel demand and should have better leadership than that. And the community deserves a better work product than getting into a personality clash with an individual that we have clearly shown that we have very little confidence (in).''

Garcetti aides said the district attorney would not respond to Parks and added that they are satisfied the LAPD will continue to work through his office in presenting information on cases in which officers are suspected of corruption.

The commission's order to Parks instructs him, the LAPD command staff and officers to cooperate with the District Attorney's Office. The panel also instructed Inspector General Jeff Eglash to determine whether Parks ordered officers to refuse to cooperate.

Parks said he and his officers have cooperated.

``We clearly understand the need and necessity and we have always and will continue to always cooperate with every prosecuting agency,'' Parks said.

Garcetti, to back up his contention of the refusal of LAPD investigators to work with his office, provided a chronology of requests made over the past several days that were rejected. It was given to police commissioners in a large manila envelope that was marked ``sealed.''

The sealed portion involved requests for information on specific officers being targeted for investigation, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. The rest of the package included a letter from Garcetti - in which Parks is never mentioned by name - to the commission providing his chronology of events that led to the breakdown of communication with Parks, as well as a series of other correspondence from his office, the LAPD and Mayor Richard Riordan.

In his letter, Garcetti said the problems began March 9 with a hand-delivered letter from Deputy Chief Martin Pomeroy outlining the department's priorities. That letter said it was the highest priority of the department to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

However, it also said the department would continue to work with the District Attorney's Office.

Garcetti said he learned over the last week that Parks had told officials with the state Attorney General's Office that the LAPD would no longer provide information to the district attorney's special prosecution team.

``In private conversations with me, the chief of police stated unequivocally that he did not intend to provide investigative materials or investigative assistance to our prosecution team,'' Garcetti wrote. ``The chief of police has repeated this in conversations and meetings with other federal, state and local officials.

``In addition, on March 13, 2000, and March 14, 2000, five deputy district attorneys from our prosecution and cleanup teams made routine requests for investigative information from their counterparts at the Los Angeles Police Department. In each instance, our prosecutors were told by Los Angeles Police Department detectives that they had been ordered by their department not to cooperate with the District Attorney's Office.''

Garcetti said he is committed to resolving the Rampart case, but can do so only if the LAPD cooperates.

``To date, the chief of police has been less than forthcoming regarding his department's plans to cooperate with the District Attorney's Office,'' Garcetti wrote. ``Contrary to the chief's public statements, there has been no misunderstanding regarding his refusal to cooperate with this office.''

An LAPD official, who asked not to be identified, said Parks ``categorically denies'' what Garcetti was saying and that a response would be developed over the weekend.

Cmdr. Dan Schatz, who is heading the criminal investigation for the LAPD, also denied that his investigators refused to work with the District Attorney's Office.

``Absolutely not,'' Schatz said. ``We're just trying to figure out what's going on with the district attorney.''

Schatz said the only recent request for information - beyond that of this week - was a request made eight days ago for a report on an officer-involved shooting.

``We told them we had to go through a protocol to release it, but that they could come over and look at it here,'' Schatz said, adding the officials never came over.

Also seeking information is the Los Angeles City Council, which adopted a resolution supporting the commission and saw another introduced asking Garcetti to appear before the council to make his case.

``It seems to me curious to say this chief, who asked the U.S. Attorney and FBI to come into this case, was attempting to both broaden and limit the investigation at the same time,'' Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

``What is missing from the equation seems to be some indication to the public from the district attorney to give us confidence that we are on track with a forceful probe. If the district attorney is doing what we hope him to do is get to the bottom of this. Let him come forward and give this body the information we need.''

Garcetti aides said he would consider the proposal if it is approved.

Other council members saw the Police Commission action as asserting the need for civilian oversight of the department.

``This very clearly reiterates the appropriate lines of command,'' said Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who chairs the council's Public Safety Committee overseeing the LAPD. ``Now is a critical time for this commission to perform.''

Councilman Mike Feuer said it is important for officials to be united.

``City leaders must stand together as one voice and make clear a dispute between these parties is simply intolerable,'' Feuer said. ``We cannot allow this kind of dispute to imperil the fundamental goals of the investigation under way right now.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 18, 2000
Words:1051
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