Monday, December 31, 2001
Police Union Urges Members to Vote No Confidence in Chief Bernard Parks
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Police Protective League on Friday recommended to its members that they cast votes of no confidence in Chief Bernard Parks—an action that may lead to the league calling for Parks’ resignation.
The league, the city police union for officers of lieutenant ranking and below, will furnish the results to the City Council and the mayor and may ask for Parks’ resignation depending on the results, league President Mitzi Grasso told the MetNews.
Parks’ five-year term ends next year. He is eligible to apply for a second term and reportedly has decided to do so.
The PPL letter, signed by Grasso and accompanied by a ballot, listed numerous complaints against Parks.
“Chief Parks has failed our City and he has failed his own police officers,” the letter said. “…He has failed in virtually every area critical to the success of the LAPD, from recruitment to achieving disciplinary reform.”
The letter goes on to call Parks “a latter day version of ‘Dr. No’”—a chief who offers no ideas, no innovations and no leadership in the face of increasing crime and decreasing felony arrests in the city. Parks continually denies there is a problem with police morale and cannot admit when he is wrong, the letter states.
Councilman Nate Holden held a press conference the same day blasting the league for its “divisive” actions, coming only two weeks after Grasso and Parks publicly announced in a meeting with the mayor that they would work together for police reform.
“The city can’t live with this disruption,” Holden said. “The PPL must act more responsibly. If morale is low, you can’t blame the chief because he is chief.”
Holden went on to claim that the consent decree is a factor in the recent rise of crime and reduced police morale. He said extensive questionnaires that officers must now fill out for every stop and arrest, under a federal consent decree, are to blame for keeping police from doing their jobs.
Holden questioned why the league was calling for Parks’ resignation and had not called for the resignation of previous chief Daryl Gates, who was at the helm during the Rodney King era.
Holden said Grasso’s actions may be racially motivated—a charge that both Grasso and LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Bostic denied.
Bostic, speaking at a press conference on behalf of Parks, who was on vacation, called the league’s action a shocking turnaround from two weeks ago.
“The LAPPL continues to say one thing with the mayor and then another outside,” Bostic said.
In a statement, police media spokesman Lt. Horace Frank blasted the league for “their ongoing attacks on LAPD’s finest.”
The statement says that despite the fact that Parks has committed to working on a more flexible work schedule, a more competitive pension system, and the removal of a harsh disciplinary and complaint system, the league still issues “unfair and unnecessary attacks on Parks.”
Grasso said the league’s board based their recommendation for a vote of no confidence on several factors.
Last month, the league received roughly 3,400 response in a survey of its somewhat 8,000 members, and turned the results into a report card that indicated Parks received a grade of C for integrity, D grades in trustworthiness and communication and F grades in innovation and collaboration from his rank-and-file employees, said Grasso.
Grasso also pointed to a USC-UCLA five-year study released last year that showed 57 percent of LAPD officers would leave the department if they could easily find jobs elsewhere.
Grasso also said Parks has not made the interests of the community a priority.
Holden said if cops don’t like their jobs, “the door swings both ways,” and that getting rid of Parks was not the solution. A comprehensive investigation and reform from the top to bottom of the department was the answer, he said.
Holden also said the motivation of the league is their being “power-driven” and that he would advise Parks to stay on the job if a vote of no confidence is issued by the league.
“If there is no second term for Parks, the city will be underserved,” Holden said.
“We need somebody who will come in and add some common sense,” said Grasso. “Officers are unwilling to follow this chief of police. He is stuck in a 50s and 60s police mentality. He is of a command and control mentality…Police officers don’t want to be told ‘do this because I’m chief.’ They want to know what they are working for.”
Grasso also said that Parks is a failure by his own standards.
“Parks said when elected that we should measure his performance by crime,” Grasso said. “If it goes up, then he has done a bad job, he said. And it has gone up.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company