Monday, March 18, 2002
Holden, Perry Call for Police Commission Head to Step Down Due to Comment
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Two City Council members Friday called for Police Commission President Rick Caruso to step down from his post because he allegedly used an obscenity to refer to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, an outspoken supporter of LAPD Chief Bernard Parks.
Council members Nate Holden and Jan Perry held a news conference to denounce Caruso for allegedly referring to Waters as a “bitch” during a private meeting with several police department officials to discuss noise violations at the construction site of his retail development The Grove. The pair, both supporters of Parks, asked that Mayor James Hahn remove Caruso him from the five-member commission if he declines to resign.
Caruso could not be reached for comment.
The Police Commission is currently in the process of deciding whether Parks should be reappointed to a second term. Hahn already has announced that he does not want the chief back for another five years. Critics have argued that the commissioners, handpicked by Hahn, will follow his lead and not reappoint the chief.
Holden attributed the use of the word by Caruso because of Waters’ pro-Parks stance.
“Never in my more than 30 years as a public servant have I heard a public official refer to a female, prominent or otherwise, using the B word simply because he disagrees with what the woman says,” Holden said.
Last Monday city officials and several media outlets received an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to the undated letter, Caruso attended a meeting on Feb. 28 with Police Commission Executive Director Joe Gunn and four Los Angeles Police Department officials, where the discussion turned to a possible rally being organized by Parks supporters, including Waters, in an effort to persuade Caruso to reappoint Parks to a second five-year term.
“It was then, that President Caruso made a horrible statement regarding Congresswoman Waters,” the letter stated. “He nonchalantly said: ‘The bitch Waters wants to come here.’”
Caruso has furiously denounced the proposed protest in the past, saying it is a threat to his financial interests and a mistaken effort to influence his vote. The event, planned for March 9, did not take place after organizers said they had productive talks with Caruso.
Holden said that he did not know who authored the anonymous letter, but he said he believed it was one of the five men at the meeting: Gunn, Cpt. Kirk J. Albanese, Cmdr. Paul Kim, Cmdr. Mark Leap, and Sgt. Vance Bjorklund.
Holden said that he called Gunn and the three command officers, Albanese, Leap and Kim, to discuss the incident. Three of those, he said, confirmed that the incident took place, and one said he did not take any responsibility for the incident and referred further questions to Caruso. Holden would not say which man declined to confirm the incident.
“Not one of them said it was not said,” Holden argued.
The department did not return calls for comment.
Holden and Perry argued that Caruso’s alleged derogatory comment about Waters makes him unfit to judge whether Parks should be reappointed to a second term because he has already shown that he is biased by attacking one of Parks’ most ardent supporters.
“Mr. Caruso has lost all credibility by attacking Ms. Waters,” Holden maintained.
The councilman said Caruso may have been upset by having to hear the comments of numerous Parks supporters in the day.
“If that’s the way [Caruso] responded to their comments then he, of course, exhibited a bias,” Holden said.
Gunn said the Police Commission will not comment on an anonymous letter that discusses a private conversation, choosing instead to focus its efforts on deciding Parks’ fate in the reappointment process and not “childish” antics.
“This is high school stuff to us,” Gunn said.
Gunn contended that the letter was just an effort to sidetrack the commission from its task and it didn’t have bearing on whether Caruso should be allowed to participate in the evaluation of Parks.
“It’s apples and oranges to me,” Gunn said. “What does one have to do with the other?”
Gunn also noted the timing of the letter and the announcement, made on the same day Caruso’s The Grove opened, questioning why it took several weeks for an anonymous letter regarding the incident to make it to city officials.
Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook said it is “not a likelihood” that Hahn would remove Caruso from the commission.
“The chief should call on his supporters to do as he suggests and focus on [his] merits instead of staging cheap political stunts,” Middlebrook said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company