Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Attorney Rick Caruso Unanimously Elected to Head Police Commission
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Attorney and real estate developer Rick Caruso was unanimously elected yesterday by the Police Commission to serve as the panel’s president.
The Police Commission, the official head of the Los Angeles Police Department, took its action at the first session since new members were sworn into office. Caruso was nominated for the top commission post by member Rose Ochi, who said the former Board of Water and Power Commissioners president’s experience as an executive and a manager would help the commission work towards achieving its goals.
“He understands City Hall and how to get things done,” Ochi said of Caruso.
The panel made Ochi vice president.
The five-member board faces a host of problems, including implementation of the federal reform consent decree, record attrition rates for officers and failure to attract new recruits, and a loss of confidence in the police by Los Angeles residents.
Caruso said he wanted to address those issues as quickly as possible.
“There is a lot to be done in a short amount of time, but I really feel we need to tackle these big issues quickly,” Caruso said.
Members immediately got down to business, questioning Police Chief Bernard Parks about the lengthy officer hiring process and how the process compares to other law enforcement agencies.
Parks estimated that the entire process, which includes six or seven tests, takes between six and eight months for in state applicants and between eight and twelve months for out-of-state applicants. He said he was not sure what the timeline was for other law enforcement agencies.
Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Lopez, a former background investigator for the department, said the Sheriff’s department hiring process averages between six and eight months to complete.
Cases which take longer than nine months are rare and a twelve month process is almost unheard of in the department, he said, adding that longer processes usually are a result of the applicant not having paperwork in order.
“I can’t imagine how we can recruit and be competitive when we’re almost 1000 officers short if we are asking someone to wait six, eight, or 12 months,” Caruso said.
Commissioners requested a comprehensive study from department managers of how its complete salary and benefits package and the hiring process length compares to other agencies, and a separate report on what can be done to speed up the LAPD’s officer hiring process.
The Police Commission meets weekly and has authority over Parks and over police policy. But Parks retains ultimate control over individual officer discipline matters.
Of the commission members, only automobile dealership owner Herbert Boeckmann II is returning to the panel from an earlier term. The other four members, all attorneys, were confirmed by the City Council last week.
Caruso, 42, was appointed by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to the Water and Power board, and under then-Mayor Richard Riordan became president of that panel.
Riordan appointed him to the Harbor Commission, but he was rejected by the council. Riordan also offered him a Police Commission post earlier this year after the then-mayor fired commission president Gerald Chaleff, but Caruso at that time declined.
The Los Angeles native and graduate of Pepperdine’s law school founded the real estate company Caruso Affiliated Holdings in 1980. The firm is presently building the expansion of Farmer’s Market.
Ochi, 62, a former teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, directed the city’s Criminal Justice planning office under Bradley. She held the post for a year under Riordan.
She also served as the director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service for four years and as associate director of the Office of National Control Policy.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company