Wednesday, January 2, 2002
Group Linked to Police Union Urges Parks Be Replaced as LAPD Chief
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
A community group with what leaders call non-financial ties to the police union announced Monday its goal of replacing city police Chief Bernard Parks.
The group, Change our Chief of Police, was formed in early December to find alternatives for Parks, but is not calling for his resignation, the group’s chair, Al Ruvalcaba, said.
“Our goal is to get the Police Commission to open up the field of candidates for the chief of police position,” Ruvalcaba said. “We want to do a nationwide search. There are really outstanding candidates. They’re all over the country. As the second largest city in the country, there’s no reason for anything less than the best.”
Parks has indicated that he will seek a new term after his current one ends in July. The Police Commission has several months to decide Parks’ reappointment if Parks officially declares his intention to run by mid-February.
The group hopes to have four town hall meetings covering all of Los Angeles in the next few months to find the communities’ feelings on Parks. The communities’ responses will then be passed on as a recommendation to the Police Commission, Ruvalcaba said.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League is a staunch critic of Parks and is lobbying against his reappointment to a second five-year term.
The Police Protective League supports the community group but does not offer any financial support, Ruvalcaba and two league directors, Peter Repovich and Ken Hillman, said. Repovich’s and Hillman’s names are contact numbers on COCOP’s press release.
Hillman said the PPL acts as a “conduit” between COCOP and community members upset with Parks.
“We have been referring people to Al Ruvalcaba,” Hillman said. “We had a bunch of people call us complaining about their issues and we’re getting them to the right people.”
Ruvalcaba, who is a retired police officer, said he knew Hillman from his days in the union, when Hillman was just elected director of the league and Ruvalcaba was a delegate for a police station in East Los Angeles.
He said community members approached him in the fall, looking to form a group that would help replace Parks. Ruvalcaba said he is the only past or present city police officer in the group, which includes no city employees.
Ruvalcaba said he approached Hillman to “compare notes” since he knew the league’s position on Parks.
The press release from COCOP uses many of the same stats the league has used to justify Parks’ replacement: the release cites the year-old USC-UCLA study finding 57 percent of LAPD officers would leave the department if they could; and it cites recent statistics that violent crime is up and city arrests are down.
The group is using the same PR firm as the police union, but probably not for long since the group has little money and is looking for a sponsor, Ruvalcaba said.
The Police Commission could not be reached for comment.
At present, around 20 members volunteer their support for COCOP and the group will meet next month to draft a plan and find a location to hold more regular meetings.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company