Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Delgadillo Offers Advice for Changes by Next Police Chief
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The next Los Angeles police chief needs to hire more officers, fight gangs, and establish credibility with the citizenry, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo told UCLA students and faculty members yesterday.
“It is time for the LAPD to return to its former status as the best police force in the nation, not in five years, not in 15 years, but right now,” Delgadillo said.
He quoted UCLA’s legendary basketball coach John Wooden:
“Failure is not fatal. Failing to change will be.”
The city attorney said that the incoming chief’s top priorities should be fighting gangs and “reestablishing the communities confidence and trust in its police force.”
The new chief “must hire 1,000 more police officers” so that the police force will be up to its task, he said, because “it is unfair for us to expect one officer to do a job that takes two.”
Delgadillo also said that the police force must reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. He acknowledged that the LAPD had made progress in this area, but insisted that the new chief do more to ensure that both the rank and file and commanding staff represent the true make-up of the city.
The city attorney made those statements before an audience of approximately 150 people as he reviewed the accomplishments of his first year in office and then expressed his vision for the upcoming year. He was introduced by third-year law student Songhay Miguda-Armstead, the first African American woman elected President of the Student Bar Association at the UCLA School of Law.
He promised to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles by building a “better, safer city” on a strong foundation.
The top priorities for the native Angeleno during his first year as city attorney included creating safe neighborhoods, reestablishing a relationship between the neighborhoods and the Los Angeles police department, and saving taxpayer dollars, he said.
Delgadillo reported that his office has assigned an experienced prosecutor to each of the LAPD’s 18 divisions under the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program. He referred to the program as a “victory for the city” and for neighborhoods.
His office has also promoted programs to keep children safe before, during and after school, he said. He expressed his support for Arnold’s All-Stars, a privately funded after school program, and Operation Bright Future, a truancy program aimed at keeping children in school and away from gangs even if it requires prosecuting parents whose children are perpetually absent from school.
Fighting child abuse, domestic violence and gang violence were on the agenda this year, Delgadillo said as his wife and year-old son looked on from the front row.
“If their numbers increase, our efforts will increase, too,” Delgadillo said. “If gangs try to take over our neighborhoods, we will fight them block by block.”
Delgadillo said he recognized that bold changes must be made to alter the dynamic between the police and communities in Los Angeles. He said that by changing the way the police respond to the public, “a bridge of trust” has been built between the people and the police.
Delgadillo also addressed fiscal issues. “Every dollar we spend settling a lawsuit is a dollar we cannot spend on our kids, police officers, and communities,” he said.
Thirteen million dollars was returned to the city’s coffers because settlements for general liabilities were less than budgeted, according to the city attorney’s annual report issued in August. The city paid out only half as much this year as it did last year.
Noting that a number of the school’s graduates have gone to work for Delgadillo either permanently or during summers, Dean Jonathan D. Varat of the UCLA School of Law expressed his happiness at the close connection between the school and the city and the City Attorney’s Office. “It is a matter of great pride for us,” he said, adding, “UCLA and Los Angeles are partners.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company