The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 03, 1997, Page 3, Image 3

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    First black LAPD chief’s fate uncertain
Lua ainuhlhs (ai^ — me man mrea to
restore the Los Angeles Police Department’s
reputation has convinced the people on the
street but not the cop on the beat. Now his job
is on the line. (
Willie Williams, the city’s first black police
chief and the only one hired from outside the
LAPD in 50 years, also has angered the mayor
and the city Police Commission, which warned
in 1995 that he was on thin ice.
Williams inherited a department shamed by
the Rodney King beating and its failure to con
trol bloody riots that erupted in 1992 after ac
quittals in the criminal trial of officers video
taped beating King.
Rebuilding confidence in the embattled de
partment was a tall order. But Williams and
many city residents say he has delivered.
In a letter requesting a second five-year term
as the city’s 50th police chief, Williams said
he fulfilled his promise of more patrols in the
nation’s second-largest city and promotions for
minorities and women.
“Due in large part to my efforts, the once
exemplary reputation of the LAPD has been
largely restored,” Williams wrote.
In a recent Los Angeles Times poll, 66 per
cent of residents surveyed approve of Williams,
compared with 56 percent last June. More than
half feel as safe or safer than they did five years
When he took the job in 1992, Williams
pledged to adopt reforms recommended by the
Christopher Commission, a blue-ribbon panel
that chronicled racism and brutality in the de
partment of his predecessor, 14-year Chief
Daryl Gates. %
Since Williams arrived in Los Angeles from
Philadelphia, where he was police commis
sioner, violent crime has dropped more than
20 percent and complaints against officers
dropped from more than 1,300 in 1991 to 602
two years ago.
Mayor Richard Riordan has not commented
on whether Williams should be rehired to the
$172,000-a-year post, but they have clashed
over the number of new officers needed and a
Las Vegas trip Williams took that was paid for
by a casino.
Another gripe is that Williams hasn’t taken
the required law enforcement test, said a vet
eran officer who spoke only on the condition
of anonymity.
“It really goes to the issue of credibility,”
the officer said. “Here’s a guy who is making a
tremendous amount of judgments on peace-of
ficers, but he isn’t a peace officer.”
Williams declined an interview request from
The Associated Press for this story.
In 1995, the Police Commission told Will
lams he could be tired if he didn t improve his
management skills and hurry up with policy
changes ranging from officer discipline and the
use of force to community policing.
Commission members, who are appointed
by the mayor, have until April 7 to render their
decision, but could make a determination as
early as this week. Regardless, the City Coun
cil has the final say. Williams’ term aids July
His lawyers have already drafted a lawsuit
claim they plan to file if Williams isn’t given a
second term, but they have offered to withdraw
it for $3-million, the Los Angeles Times re
ported Friday.
The claim alleges the commission used the
wrong standards to evaluate Williams’ perfor
mance and acted with bias, the Times said. It
also alleges he was unable to properly do his
job because of political pressure from Riordan.
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