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LA Officials Begin Search for Interim Chief After Police Chief Resigns

April 22, 2002
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LA Officials Begin Search for Interim Chief After Police Chief Resigns

by Leon Drouin Keith, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - City officials were beginning the search for an interim police chief following the resignation of Bernard Parks, who was denied a second term after a tumultuous five years in office.

The Police Commission on Tuesday was scheduled to begin compiling a list of candidates to serve as interim chief.

The list will consist of individuals within the department who are not necessarily interested in the permanent position, said Rick Caruso, president of the commission.

Parks, who resigned Monday after a 37-year career, said he will not sue the city over the commission's refusal to reappoint him.

"Although I've been advised by my attorney that I have a strong legal case and would likely prevail, I have no intention of suing the city of Los Angeles, as I do not want the citizens of this great city to incur any economic loss," Parks said.

Earlier this month, Parks, 58, left open the possibility of legal action against the city. He claimed he was the victim of a political conspiracy and a flawed review process that was supposed to be merit-based.

Parks' departure follows an ugly rift with Mayor James Hahn, who was sharply criticized by members of the black community for refusing to support another term for the chief, who is black. Hahn relied heavily on African-American support in last year's mayoral election.

On April 9, the Police Commission voted 4-1 against granting Parks a second term. All but one of the commissioners were appointed by Hahn. Last week, the City Council rejected Parks' request to reconsider the commission decision.

"I know we're all going to be working on a smooth transition to a new police chief," Hahn said Monday.

Hahn has said he wants a police chief more willing to implement police reforms and community policing programs.

City and police union officials have criticized Parks for his inflexibility on those issues and on police discipline. They also blamed him for a recent rise in violent crime.

Parks has said crime remains lower now than when he first stepped in as chief. He also said discipline improved and more minorities were promoted to top jobs.

Parks said his last day would be sometime next week. His term officially ends in August.

"He left with dignity," said Councilman Nate Holden, a Parks supporter.

In Portland, Ore., Police Chief Mark Kroeker immediately declared himself a candidate to replace Parks. Kroeker spent 32 years in the Los Angeles Police Department and was popular with rank-and-file officers and with citizens in the secession-minded San Fernando Valley, where he was valley bureau commander.

"I see now that there's a need for leadership in the Los Angeles Police Department," said Kroeker, who was one of three finalists when Parks was chosen. "There's a deep sense of turmoil that exists there with a wide range of problems to confront."

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