Los Angeles Police Commissioner Barbara Schlei called on Police Chief Daryl F. Gates on Tuesday to apologize for calling members of the city's police union "a bunch of dissidents who don't want to work" during remarks he made last week in response to a lawsuit.
Gates' remarks "must be dismissed as simply another example of an unfortunate statement," Schlei said during the weekly Police Commission meeting, as Gates looked on.
"Our officers do want to work. They work hard. They are dedicated citizens who daily risk their lives for our safety and protection," she added.
Gates, who appeared to be caught off guard by Schlei's statements, said that it is "very inappropriate for a commissioner to comment on pending litigation" and that he would not discuss the details of the lawsuit filed by the Police Protective League.
But he did respond, sarcastically:
"Obviously, commissioner, I just haven't gone to the same school you have to polish my verbal skills. When I learn to speak as well as you do and not irritate people, then I'll think it over and then I'll do a better job."
Last Friday, the chief criticized the league after the union had charged in its suit that a lieutenant in the Police Department's Central Traffic Division--in violation of the state Vehicle Code--had established daily ticket quotas for officers.
Gates said Tuesday that he did not mean to demean any police officers when he reacted to the legal action.
"I made those remarks . . . to defend very hard-working police officers and to keep the public believing that we do not have officers who bellyache needlessly, and that we have a union that goes to court.
"That's why I made those remarks. If you don't like them," he told Schlei, "I'm sorry about that."
In its lawsuit, the league alleges that Central Traffic Division supervisors established production "goals" by instructing traffic officers to write 10 tickets and make one drunk driving arrest per day, with 60% of the tickets to be written for major moving violations.
Such "goals," the union said, amount to quotas.
Schlei said Tuesday that if any goals have been established, "that plan should have been presented to, and approved by, this commission prior to implementation.