'Team Player' Appointed Police Department Liaison

Times Staff Writer

Seeking to further improve its once-strained relationship with Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, the Los Angeles Police Commission has chosen Cmdr. Matthew V. Hunt, a "team player" among Gates' administrators, as the commission's new liaison to the Police Department.

The selection of Hunt, 54, as commander of commission operations was made four months after Deputy Police Chief David D. Dotson was chosen for the same job. Last month, Dotson was promoted to the rank of assistant chief and has assumed command of the Police Department's office of administrative services.

Hunt, a native of Cork, Ireland, is a 23-year Police Department veteran. Now the No.-2 man in the department's South Bureau, he is expected to assume his new role by the end of the month.

The commission picked Hunt during a closed-door session Tuesday night. He accepted the job Wednesday.

"We looked for a person who we felt could work well with the commission, who had good lines of communication with the department and had proven himself in performance with respect to holding other positions in the department," Commissioner Robert M. Talcott said. "Matt Hunt met all of those criteria with flying colors."

In his new post, Hunt will advise commissioners on policy matters and conduct special investigations on the panel's behalf.

"I guess I'm an adventurer at heart," Hunt said Wednesday. "I hope to do my very best to keep a very positive environment between (the commission and the department)."

Hunt becomes the fourth man to hold the liaison position in the eight years it has existed. The job has often been a precarious one and, until Dotson, a dead end if one hoped to remain in the Police Department.

Dotson's predecessor, former Cmdr. Jack White, resigned last November after six years on the job to head the Los Angeles county district attorney's bureau of investigations. White was perceived by many as being outside the mainstream of Gates' inner administrative circle and antagonistic toward the chief's office. As a result, according to some, communications between Gates and the commission suffered during White's tenure.

Like White's replacement, Dotson, Hunt has enjoyed a close working relationship with Gates.

'Not a Dissident'

"This guy is a mainstream Gates person, not a dissident," said one source close to the commission. "In pre-Dotson, the commission might have deliberately picked somebody outside Gates' circle. Not now."

Insiders hailed Dotson's selection as the beginning of a new era of cooperation between Gates and the commissioners. Hunt is expected to continue in the same vein.

Neither Gates nor Dotson could be reached for comment Wednesday. Deputy Police Chief Jesse Brewer, who commands the South Bureau, commended Hunt's selection.

"He has a lot of tact and a lot of diplomacy," Brewer said. "He's what we need to bring the commission and the chief's office together. The relationship has been somewhat adversarial, and I think Matt Hunt can turn that around. I'm going to be looking hard and wide to fill his shoes."

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