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Only 1 New Deputy Chief Approved by Police Panel

Times Staff Writer

Citing fiscal concerns, the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday rejected Police Chief Daryl F. Gates’ request for four additional deputy chiefs, recommending instead that the City Council authorize only one such position.

Gates, obviously miffed, called the commission’s unanimous vote “short-sighted” and said it may not forestall his proposal to broadly reorganize the department’s top administration.

“One (new deputy chief’s slot) is not enough,” Gates said pointedly, but he noted that two new positions “would do nicely.”

“It’s kind of silly, kind of petty when you think about it,” he said. “I’m trying to keep a vision alive. I don’t know who’s trying to fool whom.” Gates said he was not sure where a new deputy chief, if authorized by the City Council, would be assigned.

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5 Slots Ordered Cut in 1981

To save money, the council in 1981 directed that Gates trim five deputy chiefs slots through attrition, leaving four such positions. Because of recent retirements, only three are filled today. Tests to select a fourth deputy chief from among the department’s 17 commanders are scheduled this month.

Gates has said that four deputy chiefs are inadequate to effectively manage his 7,000-officer department. Without four additional chiefs, he has proposed that the Police Department’s four geographic bureaus--semi-autonomous offices that oversee 5,000 officers in South, Central and West Los Angeles as well as the San Fernando Valley--be consolidated into two operations.

Under the plan, which must first receive Police Commission approval, South Bureau headquarters adjacent to USC would be shut down and combined with Central Bureau operations downtown. West Bureau headquarters in West Los Angeles would be closed and consolidated with San Fernando Valley police operations based in Van Nuys.

On Tuesday, police commissioners did not formally debate Gates’ reorganization proposal, but nonetheless expressed disfavor with the idea of shutting down two bureaus.

“Certainly, we all want to have the best organization for the department that we can have,” said commission Vice President Barbara L. Schlei. “I think what we’re really looking at is a need to balance the real needs of the department with a need not to overburden the taxpayers of this city. We don’t have infinite resources to draw upon.”

Schlei suggested that with five deputy chiefs, one each could be assigned to the four geographic bureaus, with the fifth assigned to an administrative post downtown.


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