Council Asks Probe of Political Use of Police Data

The Los Angeles City Council called Wednesday for the Police Commission to conduct "a full investigation" into Assistant Police Chief Robert L. Vernon's use of a police computer to gather intelligence for use against political activist Michael Zinzun in a Pasadena city election.

The council asked the Police Commission to "assure that such action will not be repeated" and also said an official apology to Zinzun is appropriate.

Vernon was reprimanded by Chief Daryl F. Gates after he used a police computer to gather data on Zinzun, a former Black Panther now running for the Pasadena Board of Directors. According to Gates, Vernon had used the computer to do research on Zinzun and had 156 pages of data printed with the intent of providing them to Zinzun's rivals.

After being alerted to Vernon's actions by other department personnel, Gates said he intervened before Vernon could deliver the information. Gates has asked Vernon to repay the printing costs.

Zinzun, a member of the Coalition Against Police Abuse, was a key figure in the 1983 dismantling of the department's Public Disorder Intelligence Division (PDID), which had illegally spied on lawful citizens.

Vernon's activities were especially troubling in light of the PDID case, said Councilman Robert Farrell, author of the motion calling for an investigation.

"Michael Zinzun's name is in that computer. Why? He's not a criminal," Farrell said.

The council asked the police commission to report its findings.

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