2 Ex-Chiefs to Serve on Police Reform Panel : Law enforcement: The watchdog group will press the council to implement recommendations of the Christopher Commission.
Two former Los Angeles police chiefs have agreed to serve on a high-profile watchdog committee that will press the Los Angeles City Council to implement Police Department reforms advocated by the Christopher Commission, sources said Wednesday.
Former chiefs Ed Davis, now a state senator, and Tom Reddin, head of a security company, will join about 40 other prominent business, civic and community leaders on the advocacy committee, which is expected to announce its formation today.
Reddin confirmed his participation. “I have been through the Christopher Commission report three or four times, and I am hard put to find myself in disagreement with anything they have written,” he said. “The sooner we start, the more effective we can be.”
The broad-based committee, which will include at least four members of the Christopher Commission, begins work next week when the City Council starts debating a series of Christopher Commission reforms endorsed by a five-member council panel on Monday.
“Tuesday morning, there will be a group of people deployed at the council,” said one source familiar with the committee’s genesis. “The lobbying will begin.”
Creation of the watchdog committee could prove politically explosive at City Hall, where some council members have expressed unwillingness to adopt the entire package of Christopher Commission reforms proposed after the police beating of motorist Rodney G. King last March.
The council panel, for example, recommended approval of several key reforms, but did not support a controversial proposal to relinquish new City Council powers over the Police Department.
“Those who oppose any portion of the Christopher Commission recommendations will find themselves facing a very distinguished panel of leaders,” said Bill Chandler, a spokesman for Mayor Tom Bradley, who has endorsed the commission’s reforms.
Several members of the citizens committee said Wednesday that the group is prepared to launch a ballot initiative independent of the council to get the reforms approved, if necessary.
“A number of the council members will go with what they see as the political winds out there, instead of focusing on the thrust of the report,” said William Robertson, a committee member and president of the local AFL-CIO. “I see the committee as the vehicle to make the dramatic changes that are necessary in Los Angeles.”
Councilman Marvin Braude, chairman of the council’s ad hoc panel on the Christopher Commission, said he does not regard the formation of the committee as an attack on his panel’s work.
“I am not saying it is necessary or essential, but I don’t see it as destructive in any way,” Braude said. “And that doesn’t foreclose anybody else from doing the same thing, who may have a contrary view.”
Council President John Ferraro said he doubted the committee will have much influence on the council.
“I don’t consider it a threat at all,” Ferraro said. “If we had ignored the whole process, then they would have some issue to put an initiative on the ballot. But we haven’t done that. There are going to be minor changes . . . to the recommendations.”
The citizens committee will act independently of the Christopher Commission, but it will in effect serve as its lobbying arm, sources said. Creation of the committee was envisioned in the commission report, which called for a body of “distinguished citizens” to “advocate and monitor enactment” of the recommended reforms.
A spokeswoman for Warren Christopher said the commission chairman will not be involved with the citizens committee, but she said that he supports its efforts.
The citizens committee is also expected to raise funds to support any ballot measures--including those endorsed by the council--that implement the Christopher Commission reforms. The group will also hire a political consulting firm to coordinate the committee’s lobbying and fund-raising activities.
“If the council reverts to some of the irresponsible behavior that at least some members demonstrated for several months following the Rodney King incident, it is going to be absolutely essential that all segments of the city outside of the elected arena come together,” said John Mack, a committee member and head of the Urban League. “Los Angeles cannot afford less. The future of this city, the future of peace and tranquility and harmony are resting in the balance.”
Organizers of the citizens committee were still contacting prospective members Wednesday, but sources said that those who agreed to serve included Christopher Commission members Roy A. Anderson, Leo F. Estrada, Mickey Kantor and Andrea Sheridan Ordin; Gilbert T. Ray, executive director of the commission; Dan Garcia, a lobbyist and former police commissioner; Nelson Rising, senior partner with Maguire Thomas Partners; Frank G. Wells, president and chief operating officer of the Walt Disney Co., and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, former congresswoman, assemblywoman and county supervisor.
Sources familiar with the committee’s creation said efforts were made to include both conservatives and liberals.
“This is a real cross-section,” the source said. “This way, if there is a particular problem with a particular council person, we can target very specifically a call from a person on the committee to that council person.”