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Gates Backs Test of Community-Based Policing Programs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates on Monday announced his support of a proposal to implement pilot community-based policing programs at selected police stations across the city by January.

The goal of the proposal sponsored by City Councilmen Marvin Braude and Mark Ridley-Thomas is to foster trust and respect between the Police Department and residents through collaborative efforts to identify and solve crime problems.

The proposal, which goes to the full City Council today for a vote, already has been endorsed by the Police Commission.

“We need to move and I’m ready to do that,” Gates told the council’s ad hoc committee on Christopher Commission recommendations for reducing excessive use of force by police.

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But Gates also suggested that the proposal offered little new for his department because it already has an extensive community-based policing program in certain divisions, including the one in the San Fernando Valley where the police beating of Rodney G. King occurred March 3.

Gates said the proposal would merely make existing programs “very recognizable” to the public.

Ridley-Thomas disagreed. “The Police Department has had ongoing relations with certain elements in the community--we’re not talking about taking those and dusting them off,” he said.

“We’re talking about a new apparatus that relates to the Police Department in different ways. We are after partnerships--active citizen participation in tandem with innovative police work.”

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The proposal, he said, primarily differs from existing police-community programs in that it requires direct participation of the Police Commission and progress reports to be provided on a regular basis to the City Council.

The proposal specifically calls for the Police Commission and the chief to establish experimental community-based policing programs at four stations--one in each of the department’s four geographic bureaus--within six weeks of adoption by the council.

Gates said the participating stations most likely would be selected from among the Hollenbeck, 77th, North-East, Harbor and Foothill divisions, where there already are programs that encourage active citizen participation and strong police-community relations.

In an interview later, Gates said the experimental programs could be implemented at little cost to the city, which is facing its worst budget crisis in years.

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The programs would focus accountability on station captains, and assign officers to small neighborhoods for up to two years to ensure that they become familiar with residents.

Community-based policing councils would be created in each station, composed of local residents and community and business leaders who would help the station leaders identify crime problems and devise ways to solve them.

A coordinator would be designated at each station to monitor the program, and to provide a quarterly report to the Police Commission and the City Council.


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