Determined to keep Assistant Chief Bernard C. Parks at the Los Angeles Police Department, four City Council members have drafted a plan to allow Parks to receive his current salary and benefits even after he is demoted.
The council members, led by Zev Yaroslavsky, argue that Parks is entitled to the $128,388 he earned annually as the LAPD's No. 2 officer, despite Chief Willie L. Williams' plan to move him to a lower position.
"Although the chief has a right to pick his own top management team, he doesn't have the right to muscle a guy out of the department who has contributed 29 years of his life to the citizens of the city," Yaroslavsky said. "The way Parks was treated left everyone's jaw hanging. It was not only unprofessional, it was unwarranted."
Parks could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Williams, as well as Mayor Richard Riordan, declined to discuss the issue, saying Parks' employment status is a confidential personnel matter.
Earlier this month, Williams announced his plans to demote Parks to a deputy chief position and promote Chief of Staff Ronald Banks to second in command. A deputy chief earns $6,500 less than the assistant chief.
Williams said he needed to make the changes if he is to forge ahead with an ambitious expansion of the force and implement reforms. However, it has been an open secret that Williams and Parks--the man he edged out two years ago for the chief's position--did not get along.
Several council members, angered by the chief's decision, brokered a deal two weeks ago that would allow Parks to retain his rank until early next year and then retire with a full pension of $89,868 annually, about $4,500 a year more than his retirement would have been after the demotion.
But council members said Wednesday they wanted to come up with an alternative plan that would make it palatable for Parks to stay. In addition to Yaroslavsky, those supporting the proposal to maintain Park's salary were Councilmen Richard Alatorre, John Ferraro and Nate Holden.
"He is a top cop in everyone's eye," Holden said. "He has the respect of the men and women in the department. It would be hard to lose Parks and not miss him."
A source close to Parks, who asked not to be identified, said the assistant chief is reviewing all his options and will decide soon which one to pursue. He has until mid-October to decide what to do.
Yaroslavsky said he and his colleagues have asked if the city attorney's office can find a way to keep Parks' salary intact. Such a move would probably require the support of the full council, he said.
"We have taken the temperature of the council, and I think we have the support," Yaroslavsky said.
Times staff writer Jim Newton contributed to this report