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Member of L.A. Police Panel Announces His Resignation

Times Staff Writer

Expressing confidence that policing in the city has improved on his watch, Los Angeles Police Commissioner Rick Caruso, an appointee of outgoing Mayor James K. Hahn, announced Friday that he was resigning from the civilian oversight panel to dedicate more time to his development company.

Caruso, 45, chief executive of Caruso Affiliated and owner of the Grove shopping center, said he would step down July 1 or upon confirmation of his replacement, and said he plans to view civic life from the sidelines.

He said there were three reasons he was stepping down.

“I was brought in by Jimmy Hahn to turn around the place, and I believe I have done that and left it in good hands with Bill Bratton and his command staff,” Caruso said. “The LAPD is a very different place from when I arrived.

“I believe the new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has the right to pick his own commissioners. And I want to spend more time managing my company.”

Caruso called it a “privilege and honor” to have served the public and the Los Angeles Police Department as member and president of the Police Commission for the last four years.

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Villaraigosa praised Caruso’s tenure.

“I know that he loves and cares about our city and that he will continue to play an integral role in making L.A. a great place to live, work and raise a family,” the mayor-elect said.

Caruso was president of the Police Commission when it refused to retain then-Chief Bernard C. Parks for a second term in 2002. Caruso led efforts to recruit Parks’ replacement, current Chief William J. Bratton, a former New York police commissioner, and he incurred the wrath of many leaders in the black community for failing to keep Parks.

Known for his blunt talk, Caruso could be outspoken to a fault, becoming embroiled in a controversy involving allegations that he called Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) a “bitch” during the debate over the replacement of Parks.

But the developer was first to apologize when Los Angeles police officers fatally shot a 13-year-old African American boy in a stolen car. And he rebuked his commission’s slow response in the wake of the beating of a car-theft suspect by an LAPD officer.

During his tenure, the commission overhauled the LAPD’s disciplinary procedures, recruitment and work schedules.

But Caruso suffered setbacks too. Under his leadership, the commission decided that officers should not respond to unverified burglar alarms. Then, against his wishes, the panel reversed itself.


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