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Want LAPD reform? Then change they way sergeants are hired.

To the editor: The new policies and training initiated by the Los Angeles Police Department are steps in the right direction to improving community relations and trust. ("LAPD urges officers to be community guardians, not warriors on crime," Aug. 21)

However, all the training and lectures by high-ranking officers will not succeed without the willing cooperation of the first-line supervisors: the sergeants. They are the force in the field with direct contact with officers, and their actions can make or break any policy. There must be a review of how sergeants are selected.

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Too many police officers seek a promotion to sergeant because of the substantial pay raise, not because they have a desire to lead men. A selection process must be established in which field officers can increase their incomes based on competency and experience, and those who have a genuine desire to lead can follow a different track to sergeant.

Then — and only then — will the LAPD succeed in meeting its community relations goals.

Joseph Gunn, Burbank

The writer is a former executive director of the Los Angeles Police Commission.

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