L.A.'s police chief denied 2nd term Mayor backs panel's decision; Williams

  unclear about future

  Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 03A

  (Copyright 1997)


  LOS ANGELES -- Police Chief Willie Williams' civilian bosses, criticizing his

  leadership style, voted unanimously Monday to oust him.


  Williams said he had done well in his five years as head of the USA's

  third-largest police department. He said he was disappointed but was unclear

  about what he might do to fight for the $173,000-a-year job.


  ``A significant portion of this department supports the chief of police -- period,''

  said Williams, 53, who was police commissioner in Philadelphia when he was

  tapped for the Los Angeles job in 1992.


  Mayor Richard Riordan backed the commission and suggested that Deputy Chief

  Bernard Parks, a black 32-year LAPD veteran, be appointed interim chief when

  Williams' five-year contract ends July 6.


  Williams replaced controversial Daryl Gates in the aftermath of a racial

  explosion touched off by the videotaped police beating of black motorist Rodney



  Ray Fisher, president of the five-member police commission, credited Williams

  with some achievements but cited a failure by Williams to become an effective



  ``As an African-American, the chief quickly became a symbol of positive change

  to the city's minority communities as well as to the city at large,'' Fisher said. But

  Williams ``did not take steps to become a respected leader.''


  The City Council can overrule the commission, but that would require agreement

  by 10 of the 15 council members to consider the issue.


  Since Williams' arrival, violent crime has dropped more than 20% and he scored

  a 66% approval rating with the public.


  Complaints against officers dropped from more than 1,300 in 1991 to 602 in



  Reactions included:


  ``We are disappointed and we think it's unfortunate for the citizens of Los

  Angeles,'' said Ira Harris, executive director of the National Association of Black

  Law Enforcement Executives. ``Given the support that Chief Williams had

  among the citizens, it seems that the city is losing leadership instrumental in

  bringing the department even closer to the people it serves.''


  ``The police commission did not appreciate or chose to ignore the battle he

  faced,'' said John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League. ``They

  were working overtime to undermine him.''


  ``We feel for him,'' said Dave Hepburn of the Los Angeles Police Protective

  League. ``He was given an extremely difficult task. . . . Everyone surrounding

  him had 25-30 years' experience so he was put at an extreme disadvantage trying

  to get the reins of the department.''


  Williams was in ``over his head,'' City Councilman Richard Alatorre said.


  Contributing: Steve Marshall

  PHOTO,color,AP; PHOTO,b/w,AP