BERNARD PARKS DOESN'T LIKE THE SHIFT SCHEDULE
It's been fairly well established by now that Bernard Parks, the former LAPD police chief, is attempting to gain some political capital by focusing on the current homicide spike. He posed for the media with the families of homicide victims and blamed the spike on the LAPD's 3/12 shift schedule. His claim is that the new schedule puts fewer cops on the street and that contributes to the rise in killings. Never mind that some of the victims were killed under the old schedule.
Parks wants to be mayor. And he wants to heap some blame on his successor, William Bratton. For you non-Los Angeles residents who may not be up on LA politics, James Hahn, the current mayor is the man who made the decision to get rid of Parks and replace him with Bratton.
During the ramp up to Bratton's appointment, Parks' strongest political ally was former council member Nate Holden. Holden term-limited out and was succeeded in his council seat by Parks. Holden was nothing if not an old-school strong arm meister. In his lobbying for Parks, Holden pointed fingers of blame for Parks' failure as a chief in every direction.
Despite the fact that rank and file cops gave Parks failing grades as a chief, Holden maintained that Parks was an effective leader. Parks was being sabotaged by a mostly white command structure, Holden said. When the city council pointed to the awful academy recruitment record under Parks, Holden blamed a thriving a economy for siphoning away qualified candidates into the private sector. And when the council and others pointed to the rising crime rate under Parks, Holden used the peculiar logic of a lousy job market as a reason for the rising crime rate. So in Holden's view, the economy was simultaneously good and bad. Mr. Greenspan should look into this.
When it became clear that Bratton was going to be annointed chief, Holden encouraged Parks to sue the city for not renewing his contract. Parks was smart enough to pass on this suggestion. And when Bratton was confirmed as Hahn's choice, Holden promised that Hahn would "pay" for his "betrayal."
In Holden's view, the people Hahn betrayed was the black community. It was obvious at the time that Holden believed skin color was more important than effective leadership. Parks is a good guy in every sense of a word. But he's not what you'd call an inspiring leader. He was a micro-manager. A from-the-top down, command and control, rigidly structured operator who wouldn't let subordinates exercise any personal initiative. It was his way or the highway. Rank and file morale plainly sucked under Parks. At least two coppers put in their jackets that if they were killed in the line of duty, they didn't want Parks at their funeral. Nothing like that has happened under Bratton's watch.
While Bratton may not be as popular with the blue suits as one of their own might have been (Mark Kroeker comes to mind), he's gained big points for letting subordinates become pro-active and creative. The Valley's Motel Six squad recently reported on by Jason Kandel in the Daily News is just one example. It's yielding results and Bratton is blessing the operation for use in other divisions. That came from the bottom, not the top. Ideas like that come from the bottom because that's where the eyes and ears are. You don't see known felons walking in and out of motels on Sepulveda Boulevard sitting in Parker Center. Educated eyeballs like that can only come from street cops. And it takes a flexible command structure to see the value of a good idea and give it the proper resources, even if it's Not Invented Here.
As the mayor's race spools up, you have to wonder if Parks will continue to work the rising homicide rate as an issue. You also have to wonder how much advice he's getting from Holden. Is Holden sitting in his Marina condo nursing his "betrayal" and working to leverage a little payback on Hahn? Will Parks take Holden's advice? Will Holden ever get beyond the skin game? It should be an interesting race.