May 21, 1910: The Times reports some alarming statistics for the Police Department. Arrests have fallen off sharply and criminal complaints have increased. Various officials offer different explanations: officers don’t bother with trivial offenses, they are frustrated with permissive judges, stool pigeons have been eliminated and officers are afraid of losing their jobs over a complaint. Several officers refer to an organization called the League of Justice, which will require more digging.
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
March 29, 1978: Daryl F. Gates becomes police chief.
( George Holliday / Courtesy of KTLA via Associated Press )
Four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged in the videotaped beating of Rodney G. King on March 3, 1991, were acquitted in Superior Court, sparking massive riots. Two of the officers were later convicted in federal court of violating King's civil rights.
In a move clearly intended to restore confidence in the department, Gates announced the decision to seek prosecution, which resulted from departmental inquiries into the events. One is a criminal investigation by the Major Crimes Unit and the other is a review by the department's internal affairs unit.
The three officers and the sergeant have been taken off field duty but are still on the department payroll, Gates said. They will also be charged administratively and may be suspended without pay at that point.
Separate investigations into the incident are being conducted by the district attorney and the FBI.
"He still says that this is an aberration and I don't believe this is an aberration," she said. "Instances similar to the one we have on videotape happen all the time."
"I have absolutely no thoughts of resigning," he said. "Please let my friends out there know who think this is the time, I'm not going. I'm going to be there. If anything, this is a time for strength of leadership."
In Sacramento, Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) reintroduced a bill vetoed in September by then-Gov. George Deukmejian that would prohibit a peace officer from using more force than reasonable in making an arrest, preventing an escape or overcoming resistance.
March 17, 1991
Under fire for a videotaped beating in which his officers apparently kicked and clubbed an unarmed man, Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates paid a visit to The Times on Thursday, hoping to correct what he believes are misconceptions about his department and his leadership.
Gates, a veteran of many controversies during his 13-year reign, has had to defend himself before. His "inelegant" speech, as he calls it, has led to numerous public-relations problems: his suggestion that some blacks may have been more susceptible to police chokeholds than "normal people"; his reference to local TV anchor Christine Lund as an "Aryan broad" at a closed dinner meeting; and his branding of the killer of Tina Kerbat, a female officer shot to death last month by a foreign national, as an "El Salvadoran drunk."
But in recent days, the chorus of critics calling for his resignation has intensified; he was booed at a Police Commission meeting; the ACLU placed a newspaper ad branding his department a "gang"; and a citizen's committee is forming to demand his ouster.
Gates, however, has vowed to stay put. In fact, he has launched a counteroffensive of his own, including a flurry of national TV appearances and news conferences, aimed at restoring his and the department's image.
Dressed in a brown suit with a powder-blue hanky and DARE pin on his lapel, the 64-year-old chief spend about an hour with The Times' publisher and editors, discussing the current crisis, his proposed remedies and past accomplishments.
Despite what he considers to be an adversarial relationship with The Times, he spoke calmly and cordially, never raising his voice, and doing far more talking than his questioners. Intensely private, Gates was so relaxed that he said his decision to resign would ultimately hinge on the advice of his wife of 21 years, Sima, who is urging him to stick it out.
Question: Could you talk a little about your impression of the police commission hearings this morning.
Answer: . . . . Clearly (it was) an opportunity for people to vent and that's what a lot of people did do today--vented . . . . I've been through it two or three times perhaps not that vehement each time but almost.
Of course, the rocks are all being aimed right at me, as if I created all this -- the entire problem -- and that my ouster will solve the problem. I don't feel that way and so therefore I have no plans to leave the department much to the unhappiness of many people I'm sure.
But I don't see that that would be in anyone's best interests. Certainly not mine. I didn't spend 42 years--and devote my life to this department--to slink away under a cloud of thunder. I'm not going to do that. If I leave, and when I leave, it'll be at a time when I can leave without slinking and without running away from something when it's not my nature to run away.
. . . . I read a lot of what has been printed--particularly on the editorial pages--and I wonder where you guys have been. I don't think you know the Los Angeles Police Department and that bothers me that you are not acquainted with what we've been doing . . . .
I hired the first department psychologist, the first police psychologist. I hired him back in 1968, before anyone in the police business ever thought it was a good thing to do. That's been our history: To be way ahead of policing in America, at the lead in policing in America. And I think we continue to do that.
. . . . You guys continue to refer to our female police officer who was shot as a "policewoman." That is a derogatory term. That's why I say you don't know much about our police department: It's a derogatory term within the Los Angeles Police Department among women officers. They don't like that. That connotes a time when they were just that: "policewomen." It said "policewomen" on their badges; they could not rise above the rank of Sergeant. All that's been changed. They are police officers . . . . And we did it before most departments in the country--they were still calling them policewomen . . . .
. . . . We've got a Hispanic in charge of the Academy. I bet no one knew that in this room--that a Hispanic has been running the police academy for some time. That blacks run the recruits through the academy. I bet you didn't know that Internal Affairs was run by a black captain--matter of fact, two black captains--for over a year.
I look at all these things and I say to myself, "I don't know how much more I can do in the Los Angeles Police Department to create an atmosphere of impartiality of atmosphere that produces a department that is sensitive to the community and that is that looks like the face of the community than I have done.
I've hired more blacks, I've hired more Hispanics, I've hired more women than any other chief in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department. Some say, that, "Well, that's because there's a consent decree."
Well, that's baloney! Just because there's a consent decree doesn't mean you have to hire. To hire you have to go out and find them; you have to talk them into becoming police officer; you have to be enthusiastic, and you . . . have to make sure that they understand they have good opportunities within the department. So that means you have to create an environment in the department that says you have opportunity in the department. And we've created that environment. . . . .
The Urban League and the National Conference of Christians and Jews put out a report some years ago . . . . One of those recommendations was to do a job of human relations training at the Los Angeles police academy . . . .
I've implemented every single recommendation . . . . Yet you guys comment that we have to do something about our training. We gotta do something about our human relations . . . . I think, "Holy cow, I don't know what else to do with that department than what I have done.
Q: If you have all these programs and they work, how do you explain the outpouring at the police commission today? The ACLU is one thing, but John Mack and George Will, people like that, are another. If this is an aberration, then why is there this huge outpouring?
A: . . . . I can't explain anything. I can only tell you this that the complaints we've had in the last 3 years have been coming down . . . . Civil suits have been coming down the last 3 years. The highest year with some kind of complaints, claims that is, I think was back in 1985 . . . . They've been coming down since . . . .
Q: But it is not the George Wills or the John Macks but the bookkeepers in South L.A., the lawyers in Baldwin Hills. It's almost a joke among many blacks in Los Angeles--men particularly. What was the excuse this time--a flashing taillight? And everybody laughs at the dinner party because everyone has a story. I'm talking regular people who are not anti-police. Why do all these people have stories about their sons, their husbands, their cousins?
A: It's impossible to respond to the question because you have to deal with a case-by-case basis . . . . I can't answer those questions on a broad-based basis because there's no way to answer it in that fashion. I do know this: While your survey said one thing, the survey that you had in 1988 said another thing. (It) said that 80% of the people supported the Los Angeles Police Department. Now if it were that bad in any community, would we have that kind of support? From the survey we just did, the Proposition 1, the believability factor of the chief of police was higher than any other official in Southern California. Higher than the mayor's.
Q: There is a theory that when a institution has problems, what's needed is a fresh set of eyes. Los Angeles, because of our civil-service structure, promotes from within. But maybe we need someone from the outside. Do you think that would help?
A: . . . . I ask: Who you're going to get to come in that can do a better job. I don't think you can. You bring people in from the outside when you don't have the talent from the inside. It destroys you.
Ask any FBI agent how they feel. They go in the FBI and there's no way in the world they can reach the top unless they go into the law and become a judge and then become on the appellate bench and then they can become the head of the FBI. And they all feel that's why FBI agents, aside from the age problem they've got they're gone. Just at their time they're gone.
That's the reason I made the speech yesterday. I want to get them out of that lethargy, I want to start building their pride. One reason I think I need to stay is because they will follow me . . . .
This there wasn't any question. Absolutely any question. We've had officers kick somebody that had their hands handcuffed. We've had them punch somebody that was handcuffed. We've had them use a club excessively. We've had those cases. To my best knowledge, we've done complete investigations and, where we have determined they were at fault, we have taken very very stringent action. I'm not an easy disciplinarian. They say you can't fire people in the civil-service system. You can. I fire them every year. I fire police officers every year . . . .
Some of them I did not mean, some I think are a total distortion of what I meant and what I said. Total distortions. . . . .
And so 13 years of speaking out 13 years of being on the record and 13 years of never having a press agent to (make) press statements to the media. I do them without, maybe a note here or there, but I speak right from the top of my head and right from my heart in most cases. I just tell you that there's no one else in this country that could have done it for 13 years and not make an inelegant statement now and then.
April 11, 1910: Dr. Charles Zerfing, the police surgeon, wants police officers and firefighters to be trained in “first aid to the injured.” Zerfing also wants an automobile ambulance equipped with emergency supplies, The Times says. Zerfing’s actions come after delays hindered the response to treating plainclothes Officer David Brooks, who was shot to death by robbers at 30th Street and Grand Avenue. The killing was evidently never solved.
Mayor Alexander’s electric car!
April 10, 1910: Mayor George Alexander says he’ll still be chauffeured on his official duties but is learning how to drive an electric Waverly phaeton for personal use. The 70-year-old mayor of Los Angeles says, "This chauffeuring is serious business. You know, there's a whole lot to learn in managing this machine so you won't try to run over the curbstones. But I'll get there, all right."
April 7, 1910: A century ago, hogs were fed garbage, and if you had a lot of hogs, you needed lots of garbage. What better way to get it than what was discarded from Los Angeles restaurants? P.J. Durbin, a hog raiser in Vernon, scoffed at a contract awarded to Charles Alexander and the new city regulation requiring that garbage be taken five miles from the city. As a result, one of his drivers was charged with collecting garbage without a permit, the other with using a wagon that didn’t meet sanitary standards.
The Arroyo Seco branch library via Google maps’ street view.
Wednesday’s story by Maeve Reston on a proposal to cut hours in the Los Angeles Public Library system mentioned several branches that could be affected, including the Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library in Highland Park.
One might assume, given the Daily Mirror’s emphasis on history, that I would rely exclusively on the Central Library. Not so. Although I have already written in support of the Central Library, I would like to add my voice in support of the regional branches, specifically Arroyo Seco. A library official has defended closing Arroyo Seco on Sundays, citing relatively light patronage. Although the figures may be accurate, they don’t tell the entire story.
Because I live in South Pasadena, which has a small, single library, I regularly request books on interlibrary loan to be delivered to the Arroyo Seco branch, just across the border in Highland Park. When I began using Arroyo Seco, it was in an old, 1950s-style institutional building that was worn, tired and unappealing. Several years ago, the library built a wonderful new building on the site.
The Arroyo Seco branch may be near South Pasadena, but this area of Highland Park is a world away. On the other side of the Arroyo Seco, the upscale homes and boutiques of South Pasadena give way to the muffler shops, discount stores and fast-food restaurants of Highland Park.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Arroyo Seco library is an outpost of learning – a essential gateway to a bigger world -- in this gritty, urban neighborhood. Many of the patrons are Spanish-speaking and are at the library not merely to study or check out books, but for classes and programs offered by the staff and visiting teachers. For example, “Cómo Utilizar el Internet” and “Songs for the Very Young / Canciones para Niños Chicos.”
And I must express my strong support of interlibrary loan, which allows any patron to request local delivery of any book within the library system. For example, as part of my research I’m reading “The Girl With the Swansdown Seat,” (welcome to the quirky Daily Mirror reading list) an obscure book that would be difficult to obtain on the open market but is easily available via interlibrary loan.
And interlibrary loan is free.
I would like to remind people weighing cutbacks that the regional branches are an essential part of the library system and offer far more than is reflected in patronage numbers.
Photograph by Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times
The downtown public library, which survived a devastating fire, is now threatened with budget cutbacks and layoffs.
|The Daily Mirror is a big supporter of libraries and librarians, and we’re utterly opposed to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed cutbacks at the Los Angeles Public Library, because without the LAPL and archives like it, the Daily Mirror couldn’t exist.|
Anyone who conducts serious research about Los Angeles and Southern California will tell you that our history is spread among a nearly uncountable number of libraries and archives, as reflected in the annual Archives Bazaar. One of the Daily Mirror’s primary resources is the Los Angeles Public Library, which provides access to the only available copies of historic newspapers like the Examiner, the Herald-Express, the Daily News, the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel. In addition, we rely on the public library for city maps, rare and obscure books, digitized phone books and city directories going back to 1915, an online photo archives, and -- most of all -- advice on how to conduct research that is acquired only through many years of experience.
But the Daily Mirror’s use of the library is only part of the story. The LAPL provides a host of services for other members of the community, whether it’s genealogists, children, young adults, people reading in all the languages we encounter in L.A., and countless others.
Unfortunately, the city’s proposed budget cuts are falling heavily on the public library. As my friend and fellow blogger Mary McCoy of the history department says:
“Most of the people they'll be laying off (or to be honest about it, firing) are in their 20s and 30s. For most of them, this is their first job out of library school, most of them are children's and young adult librarians, and most of them have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for what they do. So, the city will be throwing out the future of the institution, the people who work with kids, and some of the hardest-working staff they have.”
As Times business writer Alana Semuels has reported, more people are using the library to cut their expenses in the weak economy, whether it's checking out books, DVDs and CDs or using free Internet access to look for a job, making this the worst time to cut back.
What can library supporters do? Speak out. Let city officials know what the library system means to you. And thank your local library. There’s also a website.
“The Days of Real Sport,” by Clare Briggs.
|March 5, 1920: Police Chief Home appeals to the City Council for 300 more officers because so many have been transferred to the Central Division from more rural areas. Recall the theory proposed by prohibition advocates that banning alcohol would reduce the the number of liquor-related offenses and therefore require fewer police. And in all the years I’ve been reading old papers, I can’t recall a single story in which an LAPD chief said he had enough officers. In fact, I think that nearly ever chief has wanted a bigger force. |
March 5, 1910: This was one of those days when there were too many good stories to focus on one: Charles Lummis resigns as city librarian … a veterinarian's assistant dies a horrible death after being bitten by a diseased dog … Andrew Carnegie is coming to see the observatory he’s funding on Mt. Wilson, though he isn’t arriving at the right time for the best view of Halley’s Comet … and plans to generate electricity using water in the aqueduct.