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Dorner manhunt: Mayoral candidates want probe of ex-cop's claims about LAPD

February 9, 2013 |  8:52 pm

Candidates for mayor of Los Angeles called Saturday for an investigation of allegations of LAPD racism that were made by a fugitive former police officer who is suspected of killing three people this week.

Several said an investigation of the full circumstances surrounding the Police Department’s handling of fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner was warranted. They spoke in response to a question on the matter at a candidates forum at Crenshaw High School.

The department announced Saturday evening that it would reopen its investigation into its firing of Dorner, which apparently prompted his vengeful rampage.

“Any allegations of racism and discrimination ought to be investigated within the LAPD, no matter where they come from,” candidate Kevin James, an entertainment lawyer, told an audience that filled the school library. James, the first to field the question, said nothing about the vast regional manhunt underway to capture Dorner.

“If you’ve got someone that will step up, and talk about the problems, talk about the inequality, talk about the discrimination, admit it, like people in public office are so afraid to do, then you can change it,” James said.

City Councilman Eric Garcetti said trouble with racism among officers had diminished in recent years. “That doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect department or that things can’t get worse,” he said. He promised to ensure “an internal investigation on this,” but did not define its scope. As for Dorner’s alleged killings, Garcetti concluded, “We have to make sure that justice is served there too.”

City Councilwoman Jan Perry urged the crowd not to lose focus on the risk that Dorner poses “to all of us, regardless of our race or ethnicity.”

“Yes, there should be a review and a public analysis of what happened in this particular case,” said Perry, the only African American candidate on stage at the forum. “Because it may be what you call a teachable moment about changing your protocols in dealing with individuals who may have manifestations of stress…or mental health issues that were never properly or adequately addressed. And then they pop out  10 or 15 years later in a manner like this.”

A fourth candidate, Emanuel Pleitez, a former technology company executive, recalled growing up on the Eastside, saying police had stopped him and his friends for no reason when he was growing up. “I know a lot of people that grew up with a deep hatred for LAPD,” he said.

“It’s a serious thing in our communities, and that needs to be addressed. Now yes, LAPD has taken strides in the right direction, but absolutely, there’s more to be done.”

One of the top candidates, City Controller Wendy Greuel, did not attend the forum. A spokeswoman said Greuel had a previous engagement, but supported the LAPD's reopening of the Dorner disciplinary case. 

A report filed Friday by the Los Angeles Police Protective League showed the union has spent $305,000 on independent TV advertising for Greuel. As a result of spending by the police union and other big-money donors waging an independent campaign on Greuel’s behalf, the city Ethics Commission announced Saturday that it was lifting the $2.8-million spending cap that previously applied to mayoral candidates who accept city matching funds.

Removal of the cap was required by law once total independent spending for a mayoral candidate in the public matching program exceeded $309,000. For now, the only candidates in next month's primary with more than $2.8 million to spend are Garcetti, who has collected $3.7 million, and Greuel, who has raised $3.6 million.

--Michael Finnegan

Twitter: @finneganlatimes