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City in Crisis

NCJ Number
W H Webster; H Williams
Date Published
468 pages
This report of the Special Advisor to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners fulfills the Commission's charge to the Advisor to ascertain the nature of the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD's) response to the recent civil disorders (April 1992) following the verdict in the Rodney King case, as well as its level of preparation.
The Office of the Special Advisor interviewed more than 400 people, conducted various surveys, held seven neighborhood meetings, and met with high-level police officials across the Nation. The Special Advisor found a general lack of emergency preparedness for civil disorder on the part of the City and the LAPD and a specific lack in the period before the Simi Valley verdict in the Rodney King case. Although the City and the LAPD each have created general mechanisms intended to cope with emergencies, the preparedness efforts of neither have resulted in anything that could be considered a "plan" for response to an emergency. Based on these findings, the Office of the Special Advisor recommends that the LAPD adopt new priorities that place renewed emphasis on basic patrol duties. The Police Chief is urged to reallocate police officers away from special units and toward patrol assignments. Further, the field command experience in patrol should become a primary criteria for advancement within the command ranks. The Office of the Special Advisor also recommends that more attention be paid to emergency response planning and training, not only within the police department, but also for the City as a whole. Particular attention should be given to the use of and coordination with mutual aid resources. Leadership levels of the City and the LAPD should be involved in training designed to enhance their crisis management experience and skills. A third recommendation concerns improvements in the City's emergency operations center and emergency communications systems. Modernization of the communications system is essential to permit the City to conduct both normal and emergency operations. Appendixes contain data forms and data that pertain to study methodology and findings.