Rodney King’s Legacy Includes Term Limits for L.A. Police Chiefs


Rodney King’s legacy is the Charter Amendment F, a voter-approved local law limiting Los Angeles police chiefs to two five-year terms, says the city’s Times. It was adopted about a month after the riots that were sparked by the acquittals of the four officers in King’s 1991 beating. The law ended civil service status for chiefs. Before that, chiefs had been appointed by the Police Commission and essentially were allowed to serve indefinitely barring formal findings of serious wrongdoing.

The measure empowered the mayor to select a chief with the City Council’s consent and provided for civilian review of police misconduct. The amendment grew out of the recommendations of a special commission led by Warren Christopher, who later became U.S. secretary of State. The commission plumbed what critics said was a racist and brutal LAPD subculture that led to the assault on King, a black drunk-driving suspect. The panel also laid the groundwork for a 1995 law that created an inspector general’s office to handle complaints against officers. Local civil rights attorney Connie Rice said Sunday that Charter Amendment F pushed the department “down the road to reform, because the chief was no longer an imperial political figure but subject to civilian rule and the rule of law. “Charter Amendment F broke the bulwarks against outside control,” she said.

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