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Following verdict, LaChasse calls for cohesion in police department

Employees unhappy with diversity represent minority of department, Chief says.

March 20, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

With the first of a slew of lawsuits filed by current and former police officers against the city now concluded, Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse this week acknowledged that a few in the ranks were not pleased with attempts to diversify the department.

Following a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury's decision this week to award nearly $1.3 million to the former deputy chief, William Taylor, based on claims of being fired in retaliation for pushing for internal reforms and accountability measures, LaChasse sent an email to all officers.

In it, he encouraged the officers to move forward as a unified department committed to serving the city with professionalism. His email included a statement from the city manager's office expressing disappointment in the verdict.

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“What we need to do is have cohesion as a department and move forward,” he said . “We don't necessarily have to love everybody, but we need to respect them and treat them with dignity.”

Former Deputy Chief William Taylor claimed in his lawsuit that he was fired for raising concerns about harassment and discrimination, and after blocking the termination of minority officers.

LaChasse addressed comments made during the course of the trial about the police officers' union not supporting diversity. In an interview, LaChasse said police recruit and hire the best qualified candidates with an emphasis on diversity.

“There are individuals in the department that don't exactly embrace that — that's a statement of fact, and it doesn't represent a viewpoint of a majority of folks,” LaChasse said.

Taylor's lawsuit was about retaliation, which occurred before he and the rest of the current leadership team were in place, LaChasse said.

Hired in January 2010, LaChasse was the one who made the decision to terminate Taylor and nine other officers.

“I don't think [the verdict] was a repudiation of his termination,” LaChasse said in an interview, adding that his decision was based on the “facts of the investigation” concerning Taylor.

When asked about the remaining officers who apparently disagree with efforts to diversify the department, LaChasse said: “These are situations we are paid to deal with.”

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