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Los Angeles Begins Search for Police Chief

The search is underway for a new chief for the troubled Los Angeles police department. Local officials say the new chief should unify the department while addressing the needs of the city's diverse population.

Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission began the task of interviewing 13 contenders for the city's top police job. He or she will be expected to restore sagging morale among 9,600 officers and rebuild public faith in the police force. Over the past three years, local police have weathered a scandal involving rogue officers convicted of lying in court, planting false evidence and, in one case, of shooting an unarmed victim.

Among contenders for the job are six insiders, all veterans of the Los Angeles department. Two other candidates are serving in other cities but began their careers here.

Among outsiders is the former head of the New York police department, William Bratton. Mr. Bratton and his one-time boss, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, are credited with drastically reducing the New York City crime rate.

As interviews got underway in Los Angeles, William Bratton was one of the first candidates to meet with Los Angeles police commissioners. "They have made it quite clear that they want the best person possible to work with this mayor, this police commission, this community to make Los Angeles what it can become, which is the safest large city in America," said Mr. Bratton.

Two women are among the candidates for the job of Los Angeles police chief. Contenders also include at least two Hispanics and an African American, who is now the chief of police in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The five-member police commission will narrow the list of candidates to three, and Mayor Jim Hahn will make the final selection. The city council must then approve it.

A citizens committee has drawn up a list of qualities for the police commission to look for in the new chief. The committee says the police chief should support reform in the department, maintain its diversity, be a good manager, and know how to navigate city politics.

The new chief will take the helm of the police force in the second largest city in the United States. With its high population of Hispanics, Asians and African Americans, the city is also one of the most diverse.