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It’s been a long time since Los Angeles was ruled by its Police Department, when its chief was more powerful than the mayor, when its officers were mostly white men who patrolled poor, minority neighborhoods in the style of an occupying military.
Even as police shootings in the city remain stubbornly high, and many poor black and Latino residents, especially young men, still complain about heavy-handed tactics, the force has become gentler in recent times, and its demographics more reflective of the city.
Much of that change can be attributed to the work of Connie Rice, a prominent civil rights lawyer who began suing the L.A.P.D. in the late 1980s and in more recent years has worked closely with chiefs to push forward reforms.
Soon a new era will start at the Police Department: This week Mayor Eric Garcetti chose a new chief, Michel Moore, a veteran of the force.
Ms. Rice said she was pleased with the choice, though some in the city were disappointed that Mr. Garcetti did not tap a Latino for the post. “I’ve known Chief Moore for a long time,” she said. “I think he’s very, very smart, he’s very effective. And at this point he really does get the change agenda.”
With new leadership coming at the department, we asked Ms. Rice to reflect on the changes she has helped bring in the city, and what she would like to see under the new chief.
“This is not your grandfather’s L.A.P.D., for a number of reasons,” she said. “Number one, the gratuitous racism is gone. You no longer get ‘attaboys’ for using racial epithets, which is what you did in the ’50s and ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
“So you have a culture change. They’ve gone from an openly racist and misogynist subculture that they had, controlling the majority culture, for at least 50 years. Over the last 20 years that is what we have exorcised, after the Rodney King riots.”
Ms. Rice said one of the most important changes was the shift in the demographic makeup of the force.
“When I first started suing L.A.P.D. it was 70 percent white, military men,” she said. “It’s 60 percent minority now.”
Ms. Rice has had a close relationship with the departing chief, Charlie Beck, who replaced the reformist William J. Bratton. “Charlie Beck took the aggressive-reform baton from Bratton and he ran a fantastic leg,” she said. “Because of Charlie Beck we now have what we call partnership policing.
“They are the only cops in a major city who get promoted not for making arrests but for demonstrating how they kept a kid out of the prison pipeline.”
Looking forward, she said, there was still “a long way to go.”
“Abuse of force is still something we’re trying to get recalibrated, so that there isn’t hair-trigger shootings,” Ms. Rice said. “So you don’t get those videos of shootings of unarmed people.”
(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)
• “Sweeping cruelty”: The Trump administration’s border enforcement policy has separated hundreds of children from their families. Here is one little boy’s story. [The New York Times]
• A trial in the murder of an 8-year-old boy that exposed the failings of Los Angeles’s child welfare system ended in a death sentence. [Los Angeles Times]
• Some people avoid interacting with the homeless. Here are the stories of those who embrace them in Los Angeles. [Los Angeles Times]
• 23 seconds, 7 shots. A video investigation of the killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, by the police in Sacramento. [The New York Times]
• During the first phase of the Trump administration, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s politics may have seemed out of step with California’s increasingly progressive politics. But her bipartisanship may serve her well in the next leg. [The New Yorker]
• San Francisco voters this week rejected a ballot initiative that asked voters to establish a policy of not coveting other cities’ sports teams. Here’s a look at why incentives to lure teams or businesses to a city don’t really make economic sense. [The New York Times]
• As housing prices skyrocket in the Bay Area, fewer young couples are having children. [Mercury News]
• A factory in Vallejo is making prefabricated apartments. It is one way real estate developers are tackling the state’s housing crisis. [The New York Times]
• That is some serious coin. The assistant to the mayor of Inglewood made $ 312,000 last year. [Daily Breeze]
• Meet Sammy Gelfand, a son of a physicist, who is the head of analytics for the Golden State Warriors. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
Visalia, a Central Valley town that built up during the Gold Rush, is known for its grape and citrus farms, conservative politics — and baseball.
Its team, the Visalia Rawhide, is in baseball’s low minor leagues. Its stadium, Recreation Park, is the country’s smallest ballpark affiliated with the major leagues.
But Recreation Park has long been an arena of dreams — both for the young ballplayers passing through, hoping against the odds to one day make it to the big leagues, and also for at least one broadcaster.
That would be Donny Baarns, a Los Angeles native who for years was the Visalia team’s broadcaster, plugging away just like the ballplayers, propelled by an unlikely dream. He has recently moved on to Omaha, to a team that is just one rung below the major leagues.
Read his story here.
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.