ACCESSION NUMBER:227279 FILE ID:PO-201 DATE:05/12/92 TITLE:WEBSTER TO INVESTIGATE LOS ANGELES POLICE ACTIONS (05/12/92) TEXT:*92051201.POL WEBSTER TO INVESTIGATE LOS ANGELES POLICE ACTIONS (Former FBI chief to examine response to riots) (410) Los Angeles -- William Webster, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and of the Central Intelligence Agency, will head the official inquiry into the performance of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) before, during, and after the city's recent riots. A former federal judge, Webster has been appointed by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners to look into the preparedness of the police before the riots began April 29 -- and to examine its performance during the ensuing days of violence. The riots erupted minutes after the acquittal of four white police officers by a California jury. The officers had been charged with use of excessive force in the arrest of black motorist and ex-convict Rodney King after a high speed automobile chase. A videotape of King's arrest in which he was shown beaten severely with night sticks convinced many of the policemen's guilt. The LAPD, as well as the chief of police, Daryl Gates, have been widely criticized first for lack of discipline that made the beating of King possible, and, second, for failing to anticipate the riots that followed his acquittal and failing to respond swiftly and with sufficient force. Gates, who plans to retire in June, has said he will cooperate with Webster's inquiry. Stanley Sheinbaum, president of the Los Angeles police commission, said that Webster's role will not be to single out any individual or group for blame. "We want to rise above that," he said. "Our main responsibility is to make certain this city has an excellent police department." Sheinbaum added that he did not think the police rank and file deserved blame for the slow response to the riots. Webster predicted that the inquiry will take "a few months" and said it will consider the role of the news media and of politicians in the disturbances, as well as that of the police department. He said he comes to the task with "no prejudgment." Hubert Williams, former chief of police in Newark, New Jersey, and former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, will assist Webster. Williams is currently president of the Police Foundation, a research organization in Washington devoted to improving local police work. The rioting left an estimated 58 dead and 2,383 injured, and caused $735 million in property damage. NNNN .