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SoCal Connected

I WAS THERE: Laura Chick Challenged The Most Powerful Forces in LA Politics. She Has A Message For LA’s Current Leaders

“I was never one of the councilmembers that the [Police Protective League] could march into my office and say, ‘We need you on this one, Laura.’”

When former City Councilwoman Laura Chick took office following the 1992 civil unrest, she was the first woman elected to one of three citywide offices and the first woman to chair the Public Safety Committee. She later became California’s first Inspector General. Chick has made a career of challenging those in power, rooting out waste and fraud, and was never afraid to speak her mind, even if it threatened to offend some of LA's most powerful forces. 

Coming into office at a time when the city prioritized crime reduction, Chick often straddled the line between advocating for law enforcement and challenging LAPD’s lenient disciplinary system. She worked hard to bring new technology and resources to LAPD but also pushed back on Mayor Richard Riordan’s rapid hiring of 3,000 officers, insisting on a more thoughtful and holistic approach to policing. After the Rampart scandal was exposed within the LAPD, Chick criticized the department’s lax disciplinary systems and advocated for a Federal Consent Decree to hold local police departments accountable for violating civil rights. 

As City Controller, Chick audited the LAPD on multiple fronts. One 2008 audit revealed an opportunity to civilianize over five hundred positions to not only save costs, but to also encourage community policing. Another 2008 audit found a backlog of 7,000 rape kits that LAPD failed to analyze, despite being awarded $4 million in grants for the department’s crime lab. 

In her decades of civic service, Chick recognized the importance of law enforcement, but also refused to allow the department to remain unchecked. Thirty years later, police misconduct continues and Chick questions whether elected officials have done enough to push back on powerful police unions that protect problematic officers.

About the Series

"I WAS THERE" is about telling a great story. This series of first-person accounts breaks current and historical events down to human scale, carefully taking the viewer behind some of Southern California’s biggest headlines.

Production team

Executive Producer: Karen Foshay 

Producers: Tori Edgar, Denise Chan & Michael Ray 

Photographers: Trevor Jackson, Karen Foshay

Editor/Graphics: Michael Ray, Andy Viner

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