End of the Line

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LOS ANGELES: Willie Williams' high-profile tenure as head of the Los Angeles Police Department will probably come to an end this s ummer after the police commission declined Monday to renew his contract for a second five-year term. Five years ago, when Williams was brought from a successful tenure in Philadelphia's top job in to restore confidence in the force after the Rodney Ki ng riots, he was so popular that polls suggested that he could be elected mayor in a cakewalk. Although Williams still enjoys public popularity and confidence -- he has a 66 percent approval rating, and the majority of residents say they feel safer no w than five years ago -- commissioners and even some of his staunchest supporters say Williams has pretty much dropped the ball on what was expected to be the dawn of a kinder, gentler era for the LAPD. Part of it has to do with his own shortcomings an d failures -- notoriously poor management, an inability to win the support of the top echelons of a police departments still deeply entrenched with Gates loyalists, and very mixed reviews on whether he had made good on his promise to transform Gates% 27 department into a model of community policing. His progress on reforming the discrimination-riddled LAPD has also been slow: three years ago women in the department filed a class action suit,still in the works, alleging discrimination and sexual harassment as well as a pattern of retribution against those who filed complaints. Still, Williams says he has accomplished much in his five years, noting that violent crime has dropped more than 20 percent since he arrived, while complaints against officers dropped from more than 1,300 in 1991 to 602 in 1995. Williams has not yet said whether he will appeal the decision.