At a press conference in front of the Los Angeles Police Department's Parker Center, civil rights leaders today announced the formation of the Coalition for Police Accountability.

The mission of the coalition is to 'improve the policies and practice of the Los Angeles Police Department, and to restore the legitimacy of and the people's faith and trust in the LAPD and the criminal justice center.

Three months ago, scandals within the CRASH Unit of the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department jump-started the formation of this Coalition for Police Accountability, said ACLU Executive Director Ramona Ripston. 'It is clear that no one group can bring about this desperately needed reform alone. Today we invite all concerned groups and individuals to join the Coalition for Police Accountability. Step by step, we can succeed together in our demands for reform.

Organizers of the coalition stressed three goals:

-- To create as broad a coalition as possible to protect and serve our city by stemming the tide of injustice resulting from current LAPD abuses.

-- To insist that real accountability be hard-wired into the criminal justice system through independent and thorough investigations of allegations of police misconduct. 'Independent' means outside of the police department.

-- To study how other cities have successfully addressed lack of police accountability

-- We will insist upon more civilian control of the department and we will call upon the community to join us in our efforts,' said attorney Carol Watson, speaking for coalition member Police Watch.

The goal of the coalition is to hold the LAPD and political leaders accountable to the people of Los Angeles. Substantive civilian overnight is essential to ensure thorough investigations into and disclosures of abuse of authority, criminal activity and corruption within the department.

To protect against law enforcement abuses, to safeguard cherished individual liberties, to ensure that the LAPD respects the civil rights of its community members , and to promote a better working relationship between civilians and the police, the coalition seeks to evaluate and implement reforms establishing greater civilian oversight of law enforcement policies and practices and independent investigations of civilian complaints of police misconduct