A special police intelligence unit that gathered information on Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, several City Council members and judges as well as radical political groups has been ordered disbanded here, after one of its officers revealed that he had saved many of his files, contrary to city Police Commission orders.
The decision by the commission, some of whose members had been investigated by the unit, appeared to end nearly a decade of controversy over the activities of the Los Angeles Police Department's Public Disorder Intelligence Division.
Critics of the unit warned, however, that controversial police spying had continued despite earlier commission efforts to control it, and the mayor and police chief said some intelligence-gathering would have to continue.
The American Civil Liberties Union said it would continue to press six lawsuits against the department for investigative abuses.
During the last five years, court proceedings and court documents have disclosed that the unit's operatives kept tabs on public leaders who met with police reform groups, reported on two private meetings between Bradley and farm worker supporters, led an anti-police march to City Hall and most recently stored or tried to give school officials dossiers on government employes they had been instructed to destroy.
Stephen Yslas, Police Commission president, said the unit had been operating under rules set 12 years ago. Under these rules, ideas, not just acts, were proper subjects of police investigation designed to prevent terrorist incidents in the city.