Investigators from the London-based human rights watchdog organization Amnesty International began a first-of-its-kind probe of alleged police brutality in an American city.The investigatory team is to spend one week in Los Angeles reviewing allegations of ill-treatment of suspects by police. Anita Tiessen of the group's international secretariat and a member of the team said Sept. 23 that the organization's mission is to probe known cases of police abuse and determine whether a pattern of excessive force exists and if corrective measures are being taken. Ms. Tiessen said that in the past year her organization has received "scores" of allegations of abuse by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies from defense attorneys and civil rights groups. Amnesty International decided in May to travel to Los Angeles after the infamous videotape of the March 3 Rodney King beating by police and the subsequent exposure of other such abuse cases. Amnesty International is an independent watchdog organization of 1.1 million members that routinely investigates allegations of human rights abuses by government agencies, particularly in third-world nations. Tiessen and her teammates scheduled separate, private meetings Sept. 23 with Police Chief Daryl Gates, Police Comdr. Michael Bostic, who is overseeing the department's review of excessive force policies, and officials of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter. Although the human rights group has reviewed allegations of torture by Chigaco police and is investigating police abuse elsewhere in the United States, Tiessen says the visit to Los Angeles marks the first time Amnesty International officials have traveled to a US city to conduct "on the ground" research of police misconduct.

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