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L.A. Area Residents Ready To Focus on Other Issues

THE tension that hung over Los Angeles for weeks has dissipated like smog in a hurricane. Just days after the second Rodney King verdicts brought more celebration than confrontation to the streets, city residents and police seem to have moved on to more important matters.

"I don't think people have the energy to hold onto their fear of violence and racial confrontation," says a woman in line at a supermarket. A mayoral campaign that April 19 narrowed the field from 24 to two is among her new priorities. So is a return to normalcy for several inter-community groups she says went into the deep freeze as the King trial neared completion.

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"The media disaster spotlight has shifted to Waco ... they can have it," she adds.

Nearby - and on condition of anonymity - two police officers comment on the trial.

"I feel my job has just gotten harder," says one, "because the line I must walk between protecting and abusing just got thinner."

"On the other hand," says his partner, "I feel our esteem in the public eye has gone back up. They seem to be more comfortable with us as their servants rather than something close to an occupying army."

The last hurdle in the King matter here, say others, is sentencing set for Aug. 4.

United States District Judge John Davies has said in an interview that "sentencing ... is the only thing that causes me worry."

Acquitted officer Theodore Briseno says his two convicted colleagues should not go to prison, having already "done their sentence" by two years of legal nightmare.

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To avoid further confrontation, legal analysts now are telling news-media representatives that the public should be adequately educated that possible 10-year sentences for the two convicted officers will be far less, not because of racial inequality, but because of legal formulas based on the officers' prior records.

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