Former Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher has been appointed to head a high-level citizens' panel charged by Mayor Tom Bradley to investigate the Police Department and the issue of police brutality.

Formed in the wake of the videotaped Rodney King beating, the commission ostensibly will be independent from City Hall, responsible for raising its own financing from the private sector, but will be able to utilize the mayor's subpoena power to interview potential witnesses."The time has come for a reasoned, objective, thorough and constructive examination of the structure and the operation of the Police Department," Bradley said Monday in announcing the commission's membership.

In addition, the seven-member panel will be advised by recently retired Assistant Police Chief Jesse Brewer, noted criminologist James Q. Wilson and former New York Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy as it probes department operations and devises possible reforms.

Patterned after the Knapp Commission, which 20 years ago probed corruption in the New York Police Department, the Christopher Commission has been asked to submit an initial report within 60 to 90 days.