The American Civil Liberties Union called for a halt to rhetoric about a "war on drugs," saying it encourages police brutality like the videotaped beating of a black Los Angeles motorist last month.

"If cops go into a community thinking they're in a war, they will act like they're in a war," ACLU director Ira Glasser told reporters Tuesday.The group also called for federal legislation giving the Department of Justice greater authority to seek court orders against police departments with a pattern of abuse, and for independent civilian commissions to monitor abuse.

Citing a number of cases of police abuse, Glasser charged that police brutality is not limited to the March 3 beating of black motorist Rodney King after a traffic stop but rather is an "endemic situation" requiring "a systematic remedy."