The Los Angeles Police Department Essay

1795 words - 7 pages

The Los Angeles Police Department

Police: Breakdowns that allowed corruption are still uncorrected, study finds. The chief concedes that mediocrity became a way of life at all levels of the department. The Los Angeles Police Department failed time and again to take steps that might have headed off the worst corruption scandal in its history, according to a sweeping self-indictment prepared by the department's own leaders. In a letter accompanying the long-awaited Board of Inquiry report into the corruption centered in the department's Rampart Division, Police Chief Bernard C. Parks called the scandal a "life-altering experience for the Los Angeles Police Department" in which corrupt officers took advantage of lax supervision to carry out criminal acts. "We as an organization provided the opportunity," Parks wrote.
The 362-page report was given to Mayor Richard Riordan and members of the Police Commission on Tuesday evening and will be released to the public and the rest of the city's elected leaders today. It was provided to The Times on Tuesday by top officials of the LAPD.
According to the report, many of the breakdowns that allowed the Rampart police scandal to fester and spread--including failures to check the backgrounds of police recruits, to monitor officer misconduct and to supervise officers in the field--remain uncorrected despite mounting public and political criticism of the LAPD and the city leadership.
Those disclosures effectively put the city's entire political leadership on the spot. Most directly, they demonstrate that the LAPD ignored some calls for reform and created an atmosphere ripe for corruption. At the same time, they also suggest that Riordan and City Council members backed policies that eroded the Police Department's ability to control wayward officers.
The results, by the LAPD's own admission, have been costly--and tragic.
"This scandal has devastated our relationship with the public we serve and threatened the integrity of our entire criminal justice system," the Board of Inquiry report concludes. "Distrust, cynicism, fear of the police, and an erosion of community law and order are the inevitable result of a law enforcement agency whose ethics and integrity have become suspect."
While the report admits breakdowns at every level of the department--and in the process sketching a broader, more damning picture even than the 1991 Christopher Commission did in the wake of the Rodney G. King beating--its 108 recommendations essentially focus on internal remedies. A number highlight ways to strengthen the police chief's power to investigate, discipline and even force the retirement of officers. They pointedly do not endorse creation of outside systems for subjecting the LAPD to additional scrutiny.
Unlike the Christopher Commission, which subtly but unmistakably called on Chief Daryl F. Gates to retire, the Board of Inquiry is generally, and not surprisingly, complimentary of moves by...

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