LAPD consent decree renewed

first_imgThe American Civil Liberties Union and other longtime critics of the department said the entire decree had to be extended in order to prevent backsliding. While Assistant City Attorney Carlos De La Guerra said that isn’t a concern, Feess scoffed at that notion. “You mean we’ve got such a history of compliance to reform by the department that we should trust that backsliding won’t happen?” Feess asked. “That is contrary to the last 40 years of history of this department.” Catherine Lhamon, racial justice director of the ACLU of Southern California, hailed Feess’ decision as a victory for the people the Police Department serves. “It’s so meaningful to the people who live and travel in Los Angeles.” Without it, she said, “we risk reinstituting the code of silence. We’re talking about shrouding what’s happening inside the Police Department.” The Police Protective League, the police officers union, had called for the decree to be narrowed so those working on compliance issues could be reassigned to the streets. “There is no reason for the monitor to continue to be paid to oversee reforms that have already taken place,” union President Bob Baker said in a statement. “This consent decree takes hundreds of officers off the street and additionally costs millions of dollars to administer without making our streets safer.” The LAPD spends more than $10 million a year on consent-decree compliance, including the salaries of 110 employees, and more than $2 million a year to Kroll and Associates, the firm that employs Michael Cherkasky, who monitors the consent decree for the court. Department officials said they would have continued with all reforms instituted by the decree even if it had been lifted, so the extension will not create a financial burden. “The most important message is that the Los Angeles Police Commission, the Los Angeles Police Department and the city of Los Angeles are fully and firmly committed to compliance of the consent decree, both the spirit and the letter of the decree,” Police Commission President John Mack said. “For many years, we had an LAPD that was brutal, that was racist, that wasn’t treating all citizens with respect. With a lot of hard work by the people of this department, we’ve changed that. We should all be celebrating the progress that we’ve made.” Feess made it clear his top priority is the implementation of TEAMS II. His first question during the hearing was the status of the computer system, which has been partially implemented. Gerald Chaleff, commander of the LAPD’s Consent Decree Bureau, said the program has been delayed because of its complexity. Once implemented, city officials said, TEAMS II will be the most effective and comprehensive system of its kind in law enforcement. Feess said he wants TEAMS II operational for two years before he lifts the decree. “TEAMS II is not just a material part of this, it’s an essential part of this consent decree and the reforms to be implemented in this consent decree,” Feess said. Paul Mills, an attorney and co-director of L.A. Police Watch, said the LAPD’s inability to implement the program over the past five years shows a lack of commitment to the consent decree – especially considering LAPD Chief William Bratton’s affinity for tracking crime statistics. “It’s Chief Bratton who’s the wizard of tracking,” Mills said. “That’s like Colonel Sanders saying we can’t comply with the requirement that we prepare chicken. As to any other provision, his sincerity or reliability has to be doubted. “The whole problem is the code of silence. This tracking system is apparently the best way to break that code of silence. What we’re tracking is complaints by victims, and the victims don’t obey the code of silence.” LAPD and city officials said complying with the decree is a top priority. When Bratton joined the department more than three years ago, he established a Consent Decree Bureau and said recruitment and compliance with it were his most important objectives. Councilman Jack Weiss, chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he will introduce a proposal today to restore $3 million to $5 million to pay for issues related to the consent decree, including installing cameras in each patrol car. “We’re committed to funding police reform, whether it’s formally in the consent decree or not,” Weiss said. “We have leadership in this city that is clearly committed to what Judge Feess is looking for.” Cherkasky, the federal monitor, said it had to be extended in full for the LAPD to reach the reform envisioned five years ago. “The commitment (to reform) needs to be reaffirmed,” Cherkasky said. “It is one consent decree. It can’t be parsed out. We need to finish the job with this consent decree so (corruption) won’t happen again.” [email protected] (818) 713-3669160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsThe Los Angeles Police Department has complied with about 70 percent of the 152 provisions outlined in the 80-page consent decree. Among those still to be implemented is TEAMS II, a risk-management computer system designed to track complaints and root out problem officers, that is expected to debut this fall. Feess rejected a motion from the city that he lift provisions of the decree with which the LAPD has complied and extend the remainder for just two years. “We’re fully committed to reforming the Los Angeles Police Department,” Assistant Chief George Gascon said. “We will work with the federal monitor and do whatever is necessary. The request was really asking for recognition for all the good work that we’ve done. That recognition has been given orally, if not officially.” The U.S. Department of Justice accused the LAPD of widespread corruption and abuse after a Rampart Division police officer convicted of stealing evidence implicated dozens of his co-workers. The LAPD entered into the decree in 2001 in order to avert a federal lawsuit. The LAPD will remain under federal oversight for three more years, a federal judge ruled Monday, saying the agency has made great strides to prevent corruption and abuse since the Rampart scandal but that its work is “not finished yet.” Judge Gary Feess extended a federal consent decree to June 15, 2009 – three years after it was originally set to expire. Police officials estimate they spend $10 million annually complying with provisions of the decree. “The department has made progress in ways that have never been done before,” Feess said during a hearing at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. “I do not believe in my working life there will ever be as important a case to this department or to this community. “If we achieve all of the provisions in this consent decree, we will have a better police department and a better community. I suspect that will happen, but it’s not finished yet.” last_img

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