Cops Avoid Gang Detail due to Fears of Financial Disclosure


Very thorough and demanding financial disclosure rules specifically for LAPD officers on gang detail are making it harder to fill slots in those details.

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The L.A. Times had a detailed report on what it paints as a problem that will only continue to grow in recruiting officers to gang work. Since April, theoretically to detect policemen on the take or who might be tempted to go on the take:

Officers must disclose outside income, real estate, stocks and other assets. They also have to report the size of bank accounts and debts, including mortgages and credit cards. And the disclosures apply to any financial holdings a cop shares with family members and business partners.

Signs are already apparent this is affecting police desire to work in gang units:

supervisors at the Newton Area station in South Los Angeles, where 51 street gangs are active in the nine-square-mile patrol area, received permission from higher-ups to add 14 officers to the station's gang operation....Few officers, however, applied for the job.

.....The roughly 600 officers already assigned to affected units when the policy went into effect in April were granted a two-year grace period, and so far it appears that few, if any, officers have left a gang assignment rather than sign the forms. The problem, the supervisors say, is one of attrition....One South L.A. gang unit that had 18 officers at the beginning of the year is down to 13, with more departures expected in the coming months. Another had 35 gang officers; it now has 24.

Why might an honest officer resist the rules?

In interviews, officers gave numerous reasons why they would seek assignments elsewhere in the department rather than abide by the disclosure rules. Some said they fear the data could be used against them in discipline proceedings or in court, and others said they question the department's ability to store the information safely. Others said the disclosure rules do little to catch or deter rogue police officers.....Most, however, say it is simply a matter of principle and fairness.

The real bad effects of the rules won't be apparent for another year or so, critics say:

Gang unit supervisors said they expect the shortage of new, qualified gang officers to accelerate next year. The troubles, they said, will climax in early 2011, when the grace period for existing gang officers expires and everyone serving in a gang unit will be required to sign the disclosure forms. That, one supervisor contended, will result in a "mass exodus."

The rules were imposed on LAPD by the federal consent decree that resulted from investigations into the Rampart scandal, and remain in effect, although the decree has officially been lifted in terms of having an active court-ordered monitor.

In good police-related news, L.A. crime rates dropped significantly in 2009, as the L.A. Times reports:

Through Saturday, violent crimes, such as homicide, rape and robbery, fell about 10% compared with the same period last year, while burglary and other property crimes declined 8%, according to LAPD figures.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user kevindean. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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