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LAPD Sheds Court-Ordered Monitor

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The LAPD has sufficiently reformed itself in the wake of the Rampart scandals that it no longer requires an outside court-ordered monitor, a district court judge has decided.

From the Daily News' account:

A federal judge Friday lifted the controversial consent decree that for more than eight years had guided an independent monitor overseeing sweeping reforms of the Los Angeles Police Department imposed after the Rampart corruption scandal.U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess said the LAPD had sufficiently complied in reforming itself to no longer require the oversight of monitor Michael Cherkasky. In his ruling, Feess cited the monitor's own 2008 report that the "LAPD has become the national and international policing standard for activities that range from audits to handling of the mentally ill to many aspects of training to risk assessment of police officers and more." Police Chief William Bratton said it marked a triumph for an agency that has "worked so hard over the past eight years to implement the decree and the efforts of both sworn and civilian employees that has resulted in the department reforms that have been recognized as the best practices in policing worldwide."

The ACLU is not pleased:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which had opposed lifting the decree, said in a statement that despite substantial progress made under Bratton, there remained "too much evidence that skin color makes a difference in who is stopped, questioned and arrested by the LAPD."

The background of the consent decree, which had already been extended three years past its original five-year mandate because LAPD was not thought by the judge to have reformed itself sufficiently:

The consent decree resulted from the LAPD's Rampart Division corruption scandal of the late 1990s, in which officers in the anti-gang unit admitted or were implicated in a wide range of crimes, including planting evidence and beating suspects.Dozens of officers were investigated, at least five were terminated, more than 100 convictions were overturned and the city had to pay out some $125 million in lawsuit settlements. The decree was approved by the city in 2000 after extensive negotiations with the federal Department of Justice, and then ratified by the court in 2001. It imposed a series of reforms on the department, such as requiring financial disclosure by gang and narcotics officers, banning racial profiling and improving training......The independent monitor has cost Los Angeles taxpayers $2 million a year.

Two million a year is a lot for our cash-strapped city, but if it helped prevent adding more to that $125 million in lawsuit settlements, it doesn't look like that much.

PBS's "Frontline" did a documentary on the Rampart scandal that led to this court-ordered monitoring, and it can be found here.

Past City of Angles blogging on LAPD's current record high citizen approval poll numbers.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user 888bailbond. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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