Pubdate: Sun, 10 Sep 2000
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Jose Mercury News
Contact:  750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
Fax: (408) 271-3792
Author: Beth Shuster, Los Angeles Times
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Rampart scandal: Study says department's attitudes and leadership resulted
in toleration of corruption.

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Police Department's deepest problem is an
internal culture that not only gave rise to the recent corruption scandal
but also tolerated it, according to the author of a new, highly critical
study of the LAPD.

Moreover, says the report's principal author, the department's culture --
its unwritten rules, codes, values and outlooks -- must be changed before
Los Angeles can expect meaningful police reform.

Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at the University of
Southern California, undertook the analysis on behalf of the Police
Protective League, which sought an independent review of the LAPD's internal
Board of Inquiry report. LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks convened the board to
examine all aspects of the department after the revelations that have come
to be called the Rampart Division corruption scandal.

Chemerinsky's study, scheduled to be released at a news conference Monday,
strongly criticizes the department's review, saying its authors neglected
key issues that contribute to the deep problems in the department.

One of those, Chemerinsky found, was that morale among officers has
plummeted since the Rampart scandal began and that these officers lack
confidence in their department's leaders.

While Chemerinsky said he expected officers with whom he spoke to reflect
the department's low morale, he described himself as startled by the depth
and the hostility in the comments made by dozens of officers during
one-on-one interviews.

The problems in the department's culture run so deep, Chemerinsky reports,
that they are likely to thwart the kind of systemic changes city negotiators
and the city council now are working out with the Justice Department to
forestall the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit against the LAPD.

Among many recommendations in the 154-page report, Chemerinsky said a
consent decree by the city and federal authorities offers the only hope of
changing the LAPD, which he says has been and remains ``incredibly
resistant'' to change.

Chemerinsky's report follows an independent survey conducted by
Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the civilian police commission that found
similar attitudes among police officers.

Sources familiar with that survey say an overwhelming majority of officers
say the only way to improve morale is to remove Parks and that many are so
fearful of criticism that they frequently avoid responding to reports of

Police Protective League president Ted Hunt said these two analyses of the
department reflect similar themes: a department that desperately needs
leadership that the rank and file will respect and believes is fair.

LAPD officials said they could not comment on the Chemerinsky report because
they had not seen it. Parks was out of town Friday. But Cmdr. David Kalish,
the departmental spokesman, said the chief is a strong believer in
discipline and that he holds everyone in the department accountable.

Moreover, Kalish said, to suggest that the department's culture allowed the
Rampart scandal to exist is simply wrong.

Chemerinsky, who strongly faults the department for failing to examine such
cultural issues, alleges the department is far more interested in protecting
its image -- even if it means ignoring or covering for rogue police

The Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey, the first independent anonymous poll of
officers, found that officers say they would rather cruise the city than
respond to radio calls reporting criminal acts. Officers also said they have
misstated their whereabouts to avoid such calls and that they have witnessed
misconduct by colleagues and not reported it.

Chemerinsky believes more civilian oversight of the LAPD is necessary,
suggesting that the city needs a full-time police commission with
substantially more resources and staff.
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