Pubdate: Wed, 19 Dec 2007
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Rachel Uranga, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Some 500 LAPD gang and narcotics officers are  threatening to retire 
or change jobs if the city  follows through on a proposal forcing 
them to reveal  their personal finances, union officials said.

A financial-disclosure proposal set to be considered by  the 
five-member civilian police commission Thursday  would be the last 
major hurdle to comply with a  seven-year old federal consent decree 
meant to root out  police corruption.

Under the proposal, all gang and narcotics officers  with the rank of 
lieutenant or below must provide a  detailed list of their finances 
including all their  properties, past-due credit card debts, outside 
income,  stocks, bonds and checking accounts.

"No other law enforcement agency in the country forces  its officers 
to share this kind of information," police  union President Tim Sands 
said in a prepared statement.  "This financial disclosure plan is an 
unnecessary and  ill-conceived intrusion into the private lives of 
LAPD  officers, their spouses and their children."

The decree, which arose out of the Rampart corruption  scandal 
implicating several officers on a gang detail  of framing and beating 
suspects, has been a top  priority for LAPD Chief William Bratton, a 
former  consent decree monitor.

Bratton was vacationing Tuesday. First Assistant Chief  Sharon Papa 
said she could not comment on a matter that  would be considered by 
the Police Commission in closed  session.

Under the proposal, financial disclosure would  be phased in over two 
years. Incumbent officers would  not have to report for two years but 
all newly assigned  officers must divulge their finances within 10 
days of  their assignment.

In one Valley gang division, a supervisor predicted  that the rules 
would spark an exodus from an already  struggling unit.

"Everyone here is walking except for one dope  (narcotics) cop," said 
the supervisor, who declined to  be named.

Though decree reforms have been departmentwide, it's  the gang units 
that have seen some of the most intense  scrutiny.

Many in the unit are already resentful of the amount of  paperwork 
the heavily scrutinized officers must do, he  said.

"I already have a hard time recruiting here; nobody  wants to leave a 
job that is good to come here," he  said.

The reform is only one of dozens forced by the federal  consent 
decree that radically shifted the way the LAPD  conducted day-to-day 
police work after the Department  of Justice found "a pattern or 
practice of excessive  force, false arrests, and illegal searches 
and  seizures."

Under the decree negotiated by then-Mayor James Hahn to  head off a 
Justice Department lawsuit, the LAPD has  implemented TEAMS II, a 
complicated officer-tracking  system that aims to root out troublemakers.

It also prohibited the use of secret informants,  demanded that gang 
officers be uniformed, created an  integrity section and instituted a 
massive audit  division.

But the police union and others doubt whether the 
financial-disclosure proposal will reveal bad officers  who hide 
money in trust funds with family members, in  property and elsewhere.

"I am puzzled by this," said Robert Stern, the  president of the 
nonprofit Center for Governmental  Studies. "Usually, (financial 
disclosure) is meant to  prevent conflicts, not corruption. I always 
say that  the ones who want to be corrupt will be corrupt and  won't disclose."
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