A.Before the investigation of the scandalIn 1997, Kevin Gaines was an off-duty LAPD officer who was shot by undercoverLAPD officer Frank Lyga due to road rage. This has bought heavy mediaattention, and Lyga explained that Gaines had threatened him with a firearm whichled to Lyga firing his weapon in self-defense. Lyga stated, “In my trainingexperience this guy had ‘I’m a gang member’ written all over him.” (PBS.org,2014).
Investigations found that Gaines had been in similar road rage eventswhich resulted in threatening drivers and pulling out his gun. They also foundthat Gaines had troubling connections to Death Row Records, which was a raprecording label who hired off-duty officers to be security guards. There werethree different internal investigations on Lyga and determined that hisshooting was justified (PBS.org, 2014).A bank robbery wasinvolved in the Los Angeles branch of Bank of America, where robbers managed tosteal $722,000.
Investigators were suspicious of Errolyn Romero who was theassistant bank manger and was able to have more cash than what was required andmanaged to deliver it 10 minutes before the robbery occurred. A month after thecrime, Romero testified and stated that her role in the crime was planned byher boyfriend David Mack, who was a LAPD officer. Mack was then arrested and sentencedto 14 years in prison. He refused to talk about the location of the money, andclaimed to be part of the Mob Piru Bloods, which was a gang and had ties toDeath Row Records.
Investigators later found that Mack and two other officers,which included former partner named Rafael Perez spent thousands of dollars ongambling in Las Vegas.In 1998, CRASH officerBrian Hewitt brought back a 18th street gang member named IsmaelJimenez back to the police station for the purpose of questioning. Then Hewittbeat Jimenez who was hand-cuffed and resulted in Jimenez vomiting blood.Jimenez was released, went to the hospital, and officials told the LAPD abouthis injuries as well as complaining about the incident. An internal investigationwas conducted which eventually fired Hewitt and Ethan Cohan, another officerthat knew about the incident but failed to report it.
B.Investigation on the scandal In response to the number of criminal misconducts and working off-duty forDeath Row Records, the LAPD chief Bernard Parks created an investigative teamto focus on a CRASH officer named Rafael Perez. Perez was arrested in 1998 onthe suspicion of stealing 8 pounds of cocaine worth more than 1 million dollarsby removing it from the police evidence locker. The investigation team foundthat Perez also stole cocaine that was booked by a prior arrest made by FrankLyga, the officer who shot and killed Gaines. Investigators had found recordsof Perez ordering cocaine out of evidence property and replaced it with bisquick.He would later use that cocaine to sell it on the streets by his girlfriend. Perez pleaded guilty and part of that plea wasto aid investigators and provide information on 70 officers. Perez pleaded that CRASH basically became a gang.
CRASH officers wore attireand got tattoos that were similar to gangs. Some actions of these officersinvolved murdering or attempting murder on innocent civilians and implantingevidence to coverup the officer’s crimes. An example involves Juan Saldana whowas running on a apartment hallway. He fell on the ground and officers planteda gun on him and shot him to justify their actions. The officers made up a fakestory while Saldana eventually bled to death.
Other individuals served time inprison for trumped-up charges. Perez mentioned that these actions were rewardedand celebrated by CRASH supervisors. One of the discussions involving theRampart Scandal, “Perez repeatedly referred to an understanding among officerscalled “being in the loop,” which describes a willingness toparticipate in, or condone, misconduct. For Perez, being in the loop wasessential to success as a CRASH officer Officers in the loop were”solid,” while those who were not could not be trusted and weredescribed as “weak links”” (Kaplan, 2009).CRASH officers were able to operate without hinderance because they were awayfrom traditional officers and supervisors.
Officers needed a member of CRASH tosponsor them in order to become a part of CRASH. Once an officer was selected,they were monitored to make sure that he or she was loyal to CRASH. Testsinvolved participants having to implant weapons to show loyalty to the unit.The practice of implanting evidence was deeply embedded inside CRASH culturewhich even involved training officers that would learn how to hide misconductfrom their superiors. The corruption in the CRASH unit was so well known thatlaw-abiding officers transferred out while corrupt officers seeked transfersinto CRASH. Nothing good of been done to combat the corruption since the unitwas reducing crime in their designated areas. Part II: How did theRampart Scandal happenedIn 1999, the chief ofLAPD Bernard Parks created a Board of Inquiry that had LAPD command staffinvestigate the effects of the scandal and to analyze failures in management.The Board’s report blamed the department’s management for being too lax for themisconducts committed by CRASH.
In 2000, Parks decided to disband CRASH unitsand would create a new anti-gang which would have tougher requirements.Kaplan (2009) tries tofind the true causes of the Rampart Scandal and states that the LAPD’s responseto the Rampart Scandal was because of a few bad individuals in the department.However, the Board of Inquire made it clear that the LAPD was at fault for notscreening out the “bad apples”. The LAPD’s report about the scandal scrutinizedPerez and 13 other officers. Four of them had questionable backgrounds whichindicate that they should of never been hired as police officers. The probablereason why these individuals were hired was due to bureaucratic problems andpressures to hire more officers.
LAPD’s internal investigation has blamed itmostly on a few Black and Hispanic officers. Another probable cause of theRampart Scandal was on the war on crime. Kaplan (2009 p. 74) wrote, “The war oncrime, which puts officers in the position of soldiers, creates two problems:(1) as soldiers, officers must identify an enemy, and (2) it positions officerson the front lines of an unwinnable war against the people they supposedlyserve.” He believes as soldiers involved in the war on crime, officers believethat they must break the law to satisfy the outcome of producing arrests.
HowPerez and Durden acted and committed was identical.Reese describes thatthere were multiple causes that evidently resulted in the rampart scandal. Oneof the causes was due to a few of the officers that were susceptible tocorruption.
He had found that the top 10 percent of officers who had the highestcases of excessive-force complaints were accounted for 27.5% for all cases.Another cause for the scandal was the lack of managerial oversight. Aninterview with Yarbrough, who was a lieutenant officer that was in charge ofthe Rampart police force told that there was not an optimal number of employeesto supervise. He also added that there are lot less oversight for special taskforces like CRASH. ” ‘Moreover, the selection process in the CRASH unit was flawed.The officers selected to the unit were weighted heavily on the nominations ofthose already in the unit.
Rampart officers would already know who they wantedto work with.’ “(Reese, 2003 p. 91).Part III: Steps taken to prevent future misconductAfter the Department of Justiceinvestigated the LAPD in the year 2000, a Consent Decree was proposed by theDepartment of Justice.
LAPD had to comply to the decree or else they would befiled civil right suits. The LAPD Consent Decree focused on nine areas, “Managementand supervisory measures; critical incident procedures, documentation,investigation and review; Management of Gang Units; Management of Confidential Informants;Program develop for response to persons with mental illness; Training;Integrity Audits; Operations of the Police Commission and Inspector General;and, Community outreach and public information.” (LAPD, 2018). The ConsentDecree was approved by the mayor and city council in 2000 and went into law in2001. One of the areas of the Consent Decree which is about management and supervisorymethods to maintain civil rights integrity. In the Decree, the changes made isto create a database that has relevant information about the members in the LAPD,their at-risk behavior, information about non-lethal uses, lethal uses offorce, and so on. Only the commission, the chief of police, and the inspector generalwill have full access to the database, while supervisors will have partialaccess.
Supervisors would check the database on a regular basis and see thatofficers are not performing or close to performing risky behavior. An importantaspect of the decree requires all administrative investigations on the use offorce will be conducted by a unit called the operations headquarters bureau(OHB). This unit will have the capability to investigate all use of forceincidents at any time. The department will notify the chief of police, inspectorgeneral, the commission, and OHB whenever there is use of force. Once the notificationis received, the OHB will go to the scene where the use of force was takenplace and conduct an investigation to see if the use of force was appropriate.Also, officers are required to report to the LAPD immediately about their useof force. Another requirement is that the chief of police must report to thepolice commission about the discipline that was imposed which would be reportedby types of misconduct, which would be split into different categories ofdiscipline, rank and bureau.
The next step in preventing future misconduct was makingchanges on the management of gang units. Eligibility for joining gang units havebeen changed so that non-supervisory officers need a minimum number of years inthe LAPD, proficient at various law enforcement activities, skills related to interpersonaland administration, community and cultural understanding, and committed topolice integrity. A non-supervisory officer can only be assigned to the gangunit if they have written approval from the chief of police. Eligibility forsupervisors is that the officer must have been a patrol supervisor for at leasta year, showed great leadership, administrative, and supervisory skills, andmust have written approval from the chief of police.