Federal court frees Los Angeles police department from DOJ oversight

[JURIST] The US District Court of the Central District of California [official website] Friday ended the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) [official website] consent decree [LAPD materials; PBS backgrounder] to federal oversight that the LAPD was forced into in 2001 resulting from US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division [official website] pressure after the Rampart Area Corruption Incident [PBS backgrounder]. Judge Gary Feess, Jr., who had presided over the decree, reasoned that the LAPD had accomplished substantial progress to merit release the department from federal supervision. Feess' ruling retained DOJ jurisdiction over an approved three-year transition agreement from federal oversight to Los Angeles Police Commission supervision, while specifying that if the mandated reform process is unsatisfactory, the LAPD risks returning to federal oversight. The ruling also emphasized the need for more reforms in officer training, officer financial disclosure policy, and reports on how officers address racial profiling complaints. While LAPD Chief William Bratton [official profile] viewed the ruling as long overdue, citing the significant progresses of the department, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California [advocacy website] Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum decried [press release] the ruling as a disappointment because "there [is] still too much evidence that skin color makes a difference in who is stopped, questioned, and arrested by the LAPD."

Feess extended the consent decree twice within the past month. In June, the Office of the Independent Monitor of the LAPD issued its final report [materials], referenced in Feess' ruling in recognizing the reform progress accomplished by the department. The original consent agreement was for five years, and called for an independent monitor over reforms in officer training, investigations, and audits to address Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights violations.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.