Enough Slamming the LAPD Over 'Racial Profiling'

In sitting down to write this column, I had what we might call a Groundhog Day sensation, as though I've been here many times staring at the blank screen only to have the same words and arguments come to mind.

Well, what else can a cop do? When the ACLU keeps trotting out its old horses, I must trot out my own. I refer to an op-ed in Thursday's Los Angeles Times by the ACLU's Mark Rosenbaum and Peter Bibring, in which they argue that the federal consent decree under which the Los Angeles Police Department has been operating for eight years should be extended yet again.  On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess will hold a hearing in Los Angeles to address that very issue.

I've been writing for years about the diversion of police resources from fighting crime to complying with the consent decree's labyrinthine provisions (see here, here, and here, for example), and I'm dismayed to see that even now, as city workers in Los Angeles face the very real prospect of pay cuts and layoffs, there are educated people who nonetheless advocate for throwing more and more money down the bureaucratic rathole that has been spawned by the consent decree.

The consent decree arose from what is known as the Rampart scandal of the mid to late '90s, in which some officers at the LAPD's Rampart Division engaged in criminal conduct ranging from concocting cases against suspected gang members to shooting unarmed men and fabricating cases against them. Janet Reno's Justice Department threatened to bring a lawsuit against the LAPD, citing what it described as a "pattern and practice" of unlawful behavior. Rather than contest the lawsuit, the mayor and city council elected to enter into the consent decree and submit the LAPD to oversight from a federal judge. It is worth noting that as bad as the Rampart scandal was, it was confined to handful of officers at a single police station.  If there ever was any evidence of a department-wide "pattern and practice" of illegal behavior, to this very day no one has produced it.