Recognition Day 2006
Northwest Area Groundbreaking

We've Changed

Original editorial, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2006

When I became chief of police 3 1/2 years ago, I promised the people of Los Angeles that the LAPD would do three things: reduce crime, protect the city from terrorists and reform the character and style of our policing.

Owing in large part to the extraordinary efforts of our officers, we have reduced crime every year since then.  Today, Los Angeles, on a per capita basis, is the nation's second-safest large city.  In the last year, serious crime has fallen to its lowest point since 1956, while arrests have steadily increased.  With the assistance of the mayor and the City Council, the Los Angeles Police Department also has broadened and deepened its capacity to prevent terroism.

It is not enough, however, to drive down crime and to interdict terroist terroist threats. The police must do so consistently, compassionately and constitutionally. We have made tremendous strides in our quest to reform this department's culture, policies and practices, and the work is ongoing.  This process has been driven largely by the consent decree the city worked out with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001, a year and a half before I was appointed chief.

Some people have recommended that the entire decree be extended by two years - beyond the June 15 expiration date - saying that the LAPD is unwilling or unable to adhere to its reform agenda.  This is just plain wrong. As we are struggling to become more open, the pundits appear to have become more myopic.  Let me set the record straight.  The men and women of the LAPD largely have embraced the tenets of the consent decree, realizing that many of its requirements formalized findings of an earlier, internal process and have greatly improved the organization. The vast majority of the reforms are now part and parcel of LAPD policy.

This is a new LAPD. Fully one-third of our officers have been hired since the consent decree was implemented in 2001, and more than two-thirds have joined the department since 1995, when the Justice Department began its investigation. So, a significant percentage of our officers accept these "new" practices as normal operating procedure. Among the changes: watch commander review of arrestees and booking charges, stringent selection standards for anti-gang and field training officers and creation of a specialized division to investigate uses of force.

The reform process has become an ongoing conversation involving the police, city leaders, the federal monitor and judge. In most areas, particularly those involving the investigation and resolution of citizen complaints, the department, the civilian Police Commission and its inspector general and our federal partners have agreed that real reform is taking place.

The LAPD is now recognized world wide as a leader in "best practices policing. " We are regularly asked to provide advice on topics such as police performance auditing, ethical decision-making and supervisory training. In terms of the investigation of police shootings - down to half what they were in 1995 - the LAPD's review and investigation procedures are widely considered to be state-of-the-art. The department continually reinforces its commitment to transparency of operations by maintaining an ongoing dialogue with community and civil rights groups and by posting all audits, monitor reports and Police Commission findings on our website (

We are committed to completing TEAMS II, a computerized system for tracking officers' disciplinary records, which will serve as a prototype for similiar systems throughout the country. Its scale and ambition have presented formidable technical challenges. However, the pace is reflective of the careful consideration hat has gone into the process and does not represent a failure or lack of willingness to implement reform. The LAPD also seeks to outfit every patrol car with a video camera in order to provide an objective view of our transactions with the public and to promote a sense of openness and cooperation with the community.

The LAPD has learned from the past and is ready to take on the mantle of accountability the community expects of its police department. We are commited to openness, dialogue and best policing practices aimed at making Los Angeles the safest large city in the nation.

Chief William J. Bratton


Chief Bratton asserts that the restrictions of a federal-court-monitored consent decree should not be extended, even though LAPD has declined to comply with its most important provision: implementing a system for tracking misconduct by his department's worst officers.

It is not for LAPD or its chief to make that assessment. If we could count on LAPD to fairly decide how well it is protecting the civil rights of LA's civilians, the consent decree would not have been necessary in the first place. We can't. That much is painfully clear.

Like anyone else who has been found in the wrong by a court, and ordered to clean up its act, instead of publishing public relations salvos, LAPD should let the Blue Wall of Silence come down, and just obey the consent decree. In the meantime, that consent decree is there to serve and to protect -- us, from LAPD. Let it stand, please.

Paul Mills
L.A. Police Watch

Mr Mills, get your facts straight, the LAPD was never found to have done anything wrong by a court. The true facts were never brought out in a court, had the then leaders of the City and LAPD stood up to the DOJ and gone to court the only thing that would have come out the the trial is what was already known. That a small hand-full of officers were commiting those crimes. The consent decree has been nothing but a total waste of time,money and staff, all of which could have been used to further reduce the crime in the city and improve the quality of life for the residence of Los Angeles.

Am i the only one who smells a rat in the entire concent decree termoil? I am not going to get into how screwd up most of it is.. But this just gets me angry that no one makes an issue out of Mr Michael CherkaskyFor wanting to extend the concent decree.. Of course he would want to have it extend it. THE FIRM THAT HE OWNS (KROLL INC)IS GETTING PAID 11 MILLION DOLLARS "TO MONITOR THE LAPD". Now why in the world would he want to modify or agree with the LAPD to get rid of it? HELLOOO.. If this is not a conflict of interest then i dont know what is? To the special interest groups..This is a Law Enforcement Agency. This is not a office where you know what you have to do and what to expect once at work. This type of job you can not plan for, every second is deifferent. LAPD should wake up and stand up to these groups and say "NO"! No, we will not implement this becuase of this reason. So on.. Stop caving in to special interest groups everytime they scream out loud. The more you cave in the more they demand...


A Waste of Money, Time, and Lives

National Review Online

Federal oversight of the LAPD will continue.

By Jack Dunphy

In June of 2001, the city of Los Angeles and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a consent decree aimed at reforming the Los Angeles Police Department. The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Janet Reno and former Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee, had threatened the city with a lawsuit alleging the LAPD had engaged in “a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful conduct that has been made possible by the failure of the City defendants to adopt and implement proper management practices and procedures.”

These allegations arose from what has become known as the Rampart scandal, in which a handful of officers at one police station engaged in all manner of truly despicable behavior, including stealing and selling drugs, planting evidence, and, most horrifying of all, shooting and paralyzing an unarmed man, then fabricating a case that would send him to prison in a wheelchair. About a dozen officers were fired from the department or resigned under pressure, and a few, like two of the central figures in the scandal, Rafael Perez and David Mack, went to prison.

The consent decree itself is 90 pages of some of the most arcane language one should ever hope to read, containing 191 individual mandates governing virtually every aspect of LAPD operations. As one would expect of a document conceived by committees of government lawyers, the consent decree’s emphasis is on paperwork, paperwork, and still more paperwork, very little if any of which enhances the safety of even a single citizen in the city of Los Angeles. Perhaps I should correct myself by saying that the burdens of the consent decree do in fact benefit one particular niche group: the city’s criminals.

The LAPD has diverted millions of dollars and the efforts of hundreds of police officers to the cause of ensuring that the paperwork required by the consent decree is prepared just so. In a city with 9,000 unsolved murders on the books and an untold number of lesser crimes that get virtually no investigative attention, one might conceive of better ways for the city and the police department to expend these scarce resources. Every cop who spends his day in a cubicle preparing or auditing the great mounds paperwork generated by the consent decree is one less cop available to do what the public expects cops to do: go out on the streets and prevent the bad guys from preying on the good guys.

For all the time and money spent over these past five years, it now appears that the consent decree—or some portions of it—will be extended for at least two more years. Michael Cherkasky, the monitor appointed to report on the city’s progress to the federal court, says the LAPD is currently in compliance with only 121 of the consent decree’s 191 separate provisions. The city claims to be in “substantial compliance” with 149 of these mandates, but even if U.S. District Judge Gary Feess accepts this more optimistic figure it is unlikely that he will bring the consent decree to an end on its scheduled June 15 expiration date.

Left uncompleted is what Cherkasky believes to be the consent decree’s centerpiece, a computer database that will track every LAPD officer’s personnel history, including complaints, use-of-force incidents, traffic stops, detentions, and arrests. Implementation of this database, known as TEAMS II, is months behind schedule, and those subsystems already in use are rife with technical glitches. Still, lawyers for the city hope to persuade Judge Feess to extend the consent decree only as it relates to those provisions in which Cherkasky has found the LAPD to be out of compliance. Feess will rule on the matter after a May 15 hearing.

No matter how long the consent decree is extended, no matter how many dollars or how many cops are devoted to its implementation, full compliance with its demands may remain forever beyond reach. For one thing, Cherkasky’s company, Kroll Inc., has an obvious financial interest in finding the city out of compliance. The firm has raked in $11 million from the city treasury over these five years, and its management surely would like to see this reliable income stream continue for as long as possible. SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1And, as Heather Mac Donald wrote in City Journal in 2003, Cherkasky may have placed the compliance bar at an impossibly high level:

Full compliance may well be impossible, judging from the August [2003] report of the federal monitor, Michael Cherkasky, who heads the Kroll Associates security firm. A control freak with the most unforgiving interpretation of deadlines, Cherkasky seems unaware that the department sometimes has to tear itself away from report-generation to fight crime. For example, though captains managed to complete required reports on instances of non-deadly force, such as twisting someone's arm to cuff him, within the mandated 14 days 94.3 percent of the time, Cherkasky judged the department out of compliance—a remorseless standard of bureaucratic fidelity that few modern organizations could meet.

Nonetheless, the usual suspects are calling on Judge Feess to continue the consent decree in its entirety. A Los Angeles Times editorial took just that position on Friday. And in an op-ed piece in the Times last Wednesday, Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky and ACLU attorneys Catherine Lhamon and Mark Rosenbaum ignored the costs of the consent decree when they wrote, “There is no reason to let the consent decree lapse, and there are compelling reasons to continue it.” They cited what they described as a 40-year pattern of abuses by LAPD officers, which includes “ [t]he Watts riots, the fatal shooting of Eulia Love in the 1970s, the Rodney King beating in 1991 and most recently Rampart . . .”

The Watts riots of 1965 were sparked when a suspected drunk driver was arrested by officers from the California Highway Patrol, not the LAPD. And as for the other incidents, even if you accepted the interpretation of the facts least favorable to the LAPD, you are left with a handful of controversies spanning more than 40 years, hardly the stuff of a “pattern or practice” of unlawful behavior. In Los Angeles today, a cop can’t even write someone a traffic ticket without having at least a camera or two pointed at him; if there were abuses taking place, surely the Los Angeles Times and others would find great joy in reporting on them

Chemerinsky, et al, also resorted to that hoariest of claims cited by police critics, that of racial profiling. “Initial data from 2002,” they wrote, “documented that black and Latino motorists were still nearly three times more likely than white motorists to be asked to step out of their vehicles, four times more likely to be patted down and four times more likely to be asked to submit to a search. Subsequent data in 2005 showed that this pattern continues.”

Though Chemerinsky and his ACLU brethren fail to acknowledge it, there is another pattern that also continues, one that just may explain the disparity in the data they find so troubling: Blacks and Latinos are responsible for a far greater share of violent crime in Los Angeles than are whites. Blacks represent 11 percent of L.A.’s total population but commit approximately 40 percent of its murders. Latinos make up 46 percent of the population and commit about half the murders. As of April 29 of this year, there had been more than five times as many violent crimes reported in the largely black and Latino 77th Street Division as in the mostly white West L.A. Division. During the same period, 77th Street had 20 murders while West L.A. had none. There are 19 patrol divisions the LAPD, but more than 40 percent of the city’s 143 murders committed so far this year have occurred in the four divisions that cover black and Latino South Los Angeles. These are inconvenient but stubborn facts for our friends in the ACLU. If cops were not stopping and searching blacks and Latinos more frequently than whites, they’d be shirking their duty to protect the innocent, and racial sensitivity and political correctness be damned.

Still, for all the money that’s been spent, for all the scrutiny given the LAPD by the federal monitor, the Justice Department, the ACLU, the Los Angeles Times, and so many others, none of them has produced even a bit of evidence that the alleged “pattern or practice” of unlawful behavior in the LAPD extended beyond the dozen or so corrupt officers implicated in the Rampart scandal. Before we pour millions more dollars into the paperwork mill that is the consent decree, shouldn’t we ask if the money might be better spent elsewhere?

— Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. "Jack Dunphy" is the author's nom de cyber. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.

We need more people speaking out in support of our officers and against this consent decree. We need to let our elected officials know where we, the tax payers of this city stand on the issue. I hear at so many residents at community meetings stating the consent decree is unfair for officers yet they don't put their words into action.

Please install and use a spell-checker on your blog. Many of your reader are or will be annoyed and/or turned off by missssspellings. e.g. terroist terroist

To facilitate and ease the conveyance of your message, please proof read before posting.

Otherwise, this is a great start to a great site.

Born in Los Angeles,

To the city of LA from a native New Yorker. William Bratton is your problem now.

2260 Murders under Bratton
669 once he packed his bags and went to Beverly... Hills that is.

Matthew Preston Schubert, I thought that when refering to more than 1 reader, the word is pronounced readers. Seems odd that you shouls miss that after recommending a spell-checker.

I miss L.A., I only had to dust my car there....


It was Charls who made the comment about spellcheck.

Matthew,I feel thatcomment was stereo typing the whole department.

Rember there is good and bad in every profession. You said it,the LAPD is cleaning up any bad reputation but there will always be some stuff going on in any department,the world is not perfect and neither are human beings regardless if they were a uniform,however the department may be keeping close contact on the officers and doing better screening.(This is humourous,I already have about seven mispells and no way to fix it since it deletes the whole word)

I'm sorry about yur bad experience Matt but you should not let that discourage you! The nice lady does not sound so nice since she got up and walked away from you after all you did was tell her of your career choice,maybe she had been in trouble with LE and does not care for them ect..Just a few things to consider.
I say go through with your dream of becomming a LAPD officer,don't let that discourage you.

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