LAPD No Longer Under Feds’ Thumb
Judge Feese Dissolves Consent Decree
United States District Judge, the Hon. Gary Feese, is finally satisfied the LAPD has changed after twelve years of oversight. Officer Rafael Pérez, at age 31 and a nine-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested on August 25, 1998, for stealing six pounds of cocaine from a department property room. The investigation that followed became known as the infamous “Rampart Scandal.” Part of the fallout from the scandal was that, since 2001, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was placed under federal judicial scrutiny. This was implemented by way of a “consent decree” issued by Judge Gary Feese that mandated oversight, transparancy and massive changes. The consent decree was originally a “five year plan” slated to end in 2006, but the LAPD was too slow in implementing the required changes so it was extended. Now, for the first time in 12 years, the LAPD is no longer operating under the watchful eye of a federal judge.
How will lifting the oversight affect things? Will the climate at the LAPD revert to pre-consent decree days? Police officials emphatically say no. Fully two-thirds of the approximately 10,000 officers in the department have come on during the era of the consent decree. The “old” LAPD is a relic of the past, according to officials. Let’s hope that’s the case. We don’t need any more Rodney Kings, David Macks or Rafael Perez.