Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Kolts Report on L.A. Sheriff Dept.

August 02, 1992

I am a criminal defense and civil-rights attorney active in police abuse-related issues. I am writing on behalf of the Mexican-American Political Assn. and primarily direct my comments at police officers, specifically deputy sheriffs.

I read with interest the comments of Deputy James Copplin (July 21) in which he blamed a handful of problem deputies for stigmatizing the entire department. I can understand the frustration of the "good" cop who feels unfairly lumped in with the "bad" cops responsible for the misconduct described in the Kolts report.

However, it seems to me that the good cops are partially to blame because of their unwillingness to report the misconduct of fellow officers. I have talked to many deputies who openly admit they never blow the whistle on miscreants within the department, often because they fear the wrath of fellow officers who may refuse to back them up next time they are in a position of danger.

It is unquestionable that this "code of silence" fosters an environment in which acts of brutality go unpunished, thereby resulting in their widespread incidence.

Interestingly enough, the military academies employ a "code of honor" in which cheaters are expected to be reported by their colleagues, and where failure to report a cheater is considered as serious a breach of the code as cheating itself. Police officers occupy a trusted position in our society where just such a code of honor should be in place.

If "good" officers wish to retain their trusted and respected position in society, they will have to do their part to engender a new system, a new culture, in which the bad apples among them are routinely culled.

JORGE GONZALEZ, Los Angeles

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|