Williams was among those dissatisfied by that board's work, and he ordered a second board to review a second set of sexual harassment allegations against Brizzolara; that time, Brizzolara, who through his lawyer on Wednesday denied any wrongdoing, was found guilty on eight of 11 charges. He is appealing, and a judge has ordered the LAPD to grant him yet another Board of Rights.
Critics of the initial board ruling argued that sexual gratification is not a legal element of harassment. If it were, legal experts note, men could effectively harass women and then plead innocence by saying they did not enjoy it.
"When I tell people about that ruling, they laugh out loud," said Carol Sobel, an ACLU lawyer who is handling the female officer's lawsuit along with many others brought by alleged harassment victims. "No one can believe it."
Sexual harassment and discrimination in the Police Department were highlighted by a series of reports in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1987, internal LAPD studies found that more than 75% of female police officers said they had been the subjects of sexist comments from colleagues on the job. Seven out of 10 female officers said they did not believe they were judged based on their abilities, and more than half told investigators that they had male partners who made unjustifiably negative remarks about their performance.
Those reports were reviewed by the top supervisors of the department. But in 1991, the Christopher Commission concluded that nothing had been done in response to the reports.
In addition, the commission said the department was riddled with "widespread and strongly felt gender bias." Its report cited interviews with training officers and excerpts from "blatantly sexist messages" sent over LAPD computers.
The latest attempt to address the difficulties faced by female police officers came last fall, when the Women's Advisory Council to the Police Commission completed its study of women in the department and warned that significant problems remained. Since then, its authors have hailed a few steps by Chief Williams, but they say more aggressive action is needed.
"This audit is the first thing that they have really done," said Katherine Spillar, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and a co-chair of the Women's Advisory Council. "But this is a problem that has gone unaddressed for years. Sexual harassment has been sanctioned by the leadership of this department."
Problems and perceptions of gender bias and sexual harassment in the department have altered working relationships, imposing new standards on a traditionally male work force as women have broken into new areas.
Some male officers complain that they are being held to politically correct standards of behavior even as some female officers worry that their tolerance of inappropriate conduct has inadvertently encouraged that conduct to continue.
"You have people who are blatant harassers and have been for years and years," said Sgt. Carol Aborn, who has been with the LAPD for more than 10 years and is a former president of the Los Angeles Women's Police Officers Assn. "Nothing has been done about them for all that time."
Partly, Aborn added, that is because many women have been unwilling to make complaints, either because they fear retaliation or because they have acquiesced to feeling uncomfortable at work.
Caught between those choices, some have chosen to leave.
Pamela Roberts spent 10 years as an LAPD officer before leaving last summer to become a commander in Perris, Calif. Roberts finally left, she said, in part because she was tired of the racism and sexism that she encountered within the LAPD.
Rightly or wrongly, many female officers believe retaliation is common.
"Many of the women I represent feel like they're victimized twice," said Sobel, the ACLU lawyer. "First by the harasser and then by the disciplinary system."
One sergeant, who asked that her name not be used, said working conditions for women have improved during her 13 years on the job, but she recounts incidents in which her male colleagues made her uncomfortable. Officers screened porno movies in the station, posted sexually explicit pictures of women on the walls, forced kisses on her and occasionally failed to back her up when she called for help. She never filed a complaint about any of those incidents.
"You have to survive out there," said the sergeant, who estimates that 90% of LAPD harassment goes unreported. "You need them."
In the far-flung reaches of the LAPD, there are a few areas that some women say they have learned to dread. Chief among them is the West Los Angeles station.
In the early 1980s, West Los Angeles was home to a pair of informal groups of male officers: The first called itself PALS--short for "Police Against Lousy Supervision." It was followed by creation of a second, MAW, an acronym for "Men Against Women."