YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Los Angeles

Report Says LAPD May Miss Reforms Deadline

May 16, 2003|Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

The Los Angeles Police Department is making "steady progress" on reforms but a lack of funding and timely resources could cause it to miss a 2006 deadline and extend federal monitoring of the department at a cost of millions of dollars, according to a report released Thursday.

In the 107-page report to U.S. District Judge Gary Feess, federal monitor Michael Cherkasky said the LAPD and city are "intent on working toward timely compliance," with improvements.

But Cherkasky, appointed to monitor reforms after the Department of Justice alleged the LAPD routinely violated civil rights, warned that the city will have to pay in the long run if it doesn't support the department.

"Failure to provide timely resources or failure to maintain a high level of commitment could prevent timely compliance and be, in the long term, expensive to the city," stated the report for the quarter ended March 31.

The report comes during a tumultuous week for the department as it has pushed a budget that many local politicians say is beyond the means of the city. On Wednesday, a City Council budget committee voted to delay funding an expansion and reorganization of the LAPD, prompting Police Chief William J. Bratton to warn that cuts for the year beginning July 1 would be tantamount to an invitation to Osama bin Laden to come to L.A.

To get out from under the watch of the federal monitor by the June 2006 deadline, the department needs to be in "substantial compliance" for two years before that date.

Noting progress, Cherkasky stated there remain areas of serious concern, including:

* Failure to analyze racial profiling data from the last half of 2002.

* Serious backlogs on audits, because of a lack of personnel.

* Inadequate supervision of gang units.

* Slow investigation of complaints of police misconduct.

* Ongoing concerns that a critical computerized risk-management system is behind schedule.

The monitor's review is the seventh such document since the city was forced into the decree in 2001 after the Justice Department, following revelations in the Rampart scandal, concluded the LAPD had engaged in a years-long "pattern or practice of civil rights violations."

Gerald Chaleff, the LAPD executive in charge of the reforms, said Thursday he is confident the department will meet the deadline. "Overall, I believe the monitor's report states what we've said before, that we are making steady progress toward compliance," he said. "And I'm confident that we will achieve compliance by the deadline."

The monitor endorsed the LAPD's success at overseeing its officers' use of serious force, and in modernizing training, where new interactive technology is addressing issues of discrimination and misconduct.

Councilman Jack Weiss said the city must back the department on the decree. "There's no question that timely compliance is not just a civil rights issue, but it's a significant budgetary issue as well," he said. "We face tough budgetary times and we have asked the mayor to show us the city is living within its means in order for the city to release additional funds for the LAPD."

Los Angeles Times Articles