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LAPD Gets Mixed Report on Reform

The department is faulted for oversight of gang units, but lauded for other improvements.

November 18, 2003|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Police Department is making steady progress toward reform, but is struggling to oversee its anti-gang units and has failed to fully support its top ethics official, a report released Monday said.

In the same report that criticized the process for review of shootings by police officers, federal monitor Michael Cherkasky praised LAPD management for making "swift and meaningful" improvements in other areas.

It was a regular quarterly report from Cherkasky, who was named to oversee LAPD reforms by a judge after the department pledged to improve under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department.

In his 110-page report to U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, Cherkasky expressed frustration, describing audits of the LAPD's gang unit as "in an abysmal state."

"Some have not yet been completed since the consent decree was first implemented more than two years ago, and those that have been completed are well below an acceptable standard," Cherkasky wrote.

The review for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 also said "resource constraints" in the inspector general's office were threatening its ability to oversee the LAPD.

According to the report, the monitor reviewed 90 out of 1,883 investigations of misconduct complaints undertaken from January through June of this year. In a majority of cases in the sample, Cherkasky found that the LAPD failed to perform up to its promises.

The monitor's report is the ninth such review since the city entered into a settlement in 2001 after the Justice Department, following the Rampart corruption scandal, concluded that the LAPD had engaged in a years-long "pattern or practice of civil rights violations."

It was released as Chief William J. Bratton announced changes at the top of his command staff, in part to keep up momentum toward reform.

The department must be in "substantial compliance" with the consent decree for two years before a June 2006 deadline or continue to be under the watchful eye of the federal monitor.

Cherkasky was not available for comment Monday; nor was Gerald Chaleff, the LAPD executive in charge of the reforms.

Chaleff has expressed confidence that the department can meet the compliance goal required to fulfill the obligations under the consent decree, noting that the quarterly reports highlight issues that are months old and are being addressed by the department when reports are issued.

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