The Los Angeles Police Department recently entered its eighth year under a federal consent decree that imposes strict mandates on operations and record keeping. The LAPD has modernized its procedures to root out corruption and purge from its ranks a Rampart-era culture of excessive force and false arrest. Full compliance with the decree is within reach, and it is tempting to urge the Police Commission to finish the job today by completing one final piece -- requiring full disclosure of personal and family finances by those officers in specialized units who in theory could be bribed because of greed or financial distress.
There's nothing outrageous about demanding that some members of the nation's preeminent local law enforcement organization make the same kind of reports required of FBI and other federal agents. And the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which adamantly opposes the requirement, only hurts its cause with its bullying claim that hundreds of officers would rather leave the department than let administrators know how much money they have in the checking account or how much they owe on the vacation condo. The union's knee-jerk rejection of financial disclosure is part of an unfortunate tradition of opposing disclosure of any kind. Union pressure already has helped strip the public of crucial oversight it long had, such as access to use-of-force reports and open discipline hearings.