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LAPD union loses ruling on financial disclosure

A federal appeals court rejects a bid to block new rules for officers in specialized units. The anti-corruption plan will help fulfill a reform required under a federal consent decree.

February 28, 2009|Joel Rubin

A federal appeals court has rejected a bid by the union representing rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers to block strict financial disclosure requirements for hundreds of specialized officers.

The unanimous ruling by a panel of judges from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals released Friday likely brings an end to a lengthy and contentious challenge by the Los Angeles Police Protective League and clears the way for the LAPD to impose the controversial policy.

Anthony Pacheco, president of the civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, welcomed the court's decision and said he expected Police Chief William J. Bratton to move quickly to enact the plan.

Pacheco emphasized that the financial disclosure plan will fulfill one of the few remaining reforms called for in a sweeping consent decree imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice in the aftermath of a scandal in the late 1990s involving misconduct by anti-gang officers from the Rampart Division.

Under the terms of the plan, officers joining anti-gang and narcotics units that frequently seize cash or other contraband will be required to disclose to department officials a wide array of personal financial information every two years. The roughly 600 officers already assigned to the units will be granted a two-year grace period before having to complete the records.

The disclosure policy is billed as an anti-corruption tool, meant to help supervisors catch cops who are taking bribes or identify those in financial straits who might be susceptible to temptation. Bratton, however, said he has little expectation that the new rules will be helpful. He has, instead, taken the pragmatic stance that the disclosures are needed simply to free the LAPD from federal oversight.

Union officials have fought the disclosure plan aggressively, saying it amounts to an invasion of privacy and that the department cannot be trusted to keep officers' personal information confidential.

In a statement, union President Paul M. Weber said he was "very disappointed" about the ruling, which he said would have "no demonstrable positive outcomes."

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

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