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Officer retaliation problems still plague LAPD, inspector general finds

May 16, 2011|Joel Rubin | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The independent watchdog of the Los Angeles Police Department again has found serious shortcomings in how the LAPD investigates cases of retaliation among officers.

LAPD policy forbids officers from retaliating against other officers who report misconduct, take advantage of allotted time off, or exercise other rights granted to them. Retaliation often takes the form of poor work evaluations, harassment or job reassignments.

On Tuesday, Nicole Bershon, inspector general for the L.A. Police Commission, is scheduled to present to the oversight panel her latest report on retaliation inside the LAPD. As in past reports, Bershon's team was troubled by the fact that departmental investigators frequently determine that accusations made by one officer against another do not amount to formal misconduct. Therefore, Bershon found, investigators commonly do not bother to interview the officer accused of wrongdoing.

The inspector general's report was also critical of the LAPD practice of removing the accused officer from the investigation altogether ?- a move that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to detect patterns of behavior among officers, Bershon concluded.

"Retaliation and other workplace complaints are some of the most complex investigations confronting the department. However, we believe that, given the severity of retaliation allegations, and the fact that the incidents surrounding these complaints often result in litigation against the department, it is essential that these investigations are thorough and comprehensive," Bershon wrote in the report.

Retaliation among officers has been a problem in the LAPD for decades. An article in the Times last week highlighted the issue and explored the unusually high number of lawsuits that LAPD officers file against the department claiming retaliation, harassment and other workplace issues.

-- Joel Rubin

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