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Watchdog finds shortcomings in LAPD's investigation of retaliation

A report by the Police Commission's inspector general finds that investigators frequently determine that accusations made by one officer against another do not rise to the level of formal misconduct.

May 17, 2011|By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
  • LAPD officers gather for the annual Los Angeles Police Memorial Ceremony at the LAPD Administration Building in downtown Los Angeles.
LAPD officers gather for the annual Los Angeles Police Memorial Ceremony… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The independent watchdog of the Los Angeles Police Department once 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.

Document: LAPD retaliation report

On Tuesday, Nicole Bershon, the inspector general for the L.A. Police Commission, is scheduled to present to the oversight panel her latest report on retaliation inside the LAPD. Bershon's team is troubled by the fact that department investigators frequently determine that the accusations made by one officer against another do not rise to the level of formal misconduct. Based on those decisions, Bershon found, investigators commonly do not bother to interview the officer accused of wrongdoing.

The inspector general's report was also critical of the department 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.

Document: LAPD retaliation 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 LAPD officers file against the department alleging retaliation, harassment and other workplace issues.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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