ACLU Calls on Los Angeles To Fund Review of Scandal-Plagued Police Department

February 15, 2000 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES — Saying that a vote to increase resources to an existing commission is insufficient, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today called on Mayor Riordan to appoint an independent, blue-ribbon civilian commission to thoroughly review the operations and policies of the LAPD in the wake of the growing scandal rocking the department.

Also today, the ACLU of Southern California announced a regional newspaper ad campaign calling upon Mayor Riordan to take action and bring accountability to the LAPD. The full-page ad will appear in the Wednesday, February 16, 2000 western region edition of the New York Times, as well as other local newspapers.

The ad decries Riordan’s inaction in the face of revelations of systemic corruption within the LAPD, and calls for Riordan to appoint an independent commission charged with investigating the scandal and overseeing the following reforms:

  • The complete overhaul of the LAPD complaint process, which currently does more to discourage civilians from reporting officer misconduct than to keep police misconduct in check.
  • The creation of a special prosecutor’s office to investigate police corruption independently, with the power to subpoena and prosecute corrupt officers to the full extent of the law.

“We are all familiar with Mayor Riordan’s crusade for accountability, but as this most recent scandal clearly shows, there will never be true accountability within the LAPD so long as civilians are routinely prevented from bringing police abuse to light and to justice,” says Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. “It is past time for the Mayor to stop defending the status quo and to implement meaningful civilian review of the LAPD, once and for all.”

Commenting on a City Council vote today to increase resources to the present Police Commission, Ripston said that the action will not bring about necessary reform. “The corruption and brutality that have surfaced in the last six months have been festering for years,” she said. “The present Commission failed in its oversight function, despite years of outcry from community members who have been trying to bring this problem to the public’s attention.

“In addition to full and broad subpoena power and an investigative staff independent of the police department, the new, blue-ribbon commission must be given a mandate to look beyond the confines of the Rampart CRASH unit,” Ripston continued. “The systemic problems will not be uncovered by the police policing itself, and they have not been uncovered by the present Police Commission. We believe that for true reform to be properly implemented, the new commission must continue its work after it makes its policy recommendations. One of the failings of the Christopher Commission was the lack of follow-through; many of the meaningful reforms suggested were never implemented.”

A full-color reproduction of the advertisement can be found at:

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