Chief Bernard Park’s Response to Coalition for Police

December 17, 1999

Friday, December 17, 1999
Chief Bernard Park’s Response to "Coalition for Police Accountability" Press Release

Organizers for the "Coalition for Police Accountability" describe the LAPD as a police department rampant with corruption and abuse. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The fact remains that the Los Angeles Police Department is a highly professional organization dedicated to outstanding service to the community. In January 1998 the LAPD completely revamped its complaint intake system. In the subsequent 23 months, the LAPD has taken approximately 10,189 complaints and terminated 97 police officers

Ramona Ripston of the ACLU, and others from the "Coalition," state that there is no accountability in the LAPD and that we lack the integrity to police ourselves. We would like to remind Ms. Ripston that the Rampart issue was discovered by the LAPD through an internal investigation. At no time did the Department attempt to hide or keep this incident hidden from the public. On the contrary, the LAPD made immediate public disclosure and advised that no stone would be left unturned during the investigation. The Department is working hand in hand with the District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office and continues to submit the current results of our ongoing investigation for criminal filing consideration. Speculation as to the scope and ultimate outcome of the investigation is not helpful at this time. It serves no purpose and won’t bring the investigation to fruition any sooner. Ms. Ripston should also be reminded that she and many of the other coalition members were in total support of the Charter reform measures mandated by Proposition F. The Rampart case was the first crisis confronted by the new structure. Why is Ms. Ripston unwilling to allow the current system to work? Unlike Mr. Warren Christopher, who has strongly supported this Department’s efforts, Ms. Ripston appears to use this crisis for her own benefit rather than the benefit of the general community and police department.

Ms. Ripston states further that to complain to the LAPD citizens have to go to the police to make a complaint. Ripston failed to mention that citizens could go directly to the Police Commission and Inspector General’s office where they can meet with an independent civilian body that has direct oversight over the Department. Also, LAPD complaint forms are located in many governmental offices.

Further inaccuracies in the "Coalition’s" press release, and statements made at their press conference, include reference to the book Stolen Lives which purportedly identifies individuals who died in the hands of "brutal law enforcement" including the LAPD. The book identifies 83 cases attributed to the LAPD. Current records can only verify that 29 of these cases involved the LAPD. Furthermore, many of the incidents did not cite any source of legitimate information. No allowance is made for the reader to assess factual information that might validate a reasonable justification for the police action.

Despite what the "Coalition" and other special interests groups say, there is great and widespread public support for the LAPD. In fact, the only public outcry comes from special interests groups and self interest groups and not from the community at large.

The Department can no longer stand idle to accusations that we are an organization rampant with corruption. A few officers have tainted the oath they swore to uphold, however, the vast majority of officers are hard working, honest and responsible individuals that come to work every day to serve their community. To make public accusations that these fine officers, and the LAPD in general, can’t be trusted is outrageous and only limits our ability to provide the citizens of Los Angeles with the best police service possible. My commitment to the Los Angeles community is the same as I promised in August 1998, that the LAPD, who uncovered this misconduct and criminal behavior, will investigate every lead and allegation of misconduct to its appropriate disposition. And, at the same time every member of this Department will continue to provide the highest quality of service possible. This continues to be my personal commitment and this Department will not be distracted by false and misleading allegations that serve the self interest of a very small segment of our community.

For further comment please contact Commander Kalish at 213-485-3205.

For Release 9:20 am PST
December 17, 1999