Consent Decree Overview

Following the discovery and disclosure of the Rampart Area Corruption Incident by the Los Angeles Police Department, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) notified the City of Los Angeles that it intended to file a civil suit alleging that the Department was engaging in a pattern or practice of excessive force, false arrests and unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Director of the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy is Lizabeth Rhodes.

Whenever the DOJ has reasonable cause to believe such violations have occurred, they may obtain a court order to eliminate the pattern or practice. On that basis, the DOJ has entered into consent decrees with other law enforcement agencies throughout the United States including the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Police Department; Steubenville, Ohio Police Department; and the New Jersey State Police.

A consent decree is an agreement between involved parties submitted in writing to a court. Once approved by the judge, it becomes legally binding.

In making these allegations, the DOJ recognized that the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles police officers perform their difficult jobs in a lawful manner. The City denied the allegations in the DOJ complaint and entered into negotiations with DOJ. However, to avoid potentially divisive and costly litigation and to promote the best available practices and procedures for the Department, the City entered into the Civil Rights Consent Decree.

The Consent Decree will last a minimum of five years during which the Department must demonstrate substantial compliance with the Decree’s provisions.

The Consent Decree is intended to promote police integrity within the Department and prevent conduct that deprives individuals of their rights, privileges, or immunities protected by the Constitution of the United States. The Consent Decree places emphasis on the following nine major areas:

  • Management and supervisory measures to promote Civil Rights Integrity;
  • Critical incident procedures, documentation, investigation and review;
  • Management of Gang Units;
  • Management of Confidential Informants;
  • Program development for response to persons with mental illness;
  • Training;
  • Integrity Audits;
  • Operations of the Police Commission and Inspector General; and,
  • Community outreach and public information.

On November 2, 2000, the City Council and the Mayor approved the Consent Decree negotiated between the City and the DOJ. However, the Consent Decree was not immediately entered (i.e. approved and signed) by Federal District Court Judge Gary A Feess. Nonetheless, the Department formed the Consent Decree Task Force (CDTF) within Administrative Group to plan for, coordinate, track, monitor and report on the Department’s compliance with the Decree’s provisions.

The Court formally entered the Consent Decree into law on June 15, 2001. In the upcoming month, Department employees can expect to receive Consent Decree-related orders, notices, and training, articulating new operational policies and procedures.

Wilshire and Hollywood Area patrol officers recently began a pilot program to evaluate the use of hand-held computers for motor vehicle and pedestrian stops. Data collection is scheduled to begin Department-wide by November 1, 2001.

The men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department are deeply committed to serving all the people and all the various communities of the City.

Compliance with the Consent Decree is the baseline for, and not the ultimate standard, by which the Department’s commitment to excellence will ultimately be measured.

The communities of Los Angeles expect and deserve the finest service possible from their police officers. To that end, the Department shall consider the Consent Decree as only a part of a more comprehensive effort to provide the highest level of protection and service.