LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The ACLU of Southern California has released the following
statements on the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess to end the LAPD consent decree:
“We’re disappointed by the judge’s decision. The department has made substantial progress under Chief Bratton, but there’s still too much evidence that skin color makes a difference in who is stopped, questioned and arrested by the LAPD,” said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU/SC. “We look to the Police Commission to work diligently to keep the department focused on the goal of removing racial bias from its policing.”
Added ACLU/SC Staff Attorney Peter Bibring: “The transition agreement imposed by the court requires the department to continue to work toward the nondiscrimination provisions of the original decree. The court may have lifted the original decree, but its decision makes clear that the department must finish what it has started.”
The consent decree is an agreement between the city of Los Angeles and the federal government, under which a federal monitor has overseen reform efforts at the LAPD. The agreement dates from 2000, when, in response to a corruption scandal surrounding the department’s Rampart Division, the U.S. Department of Justice found that officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of Los Angeles residents. The ACLU/SC represents community groups who intervened in the case.
The consent decree has served as a crucial engine of reform for the LAPD, and has helped ensure that the department avoids the kind of civil-rights violations exemplified by the Rampart and Rodney King scandals. Nevertheless, the department is still out of compliance with key portions of the decree, including non-discrimination provisions, the supervision of gang units and other areas susceptible to abuse. Most troubling is that there is strong evidence that racially
biased policing still exists within the LAPD. A study by Yale economist Ian Ayers released last fall found that officers overstopped, overfrisked and overarrested black and Latino citizens.