LAPD Chief says officer abuses are exaggerated

LOS ANGELES (AP) - In his first public statement since federal authorities threatened him with a lawsuit two weeks ago, Police Chief Bernard C. Parks said he doesn't need the federal government to help him reform the Los Angeles Police Department.

Internal efforts to curb officer misconduct are in place and simply need time to succeed, Parks told the Daily News of Los Angeles in an interview published Sunday. He denied patterns of abuse and said problems on the police force have been overstated.

He criticized the U.S. Department of Justice for threatening to intervene with a federal lawsuit unless local leaders negotiate new ways to fix the police force.

The Justice Department action followed a four-year investigation that found the LAPD is plagued by rogue officers and poor supervision.

''There are a variety of ways (officers) have gotten in trouble, but many of them are isolated, where officers made poor decisions,'' he said.

Parks also said the misconduct allegations against several officers in the Rampart division corruption scandal do not reflect the overall behavior of the department's nearly 9,300 officers. The scandal centers on a group of anti-gang officers who allegedly beat, framed and sometimes shot suspects.

The Rampart scandal has prompted criminal charges against three officers and led to about 30 being relieved of duty.

''We're not saying that no one could go into our files and find a use of force, an officer-involved shooting or a personnel matter with which they would disagree,'' Parks said. ''But when you look at the totality ... we don't see the actions or activities citywide, or in the concentration (of Rampart).''

Parks said problems of management oversight and training deficiencies are already being reformed.

He urged federal officials to allow internal remedies time to work.

The Justice Department is seeking a consent decree that would give a monitor and federal judge oversight of the LAPD. But Parks said that would simply undermine his ability to run the department.

''I'd think that in order to have some real benefit from the chief of police, you've got to allow him to do his job,'' he added. ''If you say you need another layer of involvement, then there's no incentive for chiefs to be honest and forthright in their departments.''


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