Rampart Scandal: History of the Los Angeles Police Department

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  • Topic: Los Angeles Police Department, Police, Rampart scandal
  • Pages : 9 (3600 words )
  • Download(s) : 94
  • Published : November 24, 2012
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This paper looks at the history of the Los Angeles Police Department as it relates to police culture and several major incidents leading up to the Rampart Scandal. The police culture of a young LAPD ultimately seemed to linger and affect the LAPD of today. The lack of supervision and positive community interaction seemed to solidify the primitive police culture.

The History of Police Culture Leading to the Rampart Scandal The Los Angeles Police Department is one of the biggest and most innovative police departments in the world that has been in existence since 1853. The LAPD encompasses nearly 468 square miles in over 19 divisions and employing nearly 10,000 sworn police officers to police a population of roughly 4 million people (Los Angeles Police Department, 2012). When many people think of police, they often have visions of old television re-runs of Adam 12 or Dragnet, both of which were police shows with officers and detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department. The television programs depicted officers and detectives conducting their investigations, where the officers maintained absolute professionalism when making arrests or dealing with the public. These television programs never told the true story of crime and life out on the street or the real people that police it every day. The Los Angeles Police Department has had a very colorful history as it has led to modern times. The Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, the Watts Riots of 1965, the Rodney King Riots of 1992 and the Rampart Scandal all have had an impact on the LAPD and law enforcement in general, as well as how the public perceives police and their mission. In 1926, when Chief James Davis ran the LAPD, he gave a directive to his officers to rid the city of the “gun toting element and rum smugglers…”, and if his officers showed mercy to these people that he would reprimand them for that behavior (The LAPD:1926-1950, 2012). The mentality of Chief James Davis is where the LAPD essentially started, in a time when there was no true equality of citizens. The police officers were threatened with the possibility of losing their jobs if they showed mercy to people that they dealt with on the streets. With that type of attitude, the police and citizens did not have any type of a working relationship to solve problems or create an atmosphere of trust with the general public; only fear. There have been many Police Chiefs since that time and many have attempted to change the atmosphere in which the officers operate and treat each other and the citizens. Chief Willliam Parker ran the LAPD from 1950 until his death in 1966. Chief Parker was able to desegregate the LAPD and he allowed minority officers to work areas where they traditionally weren’t allowed to work before due to their minority status. Chief Parker also created a “professional” model of policing so as to cope with the rising population with a small amount of police officers (Martin, 2009). Despite the fact that change in how the LAPD dealt with the population was coming, the underlying attitude amongst most officers was that they were the law and they could do most anything that they felt needed to be done. To feed to this totalitarian attitude, the LAPD has had to deal with many civil unrest situations like the Watts Riots of 1965. The Watts Riots stemmed from an arrest of an African American subject named Marquette Frye that took place in the Watts neighborhood on Los Angeles. An altercation started possibly out of frustration with the lack of employment, housing and quality schools in the Watts area and turned into six days of riotous behavior in that poverty stricken area of Los Angeles. The LAPD as well as members of the National Guard were deployed to quell the violence on the streets (Unknown, 2012). The riot cost the lives of thirty-four people and created an even bigger rift with the LAPD and the community in which it serves. The police culture that had been passed on to generations of...
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