The San Francisco Chronicle - May 29, 2009
Los Angeles, CA (AP) -- A Harvard University study released Friday of the Los Angeles Police Department found the department greatly improved since corruption scandals forced it under a federal consent decree in 2002. The Kennedy School of Government's study, which was commissioned last year by police Chief William Bratton, found the LAPD has reduced crime since the decree was enacted but continued to alienate some minorities who claimed officers treated them unfairly. The study included observation of officers and focus groups and surveys of officers, residents and people who had been arrested by the LAPD. Researchers found that officers were making more pedestrian and vehicle stops, and more of those were leading to arrests and felony prosecutions. The analysis found that crime is down across the city and most residents do not see crime as a major problem. Surveys also found that some Hispanic and black residents were not satisfied with the department and felt officers did not treat them respectfully. The department entered the consent decree after the Department of Justice threatened to sue the city over a pattern of police misconduct. Two high profile cases from the 1990s included the beating of Rodney King and the scandal at its Rampart division, in which officers beat, shot and framed suspects, dealt drugs and covered up their crimes. The study said the department has improved with help from a tracking system that helps supervisors identify officers who generate more civilian complaints and use more force than their peers. It also credited software that allows precinct leaders to target resources at crime-prone areas. A federal judge this summer will review whether the consent decree — which allowed the Justice Department to oversee LAPD's reforms — should continue.