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LAPD Corruption Case Returns 3 Guilty, 1 Acquitted

The Los Angeles Police Department Rampart scandal, which broke over a year ago and revealed deeply rooted corruption in the LAPD, including framing innocent people, fabricating evidence, and covering up physical abuse by police officers, has produced three convictions of LAPD officers. Of the four officers charged with conspiracy, Sgt. Edward Ortiz, Sgt. Brian Liddy, Officer Michael Buchanan, and Officer Paul Harper, three, Ortiz, Liddy and Buchanan, were convicted and could face sentences of two to four years in prison.

These convictions are just the first of many anticipated prosecutions of LAPD officers involved in an excessive use of force and corruption scandal that is department wide. "The continued under representation of women in the LAPD and police departments nationwide contributes to a climate within law enforcement agencies in which police brutality and cover-up is widespread," said Katherine Spillar, National Coordinator of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Research conducted both in the U.S. and internationally demonstrates that women police officers rely on a style of policing that uses less physical force and are less likely to become involved in incidents of use of excessive force.

A recent study by the Feminist Majority Foundation and FMF's National Center for Women & Policing of police brutality lawsuits against the LAPD shows that male officers are involved in excessive force and misconduct lawsuits at rates substantially higher than their female counterparts, with payouts on male officers exceeding payouts on female officers by a ratio of 23:1. Moreover, male officers disproportionately accounted for the lawsuit payouts involving killings and assault and battery. Male officer payouts for killings exceeded female officer payouts by a ratio of 43:1 and for assault and battery male officer payouts exceeded female officer payouts by a ratio of 32:1. Over this same period, male officers outnumbered women LAPD officers by a much lower ratio of 4:1.

Cover-up of police officer wrong-doing is not new with the Rampart scandal. A probe of the LAPD by the department's Inspector General revealed many domestic violence related crimes involving LAPD officers over a seven year period between 1990 - 1997. Reports detailing felony assaults and rapes by police officers were never arrested or prosecuted. Instead, the complaints were placed in confidential personnel files and sealed.

"We know that women do the job of policing equally as well as men, responding to similar calls and encountering similar dangers," said retired police chief Penny Harrington, director of the National Center for Women & Policing. "The evidence is compelling, and shows that increasing women on the force holds the key for substantially decreasing police violence in its costs to citizens," continued Harrington.

Media Resources: LA Times - November 16, 2000; Feminist Majority Foundation

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

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