By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
While Riordan and his commissioners -- they are appointed solely by the mayor -- detested Williams, they revered Parks and his strict, no-nonsense approach to crime and cops. When he took office in the summer of ’97, however, Parks and Mader immediately clashed. And when Mader blew the whistle on Parks for allegedly showing favoritism to a suspended officer, the inspector general was promptly and publicly castigated, overruled and undermined by the Police Commission and its then-president, Edith Perez.
A short, quietly intense woman, Perez seemed to adore Parks even more than did Riordan, casting awestruck Nancy Reagan eyes at him during every joint news conference. It was, after all, her Police Commission that had chosen Parks at Riordan‘s behest. As for the mayor, he had staked his entire legacy on himself and Parks building the new LAPD into a smarter version of its old, hard-charging self. And they wanted no interference in that task.
The result was that Mader was effectively stripped of power, particularly the right to initiate investigations and promise sources confidentiality. Simultaneously she came under intense attack by Perez. Recalls Mader, ”Two directors of the Police Protective League told me that the president of the Police Commission had requested that they go after me, and if they did, they’d be supported by the Police Commission.“ (The League refused the offer.)
The crudest example of Perez‘s determination to undermine a strong I.G.’s Office turned up when the Los Angeles Times discovered that she had been sending anonymous brown envelopes containing news clippings praising the Police Commission and criticizing Mader to political and media leaders.
There were also ”numerous occasions,“ says Mader, ”when people who contacted the I.G.‘s Office were later questioned in an intimidating manner by their supervisors. When I complained to the commission and to the chief, nothing was done to protect the careers of these individuals.“
Opposition to Mader among high-ranking LAPD officers was fierce, according to David Smith, who served as a lieutenant in Internal Affairs before retiring as a captain last year. ”There were comments made at staff meetings, chief-of-police meetings, bureau meetings. The atmosphere was that we did not need her. They treated her like they treated Chief Williams. Nobody cooperated with him either.“
All this occurred as Mader had finally managed to develop sources to penetrate the byzantine workings of the LAPD, and was issuing reports that focused on the kind of behavior and lack of accountability so glaringly apparent at Rampart. She issued reports on the need for a tracking system for problem officers and showing that Internal Affairs was doing only 10 percent of the use-of-force investigations, while the rest were left to the divisions -- where misconduct was easy to cover up. Another Mader study showed that prosecutors were not being provided information about internal disciplinary actions against officers that called into question their credibility.
Mader was finally forced out of office, to be replaced by Jeff Eglash, a former federal prosecutor. Eglash has enjoyed broad support, but was promptly at loggerheads with Parks. Just before the Rampart scandal broke, Eglash complained publicly that the department ”unilaterally sought to put restrictions on the Inspector General’s Office.“
As the campaign against Mader continued, Perez and Parks launched a public-relations campaign for the new LAPD, one that never mentioned the Christopher Commission reforms. Nevertheless, in August of 1998, they announced with great fanfare that 85 percent of the Christopher Commission reforms had been implemented, and that it was now time to move ahead.
Yet while some reforms had indeed been put in place, the major Christopher Commission recommendations were never implemented. Among them, according to Special Counsel Merrick Bobb, who monitors the L.A. County Sheriff‘s Department for the Board of Supervisors, were several ”that bear directly on the current scandal,“ including development of a tracking system to follow an officer’s use of force, civilian complaints and lawsuits he generated and the number of times he had been disciplined. ”The idea was to use the computerized information to evaluate officers‘ performance, and in selecting officers for specialized units such as CRASH,“ says Bobb, who was a deputy general counsel for the Christopher Commission, which led the investigation into the LAPD’s use of force. ”At the very least, such a system would have created questions about exactly why so many officers were involved in so many Rampart shootings, excessive-force complaints and other incidents.“
A second key recommendation, Bobb points out, grew out of the rapid expansion of the LAPD in the late 1980s. The commission suggested that the expansion may have led to the increasing police violence that culminated in the beating of Rodney King. They found that the department was unable to do in-depth background checks, or to adequately train officers. Yet, as Riordan demanded, exactly that kind of hasty expansion took place when he became mayor; that buildup was cited in Parks‘ report as one of the causes of the Rampart disaster.
”The Christopher Commission also recommended that there be extensive pre-admittance and continuing psychological testing of new officers,“ says Bobb, ”but that too was never implemented“ (another cause of the problems at Rampart cited by Parks).