Los Angeles is a capacious megalopolis that begins at Tijuana and ends at San Francisco. A rugged portion of that geography falls under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department, serving some 4 million people in the almost 500 square miles of L.A. proper.
From Rodney to Rampart, the world's most highly scrutinized cop shop boasts 13,000 employees, 40 horses, two bloodhounds, 20 German shepherds, two boats and 26 helicopters. The third largest law enforcement entity in the nation is considered by some to be a miracle of modern policing, by others a marauding beast.
Under Police Chief Charlie Beck, who is decidedly more open-minded than his predecessor, William "Cagney" Bratton, LAPD has achieved a 20 percent reduction in total gang crime and a 10 percent reduction in total crime compared with 2010.
Apparently not everyone is celebrating, however. Attacks on cops are up 13 percent, with 273 so far in 2011. Officer-involved shootings have more than doubled to 25, up from 12 during the same period in 2010. One analysis suggests the reduction in crime has come at a bloody cost. The numbers beg the eternal question: Who is policing the police?
The answer can be found at the Information Technology Division on the eighth floor of the Police Administration Building at 100 W. 1st St. No one here is surprised to hear "Ave Maria" in a hushed soprano emanating from Maggie Goodrich's office. Before she became chief technology officer of LAPD's Information Technology Division, she was a music major at USC.
Goodrich is a hybrid: part cop, part IT geek. The blonde with the clear blue eyes is the shot caller for TEAMS II, a technology Goodrich describes as "an early warning system" for identifying problem officers.
TEAMS II tracks the number of stops officers make, plus the number of pursuits, collisions, claims and lawsuits. It also compiles complaints against officers, investigations for use of force and discipline of officers.
"All that data is fed into the system at the end of the night," Goodrich says. "Each employee is put into a peer group, so that they're being compared against officers doing similar jobs. There are several thresholds that are calculated by the system."
Goodrich was a project manager at an e-commerce company, then got a law degree and took a temporary position in the mayor's office. The combination of law and technology landed the nefarious Department of Justice-LAPD consent decree on her desk -- and got her a job with the LAPD.
TEAMS II was an essential part of the consent decree that was in place at the LAPD for eight years after the Rampart scandal, which overturned 100 convictions and cost the city $125 million in settlements.