Following reports that the Los Angeles Police Department's gang units are losing officers as a result of financial-disclosure rules, the union representing rank-and-file cops is urging the department to rescind the requirements.
The rules were put into place June 15 after a long battle with the union. The department wants to discourage the kind of corruption that came with the Rampart Scandal in the late 1990s. So gang cops now must reveal all income, real estate holdings, investments and other assets, even if they're held in partnerships or with family members. As a result, the Los Angeles Times reported, some openings for gang officers are going unfilled, including in gang-plagued areas such as the Newton Division south of downtown.
The board of the union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, urges the department to "rescind the ill-advised policy that has created a serious public safety problem."
"For several years, we have warned city officials that the LAPD policy requiring gang and narcotics officers to disclose details of their personal finances would have a chilling effect on efforts to recruit officers to work these specialized assignments," the union states. "Now it is happening!"
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The thinning ranks of gang cops comes at a bad time. While crime stats are at historic lows, the economy and jobless rate continue to provide fuel for idle hands. And the state is being forced by a federal court to release 40,000 prisoners, many if not most of which will end up in Los Angeles County. The police department recently broke up a 130-member unit of cops that was used to help gang officers sweep into gang-plagued neighborhoods and make a statement. The city's stance on financial disclosure, states the union, threatens to "undermine the hard-fought progress the LAPD has made in reducing gang activity in our city."