Rampart: A Crying Need to Restore Police Accountability
10 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2001
While the misconduct that occurred in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division is a scandal, it is not surprising in light of the lack of accountability for police officers who engage in questionable conduct as part of a criminal investigation. Officers who violate the law during criminal investigations are not held directly accountable for their actions. Rather, the penalty for such misconduct is suppression of evidence. Moreover, police officer perjury in support of criminal cases has become so widespread that it is widely referred to as “testilying.” Judges are reluctant to recognize and reject perjured or exaggerated police officer testimony because of the unpopularity of suppression rulings and the pressure that has been exerted on judges who make such decisions. In order to avoid future Rampart-style scandals, we much change our rules to permit direct punishment of police officers for violations of the law. We also need to encourage prosecutors and judges to be more critical in their evaluation of police officer accounts of their criminal investigations.
Keywords: Los Angeles Police Department, Rampart, police misconduct, police officers, criminial investigation
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation