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Civil Rights Consent Decree Over LAPD Lifted After Almost 12 Years

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Police Department is finally free of federal oversight after a judge formally lifted the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Consent Decree.

The Decree, established to promote integrity within the LAPD, had been in place since June 2001 after the Rampart area corruption scandal.

As KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports, the incident is often referred to as the worst police scandal in modern U.S. history. It involved the investigation of 70 to 100 LAPD officers following reports of widespread corruption within an anti-gang unit in the department in the late 1990s.

Terms of the Decree were negotiated between the city and the DOJ, and included emphasis on management and supervisory measures to promote civil rights integrity, integrity audits, community outreach and other training.

In July 2009, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess granted the joint request of the United States and the City of Los Angeles to terminate the Decree.

At that time, the court approved a Transition Agreement that provided for the transfer of civilian oversight from the Independent Monitor back to the Board of Police Commissioners, and its Inspector General, for continued monitoring and reporting on four subject areas.

The Transition Agreement was designed to represent a full and complete resolution of the claims brought by the U.S an underlying lawsuit filed by the DOJ in 2000, and provided the court with continuing jurisdiction over its terms and underlying litigation in order to facilitate the court’s oversight.

As set forth in their Joint Status Report and Stipulation filed with the Court on May 3, the DOJ and the City Attorney’s Office agreed that as of July 2012, the city had successfully complied with all terms of the Transition Agreement.

In response to that joint request, Judge Feess dismissed the underlying lawsuit that formed the basis for the Consent Decree and Transition Agreement.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he is confident the LAPD will continue to act in a lawful manner that will not deprive individuals of their rights despite the Decree being lifted.

“In these last 12 years, the Los Angeles Police Department did not just comply with consent decree, they took it to heart,” Villaraigosa said. “They used it as a guide to change their culture.”

The mayor also praised former L.A. Chief of Police William Bratton, and his successor, Charles Beck, who took on the role in 2009.

“Under the progressive leadership of Chief William Bratton, and now, Chief Charlie Beck, the entire department – officers on beat in the neighborhoods to the top brass downtown – have made these reforms their reforms,” Villaraigosa said.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich meanwhile praised Judge Feess’ decision to dismiss the lawsuit underlying the Consent Decree and Transition Agreement.

“I am proud of the important role my office has played in helping bring to a close this unfortunate chapter in the history of the LAPD,” said Trutanich.

“Working with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Los Angeles Police Commission, the Inspector General, members of our community, Chief Charlie Beck and his management team, and more importantly, all of the outstanding officers and employees of the LAPD, we are confident that the necessary policies and protocols have been put in place and implemented to ensure that our police department will continue to operate in keeping with the highest ethical, professional and constitutional standards.”

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