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Law Enforcement Deviance

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Law Enforcement Deviance

Never before, had the city of Los Angeles been involved in a scandal like the one it faced within the department’s Rampart Area. Allegations of perjury, false arrest reports, evidence planting, police brutality, and even murder plagued the department. What started out as an attempt to stop the growing number of “gang related” crimes in the Rampart Area of Los Angeles, had turned into one of the worst scandals to disgrace the city and permanently tarnish the department’s reputation yet. Perhaps, the worst misconduct came from the Department’s managers who ignored warning signs and failed to provide leadership, oversight, management, and supervision to the unit (Rampart Review, 2000). The repercussions of this deviance by the LAPD will be felt for many years as the public struggles to regain trust and the department struggles to regain creditability.

The use of excessive force and evidence planting are two forms of police deviance that are cited in the Rampart Independent Review. These acts of deviance are not exclusive to the LAPD, as there have been many incidences nationwide regarding the use of excessive force and tampering with or planting evidence by police. Excessive use of force continues to be a major problem today. One of the most notorious cases of excessive use of force by officers was the case involving Rodney King. The Rodney King case not only contained excessive use of force, but also the falsifying of police reports (Mangan, 2000). The LAPD’s officers and supervisors downplayed the injuries to King as minor scrapes and bruises. The officers involved in the beating reported that King attacked officers, resisted, and increased his level of resistance. The video tape, however, showed a much different story. King is seen in a defenseless position on his hands and knees as officers circle him and beat him repeatedly with their batons (Mangan, 2000).

The Rampart CRASH officers routinely planted drugs, guns or other evidence on arrestees, or fabricated probable cause (Rampart Review, 2000). Tampering with or planting evidence was a not a new problem with officers when it came to light during the Rampart Review. Today, it is still believed to a problem with law enforcement officers in departments everywhere. An example of tampering with or planting evidence can be found with the case of former New Haven Police Detective Justen Kasperzyk. On November 9, 2006, Kasperzyk served a warrant in New Haven. Drugs were found in the basement of the apartments. Kasperzyk moved the suspected narcotics from the basement to the back bedroom of the first floor apartment, resulting in the unlawful arrest of the individual found within the apartment (FBI, 2008). After the search, the officer filed a case incident report and falsely stated that the drugs were found in the top of the dresser in the bedroom. The report also falsely stated that all the seized items were found next to the individual’s identification card. Kasperzyk was involved in several other incidents of planting evidence and stealing money from crime scenes. On October 5, 2007, Kasperzyk pleaded guilty to one count of civil rights violations, a felony, and one count of theft of government property (FBI, 2008).

One of the main reasons behind the deviance cited in the Rampart Review is the amount of latitude that was given to officers to aggressively fight gangs. The lack of supervision resulted in the officers becoming overzealous and in a loss of focus as to what their job stood actually stood for (Rampart Review, 2000). The officers in CRASH were over worked and had little support. This aided officers in developing an independent subculture that created a mentality where the ends justified the means. Officers resisted supervision and control and ignored LAPD’s procedures and policies (Rampart Review, 2000). CRASH operated as an entity unto itself, one that made up its own rules and one that was left with little or no

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