Los Angeles' attempt to spot at-risk officers
It's no secret that the Los Angeles Police Department suffers from one of
the worst reputations in the country, thanks to the national attention it
received following a series of police brutality cases in the 1990s, including
the Rodney King beating and revelations about the scandalous Rampart precinct,
a haven for rogue cops.
With more than 9,000 police officers, the LAPD clearly has some management
and policy problems that need to be addressed, according to the U.S. Justice
Department, which recently expressed concern that the organization may be
engaging in a pattern of false arrests, excessive force, and unreasonable
searches and seizures. The agency slapped the organization with a Consent
The ultimatum requires the LAPD to clean up its act or risk federal
action, which could range from fines, criminal accusations or even a federal
To meet federal demands and become a more effective police force, the
LAPD recently began an eight-phase risk management program known as the
Training Evaluation and Management System, or TEAMS II. Led by Liekar Strategic
Solutions Corp., over a two-year period, the system will act as an early
warning mechanism for identifying problem police officers.
The core of the system is a database that will centralize data on arrests,
incidents, traffic stops, awards, complaints and lawsuits from 90 different
areas of the city.
"The idea is by having all this data in one place, you can make it available
to supervisors, command staff and other parties so they can spot trends
or a certain type of behavior and basically keep their fingers on the pulse
of the department," said Robert Liekar, company founder and president. The
company has handled similar systems for the Pittsburgh Police Department
and the New Jersey State Police, both of which also received Consent Decrees
from the Justice Department.
Like racial profiling-specific systems, the LAPD's new system is seen
primarily as a management tool.
"It's not just capable of looking for bad cops, it can identify when
policies and procedures are wrong," Liekar said.
For example, for years, police officers across the country were encouraged
to restrain extremely violent suspects by using their batons in a chokehold.
"As it turned out, that policy was resulting in an inordinately high
number of suspect deaths," he said. "So it wasn't a bad cop, it was a bad
technique, a bad policy."