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

Decree.

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

takeover.

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."

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