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What Was the Rampart Scandal?

The Rampart Scandal was a profound stain on law enforcement, involving widespread police corruption in the LAPD's Rampart Division during the 1990s. Officers were implicated in unprovoked shootings, beatings, planting evidence, and perjury, shaking public trust to its core. This dark chapter raises critical questions about police integrity and reform. How can we ensure such a breach of trust never recurs?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The Rampart Scandal was a police scandal which broke in the late 1990s in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The events of the Rampart Scandal attracted the attention of the nation, and shocked many people, who were surprised by the depth of police corruption revealed during the Rampart investigation and subsequent trials. Several Rampart-related cases remained untried as of 2008, demonstrating the extent of the scandal.

The police implicated in the Rampart Scandal were all members of the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit within the Rampart Division. The scandal broke when a police officer named Rafael Perez was arrested for stealing narcotics from evidence lockup, and he cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for immunity. All told, around 70 police officers were implicated in testimony made by Perez; there was enough evidence to bring 58 of them to trial. Of those 58, five were ultimately fired, while seven resigned and additional 12 officers were placed on suspension.

The Rampart Scandal occurred in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.
The Rampart Scandal occurred in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.

Corruption sunk to such depths in the Rampart Scandal that it almost beggars belief. The trial documents indicate that several police officers were in the direct pay of drug dealers and other neighborhood moguls, for example, and they were involved in shootings, beatings, frame jobs on innocent people, a bank robbery, drug dealing, and the planting of evidence at crime scenes. Once the Rampart Scandal started to break, guilty officers compounded their crimes by committing perjury on the stand and attempting to destroy evidence.

One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD.
One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD.

One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD, and many people suspect that the scandal directly contributed to the ouster of Police Chief Bernard Parks, who had supervised the department while the “Rampart Cops,” as they came to be known, had free rein. In addition, the scandal overturned thousands of criminal convictions, due to concerns about tainted evidence and corrupt police work.

This scandal triggered major reform in the Los Angeles Police Department, along with more widespread reform of police departments around the United States, as news outlets kept citizens informed about the ever-widening corruption scandal. Opponents of the policies and tactics of the LAPD were eager to seize upon the Rampart Scandal as evidence for the need for greater control over and oversight of the LAPD, arguing that the police had too much autonomy and that this fed the culture of the CRASH unit, leading to its ultimate corruption.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the Rampart Scandal and when did it occur?

The Rampart Scandal was a widespread police corruption case that came to light in the late 1990s, involving officers from the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It was uncovered around 1999 and implicated over 70 officers in misconduct that included unprovoked shootings, beatings, planting of evidence, framing of suspects, theft, drug dealing, and covering up evidence of these activities.

How was the Rampart Scandal uncovered?

The scandal was primarily exposed after Officer Rafael Perez, who was caught stealing cocaine from an LAPD evidence locker, agreed to provide information about the corrupt activities of the anti-gang unit known as the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH). His testimony revealed a pattern of serious misconduct among officers in the Rampart Division.

What were the consequences of the Rampart Scandal for the LAPD?

As a result of the Rampart Scandal, more than 100 convictions were overturned, and the city of Los Angeles had to pay out about $125 million in settlements. The LAPD was placed under a federal consent decree, which mandated significant reforms in training, supervision, and disciplinary systems to prevent future misconduct. This decree lasted until 2013, when the LAPD was considered to have implemented sufficient reforms.

Did the Rampart Scandal lead to any significant changes in policing practices?

Yes, the Rampart Scandal led to significant changes in policing practices, particularly within the LAPD. The federal consent decree enforced reforms that included the implementation of new policies regarding the use of informants, gang enforcement, and narcotics. It also led to the development of a computerized system to track officer conduct and the establishment of an independent inspector general to oversee the department.

How did the Rampart Scandal affect public perception of the LAPD and policing in general?

The Rampart Scandal severely damaged the public's trust in the LAPD and cast a shadow over policing in general. It highlighted the potential for corruption and abuse within law enforcement agencies and underscored the need for oversight and accountability. The scandal also influenced popular culture, inspiring films and television series that depicted police corruption and its consequences on communities.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon1002643

I was arrested by these officers when I was 15 years old and charged with a crime I did not commit. The only reason I said I did it was because they let the K-9 dog attack me. They pressed on my wounds and made me confess that I had done the drive-by shooting. Is there a way I can get legal help on this matter?

anon983459

All the officers in specialized units were aware of the tactics CRASH used and Narcotics Units as well that were used in Rampart.

I was personally falsely arrested by an officer.

It's frustrating knowing that a corrupt cop gets rewarded for his bad actions!

anon327740

Rampart was the best thing that ever happened to L.A. Anyone who lived there in the 80's knows how bad the gang violence was. Rampart cleaned it up. Sure they put their friends in charge of the drug dealing, but by wiping out the competition, it stops the violence. They needed a vicious dog to do the job and then wisely put that dog in a cage once it had done the job.

anon319104

O.K. Take the scandal out of quotes. This was a scandal and the LAPD is a current and growing scandal in so many ways its ridiculous. Do not make it seem as if there was just a bad cookie in the pot.

anon197750

anon128505, Post 9: I believe you're talking about Brad Young? Yeah, he's still there and should be investigated.

anon128505

i believe the rampart scandal to be true, for many of the officers who where part of the department at the time, went to various employers to finish off there carries. One in general, who has been employed by Pasadena City College, is still practicing his corrupt ways by threatening and harassing innocent employees and students.

mab123456

Yes, the scandal was crazy. For more information, please watch the PBS program called Frontline which had an episode titled "L.A.P.D. Blues."

After the scandal outbreak, there were a handful of Rampart victims who complained but did not have evidence to sue in court. These victims included innocent, twenty-something attractive minority women who were randomly targeted and raped by Rampart policemen on one or more occasions during the late '90s.

At the time of these rapes, these female victims never said anything or kept evidence because their lives and civil rights were threatened by their attackers who cleverly covered their tracks.

anon97756

Wow. That's really crazy.

mab123456

Rampart Scandal - I read somewhere that 58 of the 70 police officers of the CRASH unit of the Rampart Police Division were only cited in court. Were they able to continue being police officers elsewhere? Did LAPD put a red flag on their employment files?

Would those alleged corrupt Rampart police officers of the CRASH unit allow the police departments in their home neighborhoods to rape, frame, murder, beat their families, friends and neighbors?

Where did most of these Rampart officers live? What was the criteria for violating the residents of the Rampart area? Are there online websites which shows the names or photos of these alleged corrupt Rampart police officers? The neighborhood of Rampart needs continued healing from those turbulent latter '90s years.

anon61930

None of the members of the LAPD were innocent in this scandal. Raphael Perez was a corrupt cop and there were many more with him. The LAPD didn't just get a bad rap, they created it.

Each and every one of the officers involved in the Rampart Scandal made very bad decisions, hiding behind that badge before anyone new what was going on, then they tried to cover it up. LAPD has a very long history of misconduct, and community abuse. Look it up, you'll find plenty of factual situations where the cops are nothing but criminals with badges.

anon53701

Where did you get your information about the rampart scandal being a fraud? from just one officer, and administrators tried to frame the three officers, and the city paid the officers a settlement?

anon36109

The "scandal" as you call it finally ended on June 30, 2009 when the city of Los Angeles paid 3 ex-Rampart officers the $20 *million* settlement awarded them by a federal judge. Raphael Perez, the cop who started this mess, failed 3 polygraph exams and lied *about everything*. By the time Chief Parks, the city council, and the DA found out about his deceit, it was too late. Instead, they decided to try and send three honest cops, Ed Ortiz, Brian Liddy, and Don Harper to prison. That failed. The now ex-cops sued in federal court and won. Federal Judge Carney ruled that the city of LA and LAPD *violated the Rico statute* in their treatment of these officers. That gave Carney the option of *tripling* a $15 million dollar settlement! Luckily for the poor LA taxpayers, he didn't. This experience was never a "scandal", just a corrupt cop lying to save his butt and doing such a good job at it that his department and the DA's office believed him.

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    • The Rampart Scandal occurred in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.
      By: Brian Weed
      The Rampart Scandal occurred in Los Angeles in the late 1990s.
    • One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD.
      By: aijohn784
      One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD.