“Cowboy Culture” on the Rise Among Police in Los Angeles

Melina Abdullah SAVE THIS


Despite its reputation for tolerance and liberalism, Los Angeles has long been home to some of the most abusive law enforcement units in the nation. In the 1990s, the brutal beating of Rodney King, the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Rampart Scandal, and stories of gangs inside the LA County Sheriff’s Department pervaded media. In response to public outrage and rebellion, special investigations were launched, the Christopher Commission formed, changes in leadership were made, and officials publicly committed to reform. With the lifting of the federal consent decree in 2009 (imposed in 2001 in the aftermath of the Rampart scandal when a Department of Justice investigation found patterns of excessive force, false arrests, and unreasonable searches and seizures), and significant investment in the public relations of policing, Los Angeles has almost completely buried its previous reputation.

However, the spike in recent police-related killings, including the deaths of four people in 24 hours, presents a critical…

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