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LAPD chief enlists FBI's help to probe scandal

LAPD presser
Riordan, left, and Parks, center, announced an initial request for six full-time FBI investigators to participate in the probe  

February 23, 2000
Web posted at: 8:38 p.m. EST (0138 GMT)

In this story:

'A big step'

'There is no turf war'


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- FBI agents and federal prosecutors will join Los Angeles and California authorities to help "get to the bottom of corruption" in the police force, Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks says.

"We look forward to this partnership, to get to the bottom of, to resolve this scandal," Parks told a news conference Wednesday at police headquarters. He was flanked by Mayor Richard Riordan, federal officials and Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti.


Parks said the federal officials were joining the investigation at his request.

"We need the federal government because of a couple of issues," Parks said. "We believe that there may be issues that are within their jurisdiction solely. They bring added resources and expertise because of their prosecution in prior cases."

Parks said the most significant issues were civil rights violations by corrupt officers.

Parks said the Los Angeles Police Department made an initial request for six full-time FBI investigators to participate in the probe. The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles will coordinate the effort.

The federal intervention follows weeks of prodding by Parks for Garcetti to bring criminal charges against at least three of some 24 current and former officers suspected of serious crimes.

About 50 other officers are suspected of lesser misdeeds.

Allegations against the officers from the Rampart Division range from shooting unarmed individuals to fabricating and planting evidence against innocent people.

The corruption scandal is the worst in the department's history, with almost 40 convictions overturned after prosecutors became convinced that evidence against the accused was tainted. Parks has said as many as 99 people may have been wrongly convicted based on false testimony by police officers.

'A big step'

Riordan called the addition of federal investigators and prosecutors "a big step on the road to justice."

The mayor said, "We must do everything in our power and tap every resource to ensure that people who have been wrongfully imprisoned are released as quickly as possible. And that officers who have committed crimes are brought to justice as quickly as possible."

Parks turned aside questions about his frustration with the pace of the investigation so far.

"We're here to tell the community -- collectively-- the federal, the state, the county and the city are working together to solve this problem. We're not going to turn this into a situation where we go tit for tat for statements," the police chief said.

Garcetti said prosecutors will be 'ready to go forward, I say, within about three months'  

'There is no turf war'

His sentiments were echoed by Riordan and Garcetti.

"Together we must succeed; together we will succeed," Riordan said

"There is no turf war here," Garcetti said, adding that officers may be prosecuted in federal and state courts.

Garcetti said the investigative team now numbers 30 prosecutors and support staff and "they're ready to take it wherever it goes."

Acknowledging public frustration with the pace of the investigation, Garcetti said prosecutors are moving "as expeditiously as possible."

The district attorney told reporters, "We'll be ready to go forward, I say, within about three months."

Parks said it was only appropriate for the federal officials to join the probe now after local officials completed their investigation of former LAPD officer Rafael Perez.

As part of a plea agreement to reduce his sentence for a conviction on drug charges, Perez has provided testimony implicating himself and several other officers in the scandal.

Parks said, "We have taken since September to this date to investigate what Perez has said he has done as an officer and he has given us information about what others have done."

Garcetti said, "Under California law, I can't just go in and begin the prosecution based on what officer Perez said. If we initiate that prosecution, it will never get to the jury," Garcetti said.

Mayor wants tobacco money to fund police scandal settlements
February 17, 2000
Outside probe of LAPD corruption scandal demanded
February 16, 2000
Testimony: Allegedly corrupt LAPD cops gave each other awards
February 10, 2000
LAPD chief: Ex-officer says convictions against 99 people wrongfully obtained
January 27, 2000

The Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles County District Attorney
Federal Bureau of Investigation

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