Corruption in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department

Corruption in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department


The moral career of a corrupt officer begins with relatively minor gratuities. Officers who become corrupt typically go through a process involving a series of stages that move from lesser to greater tolerance of and/ or involvement in corrupt activities.In this writing I will discuss factors that I believe lead to the corruption of the Rampart Division of the LAPD.I will also give insight on how I would remedy the phenomena


Corruption in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department


Most Police Officers are honest during their careers, but there are always a few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch. This saying is sad but very true for the Rampart Division of the LAPD. The perception of the department has ranged from being the best police force in the nation to being a staunchly racist organization. The consequence of periodic scandals has taken a toll on the LAPD’s image. 100 criminal cases have been overturned. The city of Los Angeles has paid upwards of $100 million for the indiscretions of the Rampart Division of the LAPD.

Rampart Scandal

-During the Rampart Scandal, more than 70 officers were implicated in misconduct including unprovoked beatings and shootings, planting, and covering up evidence, stealing and dealing drugs, and lying under oath. The Rampart Division of the LAPD was located, west of downtown LA, and was a primarily Latino community. It was one of the busiest divisions in terms of criminal activity. For as long as there have been place there has been police corruption (Garden City: Anchor Books,1974), p.1

That is, morality is an integral part of police work (Miller, Blackler, and Alexandra, 1997).

Leading Factors

In 1970-1980 the Rampart Division experienced a significant increase in crime involving gangs, drugs, and weapons. To combat the rising crime Chief Daryl Gates created an elite anti-gang unit called CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) Only the toughest police officers that weren’t afraid to interact with gang members were selected. Chief Gates intended for the officers to mix with the gang members to gain intelligence, that would be used in crime prevention. At first CRASH was very successful in the reduction of crime and the CRASH officers were gratified for not having to do the normal police officer beat or wear a uniform. After time, the CRASH officers began to emulate the gang members every mannerism. As a result, many officers succumbing to the temptations to engage in corrupt behavior.


There are two basic theories in explaining police corruption, the rotten apple theory and the environmental perspective are the most common. The rotten apple theory explains that there are a few bad apples within police departments who were not properly screened and came into the department susceptible to corruption. The environmental perspective demonstrate that police corruption is a reflection and a result of the political corruption in cities. Politically corrupt cities create environments that are conducive to police misconduct (Peak, 2003, p. 286).

I don’t think either theory adequately explains the Rampart Scandal fiasco. he bad apple theory appears to be the most substantive explanation of the Rampart Scandal. Although the rotten apple theory is preferred, because it emphasizes on the moral failings of one or more individuals, provides scapegoats, and avoids dealing with the bigger issues. This theory fails to explain most police corruption. It also doesn’t explain why some police departments have a long history of corruption while others are relatively free of corruption. The environment perspective explains corruption of police officers are duethe political corruption in cities. Some neighborhoods influence the deviant patterns of police assigned to an area. (Robert Kane, Police in America, p.439) There just wasn’t enough information about this theory for me to say for sure.


There are many areas needing attention to properly begin to remediate corruption. There are two different tasks for controlling corruption, such as preventing it from occurring, reduce, and eliminate it once it exists. The two basic ways to control corruption are internal and external approachesthechiefadministrator to make it clear that corruption isn’t tolerated in his department. The commitment to integritycannotjust be an abstract value. It must be reflected by just words, but in deeds but by the Commanders, Commissioners, and field supervisors. All the higher ups shape the attitudes of the ordinary people. All develop written policies of what actions will not be tolerated. Stricter screening methods are necessary to decrease the chance of hiring a potential corrupt officer.Unfortunately, there is not perfect integrity test to predict officeconduct. Conscientious field training is necessary to produce officers who act and react with prudence and circumspection. Hence, ethics education should be a serious component of police trainingEthical behavior can be reinforced by example. Ethical behavior needs to be strongly promoted throughout departments on a regular basis.Ethics educators assist officers in understanding the rationale for arriving at ethical decisions.


Most Police Officers are honest during their careers, but there are always a few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch. In time and with a lot of work and training the bad apples can be picked out. However, bad apples, leadership failures, lack of managerial oversight, a conducive organizational culture, and bureaucratic discretion were all, perhaps, causes of this scandal.One must not be limited in their analysis of such a complex phenomenon as police corruption.


(Garden City: Anchor Books,1974, p.1) (Peak, 2003, p. 286). (Miller, Blackler, and Alexandra, 1997).(Domanick, Joe. (2001). “Rampart Scandal: Politics Trumps Justice,” Los Angeles Times (November 18). (The New Yorker magazine,2001/05/21) (The Police in America, Samuel Walker, Charles M. Katz, p.441-447)