Officers Sue LAPD, Seek Compensation

Friday, August 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dozens of police officers are suing the Los Angeles Police Department, claiming they were harassed or fired after reporting misconduct.

While the lawsuit is not specifically linked to the department's notorious Rampart corruption case, the plaintiffs allege the ``code of silence'' led to that scandal.

The 41 current and former officers who filed suit Thursday in Superior Court seek compensation and an injunction prohibiting department officials from retaliating against whistleblowers.

Attorney Bradley Gage estimated that 300 to 500 officers could eventually join the case if it is certified as a class action.

Department spokesman Don Cox said officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

The suit claims that officers who reported misconduct were taunted by supervisors, who said things such as ``you better watch your back'' and ``I will demote you and then I will fire you.'' The department also used a pattern of harassment in which managers passed on confidential information about officers being transferred, the suit says.

Some of the plaintiffs claim they suffered discrimination for other reasons, such as gender, race, disability or age. About half the plaintiffs are still officers; others quit, were fired or say they were forced out.

Some of the officers said the situation has worsened since Chief Bernard Parks took over in 1997.

``When the police officers are more afraid of the administration than they are of the bad guys out there, then they have to be careful, they can't say anything,'' Gage said. ``It's this code of silence that's created out of fear that can lead to corruption within a department.''

In the Rampart case, five officers are facing charges and numerous criminal cases have been overturned because of alleged police misconduct in making arrests, providing evidence and giving testimony. One officer is charged with attempted murder.