District Attorney Steve Cooley takes a position

STEVE COOLEY
LOS ANGELES COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
18000 CLARA SHORTRIDGE FOLTZ CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER
210 WEST TEMPLE STREET LOS ANGELES, CA 90012-3210 (213) 974-3501

January 17,2008
Michael Cherkasky, Esq. Kroll &Associates
900 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10022

Office of the Independent Monitor
of the Los Angeles Police Department
660 South Figueroa Street, Ninth Floor Los Angeles, California 90017

Dear Mr. Cherkasky:
On July 26, 2001, you met with me and other members of my staff and solicited our insight and input on the Consent Decree. We believe that the pending proposal to require personal financial disclosures by gang and narcotics enforcement officers is ill advised and could severely impact public safety.

Knowing as we do the history and details of the Rampart Division situation that precipitated this consent decree, we readily agree with the editorial views recently expressed by the Los Angeles Times to the effect that the proposed disclosures will have no realistic value in deterring or detecting corruption (see enclosed). It is instead the existing oversight ofLAPD Internal Affairs, the Police Commission, the Inspector General, the District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division, the District Attorney Rollout Team, law enforcement criminality referral protocols, the Grand Jury, the media, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the civil rights plaintiffs’ bar, and your watchful monitoring-as well as the basic honesty of the vast, vast majority of police officers-that insure that officers meet required standards of performance and integrity.
The proposed disclosures would unnecessarily invade family privacy and create risks of identity theft and other mischief, representing a disincentive for the best and brightest to apply for or remain in assignments that would make them subject to the disclosures. The public safety implications of this fact cause us great concern.
The dangerous and specialized nature of criminal investigations of street gangs and major narcotics violators makes it essential that the LAPD be able to recruit and retain the most dedicated and resourceful officers available for these assignments. Developing the street knowledge, informant pool, and investigative expertise to prevent and solve gang and drugĀ­related crimes takes time and experience. The negative public safety impact occasioned by a sudden exodus of LAPD’s current contingent of experienced and effective gang and narcotics officers from these assignments is both predictable and devastating: lives will be lost and many crimes will go unsolved. Recent successes in reducing serious crimes in Los Angeles would be quickly reversed, and a dangerous resurgence of gang and drug crimes in the areas served by LAPD would occur.

We are unable to see how the public interest or the integrity of criminal investigations would be well served by imposing the financial disclosure requirements under consideration. I therefore strongly urge you to take appropriate steps to insure that this ill-advised proposal does not inflict irreversible harm to the Los Angeles Police Department, the City’s residents and, in a very real sense, the safety of all residents of Los Angeles County.

Very truly yours,

STEVE COOLEY District Attorney



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