Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Police Department announced it would have to disband gang units. This comes after several painful years of rebuilding the gang units after the Rampart corruption scandal. The reason the LAPD felt it had to disband the units is that gang officers presented a united front and refused to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice's ordered new policy of financial disclosure forced on the department by a federal consent decree.

I was driving around the Los Angeles area when I heard this idiot of a talk show host on KFI Radio pontificating about how this made the LAPD officers appear that they were corrupt and hiding something. He said many politicians are required to give these financial disclosure statements when running for office. He also pointed out that LAPD narcotics officers had already cooperated in these financial disclosures. So why can't the gang cops?

Funny, I would bet that if the government and federal courts attempted to force all talk show hosts, other than those on "public radio" stations, to provide financial disclosure statements, the hosts on KFI would be among the first to object. This would of course be criticized on public radio talk shows as making the other talk show hosts look corrupt and having something to hide.

There's a long history with American politicians and their administrations being corrupted by big business and criminal organizations. You can read headlines about them almost every day. You can watch stories of politicians who are caught everyday in the national media. This is the reason that the practice of requiring them to submit financial statements has been imposed on them.

While working a state wiretap case, I found that California wiretap laws were very peculiar. California legislators authorized the use of wire-taps in a large variety of criminal investigations but they specifically excluded its use in public corruption cases. What's up with that?

This imposition against the politicians' right to privacy has apparently not been very effective anyway, because political corruption continues. The corrupt politicians are apparently proficient at hiding these corrupt financial influences or simply lying or leaving these ties out of their financial disclosure statements. Much of their corruption and crooked associations occur after they are in office and no longer reporting their financial activity. Financial disclosure statements, if done "honestly," rely on the individual to self disclose any improper activity — to basically snitch on themselves.

I remember back when my department first attempted to impose random drug testing on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Our police bargaining unions fought this program.

As for me; I knew I didn't use drugs, and I didn't want my partner (whom I must rely on for my safety) to be a drug abuser. I wanted random drug testing. I wanted it as soon as possible.

However, because I was fairly sure that several high ranking executives in our department were alcoholics, and/or abusers of prescription drugs, I wanted the tests to include the sheriff himself right on down to the lowest-paid civilian employees. Although not mandated to do so, to their credit LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger voluntarily submitted to the financial disclosure requirements. Shouldn't we require this from all other police executives?[PAGEBREAK]

In my 33 years with Los Angeles County, I have seen judges removed from the bench and prosecutors fired because of drug abuse and corruption. Like cops, they are human beings and susceptible to the same weaknesses and corrupting influences.

Last year, a courageous Los Angeles attorney, Richard Fine, was jailed and disbarred when he exposed the fact that Los Angeles Superior Court judges have for many years been receiving illegal money under the table from the Los Angeles County supervisors in addition to their lawful salary from the state. The supervisors and California legislators quickly moved to amend the law (ex post facto, Latin for "from after the action") to keep the judges from prosecution. Where is the U.S. Department of Justice intervention on this issue?

The judges insist that this extra money from Los Angeles — one third of their income — did nothing to influence any decision they rendered. I doubt if the people who unsuccessfully attempted to bring cases against the county before the Superior Court think the courts remained unbiased. My point is that no one seems to be calling for judges or attornies to be required to give financial statements. They're not subject to corruption? Why the focus only on cops?

For many years, I and many other gang cops in Los Angeles have complained about certain individuals hired and paid for by these same Los Angeles politicians to run gang prevention programs funded with millions of taxpayer dollars. Many of these "gang workers" claim to be "former" gang members. These programs and former gang members have had the most dismal track record of corruption and fraud in the history of Los Angeles tax-funded programs, yet no one mandates drug testing and financial-disclosure statements from them. Why not?

I'm sure the LAPD's narcotics officers weren't happy about abdicating their rights and privacy to keep their jobs. Obviously the gang cops are more cohesive in their resistance. If ending corruption is the real goal, let's apply all the regulations equally across the board. I can support mandatory financial disclosure for all gang-unit officers, if this attempt to ensure equal justice under the law is applied to all corruptible government employees equally.

Let's start with city and county officials and politicians. All local politicians should be subject to random drug testing and should be required to give an annual financial disclosure statement. This would have prevented what happened in the city of Bell — the mayor and City Council are now on trial for corruption.

The federal consent decree against LAPD began with two crooked cops — Rafael Perez and David Mack. To save his own skin, Nino Durdon would later join them. Los Angeles city officials and the District Attorney's office chose to believe the accusations against other officers made by these lying, crooked cops. This and a bunch of complaints solicited from 18th Street and MS-13 gang members by politically motivated LAPD haters. Almost all of these allegations proved to be completely unfounded. 

If we're going to test and monitor the gang unit officers, let's also drug-test and get financial statements from gang workers and gang prevention program administrators. All judges and prosecutors should be drug-tested and financially monitored. Every policeman, sheriff, parole and probation officer and all the public employees should also be drug tested and financially monitored. Why not apply the rules equally to everyone?

Fat chance of that.

Related:

High-Crime LAPD Gang Units Dismantled

Indicted California Officials Cut Officer Pensions As They Boosted Their Own

Judge Lifts LAPD Consent Decree

Author

Richard Valdemar
Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.

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