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December 19, 2007
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LAPD to scrutinize officers' finances

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The city’s Police Commission has proposed having officers who handle cash, drugs and other contraband to turn in reports about their income and debts to ensure they are not involved in any illegal conduct.

The plan would cover about 600 officers working primarily in anti-gang and narcotics units, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. It would give officers a two-year grace period before having to disclose their finances, including stocks, real estate holdings and debts.

The five-member panel is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday at a special meeting. Commission President Anthony Pacheco declined to comment further on the proposal.

Officers oppose the idea — one of the main reasons why it hasn’t been implemented under a federal consent decree that has attempted to reform the Police Department following the Rampart scandal in the 1990s.

While federal agencies require similar disclosures for some of their agents, LAPD union officials said they were unaware of any other police department in the country adopting a policy similar to the one being considered by the commission.

Union officials added that a blanket requirement for all officers in the units would do little to combat corruption and would invade their privacy.

“It is a final piece of the puzzle that we have not yet implemented. We need to move forward on this issue if we are ever going to be in compliance” with the decree, said Assistant Chief Sharon Papa.

Papa wouldn’t say whether Chief William Bratton, who is on vacation, backed the proposal. But last year Bratton sided with officers, saying financial disclosures were an “incredible burden.”

“The formula to prevent corruption is simple — robust supervision, recruiting and retaining honest cops,” Tim Sands, president of the officers’ union, wrote in a statement. “We need to have a strong recruiting program that attracts the best officer candidates and not one that requires those officers to have to choose to subject themselves to personal financial risks.”

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