CRAP: The Community Resource Against Police
CRAP (Community Resource Against Police)
CRAP is a community resource meant to inform and empower black and non-black Los Angeles residents against a lethal police force that is the LAPD.
It is named after the infamous LAPD Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) Unit.
The E-book will educate you on the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, Major Scandals the LAPD is involved in, and digital resources for more information on how you can protect yourself and your community.
In the midst of recent horrors, it is important to understand what we as a people are up against and develop strategies that can be implemented for our protection.
THE HISTORY OF LAPD
The Los Angeles Police Department was formed in 1869, and has since become the third-largest law enforcement agency in the United States.
During the California Gold Rush, Los Angeles was known for violence, gambling and “vice” and lack of effective civil law enforcement.
It was reputed to have the highest murder rate in the United States at the time and the countryside was infested with bandits.
Most men went armed with pistols and knives and lynching was often the method used to dispose of lawbreakers, courts being few and ineffective.
The first specific Los Angeles police force was founded in 1853 as the Los Angeles Rangers, a volunteer California State Militia company that assisted the existing County Sheriff in enforcing the law until disbanded in 1857.[
They have been involved in various corrupt events in history, such as the Rampart scandal, the revealing of cliques within the LAPD such as Lynwood Vikings as well as improper arrest tactics such as data-based suspicion.
The Rampart scandal
involved widespread police corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) anti-gang unit of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division in the late 1990s.
In the Rampart scandal, several cops from an elite, anti-gang unit were supposed to infiltrate the criminal element that was preying on the mostly-immigrant communities Rampart served. Instead of tracking the bad guys though, some of the Rampart cops became the bad guys
Upwards of 70 police officers either assigned to or associated with the Rampart CRASH unit were implicated in some form of misconduct, making it one of the most widespread cases of documented police corruption in U.S. history, responsible for a long list of offenses including unprovoked shootings, unprovoked beatings, planting of false evidence, stealing and dealing narcotics, bank robbery, perjury, and the covering up of evidence of these activities.
The Rampart investigation, based mainly on statements of admitted corrupt CRASH officer Rafael Pérez, initially implicated over 70 officers of wrongdoing. Of those officers, enough evidence was found to bring 58 before an internal administrative board.
As a result of the probe into falsified evidence and police perjury, 106 prior criminal convictions were overturned.
The scandal resulted in more than 140 civil lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles, California, costing the city an estimated $125 million in settlements.
As of 2019, the full extent of Rampant corruption is not known, and several rape, homicide and robbery investigations involving Rampart officers remain unsolved.
“In my training experience, this guy had ‘I’m a gang member’ written all over him.”
Rampart Scandal Timeline
Undercover L.A.P.D. officer Frank Lyga shot and killed off-duty L.A.P.D. officer Kevin Gaines in a case of apparent road rage. The shooting of a black officer — Gaines — by a white cop — Lyga — created a highly publicized police controversy. Lyga told FRONTLINE that Gaines threatened him with a gun and that he responded in self-defense, adding, “In my training experience this guy had ‘I’m a gang member’ written all over him.” Investigators on the case discovered that Gaines had allegedly been involved in similar road rage incidents, threatening drivers and brandishing his gun.
L.A.P.D. Officer Brian Hewitt, a member of L.A.P.D.’s elite anti–gang unit CRASH [Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums] in the Rampart division, brought 18th Street gang member Ismael Jimenez to the Rampart police station for questioning. Hewitt allegedly beat the hand-cuffed Jimenez in the chest and stomach, causing him to vomit blood. After being released, Jimenez went to the hospital, where officials notified the L.A.P.D. of his injuries and complaints.
the same month that Chief Bernard Parks claimed that the Christopher Commission reforms were “essentially complete”, officer Rafael Pérez, a nine-year LAPD veteran, was arrested on charges of stealing six pounds (2.7 kilograms) of cocaine from the department’s Property Division. Pérez was initially tried on one count of possession of cocaine for sale, grand theft and forgery each.
After a mistrial on December 7 of that year, more reports of cocaine theft by Pérez arose. In September 1999, in exchange for partial immunity from prosecution, he testified about a pattern of abuse and misconduct involving seventy CRASH officers, threatening to overturn thousands of criminal convictions.
As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division’s anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.
As of May 2001, the Rampart investigation had brought fifty-eight officers before an internal administrative board. Of these, twelve were suspended, seven resigned, and five were terminated. Perez confessed to framing Javier Ovando, an 18th Street Gang member, who was shot by Nino Durden and Perez on October 12, 1996
The Lynwood Vikings
were an alleged white supremacist gang in Los Angeles, based at the Lynwood station of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, whose members were deputy sheriffs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
Its members have included Paul Tanaka, deputy Sheriff and LASD second-in-command to Lee Baca. After lawsuits repeatedly surfaced concerning the group’s activities, the Vikings were described by federal judge Terry Hatter as a “neo-Nazi” gang engaged in racially motivated hostility. According to sociologist Rob Sullivan, its members were committed to the “valorization” of Aryans.
LAPD USING DATA TO PREDICT CRIME
In 2010, LAPD took a leap in their progression when it became one of the first to employ data technology and information about past crimes to predict future unlawful activity.
Other departments around the nation soon adopted predictive policing techniques. The tool was under fire within 18 months of its launch, with numerous departments dumping the software because it did not help them reduce crime and rather collected information already being gathered. After three years, “we didn’t find it effective,” Palo Alto police spokeswoman Janine De la Vega said. “We didn’t get any value out of it. It didn’t help us solve crime.”
The Mountain View, Calif., Police Department spent more than $60,000 on the program between 2013 and 2018.
Beyond concerns from law enforcement, the data-driven programs are also under increasing scrutiny by privacy and civil liberties groups, which say the tactics result in heavier policing of black and Latino communities.
In March, the LAPD’s own internal audit concluded there were insufficient data to determine if the PredPol software — developed by a UCLA professor in conjunction with the LAPD — helped to reduce crime. LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith said there also were problems with a component of the program used to pinpoint the locations of some property crimes.
How to Protect Yourself
Dealing With Police & Knowing How To Protect Yourself
Talking to the police can be stressful and uncomfortable, even when you’ve done nothing wrong! The situation is only worse when we are constantly listening to news stories of bad encounters, police brutality, and overall “bad cops.”
General Rules when Speaking with Police Officers
- Understand consent. As a general rule, if a police officer doesn’t suspect you of a particular crime, you don’t have to answer questions or submit to a search (we discuss the exceptions, below). However, if you consent—that is, you agree to talk to a police officer or agree to be searched—the information provided can be used against you or against others. In other words, your consent permits the officer to do what the officer is otherwise not permitted to do. If you do agree to answer a police officer’s question or submit to search, keep two things in mind: you can always withdraw your consent if you don’t want to continue; and there is no “off the record” when you provide information to the police.
- Providing I.D. In many states, a police officer can stop you in public and require that you provide identification, even if there is no reason to suspect you of criminal activity; that is, failure to identify to a police officer is a crime is some states. In all states, drivers who are stopped for driving infractions must furnish identification when requested.
- No “Miranda” needed. If a police officer has not taken you into custody or prevented you from leaving, the officer can ask you questions without reciting your Miranda rights. The information you provide can be used against you. Miranda rights have to be read to a person only when the person is being interrogated and is in custody (not free to walk away).
- Delay, if necessary. If you are not detained or in custody, you can always delay answering questions by asking the officer to return at another time. That may give you an opportunity to learn more about the law, weigh the consequences of your answers, or to speak to an attorney.
- Silence may be golden. If you have any reason to believe that you may be implicated in a crime, lawyers typically advise that you remain silent and simply don’t answer a police officer’s questions, at least until you have consulted with an attorney. If stopped for a DUI, for example, you could furnish identification and take the appropriate tests, as required by law, but you need not answer other questions as to how much you had to drink or where you had been. If you are arrested and take the stand at trial, your silence may not be used against you – for example, the prosecutor may not argue to the jury, “If he didn’t commit the crime, why didn’t he deny it instead of remaining silent?”
Your Most Important Rights When Dealing With Police
4th Amendment – Search and Seizure
The 4th Amendment guarantees your right against unreasonable searches and seizures. You do not have to consent to searches. You have a right to refuse! And to use this right, you must have the ability to clearly state your refusal under pressure. “I don’t consent to searches” will do the trick. Refusing a search request is not evidence of guilt. There are plenty of other reasons to refuse. For example, searches can get really messy, and since you consented, you may not be compensated for damages should your property break. And you never know what a friend, relative, or previous owner has left in your car or home.
If the officer has known facts that provide sufficient reason to believe a crime has been committed, they do have probable cause to search your car without your consent. If they do not have these facts, but think have found suspicious evidence of behavior suggesting criminal activity, they can detain you for further investigation. You can be ordered out of your car legally.
In your home, do not let them in without a warrant. You should talk to police on the porch or outside, and close the door behind you.
5th Amendment – “Pleading the 5th”
The 5th Amendment guarantees that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law. You may better know it as your right to remain silent. You always have the right to remain silent, and most of the time you should use that right. If you are being arrested or interrogated, ask for a lawyer. You can simply say, “Officer, I am going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.” While you are not legally required to identify yourself if on the street, it may still be in your best interest to avoid hostility. You should identify yourself if asked, but make sure you do it correctly and do not lie.
6th Amendment – “Lawyer Up”
The 6th Amendment guarantees the right of the accused to have the assistance of counsel for their defense. This is your right to a lawyer. You should always ask for a lawyer, even if they do not read your rights. If you ask for a lawyer and then keep talking, those statements can be used against you. Don’t sign anything without a lawyer. Normally, the only document that is safe to sign is a promise to appear in court.
Reporting Police Misconduct
There are steps you can take to report police misconduct. The City and County of Denver have a civilian oversight agency called the Office of the Independent Monitor. They oversee the Police and Sheriff’s Department in Denver and issue annual reports. Complaints taken from the Office of the Independent Monitor are forwarded to the Internal Affairs Bureau for internal investigation. The Internal Affairs Bureau does accept reports from civilians but determinations regarding misconduct are handled within the agency. If you are not in Denver, many other cities have similar programs – do some research and find out where to report.
If you are planning to report a bad police officer, make sure you sit down with all witnesses who saw the incident and get their information and their stories. Write down or record the incident right away. Also, try to remember everything they say and exactly how they say it. If you were brutalized by police, make copies of any hospital records.
Keep in mind that going through an internal investigation is not the same thing as “suing the cops.” That would entail a long, uphill, costly battle with the entire city. Sometimes it may feel pointless to report misconduct if you believe nothing is going to happen. Especially when recent news stories seem to back that up (Hello, Aurora PD). It’s important to remember that your report can still have an effect, especially if there are multiple complaints against the same officer. You never know if your report can stop another bad police encounter from happening to another person down the road.
RAMPART/ HISTORY OF LAPD
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