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Hearing postponed on LAPD's bid to have consent decree lifted

June 8, 2009 |  1:29 pm

Los Angeles Police Department officials will have to wait another week before making their case that the department no longer needs the federal government acting as its big brother.

A hearing scheduled for today was postponed until next Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess, police announced. Feess gave no reason for the delay, according to police officials.

For more than eight years, Feess has overseen the LAPD’s efforts to implement a sweeping set of reforms imposed on the department by the U.S. Department of Justice in the aftermath of the Rampart corruption scandal.

Originally intended to last five years, the federal oversight was extended by three years after Feess angrily criticized the department for its failure to put in place several of the largest changes.

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton has made no secret of his eagerness to see the department freed from the consent decree, saying it is no longer needed and serves as a stigma that hurts morale. Last week, Bratton said he was “cautiously very optimistic” that Feess would agree the department can now police itself against the internal corruption and abuses that landed it in trouble.

Since his arrival shortly after the consent decree went into effect, Bratton has made it a priority to complete the required reforms. The department now audits its internal workings heavily and relies on a $50-million computer system to track officer conduct and flag potential abuses.

Because the department has been using the computer system -- as well some other reforms, such as in-car video cameras -- for only a short period of time, many LAPD watchdogs expect Feess will free the department of the consent decree, but will keep tabs to make sure the recent reforms are working.

--Joel Rubin

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