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State attorney general seeks reform of Maywood police

April 28, 2009 |  3:26 pm

After a 16-month investigation that revealed “gross misconduct and widespread abuse” at the Maywood Police Department, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown today announced that he would seek a court order to impose reforms on the troubled force.

His comments coincided with the release of a 30-page report that detailed the findings of the investigation into the tiny department, which polices the densely populated square-mile city south of Los Angeles.

“The badge and the gun — they’re power. And that power has to be exercised with restraint under the law,” Brown said at a news conference. “In Maywood, this wasn’t the case.”

A veteran policing expert who oversaw the attorney general’s probe called Maywood “one of the worst” departments he had ever seen.

The attorney general's office launched its investigation in April 2007, shortly after The Times published an article calling the department “a haven for misfit cops.” The article revealed that at least a third of the officers on what was then a 37-member force had either been forced out of previous police jobs or had had brushes with the law while working in Maywood.

The attorney general’s report offered a top-to-bottom critique of the department, citing inadequate screening of officers before they are hired and a lack of proper training and supervision once they are on the job. It also faulted the Maywood City Council for failing to hold the Police Department accountable.

The probe, which examined the department’s operations from January 2002 to April 2007, found that officers routinely engaged in excessive force, made bogus arrests and failed to investigate citizen complaints.

The report detailed eight instances of alleged excessive force, half of them involving allegedly inappropriate use of a Taser. In one case in 2006, a young man asked an officer for his badge number after witnessing what he thought was excessive force. As he wrote it down, he was beaten by a group of officers, then handcuffed and shocked with a Taser, the report states.

When the young man’s father yelled, “What are you doing to my son?” he was assaulted by several officers, the report states.

—Scott Glover