The Boston Herald · Monica Collins
"...For those of us who do not read the Los Angeles Times regularly, the stories behind the badge of dishonor will shock and dishearten.
The corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department offers a lesson in the fragile trust that must exist between the citizenry and law enforcers. When the trust breaks down, the illusion of order is ripped away. An urban restlessness can prevail when cops are suspect. 'LAPD Blues' presents stories of a city in an anxious state...
...The documentary does not wrap up everything in a neat bundle. The LAPD remains riddled with rogues. Officers who were caught up in - or disillusioned by - the scandals have gone elsewhere. One man, who says his dream in life was to become a Los Angeles cop, now works as a security guard after surrendering his badge and gun.
'LAPD Blues' is a catalog of horrors and a gripping report on urban decay and dissolution. The film opens deep fissures in the glitter of Los Angeles."
The Toronto Globe and Mail · John Doyle
"...It's a terrific and often terrifying portrait of a big-city police force in crisis. Because it's Los Angeles, a place mythologized in countless TV shows and movies, it's eerie to watch - your sense of the terrible reality is heightened by the familiarity from fiction. The story gets very strange. A routine investigation of an armed bank robbery revealed that the two main suspects were cops. One cope, once he'd been put in jail, revealed himself to be a member of a street gang.
As the evidence of corruption spread, one cop turned on another and squealed about numerous cases of brutality, evidence-tampering and perjury. The wrongdoing of one officer has led to more than 100 criminal convictions being considered bogus...Anyone who lives in a big city needs to be concerned about the ways our police forces operate. 'LAPD Blues' is a cogent warning to us all."
Minneapolis Star Tribune · Noel Holston
"...Frontline correspondent Peter J. Boyer weaves a story as complicated as the multi-layered plot of the Oscar-winning film 'Traffic.' Particularly intriguing -- and troubling -- is the implication that LAPD officials would have sniffed out the scandal more quickly if they hadn't been so hesitant to accuse minority officers. The shadows of Rodney King and O.J. Simpson hang over them like smog..."
Los Angeles Times · Howard Rosenberg
"...Typical of Frontline, producer-director Michael Kirk and correspondent Peter Boyer (whose companion piece on this appears in the current issue of New Yorker magazine) tell this story well. It's surely engrossing,, from the Rodney King beating and O.J. Simpson murder trial that helped sink the LAPD's reputation to the Perez-driven overturning of scores of criminal cases, resulting in cop misconduct settlements that have cost the city millions.
This drumroll of trouble builds ominously with revelations of officer connections to the violence-ridden gangsta rap scene leading to the gradual emergence of Perez as the Darth Vader of this bad cop scenario. He starts things rolling by confessing in 1999 that he and his then-partner, Nino Durden, three years earlier had shot and framed unarmed 19-year-old gang member Javier Ovando, and testified falsely against him in court. Paralyzed from the waist down from the shooting, Ovando has since been freed from prison and paid a $15-million settlement by the city.
The program notes serious questions about Perez's credibility, and that the pattern of criminality it cites is a surface symptom of a department that somehow became rotted at the base, and was not speedy in investigating its own.
Although a nice review, 'LAPD Blues' essentially retraces the media footsteps of others. Viewers expecting new insights will be disappointed."
"Don't worry, it's not another Steven Bochco series, but rather an arresting look at corruption within the L.A. police force -- corruption that came to a head when dirty cop Rafael Perez spilled the beans about bogus arrests and falsified evidence, leading to the overturning of over 100 criminal convictions. Frontline examines the fallout from Perez's allegations, and if he was really coming clean on fellow 'pigs' or just fakin' bacon. A-"
Rocky Mountain News · Dusty Saunders
"...an engrossing Frontline documentary which examines how the Los Angeles
Police Department, once considered by some lawmen a model organization, has
been severely tarnished and disrupted during the past decade by charges
concerning crooked officers, police brutality and departmental racism....
Most of us are familiar with the extreme criticism the L.A. police received in
handling the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson cases. But as this hour shows, those
headline-grabbing events were merely the surface above smoldering internal
problems existing throughout the department....
One segment of LAPD Blues would make NYPD Blue's Andy Sipowicz sweat
Daily News, New York · David Hinckley
"The complex poison that is harvested form the seeds of racism is examined in
chilling detail in a Frontline report... .
The story started in 1997 when Frank Lyga, a white undercover cop, shot and
killed off-duty black cop Kevin Gaines after a confrontation at a traffic
Then, like a grenade, the story exploded into lethal pieces: One black cop
robbing banks, another stole cocaine from the police evidence room. There were
indications that cops were involved with Death Row Records, placing them in at
least circumstantial proximity to a shadowy neo-gangster world and the deaths
of rapper Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls....
'We didn't want to do what most television journalism does,' says [producer]
Kirk, 'which is simply to illustrate a story that has already been told. We
wanted to do real reporting to really know the people involved.'
In the end "LAPD Blues" suggests the answers don't fit comfortably into neat
conclusions of partisans on either side....
One caution to viewers: The rap soundtrack includes extremely raw language,
which Kirk calls appropriate. 'It's the political poetry of the streets. I'm
thankful for the willingness of Frontline to believe our audience is mature
enough to understand why it's important here."
The Boston Globe · John Koch
"...The facts revealed in 'LAPD Blues' involving murder, theft, and widespread
deceit are scary and shocking. Logically, the film should be scary and
shocking too, but, almost remarkably, it isn't. Producer-director Michael Kirk
and correspondent Peter J. Boyer seem overwhelmed by the complexity of this
How is it again, for example, that LA police officers were possibly associated
with the killings of rappers Tupac Shakur and his East Coast rival, Christopher
Wallace, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G.? What the documentary sorely needs is a strong
narrative thread sewing up its wild sprawl of bloody subplots....
'LAPD Blues' touches on the underlying racial themes but seems to keep them at
The result of this gingerness is a lack of clarity and conclusiveness and what
feels like a slack sense of purpose."
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