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discussion: What are your reactions to this story of rogue cops in the L.A.P.D?�

Dear FRONTLINE,

What appalled me about your documentary was the assumption that the LAPD was "once great". The current problems were not placed in any historical context showing the relationship of LAPD to minorities, or any history of previous problems under Gates.

No coverage was given to the vast legal settlements paid out by the city due to excessive force charges against the police. No coverage was given to infamous converted miliary tank/battering rams used against the homes of private citizens when the cops used the wrong address, and the general roughshod approach to enforcement.

and there was no attempt to represent in any way minorities in any other than a criminal context, which is a huge insult to the city of Los Angeles, which is more than 50% non-Anglo.

This is the most biased documentary I have ever seen on PBS.

I am also appalled by the letters in this file by individuals who have clearly never been to Los Angeles and have a rather bizarre claim of expertise in matters related to the city. Do they really believe that they can be taken seriously?

It would be far more instructive, but a much harder piece of reporting, to do a truly balanced documentary on the relationship of poor minority communities and the local police forces in Los Angeles and elsewhere. I would hope that Frontline would rise to such a real challenge.


Roger Brown

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a Los Angeles Police officer, I am frequently asked "Do you know any of those corrupt Rampart officers?" My reply is: "Can you name for me any of those corrupt Rampart officers?"

As I viewed "LAPD Blues" during the Tuesday night broadcast, I felt a sigh of relief. Somebody, other than a Los Angeles Police Officer, had finally questioned the credibility of Raphael Perez. It was a feeling similar to the relief I felt after reading Lou Cannon's "Official Negligence."

In that non-fiction analysis of the Rodney King incident and the following riot, Mr. Cannon indicts not only the Brass of the LAPD but also the politicians of Los Angeles. He brought us all back to realityland and highlighted the deficiencies of the city structure.

And now Frontline has done the same with the so called Rampart Scandal. Frontline provided the viewer a different perspective regarding the scandal. The report strays from the contemporary view that the LAPD has a massive corruption problem. Where the LA Times would suggest that corruption is rampant in the LAPD, Frontline highlights three officers that appear at first to be the tip of the corruption ice berg. We began to realize that perhaps Gaines, Mack, and Perez are the ice berg. It was finally publicized that these officers knew each other something that not many LAPD officers knew. I believe the LA Times did print a back page article regarding the possible connection between Mack and Perez; however, little is ever mentioned of the Lyga/Gaines shooting and the connection of Gaines, Mack, and Perez. We only heard of the settlement of $250,000 to Gaines' ex-wife.

I'm sure much will be written of your focus on three minority officers profiled in the corruption probe. No police officer gets into the black and white police car and ask's him/herself "I hope that my partner has not robbed a bank. I hope that my partner is not a drug dealer. I hope that my partner has not sullied his life by associating with the criminal element." No police officer questions the integrity of his or her partner. We operate on the honor system. We live by the law enforcement code of ethics. We embody core values that build a trust not only with the community we serve but with our own partners. We assume that our partner is not a criminal. And when we find out otherwise, we fell the pain of broken trust. We care not that the officer is black or Hispanic. It does not matter that an officer is white, green, red, yellow, or blue. We only recognize that an officer has strayed from a path that we sacrifice ourselves to preserve. That a corrupt officer is white, black, asian, or hispanic is moot. The corruption of the officer is the sole relevent issue.

Thank you,

Los Angeles

Police Officer

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your story astounded me for its lack of depth and insight. As a puff piece on LAPD and its problems, it suceeded admirably. As an investigation into LAPD's greatest problems, it failed miserably.

People constantly and incorrectly complain that gang members have more rights than law-abiding citizens. The Rampart scandal has destroyed that notion. Minorities in poor communities were arrested for no reason, had evidence planted on them, and were accused often spuriously of gang membership. Based on false police testimony, juries convicted them and they went to prison for a long time. No judge ever gave them a new trial after their conviction at least, not until the scandal broke.

Contrast this with the officers who actually committed these crimes. They got more than due process, they had the keys to the courthouse doors handed to them. The Judge in the case excluded evidence for reasons that would never happen for non-police defendants. The jury even sensed the bias in favor of the police defendants, and, in the end, the judge reversed their convictions.

Your story does not tell this story. It doesn't tell about the objective proof of how many of Perez's claims have been corroborated. It doesn't tell about the officers who have been caught lying about suspects spitting out drugs when arrested - only to find no DNA, or other people's DNA, on the drugs. Your story did not interview the lawyers who have worked for over a year exposing the conspiracy of silence and concealment by the District Attorney and Police Department to prevent information on dirty cops to reach defense lawyers, and the complicity of the judiciary that allowed this to take place.

Instead, you interviewed only the foxes who were supposed to guarding the hen house all these years, who have now been exposed as liars. You gave them the opportunity to explain themselves without tough questions or any contrary stories by those who have seen them lie firsthand. Your story shamed every other high quality Frontline story I have ever seen.

Greg Apt

Dear FRONTLINE,

The documentary presented an excellent account of the most important persons and events surrounding the Rampart LAPD corruption case in less than an hour. Peter J. Boyer did well in focussing on the central elements of the story without getting too far distracted by other related stories like institutional racism in law enforcement. From my point of view, he did this without judging the central figures in the Rampart case. He presents the facts and observations of some key persons, and lets the viewer make his or her own judgements and conclusions.

A thug is a thug whether or not his skin is white, brown, or black or if he wears the badge of an LAPD officer or the colors of a street gang. Crimes committed by law enforcement officers sworn to protect the law abiding residents of Los Angeles regrettably stains the reputation of good LA cops who risk their lives "To protect and to serve", while casting doubt on the very real guilt of some violent criminals. As a result suspicion, paranoia, and fear replace good judgement in the citizenry, when we should be able to trust our lives and property to the protection of the LAPD. The crime rate is up in the Rampart district in the wake of the corruption case, which makes the unfortunate residents of that district even more vulnerable.

The LAPD must reform and the consent degree must be implemented to prevent future "Ramparts". But, just as it is impossible for good cops to be on every corner of the city 24/7, we law abiding citizens need to reform as well. We cannot sit idly by as violent crime victimizes our neighbors. We are responsible not only for reporting crime, but to foster civility and nonviolence. We must get to know and trust our neighbors and the police officers who patrol our neighborhoods. Otherwise we are at greater risk of becoming the victims and/or perpetrators of racism, fear, and violence.

Jeff Fields
Venice, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

OK, so the villains in the show were black cops and the white cops were the victims. Does even, objective reporting mean finding and equal number of white villains and black victims? I don't think so. Frontline would be hard pressed to find any white collaborator of Death Row Records. It's important to also realize that that label thrives and markets their own criminal backgrounds.

What Frontline could have done is add and hour and deal with other types of corruption in the LAPD that is perpetrated by different types of cops outside of the Rampart scandal. I think an interesting question is what makes someone want to become a cop. That mindset evident in the interviews with the white victim cops is a type of fascist corruption.


Rick Weis
Venice, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am an avid Frontline viewer and applaud your LAPD segment.

Dave Terronez

Dear FRONTLINE,

I found your documentary on the LAPD very biased towards the police's view. Actions of "good-guy" cops like Mr Liddy, such as the example of police brutality against the brother of one of Reginald Denny's attackers, were white-washed on account of thevictim's association with criminals. Police brutality is still wrong even when it is carried out against those portrayed as "bad-guys". It is for the courts to mete out punishment, not the officers on the street.

I also found your racial profiling of Death Row Records and the minority officers disturbing and unbalanced.

The possibility that Ray Perez is lying about the misconduct of officers is disturbing and should be investigated, but I found the entire premise a few bad cops, the LAPD used to be a great Police Dept. of your documentary to be flawed.


Peter Mao
L.A, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

In perusing through the other viewer e-mails, I am amazed that many viewers refuse to see thugs, and the performers who endorse the gangster life-style, for what they are: CRIMINALS. Those sympathetic to criminals are always poised to play the race card with claims of police brutality. Are minority police officers ever capable of brutality?

Unfortunately, the sole basis for the accusations against the LAPD is the testimony of a blatantly corrupt officer. Shouldn't the media and the public consider the source of these claims? At the end of the day, it is the people of LA who have to pay the price.

I am appalled that the city elected to "settle" the cop-on-cop shooting for $250,000 when, by all accounts, the shooting was totally justified. I donít think handing over taxpayer's money to Johnny Cochran will improve conditions in minority communities. Given the fundamental racial divide on law and order in America, it amazes me that non-minorities would ever want to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Kent Veron

Dear FRONTLINE,

The Los Angeles Police Department has been the world leader in police techniques and technology since the 1950's.

History is replete with stories of police corruption in large agencies like New York and Chicago with one notable exception....the LAPD. The LAPD has been a remarkably corruption-free department since the fifties, and this in a city that is the hub of media for the world. When an LAPD officer curses, the news cameras swarm.

Hiring quotas that force the hiring of sub-standard empoyees and former gang members to a great department in the name of "affirmative action," not only sour the public to the idea of 'hiring goals,'....they also ruin greatness.

Support the LAPD before they all go elsewhere.

Jay Roberts

Dear FRONTLINE,


What happened to the "even" reporting.
If you would like to make this report show how nasty the police forces are in Southern California...why don't you also show the Hollywood Div. of the LAPD that stole from stores in Hollywood while on duty then conspired to hide the crimes, make false police reports, and then blamed the crimes on the community.
But the worst of all that you missed is the gang in the Los Angeles Sheriffs Dept. called the "Vikings".
This is a all white gang of LASD deputies. The Sheriff admited the Vikings are present in his department years ago. Why don't you invistigate how they beat Mexicans and Afro Americans and White teenagers that visit and/or live in low income nieghborhoods.
And if you decide to invistigate the other side of the coin, you'll find "Skin Head" supports working on the San Diego Sheriffs Department.

You'll need the fortitude of a saint to invistigate LASD and SDSD deputies becuase you won't find the support that you did for this report.

Vel Tino

Dear FRONTLINE,

In the past, you've managed to even-handedly deal with a whole host of subjects by carefully airing both sides of contentious debates. Your LAPD program was an unfortunate departure from that tradition.

The sole history you provided of the LAPD, excerpts from Dragnet and Adam-12, left the viewer with the impression that the LAPD was an exemplary police force with no history of abuses prior to the Rodney King incident. This, of course, is not the case.

You also managed to criminalize by implication all urban minority culture, specifically targeting hip hop. According to the interviewees--all supporters or employees of the LAPD--anyone involved in this subculture is automatically and rightfully suspect. You neglected to interview anyone involved in Death Row Records or any residents who had suffered at the hands of the LAPD particularly in the Rampart division.

While I understand the difficulty of exploring such a difficult issue as race, corruption and police brutality, your attempt to simplify the conflict-all the white cops in white hats, black cops in black hats with no historical context -does the situation in LA, your viewers a tremendous disservice and does little to advance towards a solution.

Victoria Selwyn
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Having read the article in The New Yorker, I'm curious as to why the issue of lack of resources in terms of personnel needs was not examined more closely.

I believe that New York City has almost 4 times as many policemen on the streets as in LA, and of course the Los Angeles metropolitan area is incredibly vast, in terms of square mileage. Although NYC has had many well - publicized police incidents over the past years, the issue of lack of monetary support from the local citizenry seems to be an important theme in the history of the LAPD.

david mcmurray
chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,


Your LAPD Blues story was appalling!
First, the pretence that accusations of racial misconduct of the LAPD somehow began with Rodney King ¹91. How about starting in the sixties with the abuse of rights of the Black Panthers? How about the Counter Intelligence Program? How about bombing from the air! of houses in LA neighborhoods? How about MOVE? How about the fact that racial profiling is common procedure all over the nation?
Second, by associating the accusations against the LAPD with a couple of corrupt cops who, luckily, are minorities you are misleading the viewer into thinking that purging the force of those few minorities! would remedy the situation. The fact is, that there are corrupt police officers, and there is institutional racism, these two things are not necessarily related.
Third, the LAPD's continuous abuse of civil rights has created real victims, who have real representatives. Why didn't you interview anyone from the NAACP, or The Police Complaint Center?


Ilana Hiarston
East Palo-Alto, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a doctoral student in sociology who has studied the racist legacy of mainstream media I was disheartened to watch L.A.P.D. Blues. If the show had been produced under any other name other than Frontline I would have turned it off immediately after the shoddy and grossly exaggerated depiction of 2Pac and Death Row Records.

Certainly, there are legitimate reasons for the public to be concerned with organizations that promote drugs and violence. However, to focus on hip-hop and three corrupt black officers in the context of the LAPD is laughable, if not dangerously racist and misleading. One could not walk away from this story without thinking that the once prestigious ranks of the L.A.P.D had been corrupted by hip-hop and the integration of the police forceówhat about decades of police harassment and abuse in African American and Latino communities?

If this was the intent--and certainly every television performance has intent--then Frontline succeeded in firmly placing itself among the ranks of a historically racist medium. What really bothers me is that PBS approved and allowed this show to be aired. Could it be that PBS is attempting to broaden its viewer base to the likes of Pat Buchanan? In short, I believe this was a blatant attack against hip-hop and the integration of law enforcement.

Chance Sims
Northampton, Massachusetts

Dear FRONTLINE,

Question: What's wrong with the LAPD?
Frontline's answer: a handful of colored cops.

What nonsense. The most universally corrupt, racist, violent, dishonest police department in the country gets a whitewash pun intended by white producers who make clear that the real problem is gangsta rap.

The treatment of the murder of Officer Gaines was a joke. Who, other than his killer, says that he pulled and pointed a gun? Is he still a cop? Where was the other side of this story?

Furthermore, as I understand it, Gaines' girlfriend was the former wife or former girlfriend of Suge Knight and it is that relationship that proves that Gaines was "associated" with Death Row records. Are you kidding? Perhaps if you paid some attention to the message of some of the music Death Row produces, you would understand why African-Americans are particularly alert to and frustrated by the fact that IN EVERY CITY IN THIS COUNTRY WHITE COPS ARE SHOOTING BLACK PEOPLE AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT.

Frontline, which usually produces fine work, should be embarassed by this crap.

You might want to do a piece about the ongoing racism that is seen as the hallmark of American culture by literally every other country on earth. That's the real story of the LAPD.


bob loom
new york, ny

Dear FRONTLINE,

I applaud your coverage of the so called LAPD "Scandal" in Rampart. My husband is a member of the LAPD, and we've had to sit by and watch helplessly as the news media has distorted the truth for the past two years. It is good to finally see a piece that seeks to inform the general publc of the real truth.

Many of the officers implicated by Perez were pawns in the witch hunt that he sought to create to save himself from a long prison term. They too, along with the innnocent people framed by Perez, are victims in this case. The organization that they believed in and were proud to represent turned on them and believed the word of a convicted liar and thief. Many of these innocent officers have been off work without pay for almost two years. They have had to sit by and watch as their lives are destroyed, knowing that they have done nothing wrong.

Not many people know the real truth behind this incident, or all of the political nonsense that has gone into creating it, but thank you for trying to shed some light on the truth.

Misty Gray

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