Los Angeles Police Chief Asks FBI to Investigate Department CorruptionAired February 23, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Los Angeles chief of police calls in federal agents to help with that growing corruption scandal in his department.
CNN's Charles Feldman is working this story.
What's it all about today, Charlie?
CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, this is a major turning point in this case, the worst scandal to ever hit the Los Angeles Police Department, and it shows just how concerned the chief of police here is and how much he wants to get this scandal behind him, its allegations that some officers engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity, everything from shooting innocent people to framing them and then lying on the witness stand.
But what he has done now is he has asked for federal help. He has asked the FBI to come in with him and help investigate his own department, which is a very unusual thing for a police chief in any city to do. But there's a reason why he's doing it, in particular. There is an investigation, of course, that is ongoing with the Los Angeles County district attorney, Gil Garcetti.
In recent weeks, the chief has expressed growing concern that the district attorney is, in effect, dragging his feet. The DA has said he will only file charges against some of these suspect police officers when he feels he has a winable case.
But in an interview that I did with the chief, you could see how he has become increasingly frustrated with the DA's investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF BERNARD PARKS, LOS ANGELES POLICE: It sounds logical, but if we follow that trend of thought, then what we'd expect the DA to say is, these are the 22 things I need to help me. Here's the list of needs. We've not gotten that. Then we'd expect, if he's not asking us, he'd be out looking for those things that he needs. We're not -- we have no evidence that that's occurring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FELDMAN: Now, right after that interview -- or during that interview -- the chief said, in effect, that if the DA doesn't move quicker, he was going to go to the Feds. The weekend has come and gone, there were many behind-the-scenes attempts to speed things up in the DA's office, and what we're seeing today is the chief's final frustration. And so there's going to be a press conference soon, and along with the chief, we will see the mayor of this city, the U.S. attorney for this city, and the FBI assistant director for this city joining forces to combat what they view as a scandal that is threatening the very moral foundations of this police department in L.A. -- Lou.
WATERS: What about the politics here, Charlie? Garcetti's up for reelection. What, if anything, does that have to do with it?
FELDMAN: Oh, indeed he is, and that's one of the things that the police department has been broadly hinting at in recent weeks. They think that the DA may be playing politics. There's a primary that he faces on March 7, there have been accusations flying left and right that maybe he's timing some announcements to better suit his own political ambitions. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. But what is true is that there is a lot of attempt to try to get Garcetti at least to join the fold. It is still not known, by the way, whether Mr. Garcetti will be at that news conference later today because, no matter how you slice it, this is a major slap at the district attorney, no question about that.
WATERS: Charles Feldman in L.A, we will, of course, be getting back to you as this story proceeds.
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