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CNN Today

LAPD Corruption Scandal Triggers Feud Between Chief, Rank-and- File

Aired March 31, 2000 - 1:07 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: Now to Los Angeles, where investigators fear the corruption scandal that's been eating away at the Los Angeles Police Department may be more widespread than first thought. "The Los Angeles Times" reports two officers that transferred out of the LAPD's Rampart division may, in one commander's words, have taken their "bad habits" with them. "The Times" says investigators now are looking at officers and cases in three other LAPD divisions.

The Rampart scandal was exposed, you will recall, name-by-name, case-by-case by a former officer, Rafael Perez, who was caught stealing cocaine from an evidence room.

To date, more than two dozen officers have been fired, relieved of duty or quit, and 50 convictions have been overturned. The crisis has triggered a feud between L.A.'s police chief and district attorney, and now between the chief and his own rank-and-file.

Here's CNN's Charles Feldman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an interview with a union official and two union delegates, a picture was painted of a police chief increasingly estranged from the men and women he must lead.

SGT. ALFRED FUVALCABA, LOS ANGELES POLICE: They have a sense that there's a vacuum, there's a -- of leadership.

FELDMAN: The union representing most of the more than 9,000 strong LAPD tells CNN it is giving serious consideration to a vote of no-confidence in the police chief, as a way to show displeasure with the way he is handling the corruption probe.

OFFICER MITZI GRASSO, LOS ANGELES PROTECTIVE LEAGUE: We have not done an official vote of no-confidence yet.

FELDMAN (on camera): Yet?

GRASSO: Yet.

FELDMAN: Is it coming?

GRASSO: And we're considering it.

FELDMAN: You are?

GRASSO: Yes, we are.

FELDMAN: You would suspect that, if such a vote were conducted now, the result would be?

GRASSO: Very negative.

FELDMAN (voice-over): The union's newspaper takes issue with a recent internal report that said mediocrity helped set the stage for the corruption scandal. The union asked for an apology weeks ago and is still waiting.

Making matters worse, a new poll by the union of how members feel about middle management: More than 3,200 responded and rated over half the command structure poorly in six categories.

FELDMAN (on camera): Did the poll dare go as far as to gauge the feelings about the chief?

GRASSO: Well, there's a write-in section.

FELDMAN: Yes.

GRASSO: And we received a lot of comments about the chief.

FELDMAN: And?

GRASSO: And they are very negative.

FELDMAN (voice-over): The police chief elected not to be interviewed for this story.

But his spokesman says:

CMDR. DAVID KALISH, LOS ANGELES POLICE: I think it's important to realize that the union did not want this individual to become chief of police. Bernard C. Parks is a strict disciplinarian. He terminated over 100 officers in two years.

FELDMAN: One thing is clear: While the LAPD tries to rebuild its relations with the community, many in the rank-and-file believe the chief must first rebuild relations with them.

Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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