The “Blue Code of Silence”, sometimes referred to as the “Blue Wall” isn’t just a boundary between the police and the public—sometimes it affects dealings within the ranks as well, and the LAPD has acknowledged they have much work to do in dismantling the age old practice.
The problem is within cases of police retaliation. Last week the LA Times reported on the shocking number of officers who sue the LAPD for retaliation problems and other personnel issues. Here local officers sue their department at a rate three times greater than the Chicago Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department. Because the lawsuits end up costing the city millions in settlements, the Department knows that something must be done.
Cases of retaliation often involve an officer who rocked the boat and is ever more continually harassed or passed over when it comes to promotions. Officers can also be retaliated against for reporting misconduct in the ranks (violating that sacred Blue Code), or acting outside of the realm of what’s deemed acceptable by their supervisor, regardless of policy.
The inspector general of the L.A. Police Commission found serious problems in allegations of retaliation and the way in which the LAPD handles those investigations. Primarily, investigators in these cases routinely find the allegations don’t amount to misconduct but their investigations are flawed—often not interviewing the accuser at all.
IN response to the report from the Police Commission, the LAPD acknowledged the problem and said “We have a lot of work to do in this area.” They say the problem is largely caused by a huge caseload and understaffed unit. Each investigator may have 10 open cases at once, and the Department says these are some of the most complex and in depth cases they handle in the Internal Affairs unity.
In an effort to correct the now well publicized problem, the unit will be expanded, with several officers and a “high ranking supervisor” added. They also plan to address training supervisors on how to handle the issues before they turn into huge problems. Some of the large cases could potentially be handled and resolved early on within the ranks.
Stories about backlash against officers who blow the whistle when it comes to problems within the department are the subject of movies and primetime news investigations. But they are more common than we might know. This is (sometimes) why officers stick to the same story when it diverts from the truth, as a show of allegiance to each other.
As a defendant, it can feel like you are the subject of an investigation and the entire LAPD is out to get you. Even when they have disagreements within the ranks, they are still united by their uniforms, something you don’t have.
When you are facing criminal charges or believe you are under investigation, you need someone on your side, an experienced advocate. A local defense attorney can be that advocate, whether you are facing something like DUI or something as serious as rape charges.