The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, is a recent historical example of complete and total anarchy in a major U.S. city. During the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, many police fled town and of those who stayed some officers participated in the widespread looting and killing and the total lawlessness which ensued.
Katrina is a good example of what could happen in a city without police protection, where lawlessness rules. What happened in New Orleans also illustrates that, while some police can rise to an emergency and behave heroically, there are police who are not committed to serve and protect and these rogue cops will commit crimes if they feel they can get away without facing punishment. However, after Katrina a few NOPD officers were finally convicted of murdering citizens during the lawlessness and panic which followed the hurricane and flooding.
Consent Decrees Force Change in Institutionally Corrupt Police Departments
According to an article in The Guardian, five NOPD officers were convicted following a federal investigation which local authorities didn’t cooperate with. The NOPD administration itself engaged in a cover-up. The NOPD has been monitored by the feds since 2011. In effect, this police force which is notorious for institutional corruption is on probation with the feds, being under a federal Consent Decree.
A Consent Decree is an agreement between a city such as New Orleans or Los Angeles and the United States Department of Justice. The agreement provides that the city in question will comply with federal oversight of its policing policies or face a federal lawsuit where the DOJ sues for control of local policing in order to enforce Civil Rights compliance by a police department.
The Los Angeles Police Department Was Slow to Comply with its Federal Mandate
The Los Angeles Police Department was placed on a Consent Decree in 2001 following the Rampart scandal and other instances of widespread institutional corruption and the decree was lifted in 2013. It was originally scheduled to be lifted in 2006, but the LAPD was slow to comply with departmental accountability mandates to document and curb incidents involving
- Excessive force
- False arrests
- Improper searches/ seizures
The fact that a police department itself does not want to comply with United States Department of Justice Civil Rights oversight reveals a disturbing problem: some police departments and police officers feel entitled to operate above and outside of the law. When a department charged with protecting people and enforcing the law such as the LAPD rebels against complying with federal civil rights oversight, it clearly operates in a self-created culture of lawlessness.
What is a Lawless Law Enforcement Agency?
A lawless police department is a department that covers up police misconduct and refuses to hold police officers accountable to upholding and defending the Civil Rights which are guaranteed to all by the United States Constitution. Moreover, some law enforcement agencies engage in illegal campaigns of harassment against segments of a local population which they deem undesirable.
A recent case in point is the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which condoned and endorsed a policy of illegal harassment of low-income people of color in Antelope Valley which included
- Stopping people without reasonable suspicion based on racial profiling
- Detaining and arresting people without probable cause based on racial profiling
- Unreasonable force, including severe beatings of handcuffed suspects
- Refusing to investigate complaints against officers or to hold police accountable in 179 of 180 complaints alleging police misconduct.
The LASD recently settled a case with the United States Department of Justice, where following a lengthy investigation the DOJ concluded that the Sheriff’s Department was engaged in a systematic campaign of harassment and worse against African Americans and Latinos who had moved into low-income housing in Lancaster and Palmdale.
According to the DOJ Complaint, the Sheriff’s Department was acting on an inaccurate and racially biased perception that crime had increased in the Antelope Valley after demographics of the local population changed to include an increased number of low-income residents who were African American and Hispanic. The LASD then took the law into its own hands, launching an illegal campaign of harassment against this segment of the population which was basically designed to run them out of town.
Lawless Police Departments Have a Combatant Mentality Against the Community
Far from being committed to protect and defend, many police maintain us-against-them mentality similar to being at war with the community they’re supposed to be protecting. When this mentality permeates a law enforcement agency from the top down officers are given unlimited power to do whatever they want to do to the population, similar to soldiers operating in a free-fire zone. This mentality is reinforced by Police Departments across the nation which have been equipped by the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, enacted in 1997, which gives police departments across the nation surplus military equipment, including
- Armored vehicles
- Grenade launchers
- M16 rifles (fully automatic)
- Swords and bayonets
The Present Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions Want to Go Backwards
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to “review” consent decrees currently in effect across the nation in cities whose police departments have systematically violated civil rights and murdered unarmed citizens. A disproportionate number of the victims of rogue police and corrupt law enforcement agencies are African American and other non-whites and who are, almost without exception, low-income. Cities which currently have consent decrees or are being investigated for systematic and widespread violation of Civil Rights include
- Los Angeles County
- Orange County, CA
- New Orleans
The above are only a few of the numerous law enforcement agencies across the nation in trouble with the feds for systematically violating people’s civil rights. For a full list and map, click on the link to the New York Times article, above.
Institutionalized Police Corruption is a Problem Nationwide
Despite the frightening news that our present Attorney General Jeff Sessions is against federal regulation of lawless police departments, Jeff Sessions does not rule the nation. The Constitution of the United States of America is the law of the land, and our Constitution trumps local laws and policies which conflict with our guaranteed rights and liberties and anybody who opposes civil rights and freedoms, including Jeff Sessions.
Though Constitutional Law is on our side when we oppose police brutality, it is up to us as responsible citizens to fight for our rights anew against any agency which threatens the rule of law, including local police departments. We must not concede our rights to corrupt local governments or to those in power in the federal government who attempt to encroach on our U.S. Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment, and all other Constitutional law enacted by our federal legislators to protect us against abuse of police power.
We Must Fight Institutionalized Police Corruption and Uphold Law and Order
In the case, United States of America v. The County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, filed on April 28, 2015, our federal government sued a local police agency for systematic corruption which violated the law of the land. Prior to the federal investigation and subsequent lawsuit, 180 people who had been illegally harassed, detained and brutally beaten by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies filed complaints.
These courageous citizens continued to file complaints against the LASD despite no action being taken to investigate allegations in 179 of the 180 complaints. The people who filed these complaints were mostly low-income housing residents, African American and Hispanic, who were being systematically brutalized and harassed by police in an effort to run them out of town. It took courage to stand up to a rogue sheriff’s department and continue to file complaints until somebody took action.
It is because of courageous actions such as the ones beleaguered residents in this Antelope Valley community took to defend our Constitutional rights and liberties and the law of the land that we have Civil Rights. If a law only exists on paper without being enforced what good is it? Sadly, it may be up to us as concerned citizens to enforce the law ourselves in areas where police corruption is rampant and true law enforcement doesn’t exist. The best way to ensure that the law of the land is respected is to stand up to abuse of power and lawless behavior by police by filing complaints after incidents of police misconduct.
Contact Sehat Law if You Are a Victim of Police Misconduct
Hello, I’m Attorney Cameron Sehat. It is my life’s work to help ensure that the Constitution of the United States of America is protected, upheld and defended against violation by lawless police and other authorities who act outside the scope of their power.
If you or somebody you love is a victim of lawless actions on the part of police, prison guards, or any other law enforcement or government personnel contact Sehat Law Firm without delay. We will help you to stand up for your rights by filing a Civil Rights lawsuit to demand justice and accountability. Together we can ensure that law enforcement agencies are themselves law-abiding.