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Los Angeles – Responding to a directive from Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. to reform its police force, the Maywood City Council late Tuesday evening unanimously approved a stipulated court order that will end the “widespread abuse and gross misconduct” exposed over the course of a 16-month investigation.
“This court order will compel the City of Maywood to overhaul its police department after years of widespread abuse and gross misconduct,” Brown said. “It paves the way for real reform, enabling the Maywood police department to live up to its potential by truly serving and protecting.”
On April 28, 2009, Brown released a report that found that the City of Maywood Police Department routinely used excessive force, did not obtain probable cause to justify arrests and searches and operated without adequate oversight.
The report also found a lack of accountability, inexperienced and untrained officers and civilian complaints routinely ignored.
Brown’s investigation examined some 30,000 pages of documents from January 2002 through April 2007. Sixty-four witness interviews were conducted with sworn officers, city council members, City of Maywood administrative personnel, city residents and civil rights attorneys.
Over the past two months, Brown’s office and the City of Maywood negotiated a stipulated court order to reform the police department. With last night’s city council approval, the order will now be submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court and entered into as a legally binding agreement.
The agreement will be enforced for at least three years following the date it is approved by the Court.
The stipulated court order compels the city to:
1. Hire well-trained and experienced officers to combat crime effectively and lawfully. The Maywood Police Department’s hiring policies must exceed industry standards as defined by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.
2. Ensure strong oversight.
• The City Council has hired a professional city manager who will have direct responsibility for overseeing the Department.
• An auditor, hired by the City, will write annual public reports about the state of the Department’s operations. The first report will be released in March 2011.
3. Stop the use of excessive force through monitoring and holding officers accountable.
• Officers will be required to use digital audio recorders while in the field, and video cameras will be installed on police vehicles and in the Maywood police station.
• Following use-of-force incidents, reports must be submitted and reviewed to determine whether use of force was necessary.
• An “Early Intervention System” will be established to track and monitor the activities of sworn personnel to identify problem officers and to take corrective action, which may include formal disciplinary procedures.
4. Improve training for officers to prevent and fight crime in a lawful manner.
• Officers will be trained on the legal requirements of motor vehicle stops, probable cause, appropriate use of force, determination of need for supervisor assistance and the city’s ethnic, racial and religious makeup.
• One Maywood police sergeant will be enrolled at a Peace Officer Standards and Training certified Supervisory and Leadership Institute every year.
• A zero tolerance policy will be put in place regarding sexual innuendo, harassment, vulgarity, cultural, racial and ethnic insensitivity.
• Sworn personnel promoted to sergeant will complete a Peace Officer Standards and Training certified Basic Supervisory Course within six months of appointment.
5. Establish a system whereby residents can lodge complaints that will be investigated and resolved by the Maywood Police Department.
• Each issue in the complaint will be thoroughly investigated and addressed by a Maywood Police Department Internal Affair’s investigator.
• Complaint forms will be made readily available in English and Spanish.
• The personnel history of the officer in question will be reviewed in determining the credibility of the complaint.
• The rationale for any stop or search related to a complaint must be investigated, evaluated and addressed by Internal Affairs.
6. Change the operating philosophy of the department from an “us versus them” philosophy to a community oriented policing philosophy. The City must revise the policies and procedures of the Department to bring them into conformity with contemporary police practices and adopt a strategic plan based on a community policing philosophy.
Additionally, Brown will appoint an expert on police matters who will advise him on the progress the City is making in implementing its reforms. If the City fails to comply with any terms of the agreement, Brown may seek a contempt of court citation against the city.
"The City is very committed to working with the Attorney General to complete its commitment to community-based policing and the reforms outlined in the Attorney General's report,” said Paul Philips, Maywood Interim City Manager. “The City appreciates the working relationship it has established with the Attorney General's staff over the past two years.'
To read the report on the abuse and misconduct found in the Maywood Police Department, go to http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1722&.
A copy of the agreement is attached.