Twenty years after the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King was caught on videotape, and 10 years after the Justice Department imposed a consent decree to battle pervasive corruption in the department’s Rampart Division, the police department has become a department transformed, offering itself up as a model police agency, says the New York Times. “It’s been an amazing transformation,” said John Mack, a former head of the Urban League who is the president of the Police Commission, the civilian board that oversees the force. “The L.A.P.D. of today is very, very different than 10, 12 years ago, when I was one of the people who was constantly battling them.”
Constance Rice, a civil rights lawyer who regularly sued the department two decades ago, said, “We've gone from a state of war to becoming partners here.” The department, once widely assailed as racist, homophobic, authoritarian, and corrupt, is now viewed as more friend than foe by most people in this city, including blacks and Hispanics, according to polls. What is more, violent crime reports have dropped 9.6 percent from last year, the ninth consecutive year of decline. Joe Domanick of the Center on the Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice wrote a 1994 book on the department — “To Protect and to Serve: The LAPD's Century of War in the City of Dreams” — and said that in many ways, the agency was worse than remembered. Domanick said he was stunned by how the department had turned around. He is writing a sequel.