The federal judge who oversaw a dramatic, forced transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department freed the department from the final vestiges of federal oversight, reports the Los Angeles Times. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess formally lifted the binding agreement the U.S. Justice Department imposed on the LAPD in 2001, which spelled out dozens of major reforms the police agency had to implement and frequent audits it was required to undergo by a monitor who reported to Feess.
The dismissal of the consent decree, which arose largely out of the Rampart corruption scandal and addressed basic problems of accountability that stretched back decades, delivered a largely symbolic milestone for the LAPD as it continues to disassociate itself from a past marked by abuses and turmoil. After revelations in 1999 that officers assigned to the Rampart Division were implicated in serious misconduct, including physical abuse of suspects, evidence tampering and perjury, public trust in the police plummeted and federal officials responded to calls from a growing chorus of critics for intervention. In 2006, as the decree was set to expire, Feess angrily rebuked the department for what he found to be its slow pace of reform and extended the decree for five years.