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first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! POLICE officers are supposed to be the guardians of law and order in our society, so what does it say when Los Angeles Police Department officers are urged by their union to brazenly defy a federal court order? Cops on the LAPD’s anti-gang and narcotics units are bristling over a condition in the department’s federal consent decree that makes them fill out financial disclosures. Some are so angry that they’re threatening to refuse to complete the disclosures at all – an obvious snubbing of the law. The purpose of the requirements is to ensure that these officers – who, by the nature of their work, are likely to face all sorts of bribe offers and other temptations – stay honest. They’re a direct result of the Rampart corruption scandal, which brought about the consent decree in the first place. And while it’s understandable why cops would resent this invasion of privacy, they have no more right to ignore the law when they don’t like it than do any of the perps they bust on any given day. The arguments the officers’ union, the Police Protective League, puts up against mandatory financial disclosures – warning that gangbangers will somehow gain access to officers’ personal financial information – seem spurious. They’re also irrelevant to the cops’ obligation to comply with what the court has decreed. Besides, if the PPL wants to take issue with the consent decree – and it should – there are plenty of better reasons to object than this single provision. Start with the fact that the decree, a politicized overreaction to an overblown problem, ties officers’ hands with impossible amounts of red tape. It also consumes $50 million of the city budget every year, money that could be used to beef up a Police Department that’s undermanned and overstretched. Instead of railing against a single provision that affects only a small group of cops, it would be nice to see the PPL direct its efforts against the decree itself, which affects all officers as well as all residents of L.A. Still, we have full confidence in Chief William Bratton’s ability to make the disclosure form as reasonable as possible in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the 600 or so officers required to disclose their finances should honor the law of the land just as they expect everyone else to do.last_img read more