U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess has ruled that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law can be used in the case against the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division, where officers have been charged with murder, perjury, cover-ups, planting false evidence, theft, assault, and rape. This is the second case in seven months in which a Federal Judge has allowed RICO to be used against the LAPD. “Judge Feess’ decision is a major milestone in the struggle against police corruption and violence,” says Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “RICO will be key in breaking up the systematic cover-up by the LAPD of the criminal activity of its own officers, and in prosecuting officers involved in the widespread conspiracy to commit crimes.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation and its National Center for Women in Policing (NCWP) have been pressing for an investigation by authorities into the role the underrepresentation of women in the LAPD has played in the Rampart and other police scandals. “We have been disappointed that, to date, no such study has been undertaken,” says Chief Penny Harrington, director of NCWP. “Sadly, a huge underlying component of police violence and corruption has been ignored.” In its own analysis of the LAPD and police corruption cases, NCWP revealed a significant gender gap in police liability cases, with LAPD payouts on male officers for excessive use of force and assaults exceeding payouts on female officers by a ratio of 23:1.