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What Was the Rampart Scandal?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Rampart Scandal was a police scandal which broke in the late 1990s in the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The events of the Rampart Scandal attracted the attention of the nation, and shocked many people, who were surprised by the depth of police corruption revealed during the Rampart investigation and subsequent trials. Several Rampart-related cases remained untried as of 2008, demonstrating the extent of the scandal.

The police implicated in the Rampart Scandal were all members of the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit within the Rampart Division. The scandal broke when a police officer named Rafael Perez was arrested for stealing narcotics from evidence lockup, and he cut a deal with prosecutors in exchange for immunity. All told, around 70 police officers were implicated in testimony made by Perez; there was enough evidence to bring 58 of them to trial. Of those 58, five were ultimately fired, while seven resigned and additional 12 officers were placed on suspension.

Corruption sunk to such depths in the Rampart Scandal that it almost beggars belief. The trial documents indicate that several police officers were in the direct pay of drug dealers and other neighborhood moguls, for example, and they were involved in shootings, beatings, frame jobs on innocent people, a bank robbery, drug dealing, and the planting of evidence at crime scenes. Once the Rampart Scandal started to break, guilty officers compounded their crimes by committing perjury on the stand and attempting to destroy evidence.

One of the immediate effects of the Rampart Scandal was a dramatic loss of faith in the LAPD, and many people suspect that the scandal directly contributed to the ouster of Police Chief Bernard Parks, who had supervised the department while the “Rampart Cops,” as they came to be known, had free rein. In addition, the scandal overturned thousands of criminal convictions, due to concerns about tainted evidence and corrupt police work.

This scandal triggered major reform in the Los Angeles Police Department, along with more widespread reform of police departments around the United States, as news outlets kept citizens informed about the ever-widening corruption scandal. Opponents of the policies and tactics of the LAPD were eager to seize upon the Rampart Scandal as evidence for the need for greater control over and oversight of the LAPD, arguing that the police had too much autonomy and that this fed the culture of the CRASH unit, leading to its ultimate corruption.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a America Explained researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1002643 — On Jan 14, 2020

I was arrested by these officers when I was 15 years old and charged with a crime I did not commit. The only reason I said I did it was because they let the K-9 dog attack me. They pressed on my wounds and made me confess that I had done the drive-by shooting. Is there a way I can get legal help on this matter?

By anon983459 — On Dec 30, 2014

All the officers in specialized units were aware of the tactics CRASH used and Narcotics Units as well that were used in Rampart.

I was personally falsely arrested by an officer.

It's frustrating knowing that a corrupt cop gets rewarded for his bad actions!

By anon327740 — On Mar 30, 2013

Rampart was the best thing that ever happened to L.A. Anyone who lived there in the 80's knows how bad the gang violence was. Rampart cleaned it up. Sure they put their friends in charge of the drug dealing, but by wiping out the competition, it stops the violence. They needed a vicious dog to do the job and then wisely put that dog in a cage once it had done the job.

By anon319104 — On Feb 11, 2013

O.K. Take the scandal out of quotes. This was a scandal and the LAPD is a current and growing scandal in so many ways its ridiculous. Do not make it seem as if there was just a bad cookie in the pot.

By anon197750 — On Jul 18, 2011

anon128505, Post 9: I believe you're talking about Brad Young? Yeah, he's still there and should be investigated.

By anon128505 — On Nov 19, 2010

i believe the rampart scandal to be true, for many of the officers who where part of the department at the time, went to various employers to finish off there carries. One in general, who has been employed by Pasadena City College, is still practicing his corrupt ways by threatening and harassing innocent employees and students.

By mab123456 — On Jul 22, 2010

Yes, the scandal was crazy. For more information, please watch the PBS program called Frontline which had an episode titled "L.A.P.D. Blues."

After the scandal outbreak, there were a handful of Rampart victims who complained but did not have evidence to sue in court. These victims included innocent, twenty-something attractive minority women who were randomly targeted and raped by Rampart policemen on one or more occasions during the late '90s.

At the time of these rapes, these female victims never said anything or kept evidence because their lives and civil rights were threatened by their attackers who cleverly covered their tracks.

By anon97756 — On Jul 20, 2010

Wow. That's really crazy.

By mab123456 — On Jun 25, 2010

Rampart Scandal - I read somewhere that 58 of the 70 police officers of the CRASH unit of the Rampart Police Division were only cited in court. Were they able to continue being police officers elsewhere? Did LAPD put a red flag on their employment files?

Would those alleged corrupt Rampart police officers of the CRASH unit allow the police departments in their home neighborhoods to rape, frame, murder, beat their families, friends and neighbors?

Where did most of these Rampart officers live? What was the criteria for violating the residents of the Rampart area? Are there online websites which shows the names or photos of these alleged corrupt Rampart police officers? The neighborhood of Rampart needs continued healing from those turbulent latter '90s years.

By anon61930 — On Jan 23, 2010

None of the members of the LAPD were innocent in this scandal. Raphael Perez was a corrupt cop and there were many more with him. The LAPD didn't just get a bad rap, they created it.

Each and every one of the officers involved in the Rampart Scandal made very bad decisions, hiding behind that badge before anyone new what was going on, then they tried to cover it up. LAPD has a very long history of misconduct, and community abuse. Look it up, you'll find plenty of factual situations where the cops are nothing but criminals with badges.

By anon53701 — On Nov 23, 2009

Where did you get your information about the rampart scandal being a fraud? from just one officer, and administrators tried to frame the three officers, and the city paid the officers a settlement?

By anon36109 — On Jul 09, 2009

The "scandal" as you call it finally ended on June 30, 2009 when the city of Los Angeles paid 3 ex-Rampart officers the $20 *million* settlement awarded them by a federal judge. Raphael Perez, the cop who started this mess, failed 3 polygraph exams and lied *about everything*. By the time Chief Parks, the city council, and the DA found out about his deceit, it was too late. Instead, they decided to try and send three honest cops, Ed Ortiz, Brian Liddy, and Don Harper to prison. That failed. The now ex-cops sued in federal court and won. Federal Judge Carney ruled that the city of LA and LAPD *violated the Rico statute* in their treatment of these officers. That gave Carney the option of *tripling* a $15 million dollar settlement! Luckily for the poor LA taxpayers, he didn't. This experience was never a "scandal", just a corrupt cop lying to save his butt and doing such a good job at it that his department and the DA's office believed him.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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