Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums

Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums
Abbreviation CRASH
Lapdcrash jpg w300h265.jpg
Patch of the Los Angeles Police Department CRASH division
Motto "To Protect and to Serve"
"We Intimidate Those Who Intimidate Others"
Agency overview
Formed 1977
Dissolved 2000
Superseding agency LAPD Gang and Narcotics Division
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Los Angeles in the state of California, United States
Size 498 sq mi (1,290 km²)
Population 3.8 million
Legal jurisdiction City of Los Angeles, California
General nature
Operational structure
Police Officers Approx. 300
Parent agency Los Angeles Police Department
Facilities
Areas
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, usually known by the acronym C.R.A.S.H., was an elite, but controversial special operations unit of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was established by then-chief Daryl Gates to combat the rising problem of gangs in Los Angeles, California. Each of the 18 LAPD divisions had a CRASH unit assigned to it whose primary goal was to suppress the influx of gang-related crimes in Los Angeles that came about primarily due to the increase in narcotics trade.[1][2]

In addition to gang-related crime prevention, CRASH officers also had to obtain information about a specific gang that was assigned to them and relay that information between districts.[2] The CRASH officer's "freedom of movement and activity" and "gung-ho" nature has led some of them to incite controversy among themselves and the whole CRASH unit.[3]

In March 2000, CRASH was gradually diminished and replaced with a similar anti-gang unit. This unit's minimum requirements for enlistment are higher than was CRASH's, requiring recruits to have a sufficiently high amount of experience and a low number of personnel complaints.[4][5] Major categories of crime offenses and attempted crimes in 2000 in Los Angeles increased over those of the previous year, when CRASH was at full staff.[6] In the 1980s, gang violence began to increase dramatically as a result of the drug trade (specifically the introduction of crack cocaine).

Contents

Operation Hammer

Operation Hammer was a CRASH-led initiative that began in 1987 to crack down on gang violence in South Central Los Angeles. As a result of increasing gang violence and a drive-by killing resulting in the deaths of seven people, then-Chief of Police Daryl Gates responded by sending CRASH officers to arrest suspected gang members. At the height of this operation in April 1988, 1,453 people were arrested by one thousand police officers in a single weekend. While considered successful by some, this operation and the LAPD were maligned with accusations of racism; some believed that Operation Hammer heavily employed racial profiling, targeting African-American and Hispanic youths that were labelled as "urban terrorists" and "ruthless killers." However, proponents of the operation counter that it was not discriminatory as each gang member arrested had warrants for their arrests.

Rampart CRASH scandal

Every LAPD patrol division had a CRASH unit stationed in it. One of the most prominent CRASH units was stationed in the Rampart Division.

On February 26, 1998, CRASH officer Brian Hewitt from Rampart was suspended and later stripped of his job when allegations arose of a cover-up of the beating and asphyxiation of an 18th Street gang member. Officer Brian Hewitt was accused of choking the gang member in an interview room when the suspect refused to provide evidence of gang activities. When the gang member reported his beating at a hospital, evidence, including blood in the interview room, implicated Hewitt who was terminated at a Board of Rights hearing.

In August 1998, the same month that Chief Bernard Parks claimed that the Christopher Commission reforms were "essentially complete", officer Rafael Pérez, a nine-year veteran of the department, was arrested on charges of stealing six pounds (≈three kilograms) of cocaine from LAPD's Property Division. Pérez was initially tried on one count of possession of cocaine for sale, grand theft and forgery each. After a mistrial on December 7 of that year, more reports of cocaine theft by Pérez arose. In September 1999, in exchange for partial immunity from prosecution, he testified about a pattern of abuse and misconduct that threatened to overturn thousands of criminal convictions, accusing about seventy fellow CRASH officers.

As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division's anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.[7]

As of May 2001, the Rampart investigation had brought 58 officers before an internal administrative board. Of these, 12 were suspended, seven resigned, and five were terminated.[8]

These events are sometimes referred to as the Rampart scandal. The State Librarian, Kevin Starr, in discussing this sordid episode, wrote that "CRASH ... became, in effect, the most badass gang in the city."[9]

Media references

  • The 1988 film Colors, starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, revolved around the LAPD C.R.A.S.H. unit.
  • The video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas depicts corrupt officers of the fictional "Los Santos Police Department" as members of the C.R.A.S.H. unit.
  • The cable channel FX's series The Shield centers on a corrupt police unit named the Strike Team, modeled after the Rampart Division's CRASH unit. One of the names originally considered for the show was "Rampart."
  • The exteriors of the Rampart Station were featured in the 1960s television show, Adam-12.
  • Rapper Xzibit mentions the "Crooked ass cops from the Rampart District" on the song "Multiply".
  • Rapper The Game mentions the Rampart scandal in a song called "Start from Scratch" from his album, The Documentary.
  • The films Cellular (2004) and Dirty (2005) were inspired by the Rampart scandal, while Training Day (2001), written before the incident, was modified to include elements from the scandal.
  • In the Special Features section on the DVD version of Cellular, there is a segment on the Rampart scandal called "Code of Silence."
  • Underground hip hop emcee Murs mentions his local C.R.A.S.H. unit in the song "Last Night".
  • In the PC game Police Quest IV the player has to solve the murder of the main character's best friend who is a C.R.A.S.H. officer.
  • Rapper and Rollin 60s Crip member Nipsey Hussle mentions the CRASH cops in many songs

References

  1. ^ "Gangs: Additional Resources". Los Angeles Police Department. http://www.lapdonline.org/get_informed/content_basic_view/23480. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b "CRASH Culture". PBS Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/lapd/scandal/crashculture.html. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  3. ^ "Interviews: Gerald Chaleff". PBS Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/lapd/interviews/chaleff.html. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  4. ^ "LAPD's Anti-Gang Unit is Disbanded Following Widespread Corruption Scandal". CNN. 2000-03-12. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0003/12/sm.01.html. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  5. ^ "Rampart Scandal Timeline". PBS Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/lapd/scandal/cron.html. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  6. ^ "Crime Statistics - Year 2000" (PDF). Los Angeles Police Department. pp. 2. http://lapdonline.org/inside_the_lapd/pdf_view/9109. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  7. ^ StreetGangs.com
  8. ^ PBS.org
  9. ^ Kevin Starr, Coast of Dreams: California On The Edge, 1990-2003 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 92.

External links


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