News accounts of the FBI’s arrest of multiple members of the Hollywood Police Department and its continuing investigation “targeting ongoing corruption within the Hollywood Police Department” were sad but certainly not surprising.
What is more disturbing is that even today, in light of those public revelations, there are some who refuse to publicly acknowledge what anyone who has ever been associated with the city or police department knows is true. The organization long ago began to allow its ethical compass to be slowly diverted from a true bearing by either endorsing or becoming apathetic to the types of threats, fear and intimidation tactics exemplified in these latest reports of alleged criminal activity.
I appreciate those of you familiar with my efforts to reform the Hollywood Police Department who have recently called or sent messages of “we knew you were right all along”. However, it is still disappointing when I reflect on the fact that we were well on our way to “changing the organizational culture” when we were prevented from completing our mission.
Make no mistake; there are many fine men and women who are members of the Hollywood Police Department. Each day they go to work and struggle to do their duty in an organization infected by a tradition of favoritism and the perceived ability of some to manipulate the political process and abuse their positions of authority to accomplish personal agendas up to and including racketeering, extortion, drug trafficking, bribe taking and other types of alleged criminal activities detailed in recent reports.
The die is cast against these good officers as a constant challenge to maintain their professional ethics. Some refuse to be manipulated. Some refuse to violate their principles of integrity. But all live in fear that they will become individual targets of vicious retaliation if they fail to turn a blind eye towards the types of serious problems that are systemic in the organizational culture of the Hollywood Police Department.
It is now eerily predictive to read excerpts of my letter submitted to the City Manager long years ago in 1998 announcing my intent to retire from the Hollywood Police Department:
“I have refused to be bullied. I have refused to be intimidated. And, I have refused to be threatened into doing something that is “wrong” by a group bent on maintaining a culture that will forever be to the detriment of our collective reputation as members of the Hollywood Police Department; past, present and future.
I have attempted, in every possible way, to sound the alarm inside each member of the Department as individuals. I have tried passionately to make them understand that they do have a personal vested interest in protecting the honor of our Department.
I hope that you will now see more clearly the importance of protecting your honor and integrity. In the final analysis, it is all that we have and it is an extremely powerful feeling to know that you have done “right” even in the face of overwhelming adversity.”