Twenty years after a video of officers kicking and clubbing motorist Rodney King made the Los Angeles Police Department the poster child for police abuse, residents and community activists say the department has turned a corner.
A succession of police chiefs – most notably William Bratton – have made reform a top priority. Eight years of federal oversight helped clean up the department. And the changing demographics of the LAPD – 37 percent white, compared with 59 percent in 1992 – has changed the character of the force, many say.
There are signs of slippage, some say, such as a reluctance to reprimand officers who were found by a commission to have killed or wounded people unjustifiably. But on a 20th anniversary bus tour of the riot areas Tuesday – organized by Operation Hope, which was formed in the wake of the riots to expand economic opportunity in underserved communities – the notes were universally positive.