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California Calls Local Police Corrupt

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Maywood Police Department hired cops with criminal records and its officers committed "gross misconduct and widespread abuse," the California Attorney General's Office said after a 16-month investigation. Attorney General Jerry Brown released a 30-page report that found the Maywood Police routinely used excessive force, lacked probable cause for arrests, and operated with almost no oversight.

The report found that in September 2006, a young man was beaten and repeatedly shot with a Taser while handcuffed after he asked an officer for his badge number. He asked for the number after seeing the officer assault another man. Officers also beat the young man's father after he yelled at them for assaulting his son, according to the report.

A former Maywood officer told investigators that his training officers told him that when he saw someone walking down the street he should "brace them," (stop, confront aggressively and search them). Probable cause was of no concern, the former officer said.

The interview was one of 64 conducted with sworn officers, city officials, and civil rights attorneys in an effort to expose corruption in the Maywood force.

The investigation uncovered evidence supporting allegations of sexual assault. In May 2008, a Maywood officer was charged with sexually assaulting three women while on duty. He allegedly detained the women without justification.

In February 2009, after a preliminary hearing, the officer was held to answer for 17 felony counts related to the assaults. The case is pending.

Investigators also found that Maywood cops stopped drivers without cause and impounded their vehicles. Between February 2002 and April 2007, the department towed and impounded some 17,773 vehicles. The report also indicates that the department discouraged the public from filing complaints by refusing to provide the forms.

The investigation was launched in response to a 2007 request by then-Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez. Attorney General Brown offered a 12-point plan that provides the city with guidelines for reform.

The investigation was headed up by Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Verdugo, and Joe Brann, former Director of the COPS Office under President Clinton.

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