Amnesty International Team Opens Probe Here : Human rights: Fact-finding group will investigate allegations of brutality by LAPD officers and county sheriff’s deputies.
Representatives of Amnesty International, the worldwide human rights organization, arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday to begin an unusual, weeklong investigation into allegations of brutality in the Los Angeles Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s departments.
The three-member fact-finding team, dispatched from the organization’s international headquarters in London, is scheduled to begin meeting Monday with officials of the two police agencies, which have been under fire for a series of incidents involving alleged officer misconduct.
“What we’re hoping to do . . . is bring an international perspective to the issue” of police brutality, representative Anita Tiessen told reporters at Los Angeles International Airport. The group will be “looking at the scale and nature of police brutality allegations, and we’re going to be looking at what steps . . . might be taken to address the problem.”
Although Tiessen downplayed the significance of the visit, other Amnesty International officials said it is believed to be only the second time that the organization has chosen to review police tactics in a major American city. In the early 1980s, the organization initiated a similar review of police behavior in Chicago, one member said.
Besides meeting with police officials, Tiessen said the fact-finding team is expecting to confer with attorneys, civil-rights groups and members of the Christopher Commission, the panel that issued a scathing review of the Police Department after the beating by officers of Rodney G. King.
Police and sheriff’s officials said earlier that they have agreed to cooperate in the fact-finding mission, Tiessen said.
A report based on the meetings will likely be prepared during the next few months, she added.
Tiessen declined to divulge the team’s itinerary, or to say which officials would be interviewed. She also declined to discuss how the decision was made to come to Los Angeles nearly six months after the King beating, except to say that police brutality is an issue of worldwide concern.
In the past two months, increasing criticism has been aimed at the Sheriff’s Department because of at least four incidents in which deputies have shot and killed civilians.
Amnesty International combats not only terrorism and tyranny, Tiessen said, but it also delves into police brutality concerns. “It’s an issue--a human rights violation--that is (a problem) in virtually every country in the world.”
In the last year, the organization has investigated police brutality allegations in Austria, Brazil, India, Kenya, Turkey and the United Kingdom, she said.
“Coming to a city--whether it’s in the United States or any other country in the world--is a very regular part of our work,” Tiessen said. “It’s a very regular way of getting information.”