The enduring image of the Los Angeles Police Department--cops whaling away with nightsticks at a prostrate victim--was engraved on the nation's retina by the Rodney King beating in 1991. Greg Dossey's job for the past few years has been to reverse not just that image but the reality behind it as well. His efforts, along with some department-wide soul-searching, are paying off. There were 583 misconduct claims against Los Angeles police officers last year, about half the number recorded a decade earlier. Sixteen cases made it to court--by far the lowest number since 1980.

Dossey helped bring that about by initiating...

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