More than a dozen Los Angeles police officers are being investigated on suspicion of falsifying information they gathered during stops and wrongly portraying people as gang members.
Some of the officers who worked on special patrols in South Los Angeles have been removed from active duty, LA Times reported. They are suspected of lying on field interview cards during stops and inputting incorrect information about the people who were stopped in an effort to boost stop statistics.
All of the officers involved were assigned to the Metropolitan Division crime suppression duties at the time the inaccurate documents were completed, according to an LAPD statement issued Monday. “Given the serious nature of the alleged misconduct, all involved officers have been assigned to inactive duty or removed from the field,” the statement said.
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore reached out to some civic leaders in South L.A. on Monday. Overall, the Los Angeles population is 9 percent Black. South Los Angeles was 28.7 percent African American in the 2014 census and 61 percent Hispanic or Latino.
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To combat a rise in violent crime, the LAPD doubled the size of its Metropolitan Division in 2015, creating special units for high-crime areas.
Metro officers stopped African American drivers at more than five times their share of the city’s population, according to an LA Times investigation published in January. Nearly half the drivers they stopped were Black. This drove up the share of African Americans stopped by the LAPD overall from 21 percent to 28 percent since the Metro expansion, according to the analysis.
When the police search Black, Latino and Native American people, they are less likely to find drugs, weapons or other contraband compared to when they search white people, according to Open Justice.
Bryant Mangum told the Guardian that he has been pulled over by the LAPD about 30 times in the past few years. A father of three, Mangum lives in South Central Los Angeles and runs a startup that helps elderly people take out trash from their houses to the curb. He is also on the board of a nonprofit that helps parolees start their own businesses.
In the fall, the LAPD said it would drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles. Metro’s vehicle stops had proved ineffective, netting about one arrest for every 100 cars stopped, Moore said at the time. Innocent drivers felt they were being racially profiled. Instead of pulling over random vehicles, the 200 Metro crime suppression officers would instead track down suspects wanted in violent offenses and use strategies other than vehicle stops to address that, Moore said.
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The investigation started after a mother received written correspondence from the LAPD in early 2019 saying that her son had been identified as a gang member. Believing her son was misidentified, she reported the mistake to a supervisor at a nearby police station, LA Times reported.
The supervisor immediately reviewed the circumstances, including “body worn video and other information, finding inaccuracies in the documentation completed by an officer,” according to the LAPD.
The LAPD told the parent that any references to her son being a gang member were removed and he would not be identified as one. The LAPD then launched an internal investigation.
“In Los Angeles, “black people in particular, and Latinos, are fearful of the police and are constantly having their dignity compromised by unwarranted stops and searches”, said Alberto Retana, the CEO of the Community Coalition of Los Angeles, part of a new coalition called Push LA that wants to eliminate racial profiling.