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Dec 2010
LAPPL Comments on Biased Policing

The following commentary was presented by Directors Tyler Izen and Kristi Sandoval to the Police Commission on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Protective League:

The LAPPL is concerned about the tone of the Inspector General's report, comments by Commissioners on biased policing and, the impact they will have on our membership.

The Chief, the Department and our members are committed to Constitutional Policing, strong civilian oversight provided by the OIG and the Police Commission, enhancing the overall quality of biased policing investigations, and reducing the number of biased policing complaints. The Inspector General acknowledged the Department’s progress and effectively endorsed their biased policing investigative process by only making training recommendations for additional improvement.

Unfortunately, the focus of the discussion has turned to the ever controversial adjudication of these exhaustive investigations. Our members are not guilty of biased policing and want to be told that the investigations have supported their assertions. On the other hand, complainants and others believe that biased policing occurs and will be no more satisfied with a “not resolved” finding than an “unfounded” finding.

Biased policing cases account for just four to five percent of external complaints made annually. Even after exhaustive investigations, the Inspector General was only able to recommend that one in ten biased policing complaints should be unfounded. In all other cases, the Inspector General recommended that the allegations not be resolved. Yet, nearly all of the cases simply involved a police officer stopping someone for a traffic violation and giving them a ticket. Case Number 9 is perfect example of where the Inspector General lost its compass.

That case simply involved a motorcycle officer who wrote an African-American woman a ticket for crossing against a crosswalk. She claimed she was given a ticket because she was Black while white violators were let go. Yet, this motorcycle officer was proven to have written thousands of tickets per year with only about 5% being issued to African Americans. Yet, the Inspector General cannot recommend that the claim of racial bias was unfounded?

The Department is spending millions of dollars a year on investigating claims of racial bias. Even with the extraordinary resources and commitment expended on these extensive investigations, not one allegation has been sustained. The Commission spends more time concerning itself with biased policing than it does with the murder rate or terrorist threats in the City. Our members are convinced that the Commission seeks a sustained allegation of biased policing. This is the environment in which Los Angeles police officers police the City.

Let me tell you what occurs when a police officer is accused of writing a ticket due to someone’s race. They are sat down in an interrogation room and read their Miranda rights like a common criminal. Then they are interrogated, often for several hours, on what they did when they simply wrote someone a ticket. It appears that Internal Affairs investigators, directed by the Commission and the Inspector General, will now make the officers defend themselves as to why they are not racists. This is the environment in which Los Angeles Police officers find themselves today.

While we support added training for Sergeants for the intake of complaints, we believe that the real solutions are found in preventing the biased policing complaints and addressing the divide between those who believe that biased policing occurs and our members who are serving the people of this city to the best of their abilities without any concern as to race, sexual preference, ethnicity, or gender.

We believe that one tool to support that goal is the concept of mediation. The LAPPL participated in talks with the Department and many community representatives on the concept of mediation of some of these complaints. Incredibly, the DOJ has said they do not support this concept. Why? Considering there has never been a sustained complaint in the Department or even in other jurisdictions with hundreds of biased policing complaints, mediation is the best alternative. We have a plan that is supported by the LAPD and even the ACLU. Only because of DOJ interference has the plan to handle racial bias complaints not been enacted. We call on the Commission to proceed with the concept.

That is the environment we would like Los Angeles police officers to work in.

We are at about 300 murders a year – too many yes – but considerably lower than in any time in recent history. That is in part because LAPD officers engage in proactive police work. The surest way to discourage proactive police work is to create a climate where police officers believe that bogus complaints, including complaints of racial profiling, will be sustained because political pressure demands some heads on a platter. The commission appears to be getting so desperate for a conviction that even not allowing the officers to refresh their memories by reviewing their own documents before being interrogated is being contemplated.

Mark my words – drive and wave – will happen if a climate is created by some on the Commission that leads officers to believe they will not get a fair hearing when a complaint is made. This is NOT in the best interest of the City.

Finally, let me say, we are proud of the work our officers do each and every day. It is motivated by an abiding interest in preserving public safety, not to satisfy some racial bias. We ask you join us, by both your words and actions, in supporting these hard working officers. Thank you for your time and attention.



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