LAPD Chief Charlie Beck defended his officers in the face of a new report showing an increase in LAPD shootings. There are conflicting explanations for the 63 percent increase in 2011. Ted Chen reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 3, 2012.
Although police have attributed last year's increase in officer-involved shootings to an increase in assaults against police officers, a new report calls into question the department's methodology.
Alex Bustamante, inspector general for the Police Commission, brought his findings (PDF) to the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday.
The department, Bustamante found, had inconsistently reported the way assaults against officers and officer-involved shootings were counted.
In cases concerning assaults on police officers, the LAPD kept records by the number of officers present; but for officer-involved shootings, the LAPD kept records by incident, Bustamante said.
In the 17-page report's primary example, Bustamante cited "a single shooting incident" last year in which 15 officers had fired their weapons. Though the incident was only considered one officer-involved shooting episode, it was documented as 16 assaults against the police.
Beck's report (PDF), presented in February, argued that the number of attacks on officers last year rose from 158 to 193, a 22-percent increase (PDF). Meanwhile, Beck said, the number of officer-involved shootings rose from 40 to 63, a 58-percent increase.
Officer-involved shootings (OIS) refer specifically to cases where an officer resorts to the use of a firearm, according to the LAPD.
Beck has contested allegations that the department's record keeping was misleading.
"I take issue with the representation that any of the information given by the department is misleading," he said after Tuesday's weekly meeting with the Police Commission. "These are very complex interactions between the police and the public, and the complexity of those actions are not easily broken down into a large-frame statistical analysis."
In addition, Bustamante's report indicated that the frequency of assaults against officers may not be related to the frequency of officer-involved shootings.
Though the number of officer-involved shootings was the highest in the Southeast region in 2011, the number of assaults against officers in the area has decreased during the past two years, the report stated.
But Beck reaffirmed through his spokesman that "there is a relationship between some types of attacks on police officers and officer-involved shootings," according to a Monday article in the Los Angeles Times.
Bustamante's findings have prompted the LAPD to conduct a systemic review of its reporting procedures and take steps to improve their consistency.
The department will work with the Office of the Inspector General to "develop a standardized format for the reporting of statistics" on police use of force, and will bring its new format to the Police Commission for approval, Bustamante's report stated.
Bustamante's quarterly report -- the Office of the Inspector General's first -- was established after it was commissioned last March to issue regular reports reviewing the LAPD's use of force.