An audit of the Los Angeles Police Department’s gang unit found several instances when investigative stops or searches of suspected gang members last summer appeared to be legally unjustified or outside of LAPD policy.
The majority of the officers’ conduct, often recorded on body-worn video reviewed by the auditors, was within policy and lawful.
The new report, prepared by the Inspector General, the investigative arm of the civilian Board of Police Commissioners, is set for discussion at a public meeting Tuesday.
The report said the Office of the Inspector General examined a sample of 91 stops made by LAPD Gang Enforcement Detail, or GED, officers during July and August 2018 and examined whether or not the stops were reasonable and justified. The audit also looked at whether follow up searches of persons or cars were reasonable and justified.
The report said there was more information available to reviewers than ever before because of the LAPD’s widespread use of body-worn cameras and a new state law that requires all officers to collect data on people detained and searched.
“This is the first instance for which each officer has been equipped with body-worn video,” the report said. “As such the OIG had significantly more information from which to conduct its review than was available in previous reports.”
The GED audit showed the officers stopped 11,673 people citywide in the course of 8,246 stops during July and August last year. During this two-month period, gang officers stopped 4,576 people described in data as “Black/African American,” 6,273 people described as, “Hispanic/Latino,” and 513 people described as, “White.” Two-hundred ninety nine other people stopped were listed as Asian, Middle Eastern, Multi-Ethnic, Native American or Pacific Islander.
The 91 audited stops were drawn from this pool of data.
The Inspector General, Mark P. Smith, said last week he was preparing a companion report on the activities of the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division officers, who are often dispatched to areas with violent or unusual crime trends to do, “proactive,” patrols. The Metro report from the OIG is expected in the second half of 2019.
The Los Angeles Times said in a report Metro officers had stopped a disproportionate number of black motorists in comparison to the overall ethnic makeup of the population, based on the Times’ analysis of some statistical data.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who announced with Mayor Eric Garcetti that the violent crime rate had been reduced in 2018, declined to say whether he believed the proactive policing techniques of Metro officers had some connection with the stop data cited by the Times.
“I think it needs much more discussion,” Moore said last week.