Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said it was not clear if recent reductions in violent crime in South Los Angeles are connected to concerns some of the officers dispatched to address those crime problems have been stopping and questioning a disproportionate number of black people.
"I think it needs much more discussion," Moore said Tuesday when asked by NBC4 if the two events were linked. "When we see enforcement strategies that we believe have positive impacts on lowering crime, particularly violent crime, we also have to always be mindful of the impact it has on the underlying community."
The LAPD announced this week that its efforts to reduce violence throughout the city had resulted in an 8-percent reduction in murders and a similar reduction in gang-related crime in 2018, when compared with 2017. One element of the Department’s strategy since 2015 has been the expanded use of Metropolitan Division or "Metro" officers, who, rather than responding to emergency calls in a particular neighborhood, are sent to the city’s trouble spots to address specific problems and crime trends.
Some Metro officers, according to a data analysis published by the LA Times, stopped and questioned black drivers at five times the rate of their ethnic share of the city’s residents. The Times report did not have data on why each person was stopped, the results of those contacts, or other factors that could put the activity in context.
Chief Moore said without that additional information, the Times report was incomplete. He said he feared it would lead to unwarranted distrust by the community.
“What is most concerning about this... is that we recognize that it can have in that discussion a very corrosive effect,” Moore said.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the board of police commissioners, Moore promised to fully investigate the issues raised by the Times report.
The Commission’s Inspector General, Mark P. Smith, said an independent audit of Metro officers' proactive policing techniques had already begun and would be published in the second half of 2019.