The number of Los Angeles Police Department officers accused of misconduct rose in 2019, though fewer officers were found guilty of policy violations or were punished, according to a new department report.
Officers suspected of driving while impaired rose three-fold over the previous year, and increases were also reported in categories of biased policing complaints, domestic incidents, and neglect of duty.
Chief Michel Moore and the head of the LAPD’s Professional Standards Bureau, often called ‘internal affairs, were expected to discuss the report at the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.
The report said 3,763 complaints were initiated against officers in 2019, up from 3,567 in 2018 and 3,217 in 2017. The number of allegations and the number of completed investigations do not always match because cases opened one year are sometimes not resolved until the following year.
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Fewer than 4-percent of the complaints made by members of the public were ‘sustained,’ or deemed valid. That’s the lowest rate of sustained complaints brought by the public in 3 years, the report said. Overall complaints, including those brought by the public and those initiated from inside the LAPD, were sustained or found to be valid in less than 10-percent of cases.
In the biased policing category, which tracks misconduct that include allegations of racial profiling, the Department found none of the 734 complaints filed in 2019 were valid. The LAPD deemed 494 similar complaints in 2018 invalid and 514 filed in 2017 invalid as well.
Thirty-six officers were accused of driving while impaired in 2019, up from 11 in 2018. Neglect of duty allegations went from none in 2018 to 1,566 in 2019, though some of the increase was due to re-categorizations of certain types of complaints, an LAPD official explained.
The report said 54 officers were accused of ‘domestic altercations’ in 2019. Twenty-five were accused in 2018. About one quarter of the complaints were validated in 2019.
As a result of the 524 sustained complaints in 2019, in which the LAPD determined the officer had violated policy, 138 officers were suspended as punishment and 16 were fired. Most other officers found guilty were given admonishments, official reprimands, or no penalty at all, the report said.
Body worn video recordings helped to clear hundreds of officers accused of misconduct. In cases closed as, “demonstrably false,” “unfounded,” or where the officer was exonerated, the LAPD said body worn video and patrol car video recordings assisted investigators in 2,134 misconduct cases.