LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday he expects to make the first set of misconduct findings this week in the investigation into whether a group of officers falsified interview reports and labeled innocent drivers and pedestrians as gang members in law enforcement files.
"Not passed judgment on any one of these yet," Moore told reporters at a news conference held to discuss crime statistics for 2019. "I expect the first series of this investigation ... the first revolution of us moving to the adjudication to occur this week,” he said.
According to the city charter, Moore may impose certain discipline, such as short suspensions, directly if he finds the officers violated department policy. The Chief’s recommendation for more severe punishment would send the case to a secret, internal LAPD trial, called a Board of Rights, where longer suspensions or terminations could be imposed.
Local news from across Southern California
Moore also confirmed he believed the case could result in separate criminal charges for falsifying information on a department report. Already the investigative findings against at least one officer have been presented to the LA County District Attorney’s Office.
So far, 10 officers assigned to the Metropolitan Division have been assigned to home and stripped of their police powers - and another 10 Metro officers have been removed from field duty while the investigation is completed, Moore said.
NBCLA’s I-Team reported last week that the officers were suspected of filing field interview cards that described citizens as gang members, when, in fact, they were not. Those cards led to some of those individuals being added to law enforcement databases as identified gang members.
As many as 24 internal affairs investigators have been working the case, comparing entries on those officers’ interview cards and reports with body worn video recordings.
"Countless times," Moore told the LA Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday, those video recordings had shown officers filed accurate information, "but we have also found inaccuracies," that were in conflict with the physical evidence, and other instances were the records and the video were still unclear.
Moore told the Commissioners that as an interim measure another layer of supervisors in the department are reviewing body worn video anytime an officer submits an interview card that says a person admitted to being a gang member.
The officers under scrutiny are assigned to the Metropolitan Division, which was rapidly expanded in 2015 and dispatched to South LA to help address rising violent crime rates with aggressive street patrols.
The street patrols became the subject of complaints in early 2019 from the ACLU and 11 other community groups, after the LA Times reported that data collected in the LAPD's 77th and Southeast Divisions showed African American drivers were stopped, "at a rate more than five times their share of the population," by Metro Division officers. The Times noted the data alone was not proof of racial profiling.
Multiple law enforcement sources told NBCLA’s I-Team that prior to the media attention on the traffic stop statistics Metro Division officers had been pressured by their commanders to show that their patrols were productive.
Officers assembled daily statistics about the number of people they stopped and questioned, the number of contacts with gang members, the number of arrests, and other metrics. Each day's statistics was captured for analysis by LAPD executives, and the sources said officers were told, "the more gang contacts the better."