Crime statistics collected by the police can determine how many officers are in your neighborhoods. A Los Angeles Police Department captain has accused the department of "cooking the books," classifying some violent crimes as less serious offenses.
The chief of police called the accusations "lies."
On Friday, LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza, who is at the center of it all, spoke out to the NBC4 I-Team about why the issue affects communities across the city.
"I didn't want to air it out into the public," she said. "I just wanted it fixed."
Carranza said she has been warning the department of underreporting violent crime for years. Last week the 28-year veteran took legal action after she says she exhausted all internal channels to correct the reports.
"They are not only lies they are damn lies," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said. He called a news conference to dispute the captain's claims.
"When I heard what the chief said about me, it hurt me. It broke my heart," Carranza said.
The chief defended the department's crime numbers which have come under scrutiny before and led to the establishment of the "Data Integrity Unit" within the LAPD. It oversees the accuracy of crime reporting. A 2015 report by the inspector general found thousands of aggravated assaults were designated as minor incidents. A new classification system was created.
"We report regularly to the commission, 15 audits so far this year on aggressive assaults alone," Beck said.
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Carranza said she looked into the crime stats because she wanted to learn from other divisions who had low violent crime rates. So, she conducted her own analysis last year. She says she found aggravated assaults in some areas were underreported by 10 percent.
"It's a decision how we are going to run operations, how we are going to realign resources," Carranza said. She told NBC4 many incidents involving threats with a knife or gun were reported as nonviolent crimes without a weapon.
"For the individual that was stabbed yesterday or was shot or the people that live in that neighborhood or the business owner who is considering where they are going to open a new business or expand their business in a certain neighborhood it might make a difference," Carranza said.
Beck declined to comment further. A spokesman said the chief stands by his previous statements.
After bringing up the issue to superiors multiple times, Carranza claims in September she was told to quote "stay in your lane."
Carranza is seeking damages because she says this has cost her a promotion.
The chief says this is a personnel issue.