City News Service

LAPD Captain Accuses Department of Underreporting Crime Statistics

A Los Angeles Police Department captain has accused high-ranking members of the force of misclassifying violent crime and misleading the public about the true state of lawbreaking in the city, it was reported Monday.

Capt. Lillian Carranza, who oversees the LAPD's Van Nuys station, alleged in a claim filed against the city last week that she began notifying superiors in 2014 about the underreporting of crime in the Foothill area, which includes Pacoima, Sunland and Tujunga, but no action was taken, the Los Angeles Times reported.

After assuming command of the Van Nuys station in 2015, she conducted her own analysis of violent crime reports stored in an LAPD database, according to the an eight-page claim of the type that typically precedes a civil court lawsuit.

Aggravated assaults in 2016 were underreported by about 10 percent in the Pacific and Central divisions, according to the claim, which alleges that those cases were misclassified as less serious offenses.

The LAPD, according to Carranza's complaint, ''engaged in a highly complex and elaborate coverup in an attempt to hide the fact that command officers had been providing false crime figures to the public attempting to convince the public that crime was not significantly increasing.''

More recent analysis of the Hollenbeck and Mission divisions by Carranza also showed a 10 percent undercounting of aggravated assaults in 2017, according to her claim, The Times reported.

The LAPD did not comment on Carranza's allegations, citing the pending litigation. But in a statement cited by The Times, LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein touted the accuracy of its crime statistics and the development of a special unit that scrutinizes its data.

"When errors are found, records are corrected and additional training and other corrective action is taken,'' Rubenstein said. "Integrity in all we say and do is a core value for the department and any accusation related to the accuracy of our reports will be taken very seriously and investigated as a potential disciplinary matter.''

Carranza lodged multiple complaints about the data discrepancies and in September was told by a supervisor that she would not receive a promotion to commander because she was ''meddling into others' business,'' according to the claim. She is seeking damages for lost wages and pension money from missing the promotion as well as for emotional distress and unspecified physical injuries.

The allegations come after a 2014 Los Angeles Times investigation found that the LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013. If recorded correctly, the figures for aggravated assaults in the yearlong period would have been nearly 14 percent higher, The Times found.

The newspaper also found that from 2005 to fall 2012, the LAPD misclassified an estimated 14,000 aggravated assaults as minor offenses, artificially lowering the city's violent crime rate.

After The Times' reports, a 2015 audit by the LAPD's inspector general estimated the department misclassified more than 25,000 aggravated assaults as minor incidents from 2008 to 2014.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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