The California Department of Justice said Monday it would use its new authority to oversee the statewide Cal-Gangs database of gang members to audit recent entries from the Los Angeles Police Department, after it was revealed at least 20 LAPD officers were being investigated for allegedly submitting falsified data on innocent pedestrians and motorists.
NBC4's I-Team first reported in January that the LAPD had opened a large internal affairs investigation into the actions of the officers, who were suspected of submitting the fake reports to possibly boost their individual job performance statistics, a number of law enforcement sources said.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the LAPD had agreed to require additional reviews by supervisors before any new gang membership information was added to Cal-Gangs, and said his office would monitor retraining sessions for officers.
"The LAPD's inputs are under the microscope," Becerra told reporters at a news conference in downtown LA.
The Attorney General's office said it would inspect a sample of the LAPD's entries and review the department's internal controls for use and access to the Cal-Gangs system. Becerra said the LAPD could lose access to the database if misuse is found to be more widespread.
"As we learn more, we may need to do more," Becerra said. "We can, and will, take further steps as authorized under AB-90, including suspending or revoking LAPD's access to the Cal-Gangs database."
AB-90 was the bill that gave his office oversight of the system.
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The LAPD said it was cooperating with the review.
"We are committed to holding anyone who falsified information accountable," LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a prepared statement.
The officers under investigation are assigned to the LAPD's Metropolitan Division, which was rapidly expanded in 2015 and sometimes dispatched to address rising violent crime rates in certain neighborhoods with aggressive street patrols.
So far, Moore has referred one of the 20 officers to an internal administrative trial board for possible termination, and the results of a criminal investigation into the same officer's actions have been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for consideration of criminal charges.
At least 10 of the 20 officers were stripped of their police powers and assigned to home while the case was being reviewed, much of which involves internal affairs detectives comparing body-worn-video recordings to written reports and logs submitted by the officers.
Video recordings had shown officers filed accurate information "countless times," Moore said last month.
But, the chief added, "we have also found inaccuracies," that he said were in conflict with the physical evidence.