An internal investigation uncovered several officers within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) falsely identified innocent Californians in traffic stops as gang members in an effort to make their police work appear more successful.
A statement released Tuesday by the LAPD says that the investigation began in 2019 when a mother living in San Fernando Valley contacted the department after receiving word from the LAPD that her son was a gang member. A supervisor at a local station investigated body camera footage and other documentation gathered by an officer and found inconsistencies with the information provided. The department has not disclosed any other details about how the investigation began.
The woman's son's name was cleared and three officers were investigated as a result. An Internal Affairs investigation found that over a dozen officers assigned to Metropolitan Division crime suppression duties had falsified information on field-interview cards to identify non-gang members as belonging to gangs.
The offending officers were either "assigned to inactive duty or removed from the field," according to the statement.
"An officer's integrity must be absolute," said LAPD Chief Michel R. Moore in the statement released Tuesday. "There is no place in the Department for any individual who would purposely falsify information on a Department report."
Both the LAPD's traffic stops and California's gang database have faced scrutiny. The Los Angeles Times reports that nearly half of the drivers stopped by the division are black, despite blacks comprising only 9 percent of the city's population and the fact that such stops had a low arrest rate. The LAPD announced last fall that it would reduce the number of random stops due to the disparate impact on minorities.
Reason's Scott Shackford has also covered the gang database. In addition to its numerous privacy abuses and errors, an audit revealed that some gangs were added to the database without the proper documentation showing that they met the state's definition of a gang.