LOS ANGELES (AP) — The federal government has warned the Los Angeles Police Department to do more to combat racial profiling by officers, saying the LAPD’s investigations into the practice are inadequate.
In a letter to city and police officials, the U.S. Department of Justice cites a recording of two officers being dismissive of racial profiling complaints, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
When told that other officers had been accused of stopping a motorist because of his race, one officer responds, “So, what?” The second officer is heard twice saying that he “couldn’t do (his) job without racially profiling.”
The officers didn’t know they were being recorded.
Their comments spoke to a “perception and attitude of some LAPD officers on the street” and suggested “a culture that is inimical to race-neutral policing,” Justice officials found.
Chief Charlie Beck said the conversation is not indicative of widespread practices at the department. The Justice Department investigation is based on cases that predated strict investigative guidelines put into place last year, Beck said.
The LAPD remains under federal oversight on the issue.
“It is a huge leap to paint the entire department with that brush,” Beck told the Times. “And it is just not true. It’s not that type of department. We have a tough history that we must overcome and that takes time, but the vast, vast majority of Los Angeles police officers today police in the right ways for the right reasons.”
Beck said he was concerned about the recorded comments of the two officers, and said that a misconduct investigation was opened.
As many as 250 profiling complaints are filed every year, the Times said. Officers are accused of targeting a person solely because of his or her race, ethnicity, religious garb or some other form of outward appearance.
In the letter, the Justice Department expressed “continuing concerns about the overall quality of investigations of biased policing.” Federal officials criticized investigators for “going through the motions” and found they “simply take ordered statements from officers and then run down a checklist of required questions without following up on key points or asking fundamental questions one would expect.”
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