LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – The number of shootings by Los Angeles police officers has almost doubled since last year, according to the Los Angeles Police Commission’s president, who is calling for changes.
Matt Johnson said there were 23 officer-involved shootings last year. This year, there are 45 so far, which he calls an “alarming development.”
“The LAPD, like police departments across our country, is facing a crisis of confidence with minority communities, particularly African Americans,” Johnson said during a police commission meeting Tuesday. “As a result of both real and perceived racial disparities in policing, there are deepening wounds in Los Angeles and cities across the country.”
Tensions at the meeting eventually boiled over as some members of Blacks Lives Matter L.A. raised their voices in response to Johnson’s sobering words.
“I believe we can work toward vastly reducing the number of use-of-force incidents through extensive training and modifying our tactics,” Johnson said.
He wants a report detailing the past 10 years of shootings within the LAPD and how they compare with other law-enforcement agencies.
Johnson also suggested reviewing the department’s use of non-lethal weapons, such as stun guns and beanbag guns, during interactions with suspects carrying knives or other weapons that are not firearms.
He asked that a final draft of the reporting format be presented to the commission in 30 days. He called on the Office of the Inspector General to monitor and report back on the effectiveness of police training programs and to create an audit plan for the department’s use of body cameras.
Johnson said these steps “will be tools to guide us on how and where we can improve the department.”
Members of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles said police could speed up the healing process by reaching deeper into the community.
“Coming into the church. Doing more things with the youth. Just involving the parents,” church member Marla Duarte-Washington said.
She said the negative image of police on social media is having an impact on kids. “My daughter, she’s only 7, and she knows all police are not bad. But everything on social media doesn’t make it any better.”
Fellow commissioners and Chief Charlie Beck support Johnson’s proposals. Beck said he has been guiding the department in the same direction outlined under Johnson’s proposal, and that it is “very heartening to see the commissioner and I share a vision of what needs to happen.”