SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Community members in South Los Angeles were outraged Monday after learning several officers with the Los Angeles Police Department who patrol their community were accused of falsifying field interview cards during stops and wrongly portraying people as gang members.
“Corruption has been going on in L.A. for a long, long time,” Frost Mack, a South L.A. resident, said.
LAPD has placed three officers on leave, but more than a dozen were under investigation, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
“I think it’s wrong,” Ana Torres, a South L.A. resident, said. “And it’s good they investigate each case, not just one, but each case.”
It all began early last year when a San Fernando woman received a letter from LAPD informing her that her son had been identified as a gang member. Believing it was a mistake, she contacted LAPD. When the department reviewed video from an officer’s body-worn camera, they found it did not match what the officer reported and the woman’s son was removed from that list.
“I’ve been hearing stories like this from clients, from people who’ve been added to the gang database for years,” Sean Garcia-Leyes, an attorney with the Urban Peace Institute, said. “Ineffective over-broad gang suppression strategies are ineffective safety strategies. They can actually be counterproductive.”
According to the LAPD Internal Affairs Division investigation, all officers involved were assigned to Metropolitan Division crime suppression duties at the time of the reports. The officers involved were assigned to inactive duty or removed from the field as the investigation continues, according to LAPD.
Police Chief Michel Moore issued a statement Monday that said, in part:
“An officer’s integrity must be absolute. There is no place in the Department for any individual who would purposely falsify information on a Department report.”
The Department was said to be working with the Justice System Integrity Division of the L.A. County District Attorney’s office on any potential criminal charges that might arise from any misconduct.
Community members said they wanted to see change in order to restore their confidence in the LAPD.
“You can regain the trust,” Mack said. “But this time, when you regain it, try to keep it.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League said it was confident Moore would oversee a fair and thorough process to determine the facts.