LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The California Department of Justice will review the Los Angeles Police Department’s records and policies regarding the use of CalGang, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday.
The review comes after of reports that LAPD officers falsified field records used to identify possible gang members in a criminal intelligence database used by law enforcement agencies to share gang-related intelligence.
“You can’t make a regulation that stops people from blatantly lying or falsifying evidence, but you can introduce more mechanisms, robust mechanisms, for accountability,” Becerra said.
In light of those allegations, Becerra said the state DOJ will, at a minimum, conduct an independent audit and validation of CalGang entries by LAPD, review LAPD’s internal controls and policies to improve accountability for officers who use the CalGang system and observe the re-training of LAPD officers on the use of the CalGang system. Becerra said the oversight activities would be agreed to by the state DOJ and LAPD.
“If Californians are falsely included in the database, that can potentially lead to them being subjected to unwarranted scrutiny by our law enforcement agencies,” Becerra said.
Becerra also said that, depending on how the situation continued to unfold, the state DOJ might take further steps including revoking the department’s access to the database or issuing a letter of censure.
The LAPD said in a statement that it had been working closely with Becerra’s office regarding the allegations that certain officers falsified field reports that were later entered into the state’s gang database.
“The California Gang Database is a critical tool for law enforcement in its efforts to solve violent crime and any information entered must be accurate,” Chief Michel Moore said. “We are committed to holding anyone who falsified information accountable and will also fully cooperate with the State Attorney General office.”
Earlier this year, the LAPD said that at least one person had been erroneously identified as a gang member by an officer who allegedly falsified field reports.
Following review of the incident, LAPD reversed the individual’s gang member designation and began an investigation into the actions of three officers. The probe later expanded to more than 20 officers of the Metropolitan Division.
Late last month, Moore moved to fire one of the original three officers after concluding that the officer had acted in a serious violation of department policy and sent the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges.
Moore also said that, as a precaution, it had ordered retraining for a wide range of personnel before implementing more stringent criteria for the collection of information associated with the CalGang system.
Becerra said the investigation was ongoing and the state DOJ would determine whether additional oversight and enforcement measures were necessary.