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LAPD may change the way it deals with racial profiling complaints


Andres Aguila/KPCC

The Police Commission is expected to approve changes to the way the department handles racial profiling complaints.

The Los Angeles Police Commission will take up a proposal Tuesday to change the way the department handles accusations of racial profiling. That issue continues to plague police departments around the country.

Go back a decade, and the LAPD had little idea how to handle racial profiling – now called "biased policing" – to encompass other sorts of discrimination complaints.

"Some people said, 'How can you get into an officer's mind?,'" said Commander Richard Webb, head of the Internal Affairs Group at LAPD, which now investigates such complaints. 

Webb says the department had no standard procedure for figuring out whether an officer, say, stopped a car because the driver was a certain race. The temptation was to look at statistics, but the expertise wasn't there, and there was no national consensus on how to even use such statistics.

"So what we started looking at was the constitutional implications of that stop," Webb says. "For example, was the stop legitimate, what were the officer's actions after the stop, did they search people."