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LAPD may change the way it deals with racial profiling complaints

LAPD

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."

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LAPD investigation finds one of its own guilty of racial profiling

lapd motorcycle

Photo by jondoeforty1 via Flickr Creative Commons

A 15-year LAPD veteran was found to be targeting Latino drivers for traffic stops, an internal police investigation has reportedly shown. It's the first time the LAPD found one if its own guilty of racial profiling, says the L.A. Times.

Patrick Smith, who was reportedly relieved of duty during the investigation, worked solo on motorcycle assignment in the West Traffic division where he was found to be stopping Latinos "based on their race and deliberately misidentifying some Latinos as white on his reports, presumably in an effort to conceal the fact that the people he pulled over were overwhelmingly Latino," according to sources, the Times reports.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck signed off on the investigation's findings and Smith was ordered to a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing, the department will attempt to have him fired, said sources. A three-person board must hear the case and decide – the chief can not independently fire an officer.

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