NPR logo LAPD Report Finds Racial Disparity In Approval And Trust Of Police

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LAPD Report Finds Racial Disparity In Approval And Trust Of Police

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck at a news conference in October. Nick Ut/AP hide caption

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Nick Ut/AP

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck at a news conference in October.

Nick Ut/AP

A report released by the Los Angeles Police Department on biased policing found the city is not alone in failing to follow up on accusations of unfair profiling by its officers.

It was requested by the city's five-member civilian police commission in September after the department released documents showing the LAPD had upheld none of the 97 allegations of racial profiling by its officers in the first half of 2016.

The Los Angeles Police Department is the third-largest municipal police force in the U.S., with about 9,900 sworn officers. It serves about 3.9 million people, according to the report.

The report, titled Prevention and Elimination of Biased Policing, was dated Nov. 15, but was released last Friday after Mayor Eric Garcetti requested residents be allowed to review it before a meeting of the commission on Tuesday.

The report begins by acknowledging that:

"While the Department has significantly improved over the past decades, there is much work to be done to maintain and improve the level of public trust that is so essential for effective policing, especially with communities that have been subjected to historical discrimination and disadvantage."

It goes on to compare the LAPD to police departments in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Washington, D.C., San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Philadelphia.

The report found only three of the departments — in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle — have "confirmed procedures specifically used for biased policing investigations."

Moreover, only three of the departments studied — San Diego, San Jose and Washington, D.C. — ever disciplined an officer over an allegation of racial profiling during the years for which data is available, which in most cases goes back to 2012.

The report also summarized the findings of a survey conducted earlier this year which asked about 2,000 adults living in the city about their fear of crime, their trust in police and their satisfaction with police services.

That survey found the majority of Los Angeles residents strongly or somewhat approve of the LAPD's work, but that the percentage of black people who disapprove (about 32 percent) was significantly higher than the rate among white people (about 14 percent).

Asked whether LAPD officers "treat people of all races and ethnicities fairly," nearly 60 percent of black people disagreed with the statement, nearly twice the rate of white people.

In a rare move, the civilian police commission for Los Angeles devoted its entire weekly hearing on Tuesday to the findings of the report.

The hearing was held at Los Angeles City Hall to make room for members of the public who wished to hear comments from community organizations the commission had invited to express opinions about the findings in the report.

At the hearing, Police Chief Charlie Beck called for the survey to be replicated before reforms are made based on the results.

"These results are important to us," he said, but added he needed more information "to see whether meetings like this, to see if programs such as community safety partnership ... to see whether that makes a difference. As a baseline, it's hard to judge this because its the first of its kind."

Multiple representatives of community groups spoke during the hearing, and many of the comments addressed people's personal experiences interacting with officers.

"LAPD needs to change their reputation in my community," 19-year-old Alfonso Aguilar of South Los Angeles told the commission.

When he first arrived at the hearing, Aguilar was "so nervous to enter a room with so many police" he walked out and splashed water on his face, tweeted Kate Mather, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who spoke to Aguilar after the hearing.

The Los Angeles chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization posted a video on Twitter of people shouting "no justice, no peace" outside the room where the hearing was held.