Up to 20 LAPD officers are under investigation for false gang labels
LOS ANGELES — Up to 20 Los Angeles Police officers are under investigation for falsely identifying people as gang members, Chief Michel Moore said at a press conference Wednesday morning.
“This is something we need to dig into quickly, effectively with sufficient resources to understand the depth, breadth and extent of this. I’m confident that we have the right resources, that we have the right eyes, with the right oversight and I will have better answers for this community in the weeks ahead,” Moore said.
Earlier this month, three officers of the elite Metropolitan Division were suspended for falsely identifying individuals as gang members, the department said in a news release last week. The inaccurate documentation was intended to boost traffic stop statistics, LAPD officer Mike Lopez told CNN.
While 20 officers are believed to have some “inconsistencies in information,” so far only 10 have been suspended or had their police officer powers made inactive, Moore said.
The allegations against the division are still being investigated, Moore said, asking that judgement be withheld until the investigation is complete.
“We are aware of reports of discrepancies contained on a limited number of field interview cards that the department is looking into and we have confidence that Chief Moore will oversee a thorough and fair process to determine the facts, ensure that officers are accorded their due process rights and make sure that any valid mischaracterizations are corrected,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors said in a statement Wednesday.
The issue was first discovered when a mother reported to the department that a letter from the department mistakenly identified her son as a gang member, according to the department’s news release. The department found several falsifications in the document and initiated an investigation into the officers.
Over several months, internal investigators reviewed body camera footage and found inaccuracies in the field interview cards completed by several officers, the release said.
A Los Angeles Police Department source familiar with the matter told CNN the information written on some of the cards was “blatantly inaccurate” and expressed anger and frustration over the details of the case.
“Lying intentionally is a death knell to someone’s career but more importantly it negatively impacts the reputation of our department,” the source said, while also pointing to the injustice to those who were falsely labeled.
“Public trust is the foundation of community policing and the LAPD has zero tolerance for any employee that would violate that trust,” the LAPD said in the release. “The department is working with the Justice System Integrity Division of the L.A. County District Attorney’s office on any potential criminal charges that may arise from any misconduct.”