LAPD Tries to Build Trust With Blacks & Latinos

By MATT REYNOLDS

lapd-sceneLOS ANGELES (CN) — A lengthy report on Los Angeles’ black communities’ distrust of police was the subject of an extended Police Commission meeting Tuesday on police bias.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill convened a rare City Hall meeting at which the board discussed the prevention of biased policing, which many citizens in the crowd described as racial profiling.

“What this report and survey documents is a serious and profound disconnect between Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles’ African-American communities,” McClain-Hill said.

McClain-Hill cited a finding in the survey that concluded that fewer than 50 percent of Los Angeles residents believe that police officers treat people of “all races and ethnicities” fairly.

The “Report of the Los Angeles Police Department on the Prevention and Elimination of Biased Policing” found that was a “perception” based on responses in more heavily policed areas and was “influenced, in part, by nationwide events.”

“Changing this perception takes time and commitment across all levels of the department,” the 143-page report states. It is dated Nov. 15, under the name of Police Chief Charlie Beck.

McClain-Hill asked the civilian watchdog commission to devote an entire meeting to police bias after residents voiced concerns over profiling. Meetings are usually held at the department’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

“This is 2016 and these concerns and issues about racial profiling, about implicit bias and bias policing, have been with us for a very long time,” McClain-Hill said. “Doing more of the same may not be enough.”

McClain-Hill, a black attorney, was appointed to the Police Commission in August. Chief Beck urged her not to place too much weight on the findings of the survey, which he said validated what the department already knew.

“To look at this survey as a lightning bolt that should turn the lights on for us is not the intent. The intent is for it to be a measurement … by which we can gauge progress,” Beck said.

During public comment, Black Lives Matter activist Melina Abdullah said racial profiling and violence against black people is not a “matter of thinking,” but of experience.

“Our perceptions are grounded in reality and we have to recognize that,” said Abdullah, a professor and chairwoman of Pan-African Studies at California State University-Los Angeles.

The LAPD surveyed more than 2,000 residents this year for the report.

While 74 percent of white residents, 71 percent of Latinos and 67 percent of Asians considered police officers honest and trustworthy, fewer than half of African-Americans surveyed viewed officers that way.

The numbers were starker when African-American residents were asked if police officers use force. Almost 31 percent of black residents surveyed agreed that officers use force only when absolutely necessary.

The report compares how Los Angeles addresses police bias compared to police departments in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas and New York.

The LAPD said it was diversifying the department with new hires, training, and using community policing programs to build trust.

The meeting came after Beck assured the public that he would not aid the Trump administration if the president-elect makes good on a campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I don’t intend on doing anything different,” Beck said Monday. “We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

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