California AG Pulls LAPD Gang Records From Statewide Database

Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown LA. (Courthouse News photo / Nathan Solis)

(CN) — After finding Los Angeles police officers submitted false reports to a statewide gang database, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday revoked police agencies’ access to records generated by the LAPD and has asked state lawmakers to reform the program.

CalGang is estimated to contain profiles of at least 80,000 California residents — the majority of them people of color — suspected of having gang affiliations.

Police accountability activists and advocates for youth of color have urged lawmakers for years to reform CalGang, saying the program increases the likelihood of residents being wrongfully criminalized.

According to a bulletin Becerra posted statewide Tuesday, police agencies are now barred from accessing CalGang records produced by LAPD officers — representing more than a quarter of the program’s data — and are urged to internally audit the accuracy of their inputs into the database.

Becerra’s move comes after LAPD Chief Michel Moore permanently withdrew from CalGang after an internal audit confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that officers had wrongfully classified residents as suspected gang members without reasonable suspicion.

Becerra said in a statement his office has proposed reforms to CalGang and is awaiting approval of the changes by the state’s Office of Administrative Law.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: CalGang is only as good as the data that is put into it,” Becerra said. “If a quarter of the program’s data is suspect, then the utility of the entire system rightly comes under the microscope. Public safety tools must provide a real benefit to the public and withstand the durability test of constant scrutiny.”

In February, Becerra said his office would investigate LAPD’s participation in CalGang after publication of the LA Times story, which said LAPD’s Metropolitan Division officers falsified interview cards during traffic stops by saying residents belonged to gangs.

The officers’ misconduct came to light after a San Fernando Valley mother told LAPD supervisors that her son was misidentified as a gang member after an encounter with police.

After an internal investigation by the LAPD, which included a review of involved officers’ body-worn camera video, the department removed the boy’s profile from CalGang.

Criminal charges are now pending against at least three LAPD officers who entered false reports into CalGang.

Becerra said Tuesday his office’s probe of LAPD’s use of CalGang is active and ongoing.

LAPD Chief Moore did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new policy.

Becerra said Tuesday’s action is taken under authority granted by 2017’s Assembly Bill 90, which transferred oversight of CalGang to the California Department of Justice.

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