Over a three-year period from 2012 to 2014, the Los Angeles Police Department faced 1,356 allegations of biased policing — i.e., racial profiling — by its officers.
That isn’t the surprising part of this story, though.
The surprising part is that the LAPD “investigated itself,” as the New York Daily News put it, and decided that every single charge should be cleared.
The LAPD, as the Los Angeles Times reported, is a more diverse police force than many others throughout the country. Nevertheless, it has “long wrestled with allegations of biased policing,” and these allegations are difficult to prove because it’s virtually impossible in most cases to know exactly why a police officer decides to stop an individual.
Phillip Atiba Goff, the president and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, told the L.A. Times that allegations of “biased policing” typically need a substantial amount of data to support the claim and to show a “pattern of behavior.”
One might think that those 1,356 reports would provide quite a bit of data to identify possible patterns in police behavior — but all of those reports were discarded immediately after being filed because the department decided that they were not valid enough to be upheld and investigated.
In other words, it’s becoming clearer that racial tensions between civilians and police officers have been brewing for years — and it’s not just clear to those civilians who have been on the receiving end of the discriminatory behavior.
Americans across the country are hearing about muddled reports of bad policing, and this news spreads like wildfire once it hits social media with a catchy hashtag. People already turn to the internet when they need information — it’s estimated that there are around 12 billion searches online in the U.S. alone — so it’s never been easier to uncover and share information that was successfully buried years ago.
It’s not clear how the LAPD plans to remedy the current situation (if it can at all). But one thing is certain: it definitely will not be able to cover up 1,356 “biased policing” reports ever again.