LAPD Chief Orders Moratorium on Gang Database – NBC Los Angeles

on Jun20
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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore ordered officers late Friday to stop adding names or information to the statewide Cal-Gangs database of suspected gang members, six months after the NBC4 I-Team first reported that more than a dozen officers were under investigation for allegedly fabricating gang profiles of innocent citizens.

“Based on recent audits and ongoing complaint
investigations, the accuracy of the database has been called into question,”
Moore wrote in an internal memo obtained by NBC.

“To strengthen community trust and avoid any adverse impact on individuals, particularly in communities of color, the Department has enacted a complete moratorium on the use of the CalGang System,” Moore wrote.

CalGangs is an intelligence database managed by the
California Department of Justice and the office of the Attorney General. Entry
into its files does not have a direct effect on an individual, but the information
could be used by law enforcement as rationale for other action, and could
result in a person being detained or questioned unnecessarily.

The state Department of Justice announced in February it
would begin to “independently review” LAPD submissions to the
database, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said LAPD could
potentially lose access to the system if widespread problems were detected. It was
unclear Friday if such a determination preceded Moore’s announcement.

“As we learn more, we may need to do more,”
Becerra said in February. “We can, and will, take further steps as
authorized under AB-90, including suspending or revoking LAPD’s access to the
Cal-Gangs database.”

AB-90 was the bill that gave Becerra’s office oversight of
the system. The state is also in the process of revising and limiting the
criteria for when a person’s profile can be added to the database.

Moore told members of the Board of Police Commissioners earlier
this year that new layers of review would be added whenever individuals who
said their names had been improperly added to gang files petitioned to have
their names reviewed.

Moore said regional commanders would examine those requests,
rather than officers at a neighborhood patrol station, and a detective group would
manage all requests from the public to have names removed.

“This is a system that is in the process of adding
safeguards and additional controls and oversight to insure that the integrity
of the system of the California gang database is protected and maintained,”
Moore said.

At least 20 officers were placed under investigation by the
LAPD’s Internal Affairs Group detectives, who are checking whether or not
handwritten field interview cards submitted after contacts with the public
match up with recordings from body worn video cameras, especially in cases
where the cards reported an individual was a member of a street gang.

Data from the cards was entered into the Cal-Gangs state
database as well as a regional database, and Moore said in January more
supervisors would review each profile and checking body-worn-video before the
information is uploaded to the databases.

Moore said while many of those video comparisons validated
the officers’ reports, “…we have also found inaccuracies,” that were in
conflict with the physical evidence.

At least one of the officers suspected of filing falsified
FI cards was referred by Moore to an internal administrative trial, called a
Board of Rights, which could lead to the officer’s termination. Moore said that
same officer’s case has been presented to the LA County District Attorney’s
Office for consideration of criminal charges.

While the LAPD has not released the names of the officers
involved, prosecutors have confirmed the one file under review is for Braxton
Shaw, who was previously investigated in 2016 after his testimony in court
appeared to conflict with a video recording from a camera mounted in a patrol
car. No charges were filed in that case.

No criminal charges had been filed against Shaw as of the
close of business Friday.

Shaw and the other officers under investigation were
assigned to the “C-Platoon” of the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division. The unit was
rapidly expanded in 2015 and often dispatched to conduct street patrols in
areas that had experienced spikes in crime.

Multiple law enforcement sources told NBCLA’s I-Team that
Metro Division officers had been pressured by their commanders to show that
their patrols were productive.

Officers assembled daily statistics about the number of
people they stopped and questioned, the number of contacts with gang members,
the number of arrests, and other metrics. Each day’s statistics was captured
for analysis by LAPD executives, and the sources said officers were told,
“the more gang contacts the better.”

Chief Moore and other LAPD officials have denied there was
pressure to produce any particular type of statistics, and Moore has said the
motive behind submitting the alleged false reports wasn’t clear.

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