Racial Profiling: Much More Than A Phenomenon


“For purposes of clarity, data in this report is for calendar year 2009. In summary, statistical trends in biased policing investigations remain relatively unchanged. Biased policing continues to be a male white and Hispanic versus male African American phenomenon.”

BPC_10-0079 [click link to read quarterly report]


a rare or significant fact or event b plural phenomenons :

an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person, thing, or occurrence

–Merriam – Webster

The LAPD and many of its media allies have launched a vigilant publicity campaign to fix its image as a corrupt, racist, abusive and murderous institution.  As part of that campaign there was an all-out effort to rename things that were considered “hot button” issues, such as racial profiling now termed “biased policing”.  Over the past several years there has been a retrenchment of the LAPD policing themselves, with the full support of the civilian oversight committee, while in the throes of a Department of Justice Consent Decree attempting to undo that culture. Unbelievable but true.

The LAPD wanted nothing more than to end the Department of Justice’s consent decree–nobody wants strangers looking through their perpetual dirty laundry. In political circles the consent decree stained the image of a “transformed” LAPD.  However, that transformation is usually sold by placing the unapologetic racist Chief Gates on one end of the spectrum and the slick presentation of Chief Bratton as dedicated to community policing and building bridges with communities of color. But under either of these bookends, and those in between, there is a noxious mix of powerful peace officer unions, over-cooked crime stats, fear mongering, intense racial profiling, campaign contributions and political aspirations. All the more reason to get the feds out of their business quickly.

The community of Los Angeles, particularly Black and Brown communities, measures the supposed transformation in an altogether different way.  First, if you were to ask the average person in the neighborhood about the purported transformation you would most likely be laughed at and run out of the community. In our communities, unarmed people continue to be shot and killed; police brutality continues; racial profiling is a cultural norm; and the LAPD are still in the business of policing themselves. So you can only guess how the community feels about the self-reported transformation of the LAPD into this new color-blind institution.

The consent decree forced a number of reforms and successfully put in place safeguards to reduce evidence theft, rings of rogue cops running criminal enterprises, financial disclosure as an early warning system and a number of other things.  However, there was simply not any substantial effort or progress in stopping racial profiling. Year after year we were promised in-car cameras, only to hear later that technology or financial constraint would not allow it. Reports and investigation of misconduct complaints continued to favor officers with the lion’s share of complaints recorded as “unfounded.”

In reality it is not an easy task to reverse a violent and racist culture, fraught with civil liberties violations, that is constantly reinforced by training, hiring practices, indoctrination, and “head in the sand” tactics to absolve responsibility.  So instead of stopping racial profiling, or at least documenting any real progress, the LAPD Police Commission, led by Civil Rights Leader John Mack, and Chief Bratton just renamed it.

Last year, racial profiling in Los Angeles was removed as a category of complaint and replaced by the all-encompassing term Biased Policing. With that bit of word-smithing, racial profiling was removed as an issue for LAPD and its oversight Commission and the LAPD could tell a new story to the Department of Justice and the general public.   And tell a new story is exactly what they did.  That is, until somebody forgot to turn off that damn tape recorder and captured officers complaining about not being able to do their job WITHOUT racial profiling. LA Times November 14 2010 Justice Department warns LA to take a tougher stance on racial profiling ..


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