LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles Police Department already collects data on police stops that is required under a newly signed state law aimed at curbing racial bias among law enforcement agencies, police Chief Charlie Beck said.
“Los Angeles has been collecting stop data which is very similar to what is in the new Assembly bill for the past dozen years,” he said, adding that the department last year recorded such data for about 800,000 stops.
Beck said the city may need to make changes to its data collection “in order to achieve all of the data points that the state wants, but we’re way, way ahead on this.”
The LAPD was required to begin collecting data on people stopped by police more than a decade ago as part of a federally mandated consent decree put in place amid investigations into excessive force.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires law enforcement agencies to record the perceived race or ethnicity of people they stop, the reason for the stop and the result of the encounter, such as whether any arrests were made.
The bill was championed by groups calling for better information for evaluating potential racial bias of police officers, and to curb police shootings of unarmed black men.
But the bill has also received criticism from police groups, which contend the law creates another layer of bureaucracy and adds menial tasks to the already busy schedules of police officers.
Beck said the data collection “can be done,” but the information gathered should be used properly.
“If the data is used correctly and examined in the right context, it will be helpful to law enforcement,” he said.
He said the data about the race or ethnicity of those stopped by police should not be compared to the overall population. Instead, “victimization rates, reported suspect identity rates, unemployment rates, housing rates” and other “broader context” issues also should be considered.
“There are a lot of areas of our society that have disparate impact on races, and I think it’s important we view these things in those contexts, and hopefully that is the way the state will look at those kinds of things,” he said.
Beck also said Los Angeles will now be able to determine how its statistics measure up to those of other agencies around the state, “so that’s significant.”