The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Van Nuys Community Station is located on the eastern side of the Van Nuys Government Center, a nondescript glass-and-concrete building with the public entrance on the second floor and windows recede inwardly from the structural design. It looks like it can handle almost any storm.
Well, a storm is here now, and it’s not coming from the public or Mother Nature. It’s coming from within the department itself.
Capt. Lillian Carranza, station commander, is set to file a “whistleblower” lawsuit against the department today, Nov. 9, through her attorney Gregory Smith.
Carranza has accused the department of underreporting its crime statistics, and claims she has been passed over for promotions after notifying superiors about her concerns.
As difficult as it can be at times for women to reach positions of authority and decision-making — not just in police work but also in agencies and corporations — Carranza certainly understands the potential consequences she faces from the department.
So does Smith. When asked if Carranza has put her career at risk by publicly making the accusations, Smith replied, “my experience with LAPD is that your job is in jeopardy if you blow the whistle.”
The attorney declined to comment further until the suit is filed.
Among Carranza’s allegations is that The Northeast Valley, like other parts of Los Angeles county, has had more violent crime than has been reported, including homicides and gang activity.
At a press conference held at Smith’s Beverly Hills office on Monday, Nov. 6, Carranza — who has already filed a damages claim against the city as a precursor to a lawsuit— said she has been alerting her superiors about discrepancies in violent crime rates for four years, and says she was passed over for a promotion because of it.
“This piece of deception was done specifically to fool the public and elected officials as to the true state of crime in the city of Los Angeles,’’ Carranza said. “The department then engaged in a highly complex and elaborate cover-up in an attempt to hide the fact that command officers had been providing false figures to the public, attempting to convince the public that crime had not significantly increased.”
Carranza said she began notifying her superiors in 2014 about the underreporting of crime in the Foothill area, which includes Pacoima, Sunland and Tujunga, but no action was taken, according to published media reports.
After assuming command of the Van Nuys station in 2015, she conducted her own analysis of violent crime reports stored in an LAPD database, according to the claim.
Aggravated assaults in 2016 were underreported by about 10 percent in the Pacific and Central divisions, according to the claim, which alleges that those cases were misclassified as less serious offenses.
A more recent analysis of the Hollenbeck and Mission divisions by Carranza also showed a 10 percent undercounting of aggravated assaults in 2017, according to her claim.
On Tuesday, Nov. 7, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck responded to Carranza’s claims.
“They’re not only lies, they’re damn lies,” Beck told reporters. “Both the department and the inspector general have looked into similar claims as this over the last several years and found no wrongdoing.”
Beck went on to say that the department’s numbers “are accurate,” saying the agency is continuously reviewing its figures to ensure they are correct.
“If I’m cooking the books, I’m not doing a very good job, because we are up a little over 4 percent in violent crime,” Beck said. “If I wanted to cook the books, believe me, we would not be up in violent crime.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing the department’s officers, issued a statement Tuesday in response to Beck’s comments.
“Chief Beck doth protest too much, the statement said. “In California’s criminal justice system, prior offenses are considered strikes and Chief Beck has accumulated two strikes by overseeing the manipulation of violent crime statistics and this latest allegation, if proven true, would make the chief a ‘three-striker.’
“It’s time for transparency and honesty to be the foundation of our department, not cooking the books to fool our elected officials and the public.”