The California Department of Justice will be investigating the Los Angeles Police Department's use of a statewide gang member database following reports that officers were falsely framing innocent people as gang members, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday.
Becerra said that the LAPD's inputs into CalGang are "under the microscope" and it's still unclear how many people were erroneously listed as gang members.
Law enforcement agencies around the state contribute to CalGang, and the database contains tens of thousands of names.
Becerra could decide to revoke or suspend the LAPD's access to CalGang.
At least 20 people from the department’s elite Metro Division are being investigated on suspicion of falsifying interview cards from traffic stops across Los Angeles and then entering the false information into the database.
The investigation started last year when a mother reported that her son had been wrongly identified as a gang member. Officials then reviewed the officer's body camera footage and found that the interaction didn't match the information submitted.
“When anyone’s actions violate the rules that make this system work, we will hold them accountable," the attorney general said at a news conference Monday.
The LAPD is now required to to conduct detailed inspections of its CalGang records, develop new oversight procedures for what's being entered into it and re-train its personnel on the database's entry criteria, Becerra said.
In turn, California's Department of Justice will monitor the re-training sessions and conduct an independent audit of its CalGang entries, including a review of body worn camera footage obtained during traffic stops of people who were characterized as gang members.
LAPD has presented the case to county prosecutors for possible criminal charges and Chief Michel Moore said that he is seeking to fire one of three officers already suspended in connection with the allegations.
Following Monday's news conference, LAPD released a statement saying that the department has set stricter standards for entering information into the database, as well as required supervisory review of body worn video to corroborate the information.
“The California Gang Database is a critical tool for law enforcement in its efforts to solve violent crime and any information entered must be accurate," the chief said in a written statement. "We are committed to holding anyone who falsified information accountable and will also fully cooperate with the State Attorney General office.”
The department has placed more people on CalGang than any other law enforcement agency in California, according to an L.A. Times report. The paper also found that 65% of drivers stopped by LAPD Metro Division officers were African American.
The department said that it now has higher levels of review to make sure that people's requests to be taken off the database will be taken seriously.
"We all have a stake in making sure we get this right," Becerra said.
The attorney general said LAPD did not inform his office of its probe until after media reports surfaced, the Associated Press reported.