Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Thursday he hopes a Los Angeles Times report that a special police unit is pulling over a disproportionate number of African-American motorists sparks a broader conversation about how best to interpret the data.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’s concerned by the Los Angeles Times report and has ordered the police department to scale back vehicle stops.
Garcetti in a statement Wednesday said he wants Moore to prioritize other elements of the city’s crime-reduction strategy. That’s already happened, said Moore, who was sworn in as chief last June.
A Times investigation found that the police force’s Metropolitan Division officers deployed for crime-suppression in areas known for gun violence pull over black drivers at a rate well above their share of the population.
The data analyzed by the newspaper do not show why an officer pulled over a driver. The report does not contain information about whether a driver was searched, ticketed or arrested after the stop.
Moore said it’s important to note that the data cannot prove that the unit’s officers were engaged in racial profiling. If an officer only pulls someone over because he or she is black, that would warrant an investigation and possible disciplinary measures, he said.
Moore said he will meet with community members to discuss how police deployment along with gang intervention strategies and youth engagement programs have brought down street crime in South Los Angeles and other neighborhoods.
“Let’s sit down and talk so we can have a broader conversation and interpret this information in a proper context, and not jump to conclusions,” he said.
But, he added, “I’m not going to apologize for putting added police officers in areas with gun violence.”
The mayor has called for an audit of the unit’s traffic stops. A similar audit by the Police Department’s inspector general is already under way.