LAPD suspends use of CalGang database months after announcing probe of officers accused of falsifying information

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LAPD motorcycle officers drive past protesters during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd on June 6, 2020. (Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images)

LAPD motorcycle officers drive past protesters during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd on June 6, 2020. (Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Police Department on Friday suspended its use of the CalGang system, a much criticized statewide database of individuals authorities deem to be gang members.

LAPD announced the moratorium six months after disclosing its investigation of at least 20 officers accused of framing innocent people while assigned to patrol neighborhoods in South L.A. They allegedly placed incorrect data about individuals they questioned into the database to boost statistics.

In February, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office has opened a probe into the case.

“Based on recent audits and ongoing complaint investigations, the accuracy of the database has been called into question,” LAPD said in a statement. “To strengthen community trust and avoid any adverse impact on individuals, particularly in communities of color, the Department will no longer use this resource.”

Only the CalGang system administrator can access the database for the sole purpose of removing names that authorities “erroneously” entered into the system, according to LAPD.

The Police Department said it made the decision in conjunction with the L.A. Board of Police Commissioners, a panel that provides civilian oversight to the agency.

LAPD did not provide any updates on the continuing investigations of the alleged abuse by officers.

After Becerra announced the state’s investigation of LAPD in February, Chief Michel Moore said the CalGang system was a “critical tool” and that “any information entered must be accurate.” He vowed to cooperate with Becerra’s office.

State data from 2018 shows LAPD entered more than 20,500 people into the CalGang database, the L.A. Times reported. That’s more than 20% of the names in the system— the most from any other law enforcement agency in California.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other advocacy groups have argued that officers too often incorrectly label people of color as gang members based on their neighborhoods, clothes and tattoos.

LAPD suspended use of the CalGang database as recent killings by officers in Southern California and across the U.S. incited a growing demand for reform in law enforcement.

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