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LAPD officer stopped Hispanic drivers - report

March 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time in the LAPD's history, an internal investigation concluded that a motorcycle cop racially profiled Latinos and illegally stopped them based on their race.

Police departments across the nation deny racial profiling exists. That's why LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said his disclosure Tuesday was so significant.

Allegations of biased policing by citizens and civil libertarians were highlighted during the Rampart scandal and the federal consent decree that followed. Police Commissioner John Mack joined in the call for reforms.

"This is the Los Angeles Police Department, that's a 21st century police department. This is a major step in the right direction," he said.

Among the recent changes, officers must designate the race of a person ticketed. The information goes to a database that can flag suspicious patterns.

The officer who allegedly targeted Hispanics worked on a motorcycle in the west traffic division, according to the Los Angeles Times. However the LAPD will not confirm this because the officer has not yet had a Board of Rights hearing.

Beck says they investigate over 200 profiling complaints a year and more than 99 percent are unfounded. Still, he acknowledges that an officer's motivation in stopping someone is hard to pin down.

The officer in question is currently on paid leave. His hearing is set for August.

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