LAPD challenges report suggesting racial disparity in arrest numbers

Thursday, August 3, 2023
LAPD challenges report suggesting racial disparity in arrest numbers
Responding to a city report that found Black and Hispanic/Latino people were arrested at a "disproportionate rate" between 2019 to 2022, the LAPD denied the numbers point to discriminatory practices.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Responding to a city report that found Black and Hispanic/Latino people were arrested at a "disproportionate rate" between 2019 to 2022, the Los Angeles Police Department denied the numbers point to discriminatory practices, noting that Black and Hispanic/Latino residents are also disproportionately represented among crime victims and reported offenders.

"Arrest demographics are important in understanding the interplay between those engaged in criminal activity and arrest activity," according to an LAPD statement released late Tuesday. "Several studies including the Center for Policing Equity & Policing Project identify that disparities in and of themselves do not mean discrimination exists. Significant other factors such as the roles of poverty, education, and under resourced communities have critical implications."

According to the department, the disparities noted in a recent City Controller's Office report analyzing arrest figures "are consistent with other over-representation when comparing select groups of individuals in relationship to residential populations. For example, while Black Angelenos make up 8% of the residential population they represent 24% of violent crime victims and 39% of homicide victims. Similarly, when combined, Black and Hispanic victims represent 70% of reported violent crime and 87% of homicides."

LAPD officials added that Black individuals are reported offenders in 41% of violent crime, 39% of homicides and 50% of robberies.

"When combined, Black and Hispanic individuals are reported offenders in 81% of violent crime and 79% of aggravated assaults," LAPD officials said in a statement. "Additionally, when violent crime arrest rates are overlayed with rates of violent crime in particular neighborhoods, similar concentrations are found."

City Controller Kenneth Mejia's office published a map and analysis in July of nearly 300,000 arrests over the past four years. The data "marks the first time the data has been made accessible and mapped for the public without limitations," the report says.

Specifically, the report found that an average of 78.26% of all LAPD arrests between 2019 to 2022 involved Hispanics/Latinos or Black people, despite such residents making up 56% of the city's population. Hispanics/Latinos made up 51% of the arrests, with Black people next at 27% and whites 16%. Hispanics/Latinos make up 48% of the population, compared to Black people at 8% and whites at 29%.

A proposed contract would increase the starting base salary for Los Angeles Police Department officers by 11%, Mayor Karen Bass announced.

The full report can be found at controller.lacity.gov/landings/arrests. The map can be viewed at arrests.lacontroller.io.

LAPD officials, however, questioned the veracity of the numbers as they related to the police department, saying the data analyzed by the controller's office came from the Mayor's Open Data Portal, which includes arrests made by agencies other than the LAPD.

"It appears that over the four years, 12.3%, or 35,320 of 232,261 arrests were made by non-LAPD entities/private persons and booked in LAPD facilities," according to the LAPD. "This includes 16,052 private persons arrests, 3,995 LAWA (Airport) Police arrests and 7,751 CHP (California Highway Patrol) arrests."

The arrests reported also included individuals who do not reside in the city of Los Angeles, according to the LAPD.

Mejia's office responded to the LAPD's statement Wednesday afternoon on social media, saying the report "relied on LAPD's only comprehensive, publicly available arrest data, which they update weekly on the city's/Mayor's Open Data Portal."

Mejia's office said LAPD did "not refute" the report's findings that "racial disparities exist in their arrests or that Black and Latino people are arrested at a disproportionate rate."

"Citing these statistics that emphasize the alleged criminality of communities that are over-policed, marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated plays on racist stereotypes in an attempt to excuse over-policing of disenfranchised communities and neighborhoods," according to Mejia's office.

The controller's office recommended the department update its arrest data to include LAPD-specific arrests.

LAPD officials stated the department strives to ensure its actions are "free of bias or discrimination."

"Each arrest must stand on its own rooted in probable cause and evidence including victim and witness accounts, forensic evidence when available, and the most recent advent of body worn video recording the actions of all involved."