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Feds Join LAPD Probe of Gang Unit's Street Stops

Federal prosecutors and FBI civil rights investigators have joined the Los Angeles Police Department's internal probe of an LAPD gang unit whose members are accused of routinely switching off their body-worn cameras and taking other steps to conceal details about street stops, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mayor Karen Bass called the alleged pattern of deception "very disturbing." Chief Michel Moore said the officers’ alleged misconduct first came to the department’s attention after a traffic stop earlier this year in which a man reported he’d been pulled over and had his vehicle searched without consent or probable cause. When an investigation turned up signs that that stop had not been properly documented, investigators found other incidents involving those officers and a pattern among their fellow officers in the Mission Division Gang Enforcement Detail.

Multiple sources who requested anonymity told the Times that internal affairs investigators served search warrants on several officers’ lockers at the Mission police station on Aug. 18. It was not immediately clear what they were looking for or what, if anything, they took. The warrants remain under seal. One source familiar with the case said investigators have reviewed body cam video from the Mission gang unit looking for any evidence of other misconduct. According to LAPD policy, an officer who prematurely deactivates their camera or fails to turn it on in the first place would be in violation of department policy, which requires the devices be on during most public encounters. But violations of the body cam policy typically result in only light discipline. More serious punishment is rare. According to an LAPD online dashboard, the Mission gang unit is among the most active in the city’s 21 police divisions, but nearly 10% of the unit’s traffic stops were considered pretextual, meaning officers used minor traffic violations as a reason to pull over vehicles and search them for evidence of more serious crimes. The data show Mission has the highest rate of such stops among all of the department’s gang units.


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