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L.A. May Limit Police 'Pretextual Stops' That Have Plagued Minorities

The Los Angeles Police Department may limit “pretextual stops” of motorists and pedestrians, arguing they aren’t effective and have undermined public trust in the police, particularly among Black and Latino residents who have been disproportionately targeted, the Los Angeles Times reports. Such stops involve officers citing minor traffic or code violations as a “pretext” for stopping motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians who they suspect may be involved in serious crime. They have been used by the LAPD for decades, especially in areas where gun violence is high, but have come under increased scrutiny since a 2019 Times found significant racial disparities in their use.

The proposed policy, which went before the civilian Police Commission over the objections of the union that represents rank-and-file officers, would bar such stops from being conducted “unless officers are acting upon articulable information” about a serious crime. The policy says such stops “should not be based on a mere hunch or on generalized characteristics such as a person’s race, gender, age, homeless circumstance, or presence in a high-crime location.” The newspaper found that the police Metropolitan Division — tasked with suppressing violent crime —stopped Black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population. LAPD scaled back its use of such stops dramatically. The commission did not adopt the new policy, instead opening it up to public comment for the next two weeks. A vote is scheduled for Mar. 1. Also discussed L was a new online dashboard being created by the department to highlight and make public an array of data that the department is required to collect under the state’s Racial and Identity Profiling Act.


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