SIGNIFICANT OIG REPORTS
At the request of the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC or Commission), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently completed an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD’s or Department’s) implementation of de-escalation concepts. These concepts were incorporated into the Department’s operations via a Use of Force Tactics Directive developed in October 2016 titled, “Tactical De-escalation Techniques." The directive outlines a number of methods to guide officers’ effective de-escalation during contacts with members of the public.
To conduct its analysis of this matter, the OIG completed two different evaluations, as illustrated in this report. First, the OIG identified the steps the Department employed to implement and reinforce the concepts of de-escalation. Second, the OIG conducted an audit to determine officers’ adherence to the Department’s de-escalation tactical training when responding to high-priority calls for service. The OIG conducted a comprehensive review of a sample of 70 incidents that ended in an arrest or an involuntary psychiatric hold and found that officers applied de-escalation tactics in the clear majority of situations, consistent with Department training. However, some inconsistencies and missed opportunities by officers were also identified. Most notably, there is room for improvement in officers’ utilization of available time to develop a plan while they are en route to the scene of a call.
At the request of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the OIG conducted a review of vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle stops conducted by the LAPD in 2019. This review relied primarily on an analysis of stop data collected and maintained by the Department pursuant to the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) of 2015, as well as a qualitative assessment of a sample of stop videos. The OIG analyzed data on 712,408 stops of individuals recorded by LAPD officers in 2019, with a particular focus on officer-initiated stops rather than those prompted by a call for service. In keeping with the Commission’s direction as well as the purpose of the RIPA legislation, a primary focus of this review was to identify and better understand any significant disparities – particularly potential racial disparities – in the data. To supplement its review of stop data, the OIG also conducted a qualitative video review of 190 stops of individuals that occurred during 2019.
At the direction of the Police Commission, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) completed its review analyzing the process and results of outside donations provided to the Los Angeles Police Department during the 2019 calendar year. In order to complete its review, the OIG focused on donation requests initiated in 2019 that were ultimately submitted to the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC). The review incorporated an examination of policies and procedures, site visits, interviews, inspection of paper documents, review and analysis of digital databases, and a review of other relevant materials.
The OIG is responsible for conducting annual reviews of the Department's Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) program. In this report, the OIG reviewed a total of 82 SARs from calendar year 2018 and determined that the SAR classifications complied with current Department policy. The OIG issued a prior report, dated June 11, 2019, on the SAR program that covered the years 2016-2017 and provided recommendations that were subsequently approved by the Board of Police Commissioners. As the Department is currently in the process of finalizing the implementation of those recommendations, this 2018 review did not factor them into its analysis.
The OIG conducted a review of the status of 24 national best practice recommendations adopted by the Commission in May 2017 with regard to the Los Angeles Police Department (Department). These recommendations were based on a review of principles set forth in two reports – the “Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” and the Police Executive Research Forum’s “Guiding Principles on Use of Force” – that were developed in response to the national conversation on policing, race, and the use of force. This report follows four status updates previously presented to the Commission by the Department, and it is the result of ongoing tracking and extensive collaboration between the OIG and the Department to develop the best way to implement each objective. It briefly summarizes the background of each recommendation, as well as the steps the Department has taken to implement them. Overall, the OIG found that the Department has made great strides in implementing the recommendations adopted by the Commission. This report sets forth the steps that have already been taken to implement each of the recommendations, as well as efforts that are in progress or planned for the future.
The OIG has completed its most recent review of the LAPD's Suspicious Activity Reports program. The OIG reviewed a total of 348 SARs from calendar years 2016 and 2017 and determined that, based on the information provided, approximately 98 percent of SAR classifications appeared to comply with current Department policy. The small number of cases wherein the OIG did identify concerns related to classification or other issues are discussed in this report. In analyzing the SARs and related policies, the OIG further determined that the Department's overall SAR process could be improved by updating current policy to reflect changes made at the federal level in 2015, as well as by better defining procedures regarding the dissemination of SAR-related information to outside entities.
At the direction of the Police Commission, the OIG analyzed two specific data-driven policing strategies currently being utilized by the LAPD -- the Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration (LASER) Program; and PredPol, which is short for "Predictive Policing." Also at the Commission's direction, the OIG conducted a review of a community survey program utilized by the Department called ELUCD.
At the request of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, the OIG completed a review of vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle stops conducted by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers assigned to Gang Enforcement Details (GEDs). This represents the first of two OIG reports that focus on proactive -- or discretionary -- stops by LAPD officers. The duties of officers assigned to GED revolve primarily around crime suppression and other proactive policing strategies, rather then responding to calls for service. The same may be said with regard to officers assigned to Metropolitan Division line platoons, whose discretionary stops of individuals will be the focus of the OIG's forthcoming second report in this series. This review (of GEDs) specifically examined stops that included at least one black, Hispanic, or white male in order to allow for a comparison among these groups. In conducting these reviews, the OIG's goal was to assess -- based on available information -- the extent to which officers had a reasonable basis for the initial detention or contact with each person, as well as for each subsequent search or seizure conducted during a stop, and to evaluate officers' articulation of that reasonable basis.
At the direction of the Board of Police Commissioners, the OIG undertook a review of misdemeanor arrests involving California Penal Code Section 148 (a)(1). This code section is commonly referred to as "resisting arrest," but applies to any actions by a person to willfully resist, delay, or obstruct an officer in the performance of his or her duties. In its review, the OIG collected and included information about the characteristics of the officers and individuals arrested, as well as characteristics of the incidents themselves, including the reason for the initial stop, the actions resulting in the arrest, and the disposition of the arrest. At the request of the Commission, the OIG also included a section at the end of the report that looks specifically at those arrests involving individuals experiencing homelessness at the time of their arrest, which made up approximately 29 percent of the cases reviewed. The two primary goals of each case review were to first examine the officers' adherence to Department policy, as well as the applicable laws, and then to assess the quality of the interaction overall. For its assessment of the quality of the interaction, the OIG examined whether de-escalation techniques were utilized, if feasible under the circumstances, and the extent to which the principles of procedural justice were employed. A series of recommendations is included at the end of the report, designed to improve the Department's oversight of these types of arrests, as well as officers' understanding of the Department's expectations.
At the direction of the Board of Police Commissioners, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) analyzed five years of in-custody deaths and attempted suicides within Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) jail facilities and police station holding tanks, where people are temporarily held in custody. The OIG identified several areas where some measures of reform could be considered for future implementation by the Department. Details regarding these areas of potential reform and related recommendations are included in the report.
In June 2017, LAPD officers arrested three Department cadets for theft of three Department vehicles. As a result of that incident, the Board of Police Commissioners directed the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct a review of both the Department's kitroom and Cadet Program procedures, and to report results. To conduct the review, the OIG visited 23 divisions to contact kitroom personnel and Youth Service Officers. This report contains anecdotal information obtained from those reviews. The OIG also identified several issues regarding the issuing and controlling of kitroom equipment. The OIG met with the Office of Operations (OO), who independently identified essentially the same issues. The OIG made three recommendations regarding kitroom procedures, and is involved with an OO working group tasked with continued improvement of kitroom operations. In addition, the OIG identified multiple issues with the Cadet Program, and learned that the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy (OCPP) independently identified most of the same issues as well. The OIG made 13 recommendations regarding the Cadet Program, also contained in this report.
This review by the OIG represents an analysis of the degree to which the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD/Department) has implemented recommendations contained in two recent national best practice documents, which were developed in response to the national conversation on policing, race, and the use of force. Each of these documents -- the "Final Report of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing" and the Police Executive Research Forum's "Guiding Principles on Use of Force" -- provides a series of broad recommendations for agencies working to effectively fight crime while building community trust and minimizing the use of force. The OIG selected for its review seven primary areas that are of current interest to the Commission and the public, and for which the Department is, or has been, in the process of making changes. As detailed in the report, the OIG found that the Department has fully or partially implemented a majority of the relevant recommendations in some form and that, in many cases, these were long-standing LAPD practices. There are other areas where the Department is currently taking steps to more fully implement the recommendations, in some cases at the direction of the Commission. This report highlights recent progress while also seeking to identify potential areas of continued expansion and improvement. Finally, the report includes a series of recommendations.
In November 2015, the President of the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC or Commission) set forth the goal of minimizing the number of use of force incidents involving LAPD officers. In furtherance of this goal, the Commission directed the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct a number of reviews, including a review of the LAPD's use of less-lethal force. The purpose of the report was to provide an overview of three of the less-lethal options available to LAPD patrol officers: the TASER, the beanbag shotgun, and the 40 mm less-lethal launcher. This report explains how each of these tools operates, describes their availability in the field, and outlines the recent steps the Department has taken to make them more accessible to officers. The report also briefly summarizes the policies and procedures that govern their deployment and use, and describes the training officers receive regarding these tools to successfully resolve incidents.
In July 2015, the OIG began an analysis of the selection and training process for assignment to SWAT. In an effort to fully evaluate this process, the OIG observed and evaluated all phases of the orientation and selection process for the 2016 SWAT School. The findings and recommendations are detailed in the Inspector General’s Report.
In November 2015, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners instructed the OIG to prepare a report reviewing use of force policies, investigations, and training at law enforcement agencies around the country, including those of the LAPD. This final report provides an in-depth review and comparison of the use of force policies, investigations, and training at the LAPD and all four selected outside agencies: Dallas Police Department; Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC; and San Diego Police Department. This report also includes a series of recommendations, formulated by Commissioners Matthew Johnson and Sandra Figueroa-Villa and the OIG, regarding both policy and training for the full Commission’s consideration.
In November 2015, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners instructed the OIG to prepare a report comparing the LAPD's use of deadly force to other large agencies in the country. The four agencies chosen for this report were: Dallas, TX; Las Vegas, NV; San Diego, CA; and Washington, DC. As of April 27, 2016, the OIG had visited three of the four selected cities and met with those respective agencies. The BOPC requested that the OIG provide this interim report with a summary of the information gathered thus far. The final report will provide a more in-depth review of the use of force policies, investigations, and training from all four cities. The purpose of the final report is to provide a basis for an informed discussion of the LAPD's use of force, as well as provide an overview of what other agencies are doing to reduce their uses of force.
On March 10, 2016, the Board of Police Commissioners approved the OIG's report entitled "Ten-Year Overview of Categorical Use of Force Investigations, Policy, and Training." That report included a set of 12 recommendations regarding various aspects of force-related policy and training. The Commission requested a status report on each of the recommendations, and the OIG worked with the Department to develop this report, which provides the current status of each of those 12 recommendations.
In November 2015, the Board of Police Commissioners directed the OIG to prepare an overview of how the investigative practices, use of force-related policies, and training of the Los Angeles Department have evolved during the last decade. Consistent with the Commission's goal of minimizing reliance upon the use of force by the Department, the OIG's report regarding this overview is intended to inform discussions regarding enhancements to current use of force-related practices and policy. The report also a series of recommendations, formulated by the Commissioners.
Using Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) guidelines, the OIG sought to determine the extent to which aggravated assaults had been misclassified over the past seven years. The OIG also examined the Department's efforts to develop safeguards to prevent misclassifications in the future. Finally, the OIG assessed those safeguards, using a sample of recent assaults, to determine whether they had the desired effect in ensuring the proper classification of aggravated assaults.
Based on its review of a sample of 3,856 crime reports, the OIG estimated that an average of about 3,700 aggravated assaults between 2008 and 2014 were misclassified as minor crimes each year. If added to the number of aggravated assaults currently reported, these additional crimes would have made the actual number of aggravated assaults an average of about 36 percent higher per year than the number currently reported. The OIG also found, however, that the misclassification of aggravated assaults appears to have diminished substantially in 2015, likely due to the Department’s sustained efforts to address systemic issues and train officers in UCR standards. As a result, it appears that at least some of the rise in aggravated assaults in 2015 is due to improved classification of these crimes.
The OIG investigated the Department’s procurement procedures related to the Department's acquisition of its Smith & Wesson duty pistol. During that investigation, the OIG determined that Department personnel were not adhering to Department policies related to the product evaluation process. The OIG also identified several ethics-related concerns related to the procurement process.
The OIG conducted a review of Department’s Reserve Police Officer Program. The OIG found that numerous reserves were not meeting their minimum service hour requirement and/or training hour requirement. The OIG also found issues regarding age-related deployment of reserves, and the reserves firearms qualification policy.
The OIG examined how the Department calculated its homicide clearance rates. This report was developed in response to crime-solving statistics published by the FBI from law enforcement agencies across the country, which indicated that the homicide clearance numbers for LAPD were below the state and national average for major cities. The Department subsequently provided revised clearance numbers that were significantly higher. As part of its review, the OIG examined the Department's methods for calculating these rates and whether these methods affected LAPD's murder investigations.
Although the OIG identified several administrative concerns with the process, the OIG found no evidence that homicide statistics were manipulated. There was also no evidence found that detectives were closing cases without proper investigation or justification. Regarding the general process, the OIG noted that the current system of tracking homicide closing data is decentralized, and that each police division, or reporting unit, may close or record key information differently.
The OIG examined Department personnel’s use of the Digital In-car Video System (DICVS). The OIG sought to determine how the in-car video program was working and to identify any improvements that should be considered in developing policies for the system. The OIG primarily focused on the use of the system by officers during pedestrian and motor vehicle stops and the existing state of the resulting footage, rather than on the technology or the system itself.
During the review, the OIG noted that the Department’s use of in-car video for motor vehicle stops presented few areas of concern. In these cases, Department personnel routinely activated their DICVS at the beginning of the stop, and the actions of the officers were generally captured by the system. With regard to pedestrian stops, as mentioned above, current Department policy requires officers to activate the DICVS when practicable. Pedestrian stops are fluid in nature and it is therefore not uncommon for the DICVS to capture only portions of the stop due to the positioning of the officers’ vehicle. The point at which the DICVS is activated may also affect the extent to which an incident is captured. As a result, the OIG noted variations in DICVS coverage and activation in these cases.
The OIG investigated the Department’s use of public resources to provide transportation of and protection for Rene “Boxer” Enriquez. The OIG provided a summary of the relevant facts, as well as a breakdown of the financial costs to the City.
The Department escorted a convicted felon and former Mexican Mafia member from prison and then transported the individual to a private event for a business organization, where he would showcase their event. Department resources were used to transport and provide security for the individual and the event. Based upon the statements of witnesses as well as documents reviewed, the OIG identified the number and hours of Department personnel involved with this event and thus was able to calculate the cost to the City for this event. The OIG also identified irregularities with the legal basis for removing this individual from prison.
The OIG’s investigation resulted in the initiation of a personnel complaint relating to this incident.
The primary review objective of this report was to determine if each Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) sent by the Department to the federal government reflected a behavior or activity reasonably indicative of pre-operational planning or intelligence gathering related to terrorism or other criminal activity. The OIG found no issues relating to constitutionality during its review. Of the 215 SARs, there were six cases that the OIG determined that the Department should have unfounded based on the relevant criteria. In all six cases, the Department took appropriate corrective action.
The OIG completed a study of a subset of LAPD officer-involved shooting incidents involving individuals who caused, or attempted to cause, officers to shoot them as an apparent means of committing suicide. The purpose of this review was to identify recurrent and specific incident features associated with these “suicide-by-cop” incidents for Department training and education. Based on the OIG’s review, it was apparent that suicide-by-cop incidents represent a significant sub-set of the overall number of officer-involved shooting incidents involving Los Angeles police officers. This highlights the ongoing importance of training for police officers regarding suicide-by-cop incidents, and, more generally, for officers encountering emotionally-disturbed and/or mentally ill individuals.
The OIG reviewed recordings of arrestee transports conducted by Southeast Area officers to determine whether the transports followed Department policy. The black-and-white police cars are equipped with a rear seat Digital In-Car Video System (DICVS), which capture audio and video recordings of the transports. The OIG noted that officers consistently audio and video-recorded the transports in their entirety and recorded the transports on their Daily Field Activities Report, as required. However, the OIG noted issues regarding failure to use seat belts and the lack of required antenna inspections for the DICVS.
The OIG evaluated the Department’s efforts to come into compliance with the Commissioner’s directives related to the OIG’s Employment Litigation Audit in 2013. These directives were designed to improve the Department’s assessment and evaluation of workplace-related matters that can create financial liability for the City of Los Angeles.
The OIG's investigation determined that geographic Areas were reporting inaccurate patrol deployment numbers. The OIG was generally concerned that without appropriate controls in place, inaccurate patrol numbers could potentially undermine the Department's overall patrol operations.
OIG staff visited each of the Department’s 21 stations and inspected their respective camera systems in order to evaluate potential risks to police officers and the public. The OIG’s inspections identified concerns with the placement of video cameras within the various stations and noted that the video coverage in several stations’ holding cells and booking areas was inadequate. The OIG also found shortcomings with the Department’s video retention practices that may inhibit the Department’s ability to adequately investigate critical incidents. Finally, the OIG learned that there was no formal process to regularly inspect cameras to assess if they are working properly or to conduct quality of service audits of the video footage itself.
In light of the California Supreme Court’s opinion in Hayes v. County of San Diego (2013), the OIG undertook a thorough review of the Department’s policies governing Categorical Use of Force incidents and their adjudication by the Commission. The Court found that, under California negligence law, an officer’s tactical conduct and decisions leading up to a deadly use of force may affect whether a use of force is ultimately reasonable and may be considered in its analysis.
After reviewing the historical record, the OIG determined that the Commission’s intent in creating the existing adjudication system parallels the findings in Hayes. Yet, although the Commission has examined pre-shooting conduct in some cases for the purpose of deciding whether an officer’s use of force should be determined in- or out-of-policy, that process is not clearly codified in policy. The OIG concluded that a simple clarification of the Department’s use of force policy would both reinforce the original intent behind the enactment of current practices and align those practices with Hayes.
The OIG’s findings, as well as recommended language developed in consultation with the City Attorney’s Office and the Department, was included in the OIG’s final report to the Commission. The Commission approved the report and recommendation on February 18, 2014, and directed the Department to craft a clarified policy for its consideration. The resulting revisions were presented by the Department and approved by the Commission on March 4, 2014. The Commission's actions have served as a model for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and other major police departments, as they adopted similar modifications to their own use of force policies.
The OIG reviewed the investigations associated with the 34 Non-Categorical Use of Force (NCUOF)-related lawsuits filed against the City in calendar years 2011 and 2012. In doing so, the OIG noted the continuing difficulty of auditing investigations of lower-level incidents, which do not require the audio-recording of non-Department subjects or witnesses. At the time of the report, the City had paid out a total of approximately $555,000 for 15 NCUOF-related lawsuits -- 13 of which were associated with lower-level investigations -- and had 10 additional pending cases. The report also provided a status update on recommendations adopted by the Commission on June 11, 2013.
Department policy requires, with limited exceptions, an officer to wear a safety belt while in a motor vehicle. In an effort to determine compliance with this policy, the OIG examined the traffic collision reports for officer-involved traffic collisions. While reviewing the Department’s documentation on these accidents, the OIG determined that many of these reports were incomplete or inconsistent with other available information and, therefore, the OIG was unable to determine the exact percentage of officers that were wearing their safety belts.
The OIG concluded that safety belt non-use among officers involved in accidents may be as high as 37 percent. In those cases where one could determine whether officers wore their seat belts, the OIG found that officers who failed to wear their safety belts were injured more frequently, and often seriously, when compared to those officers following Department policy.
California State Law and the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) require that police officers obtain refresher training on a variety of perishable skills, including First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The OIG audited the Department’s compliance with these requirements and determined that the majority of police officers within the Department had not received the required refresher training in either First Aid or CPR.
The OIG conducted an audit of the Department’s responsibilities with respect to employment-related litigation. Between 2006 and 2012, Department-related litigation cost the City approximately $31 million. To properly examine the Department’s actions, the audit examined 27 lawsuits which were settled or adjudicated between 2007 and 2012. The OIG developed seven recommendations intended to reduce the number of lawsuits, better track the lawsuits that do arise, and better learn from closed lawsuits. When implemented, these actions were expected to improve the Department’s ability to reduce employment litigation risks and costs.
The OIG conducted a thorough examination of the Department’s processes for documenting, investigating, and adjudicating less-serious use of force incidents, otherwise known as “non-categorical uses of force.” The OIG found that, based on the information provided, the majority of investigations were conducted in compliance with Department policy as written. Because of the lack of available quality audio, however, accounts of witness statements generally could not be verified or audited, and the reviewer could only rely on the investigator’s characterization of the interviews. The OIG also noted a number of areas of the process that could be clarified or improved, and made several policy and training recommendations to improve the overall quality of the investigation and analysis of these uses of force.