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Again, Los Angeles Tries to Weed Out Mythical Police Profiling

Officers face an absurd proposal encouraging accused cops to sit and chat with accusers.

by
Jack Dunphy

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August 6, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Picture, if you will, Officer Dunphy out on patrol somewhere in Los Angeles. At the wheel of my black-and-white Ford Police Interceptor (alas, one of the last) I drive the streets, alert to outward signs of crime, villainy, and disorder. Up ahead, I see traffic slow and then stop for pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk. I do likewise, but am soon horrified to see the pedestrians nearly flattened by a car going in the opposite direction, the driver apparently unaware or uncaring of the calamity he has narrowly avoided.

I make a U-turn and — after checking the license number to make sure the car isn’t stolen or otherwise wanted — initiate a traffic stop. Even after all these many years on the job, the traffic stop is for me among the more harrowing experiences. Without the benefit of cover or concealment, I have to approach a driver (and often passengers) about whom I have little or no information and whose hands I cannot see. For anyone with malign intentions toward the police, it’s an ideal setting to carry out an attack. (See this YouTube video for an extreme example of why traffic stops still give me the willies.)

But in our present hypothetical, I approach the offending driver without the eruption of gunfire, and I ask to see his driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. And here is where things get sticky. Yes, the encounter thus far has been free of violence, but there is about to be drama.

As it happens, our driver in this scenario is black, and he entertains the notion that I have stopped him not for the flagrant traffic violation I have just witnessed, but rather for the racial animus he assumes to be lurking deep within me. We engage in an extended conversation, during which the driver repeats and repeats his accusations that I have stopped him without just cause, and in between these accusations are inserted aspersions on my character, manhood, and heritage. I try to point out to the man that — as is the case in most traffic stops — I had no idea of his race until the moment I walked up to his car.

At long last he signs the citation I have written, promising to see me in traffic court. And in due season that encounter occurs, first with me telling the judge my recollection of the pedestrians’ narrow escape from being crushed under the wheels of the driver’s car, and then with the driver denying it all and repeating his accusation that I had stopped him merely because he is black, though now mercifully omitting the ad hominem attacks.

In his wisdom, the judge doesn’t buy the driver’s story, finding him guilty and offering instruction on how to pay the resulting fine. The driver goes on his way, I go on mine. And that should be the end of it.

But it isn’t. I soon learn that the driver, having found no satisfaction in court, has now filed a complaint against me alleging “racial profiling,” known in LAPD parlance as “biased policing.” That the matter was settled in traffic court is of no concern to the people at internal affairs, or to the five members of the police commission — the civilian body that oversees the LAPD. Appointed by the mayor and selected more for their “diversity” than their abilities, the commissioners are uniformly liberal, and not one of them has even one minute’s worth of practical police experience. As such, they of course share the driver’s suspicion that the LAPD is teeming with closeted racists who exult in abusing people of color.

The allegation against me is assigned to a team of internal affairs investigators specially selected and trained for just this sort of complaint. They interview the driver, who denies his guilt of the traffic violation — the finding by the traffic court judge notwithstanding — and who repeats the charge that I stopped him on the basis of my prejudice against people with his color of skin. The investigators pore over records of my previous enforcement efforts, looking for evidence among previous citations and arrests that I have inordinately concentrated those efforts on people whose complexions differ from my own. Finding none, they at last interview me, and I repeat my traffic court testimony as to the near-annihilation of the pedestrians by the careless driver.

With the investigation now complete, it is submitted to my commanding officer, who then categorizes the complaint either as “unfounded,” or — if he is the cautious type (and most of them are) — as “insufficient evidence to adjudicate.” And this vexes those police commissioners to no end.

It is to the commissioners’ great annoyance that only one LAPD officer has ever been disciplined for racial profiling, this despite the thousands of such complaints the department has received. They find it simply unfathomable that the department’s internal affairs apparatus has failed to ferret out the racists they just know are out there on patrol.

But now the LAPD will try a different approach, one that has the support of the police commission and the department brass and even the Los Angeles Police Protective League — the labor union that represents rank-and-file cops up to the rank of lieutenant. (Full disclosure: I am a member.) Yes, this new way to handle racial profiling complaints enjoys the support of all the players – all, except for the cops themselves. They think it’s a joke, and the innovation is therefore doomed to fail.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"I try to point out to the man that — as is the case in most traffic stops — I had no idea of his race until the moment I walked up to his car."

This is a very under appreciated point. Contrary to the thinking of "Activists" it is very hard to make out the appearance of a driver in a moving vehicle at any reasonable distance.

One quick study would put the nail in the coffin of the "Driving While Black" theory: While it is very hard to identify the driver's race in daylight, it is flat out impossible at night. If black drivers are targeted for police stops simply because they are black, then logically, the statistical bulge created by this should vanish if we look at stops made at night. The numbers should shift after dark.

No agency, to the best of my knowledge, has ever dared this study.
I assume they are afraid of the consequences.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only solution is to laugh and mock the PC behavior whenever you have a chance.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds like that 5-person police commission members are appointed for their inclination to practice racial profiling of white police officers, and fulfill their inclination in spades.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
" The investigators pore over records of my previous enforcement efforts, looking for evidence among previous citations and arrests that I have inordinately concentrated those efforts on people whose complexions differ from my own"

That is the trick, isn’t it. If ANY police officer is doing his job in ANY metropolitan area are doing an HONEST job, the numbers of “interactions” with non-whites will always be higher. Always.

What they are trying to do here, in schools, and everywhere else, is to have “quotas” that are “in proportion” to minorities when its convenient for them, and not when there is a likewise advantage to be gained.

If Blacks are 13% of the population, they can only be 13% of the arrests (or suspension, expulsions, workplace discipline and what have you, even if they are the “majority” of a city, school, or workplace.

BUT…if they ARE indeed “the majority” of such, then they must also “be the majority” in scholarships, hiring, appointments, promotions and the like.

It’s a numbers game, rigged to feed the machine with more reliable voters and kick-back operatives.

While Rome Burns
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Seriously Jack?

You WITNESS a near hit and run while in a patrol car, and dont IMMEDIATLEY take the driver into custody?

You simply follow the car, taking your time and only "after checking the license number to make sure the car isn’t stolen or otherwise wanted — initiate a traffic stop"

Umm...you witnessed a CRIME dude, one that nearly killed people...
That calls for an Immediate Car Stop and "step out of the vehicle with your hand on your head" or what ever protocal you use when you IMMEDIATELY detain someone...

Car MIGHT be stolen or wanted? You wait for THAT information first?

Heres a hint: You can figure out all that sh*t later, with the guy in handcuffs, in the back of your cruiser, becuase you just WITNESSED him commit a serious CRIME.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not exactly, Root.

If he saw a "near" hit.. then there was no hit.
If there's no hit there is no reason for the driver to stop.

You cannot have a hit and run without a hit.

You can have other infractions, though, like reckless driving.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
My question is, the LAPD is one of biggest police forces in the country. Why aren't their officers and cars equipped with dashboard cameras and microphones to record everything? If the camera could see our fictional bad guy nearly run people down, if the cops microphone had picked up the fictional bad guys ongoing verbal assault of the police during the stop, deciding whether it was "Racial profiling" or not would become significantly easier.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Everybody profiles. Pretty much every day. Profling is nothing more than using your judgement based on your experience. I profile thunderstorms, knowing that I can be hit by lightning. I profile people bigger than me and act accordingly because I know they can beat the s**t out of me if I smart off. Hell, even rabbits profile. They profile wolves because they know they will eat them.

The people trying to make profiling a dirty word have a different agenda. A bad one.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Racial profiling is just good police work.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"an officer has little to gain from sitting down in a room and hearing the same harangue"

I rather suspect that it will be made clear to officers that htey have a lot to gain by going along with the politicians.

Or rather, they have a lot to lose if they do NOT go along.

And, hey, why not? A little singing Kum Ba Ya around the campfire, a few group hugs, some tearful repentance....

What's not to like?


Urg.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Any Officer would have to be insane to goto one of these meetings. They would purposely get you talking about race, get you to say one thing that could be taken out of context. Then you would be in trouble.
I believe in the saying do not talk to the cops. Make them prove what ever the problem is. That goes for cops talking to the cops also .
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I try to point out to the man that — as is the case in most traffic stops — I had no idea of his race until the moment I walked up to his car."

This is a very under appreciated point. Contrary to the thinking of "Activists" it is very hard to make out the appearance of a driver in a moving vehicle at any reasonable distance.

One quick study would put the nail in the coffin of the "Driving While Black" theory: While it is very hard to identify the driver's race in daylight, it is flat out impossible at night. If black drivers are targeted for police stops simply because they are black, then logically, the statistical bulge created by this should vanish if we look at stops made at night. The numbers should shift after dark.

No agency, to the best of my knowledge, has ever dared this study.
I assume they are afraid of the consequences.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"... is very hard to identify the driver's race in daylight, it is flat out impossible at night"

And that is Flat Out Wrong.

You may not be able to tell age, or even gender, with a quick glance at a moving vehicle, but you can certainly get that nanosecond flash of "shade" from the drivers FACE.

White skin shows up as contrast against most colored clothing, cars interiors, and outdoor environments. Especially at night if a light strikes it (if you are in oncoming traffic, or lighting them from behind).

My experience with camo face painted trainees drove that fact home. White skin below the jawbone, THE EARS , and the BACK OF THE NECK (places often missed while Rambo-ing up with camo paint) on a white person can be seen practically for miles, even if its only an inch between collar and helmet that’s exposed. It’s a Dead Giveaway that’s no “Dark Green” Marine over there.

If you noticed the driver AT ALL, (and cops are trying to notice), you can be sure rather immediately if the car you just whipped a 180 degree U- turn for (or have been following for a few minutes?) most likely “is or is not” piloted by a white as milk, red headed Irishman.

Cops know. They know +90%, of the time whether the person driving “is or isn’t” of northern European Stock, long before the wheels of the patrol car stop moving, believe me.

Whether they TARGET non whites is a whole 'nother issue.
My point here is, they can TELL.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Try it. You can't do it.

Here's what cars in traffic look like:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Traffic_jam_Rio_de_Janeiro_03_2008_28.JPG

Not like looking at camo painted faces, is it?

Play a little game. Go to google maps street view, and slide your view up and down NYC's FDR Drive.

How many people can you identify by race?

Let's make it specific. Go there, and follow northbound on the FDR past the east 70's. See that yellow Taxi ahead? That black SUV behind? Imagine one sideswipes another vehicle and keeps moving.

What are the races of the drivers?

Yeah. And I have a bridge to sell you.

If you work with "Camo face painted trainees".. good. Wonderful. But that has nothing to do with cars, where you are looking through the glare on the glass. I live in a city full of moving cars, and I see can more in an hour than you see in a year.

And you can't do it.

And if you could, you still couldn't at night, making my point even more solid, as the Day/Night differential would be even greater in that circumstance.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only solution is to laugh and mock the PC behavior whenever you have a chance.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds like that 5-person police commission members are appointed for their inclination to practice racial profiling of white police officers, and fulfill their inclination in spades.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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