Shameless: Justice Department Warns LAPD over Racial Profiling

But the reporters and editorialists at the Los Angeles Times need not trouble themselves to delve into the minutiae of LAPD crime statistics to learn why blacks and Latinos fall under more police scrutiny than other ethnic groups. The evidence is right on the paper’s own website every day. The Times publishes what it calls the Homicide Report, in which it provides a brief account of every homicide occurring in Los Angeles County. The report is accompanied by a map on which homicides are clustered into groups, with the largest clusters by far appearing in Central and South Central Los Angeles, representing 280 of the county’s 546 homicides reported this year as of Nov. 14.

And if you explore a bit more deeply on the paper’s website, the racial numbers are explained in even more grim detail:

The Homicide Report includes information on race or ethnicity of each homicide victim, as well as the name, gender and age and the time, place and manner of death. A number of readers have asked why race is included.  Some have criticized the practice.

Racial information was once routinely included in news stories about crimes, but in recent decades, newspapers and other media outlets stopped mentioning suspects’ or victims’ race or ethnicity because of public criticism.  Newspapers came to embrace the idea that such information is irrelevant to the reporting of crimes and may unfairly stigmatize racial groups.

The Homicide Report departs from this rule in the interest of presenting the most complete and accurate demographic picture of who is dying in homicides in Los Angeles County.

Race and ethnicity, like age and gender, are stark predictors of homicide risk. Blacks are much more likely to die from homicide than whites, and Latinos somewhat more likely. Black men, in particular, are extraordinarily vulnerable: They are less than 9% of the county’s population, but they represented nearly a third of homicide victims over the three years of data in the Homicide Report. That means one in a 1,000 blacks became homicide victims over those three years, more than 10 times the rate for whites and nearly four times the rate for Latinos.

Yes, facts are stubborn things, even at the Los Angeles Times. There will be “race-neutral policing” when the Times can report there is race-neutral crime.

In 2009, the LAPD arrested 190,000 people and cited 580,000 others for traffic violations. Among all these enforcement contacts were 216 allegations of “biased policing,” not a single one of which was sustained despite exhaustive investigations. And yet the Justice Department and the Los Angeles Times apparently find this figure more troubling than the 312 murders and the 22,000 other violent crimes that occurred in the city last year.

My previous column concerned the murder of 5-year-old Aaron Shannon Jr., who on the afternoon of Halloween was shot to death in his backyard as he played in his Spider-Man costume. His murder brought no reaction from the Justice Department, nor did it inspire any outraged editorials from the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps they find comfort in the knowledge that Aaron’s accused killers didn’t suffer the indignity and inconvenience of being profiled while on their way to commit the crime. What a horror that would have been.