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L.A. Times Continues Its Attacks on LAPD Officers, Decrying Racial Disparities in Police Stops

Gentle readers, we return today to a topic that has become all too familiar: the Los Angeles Times and its eagerness to discredit law enforcement, most especially the Los Angeles Police Department.

On Thursday, the Times published a news story under the following provocative headline: “Stop-and-frisk in a car:' Elite LAPD unit disproportionately stopped black drivers, data show.” Coming in at more than 2,500 words, the story decries the perceived racial disparity among the drivers stopped by a specialized unit of LAPD officers. Regular readers of the Times are accustomed to such stories, just as they are to the paper’s willingness to ignore relevant facts so as to advance the notion that minorities in Los Angeles are unduly put upon by the police.

In advancing this notion, Times writers Cindy Chang and Ben Poston resort to well-worn techniques, presenting what to the untrained reader seems to be a straightforward analysis of the data, then bolstering it with the opinions of purported “experts,” anecdotes from people who claim to have been victimized, and references to long-ago events.

The LAPD officers under scrutiny are assigned to Metropolitan Division, or Metro, an elite unit that includes SWAT and the mounted detail, but whose primary function is crime suppression. In an effort to stem a rise in violent crime, in 2015 the LAPD doubled the size of Metro, whose officers ride in unmarked cars and do not handle radio calls or perform other routine police duties. Their mission is to patrol those areas of the city most affected by crime and conduct vehicle and pedestrian stops on people who may be connected to it. And this is where they have aroused the suspicions of the Wise Ones at the Los Angeles Times.

“Nearly half the drivers stopped by Metro are black,” write Chang and Poston, “which has helped drive up the share of African Americans stopped by the LAPD overall from 21% to 28% since the Metro expansion, in a city that is 9% black, according to the analysis.”

In writing this, Chang, Poston, and their editors display a willful blindness to the reality of crime in Los Angeles, which is that criminals are not proportionally represented across all ethnic groups. This naiveté, displayed so consistently in the Times for so many years, can only be deliberate, for we are told in Mr. Poston’s bio that appends the story that he is a “data journalist,” whom we might presume to have competence in the analysis of data.

“More than 90% of the drivers stopped by Metro citywide since the expansion have been black or Latino,” we are told in the story, as if this disparity is significant. “Metro stops black drivers 13 times more often than white drivers.”