Los Angeles Police headquarters in downtown L.A. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police headquarters in downtown L.A. Photo by John Schreiber.

New questions were raised Friday about how the Los Angeles Police Department classifies crimes and, by extension, the accuracy of official crime statistics.

The Los Angeles Times reviewed dozens of cases the LAPD initially documented as serious but later downgraded to minor offenses. A third of the time, the decision to reclassify the incident was wrong, The Times concluded.

When presented with the findings, LAPD officials acknowledged the errors but offered no explanation for them.

“They should not have been reclassified,” Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, who oversees the LAPD’s detective bureau and reviewed the Times’ analysis, told the newspaper. “They should have been left as they were.”

A Times investigation last summer found that the LAPD significantly understated the city’s true level of crime when it misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes from the one-year period ending in September 2013.

In those cases, the missteps were made at the outset by station supervisors and clerks. However, the new review involved cases that were downgraded from serious to minor crimes days or weeks after the crimes were initially recorded.

The Times requested reports on 300 re-classified crimes, but the LAPD denied the paper’s request, saying those reports are confidential. The Times subsequently obtained reports for 53 cases through sources, and after analyzing them, deemed about 18 wrongly re-classified as more minor crimes.

The Times was only able to analyze a small sample of the crimes, so it was not able to determine the department’s overall error rate.

Yusef Robb, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the LAPD, as a leader in “using accurate data to make us safer,” has “made important changes, and we and the department will continue to refine and innovate.”

City News Service

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