More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department officers are being investigated for allegedly falsifying data collected during traffic stops, leading to some people being falsely labeled as gang members, according to multiple reports Monday.
NBC4 reported that the District Attorney’s Office is considering possible criminal charges against one of the officers, Braxton Shaw, who has been placed on administrative leave. The station reported that footage captured by his body-worn camera conflicted his written reports.
According to the station and the Los Angeles Times, the officers are suspected of falsifying field interview cards during traffic stops with the intent of boosting traffic-stop statistics.
Some of the officers have been removed from active duty or stripped of police powers, according to the reports.
“An officer’s integrity must be absolute,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement to The Times. “There is no place in the department for any individual who would purposely falsify information on a department report.”
The board of directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents officers, issued a statement to NBC4 saying it was “aware of reports of discrepancies contained on a limited number of field interview cards that the department is looking into.”
“We have confidence that Chief Moore will oversee a thorough and fair process to determine the facts, and to also ensure that any impacted officer is accorded his or her due process rights,” according to the union.
NBC4 reported that falsified entries on field interview cards were later added to a Los Angeles County and statewide database of gang members, “Cal-Gangs,” potentially leading to future legal problems for those individuals.
News of the probe comes a year an investigation by The Times found that LAPD Metropolitan Division officer stopped black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population. In response, the department announced last fall it would drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles, The Times reported.
Citing law enforcement sources, NBC4 reported that prior to the media attention on traffic stop statistics, Metro Division officers had been pressured by their commanders to show that their patrols were productive.
Officers assembled daily statistics about the number of people they stopped and questioned, the number of contacts with gang members, the number of arrests and other metrics, the station reported. Daily statistics were analyzed by LAPD executives, and officers were told “the more gang contacts the better,” according to the NBC4 report.