A white Los Angeles Police Department officer stopped Latino drivers because of their ethnicity, an internal Los Angeles Police Department investigation has found. The findings mark the first time the department has found that one of its officers engaged in racial or ethnic profiling, the LA Times reported Monday.
Joel Rubin at the Los Angeles Times offers more details:
The investigation into Patrick Smith, a 15-year veteran who worked alone on a motorcycle assignment in the department’s West Traffic Division, found that he was stopping Latinos based on their ethnicity. He is accused of deliberately misidentifying some Latinos as being white on his reports — presumably in an effort to conceal their ethnicity, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case who requested their names not be used because police personnel issues are confidential.
At a meeting last month, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reviewed the evidence against Smith and heard from members of his command staff who recommended the officer be found guilty. Beck signed off on the investigation’s findings and ordered Smith sent to a disciplinary hearing, where the department will attempt to have him fired, the sources said. In Los Angeles, the police chief cannot fire an officer unilaterally, but instead must let a three-person board hear the case and decide if the firing is warranted. The panel could also exonerate Smith, who was relieved of duty during the investigation, sources said.
In a statement released by the LAPD, Beck said it was too early to comment on the specifics of the case.
“It is important that the public and our officers know how seriously we take Constitutional Policing. Any complaints of racial profiling or racially based policing are thoroughly and impartially investigated,” Beck said.