LAPD RESPONSE TO DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL
May 11, 2006
Original editorial, Los Angeles Daily News, May 10, 2006
Your recent article and editorial regarding the Los Angeles Police Department crime statistics require a deeper explanation and discussion than you have allowed. You are absolutely right that Chief Bratton inherited a Department with leadership issues, weak morale and a tarnished image. He also inherited a Department that did not keep crime statistics properly.
First we must shed some light on just what statistics we are discussing. More than 89 years ago, the Federal Goverment adopted what is called a "Uniform Crime Report" (UCR). Just as the name suggests, this is a system designed to overcome the myriad of ways in which the 50 states report crime. The purpose was, and is, to allow direct comparison between cities and states by providing a consistent clearly defined set of criteria for crime reporting.
One of the categories created is called Aggravated Assaults. By definition Aggravated Assaults are classified as "An attack for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury, usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or means likely to produce death or great bodily injury." These Aggravated Assaults are classified as "Part One" crimes by UCR. All other assaults are classified as Part Two Crimes. Most assaults, including crimes of domestic violence, fall into the Part Two crime category based on the guidelines of the UCR.
This all seems straightforward until you get to the early 1980s. During that time period there was tremendous pressure to change the way Law Enforcement dealt with domestic violence. Traditionally domestic violence had been treated as a family matter and often ignored by many aspects of society, including the police. Reform was needed and indeed occurred. In fact domestic violence became one of the priorities in policing and arrests and prosecutions skyrocketed. As a consequence of this increased attention, the Los Angeles Police Department made an internal reporting decision that led us to the current controversy.
That decision was to take all reported domestic violence incidents and categorize them as Part One Crimes, irrespective if they fit the criteria for that crime class. For the next twenty plus years the LAPD over reported Part One Crimes to the Federal Goverment virtually negating the system used to measure crime nationwide. Keep in mind that UCR crime codes are completely independent of California criminal codes and have nothing to do with how cases are investigated, prosecuted or the penalties associated with conviction. California has classified almost all domestic violence crimes as felonies and UCR codes have no effect on the enforcement of these laws.
The Los Angeles Police Department remains committed to the reduction and serious investigation of domestic violence. We have not made recent changes in our response and handling of these type crimes nor have we stopped tracking these incidents. Domestic violence statistics are still available to any and all who want them. In fact we are taking steps to make these statistics more accessible and easier to understand by posting them on the crime analysis portion of our website. We will combine Part One and Part Two occurrences into a single domestic violence statistic that should increase the transparency of our efforts and help domestic violence service providers get the numbers they need for funding.
To sum it up, we take crime reporting and crime reduction very seriously. In 2004, we achieved a 13.6% reduction in violent crime and a 10.5% reduction in Part One crimes with no changes in how crime was reported from 2003. In 2005, we reduced violent crime by over 11,000 incidents and even allowing for the 5,000 domestic violent crimes you discussed, achieved a significant crime reduction of well over 10%. Year to date for 2006, we are at a 11.9% reduction in Part One crime.
When we changed the way we reported domestic violence it was done publicly and was well covered by the media during the summer of 2005. For the Daily News to accuse us of "fudging" the numbers is not only wrong it is dismissive of an attention to detail in crime reporting that is unparalleled in our profession. Chief Bratton invented the COMPSTAT process and one of the tenets is "Timely and Accurate Intelligence." We use accurate intelligence, in this case crime statistics, to assign and direct scarce police resources. Without accurate statistics we will never achieve our goal of making the people of Los Angeles the safest in the nation.
This is just another example of why FORMER Chief Parks was fired. He is a bitter man who continues to tarnish the vast majority of officers trying to do their best. The actions of the LAPD regarding crime statistics were done openly and to comply with FBI guidelines. Maybe if Chief Parks had focused on such things rather than destroying the morale of the department he would still be chief.
Posted by: Silent Majority | May 12, 2006 at 08:29 AM
Is it truly crime reduction or is it crime displacement? I read both the article written by Kerry Cavanaugh, Staff Writer LA Daily News and your LAPD retort and was somewhat dismayed.
I believe that Cavanaugh article is fair and raises question that are valid. I also understand that law enforcement has at time used smoke and mirrors to change statistics on crime. That is not my accusation with this posting, what I am concern is the misinformation provided in this response.. Law enforcement responds to crime, and does not reduce it but displaces it. What I mean is if crime goes down in one jurisdiction the likelihood is that it is going up elsewhere.
No matter what law enforcement does at best they displace crime not solve the problem. Statistics may appease some, but until the truth is shared with the public the best we can hope for is smoke and mirrors for a response.
Posted by: Bob Feliciano | May 12, 2006 at 08:59 AM
I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the fact that just because crim goes down in one area that it necessarily rises in another. Nor would I even necessarily agree with that being the most common occurence. I am sure there are volumes of studies on the matter and you should consult and/or quote those when making assumptions on those matters. I am an unbiased observer as I live in VA, but found this blog through one of my normal sites that covers technology and things of that sort. It's refreshing that the LAPD is taking these steps to open channels of communication. It at least, in my opinion, shows a willingness to hear and be heard. Whatever you think of anyone, taking those steps is an important one. Also, the retort to the editorial was, if nothing else, spectacularly well written. Kudos for that. Live well LA-ians.
Posted by: Tim | May 15, 2006 at 10:06 AM
The changing face of the LAPD
What a Joke of an article! Hire the best person period! Man, Woman, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic it does not matter. Just the BEST, most qualified "person" for the job, and you will reap what you sow. Rafael Perez was a product of Chief Parks "Diversity Plan." You have great people on LAPD, but for the most part hiring the best person for the job is what you are not doing. You are discriminating against male whites on a regular basis, just ask the "Service Minded Military men" that you turn away every year! Good job. I guess we don't count. And I am sorry, do you really think that someone who has even tried heroin should carry a gun?????? But God forbid you have a tattoo, not depicting gang life! I personally do not have any tattoos, but I have no problem seeing a Police Officer with non-gang style tattoos. However I have a huge problem giving someone who has dabbled in Heroin, PCP or rock cocaine a gun, and ask them to deal with drugs on a daily basis! And You only have to thank Chief Parks for Perez and Derden! It was not a "Rampart scandal" it was two former gang members who were able go get hired onto LAPD under forced diversity, and lowering of the standards! You reap what you sow, Derden was turned down by 8 neighboring Police Departments, that's EIGHT!!!! Hire the BEST person for the job and you will have the BEST men, women, blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and any other race for the job, period!
Next issue: Stop being a coward when it comes to backing our Police Officers. You should take a page out of the Chicago Police Chiefs book. The day after an Officer was involved in a shooting with an armed suspect, the preliminary investigation revealed that the Officers actions appeared to be justified. The Chief then stated so at a live press conference. You and our coward of a mayor leave to much unsaid, which creates an unsafe environment for the good people of Los Angeles. Sometimes you have to call it like it is, and remember that the Officer involved deserves your backing. And you as the Chief owe it to him and the people of Los Angeles. You came sprinting out of the gates when you first took over, but WOW have you turned into a complete coward with the "community activists" dictating how you, cough, cough, lead. You are NEVER going to make this great city safer by sticking your wet finger in the air to see which way the Political winds are blowing. And because the public does not see how jacked up you are running things, only means your running on borrowed time. Also you have to many YES MEN around you telling you what you want to hear. Step out of your Office for a 12 hour shift and go down to Newton, 77th, southeast or Rampart and get in a Patrol car with an aggressive P-2 so you can see what it's like being a street cop in today's world. And don't get in the car with a slug who is going to kiss your butt. Stop being such a pansy and let your Officers do their jobs. And the consent decree has to go, it does NOTHING but suck millions of dollars from the city. And the criminals that are auditing us are stealing MILLIONS from the city that could fund more Police and or training and equipment that we need. We need the money for other things far more relevant than the consent decree. And for anyone who believes that the consent decree is a great idea for "uncovering bad Officers"? Stop watching your Serpicco DVD over and over and pull your head out of the sand! The view is much clearer up here. Teams II is going to be a way to fire good cops that are aggressive! NEWS FLASH, there are BAD people out there that need to be dealt with and if you keep back handing the patrol Officers they will respond by the drive and wave tactic! And you will have your diverse Police force that is to scared to go down to South Central LA and deal with 250lb parolee's. Then people are going to get hurt and die! Because the gangsters will run the city.
I will yield that the books are being cooked, but not by the Patrol Officers, it's the upper brass not wanting to lose their precious rank, and to restrained by their fear of the Chief to speak up! I will have my ear to the ground and will be waiting to hear you in foot pursuit of an ADW suspect with a gun, in South Central not some BS training tape.
In closing Chief tell Antonio Villaragosa and John Mack (he is a complete joke) to go POUND sand and protect this city by letting your Officers do their work. And BACK them UP in the press, up front not 1 year down the road after the fact! And if you cannot go out to an OIS and after the preliminary investigation by trained detectives, it appears that the Officers are in the Right, maybe you are not the Police Officer that you profess to be. Helen Kellar could see, 99% of the time, the Officer is justified! So like the lion in the Wizard of OZ, find your C, C, Courage and look into that TV camera and state the initial findings of the OIS or use of force investigation!
And to all the real Police Officers in and out there. Stay Safe!
Posted by: Ed | May 15, 2006 at 10:09 AM
Bob- What is your assertion that "if crime goes down in one juridiction the likelihood is that it is going up elsewhere" based on? I mean, that could be the case, but on the other hand, crime could be going down...
Posted by: Alex | May 15, 2006 at 11:51 AM
I agree with the article because according to the way that crimes are classified it will make a citizen think twice about actually reporting a crime and/or being truthful about the entire incident. Statistically the numbers of domestic violence cases has decreased because of the labeling that it assigned to this crime.
Moreover statistically as the department is aware of, most domestic violence crimes are committed by the victims loved ones/family members. Who wants someone that they care or cared for to have the label as a felon? I must question the validity and reliability of your statistics because of victims reporting the crime.
Posted by: LAMEKA jENKINS | May 16, 2006 at 12:29 AM
I have the upmost respect for the officers that risk their lives everyday and I am especially thankfull for the ones that care about domestic violence and take it seriously.I am trying to become a officer myself.I think everyone should have the divine right to live peacefully.Those that don't want peace are the reason I must become a police officer and help get violence,drugs and among other terrible unhuman acts of behavior off of the streets so that children can play outside without being scared.That is what I hope for in becoming a officer of the law. sincerely, Wednesday Harbison Bartlett,TN.
Posted by: Wednesday M. Harbison | May 16, 2006 at 04:12 AM
"Crime" isn't an ameoboid fog. It is something generated by individual acts. If a criminal is taken off the streets then the public is safer. There is not some invisible hand of balance that magically pops another criminal into existance somewhere else.
I think communities and activists within communities have a new opportunity here. The sooner we develop a mutually satisfying vocabulary the better. Unless the LAPD has a 'smoke and mirrors' department, you're really just profaning their efforts to communicate.
I start with the premise that the cops are trying to accomplish something all of us want accomplished.
Posted by: Cobb | May 16, 2006 at 03:44 PM
CRIME IS NOT DOWN!!! THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE CRIME IS CHANGED SO THAT THE DEPARTMENT CAN SAY SEE LOOK VIOLENT CRIMES ARE DOWN OR PROPERTY CRIME IS DOWN. ITS A ILLUSION THAT WILL SOON CATCH UP WITH THE DEPARTMENT!!I PROMISE...JUST KEEPING WATCHING YOUR LOCAL NEWS!!!!
Posted by: z | May 17, 2006 at 11:23 PM
I whole heartedly agree. I applied to LAPD in the late 90's with several years in the shoplift field and a BA degree. I sat in the interview waiting room with several others and I watched as every white male was denied advancement for one reason or another (mine was not being able to afford auto insurance in college, years before).
I know of a few LAPD officers that I used to work with and they're not white nor speak Spanish, but they were hired.
I also have other friends with the same story. Border patrol and the LAFD seem to operate the same way. Anyone who listens to a scanner can pick out the incompetent individuals. It's not hard to tell what type of hirees they are.
It seems white skin has made me the enemy (college funding was similar as well.)
Posted by: Mark | November 10, 2006 at 06:08 PM
Bob said: "No matter what law enforcement does at best they displace crime not solve the problem. Statistics may appease some, but until the truth is shared with the public the best we can hope for is smoke and mirrors for a response."
I realize there are a lot of criminologists running around universities who subscribe to that theory. I really only have one response: Please explain the dramatic decreases in crime that Chief Bratton achieved as head of the New York City Transit Police and then the New York City Police Department. In some instances crime was reduced by 70%! I hardly think the crime was "displaced," it was in fact eliminated. CompStat is not only about statistics, it is an entire process, and it works.
Read "Crime Fighter" by Jack Maple (one of the smartest cops who ever lived IMHO) if you want to understand more about this.
Posted by: New Yorker | November 11, 2006 at 04:52 AM