Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department arrested Black and Latino people at a “disproportionate rate” — an average of 78.26% of all arrests between 2019 to 2022, despite such residents making up 56% of the city’s population — according to a report released July 26 by City Controller Kenneth Mejia.
Mejia’s office released a map and analysis of nearly 300,000 arrests by the LAPD in the past four years. The data came from the LAPD and “marks the first time the data has been made accessible and mapped for the public without limitations,” the report says.
“Arrest demographics are important in understanding the interplay between those engaged in criminal activity and arrest activity,” the LAPD said in a statement released Aug. 1. “Several studies including the Center for Policing Equity & Policing Project identify that disparities in and of themselves do not mean discrimination exists. Significant other factors such as the roles of poverty, education, and under resourced communities have critical implications.”
According to the LAPD, the disparities noted in the controller’s report analyzing arrest figures “are consistent with other over-representation when comparing select groups of individuals in relationship to residential populations. For example, while Black Angelenos make up 8% of the residential population they represent 24% of violent crime victims and 39% of homicide victims. Similarly, when combined, Black and Latino victims represent 70% of reported violent crime and 87% of homicides.”
LAPD officials added that Black individuals are reported offenders in 41% of violent crime, 39% of homicides and 50% of robberies.
“When combined, Black and Latino individuals are reported offenders in 81% of violent crime and 79% of aggravated assaults,” LAPD officials said in a statement. “Additionally, when violent crime arrest rates are overlayed with rates of violent crime in particular neighborhoods, similar concentrations are found.”
Specifically, the report says that between 2019 and 2022, Latinos made up 51% of LAPD arrests, with Black people next at 27% and whites 16%. Latinos make up 48% of the population, compared to Black people at 8% and whites at 29%.
Among the report’s points, for almost every year surveyed, City Councilman Kevin de León’s 14th District — which includes Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, downtown L.A., El Sereno and Northeast L.A. — led all other districts for the total number of arrests. In 2021, Council District 14 came in second to Council District 8 by a difference of only three arrests.
LAPD officials, however, questioned the veracity of the numbers as they related to the police department, saying the data analyzed by the controller’s office came from the Mayor’s Open Data Portal, which includes arrests made by agencies other than the LAPD.
“It appears that over the four years, 12.3%, or 35,320 of 232,261 arrests were made by non-LAPD entities/private persons and booked in LAPD facilities,” according to the LAPD. “This includes 16,052 private persons arrests, 3,995 airport police arrests and 7,751 California Highway Patrol arrests.”
The arrests reported also included individuals who do not reside in the city of Los Angeles, according to the LAPD.
Mejia’s office responded to the LAPD’s statement Aug. 2 on social media, saying the report “relied on LAPD’s only comprehensive, publicly available arrest data, which they update weekly on the city’s/Mayor’s Open Data Portal.”
Mejia’s office said LAPD did “not refute” the report’s findings that “racial disparities exist in their arrests or that Black and Latino people are arrested at a disproportionate rate.”
“Citing these statistics that emphasize the alleged criminality of communities that are over-policed, marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated plays on racist stereotypes in an attempt to excuse over-policing of disenfranchised communities and neighborhoods,” Mejia’s office said.
The controller’s office recommended the department update its arrest data to include LAPD-specific arrests.
LAPD officials stated the department strives to ensure its actions are “free of bias or discrimination.”
“Each arrest must stand on its own rooted in probable cause and evidence including victim and witness accounts, forensic evidence when available, and the most recent advent of body worn video recording the actions of all involved.”
LAPD arrests fall into five categories — felony, misdemeanor, infractions, dependent and other. According to the analysis, LAPD made more arrests for misdemeanor and infraction offenses than for felonies.
In 2019, before the pandemic, LAPD made 55,954 arrests for misdemeanors and infractions compared to 33,663 arrests for felonies. From 2020-22, misdemeanor and infraction arrests continued to outpace felony arrests, according to the report.
The map also shows that the LAPD makes over 400 arrests each year in the “dependent” category, which involves children who are taken into custody because a parent or guardian was accused of abuse, neglect or endangerment.