The legend of Driving While Brown allegedly found its true Bad Lieutenant. And he roamed in West L.A., according to an LAPD investigation revealed by the Los Angeles Times.
The paper says that Patrick Smith is his name. And on the steel horse he rode -- allegedly targeting Latinos for traffic tickets.
The department is recommending he be fired:
Smith's fate lies with a disciplinary hearing before a three-person board.
But why the brown ones?
Was it racism? Or that, spying 1978 Toyota trucks filled to the gills with cardboard and sporting registration tags that haven't been good since the Clinton era, it was just too easy? Or that the cholos who hang out in Stoner Park are just so darn good lookin'?
It's not clear, but the Times say the motor officer popped up on the radar of brass when multiple complaints of alleged profiling came to their attention.
He allegedly misidentified Latinos as "white" on his tickets, too, according to the piece. (Although, to be fair, Latinos can be both white and Hispanic, as the U.S. Census makes clear).
Amazingly, it's the first time the LAPD has admitted a cop engaged in racial profiling. Because that never, ever happened before in the history of the department, and everyone who alleged such a thing was flat out wrong. (Right?).
(Funny aside: Once long ago a Latino guy, a Korean American guy and a Japanese woman were walking on a street in West L.A. at night -- not too late -- and were made to grab a wall in a felony stop by a ravenous, barking, white LAPD officer. Later cops said we "fit the description" of a burglary crew working the area. Really? A Latino-Korean American-Japanese-female burglary crew? A first in race relations! A complaint, of course, went nowhere, and the department admitted no wrongdoing. To this day, West L.A.'s Latino-Korean American-Japanese-woman heist team remains a mythic legend).
As the paper notes, even the federal government has had its eye on the LAPD's relationship with race. Good thing.
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In 2010, an officer was recorded saying he couldn't do the gig everyday "without racially profiling."
Of course, one out of every two people in L.A. is Latino these days, and the LAPD has become majority minority, so to speak. So it's hard to say what's racial profiling or just another day on the job.
In the case of a white cop in West L.A., however, where one out of every two people isn't Latino, things have become a little more clear.