Racial profiling is a given for officers who patrol the border states. How else would they rack up impounds in the name of the deficit or locate dangerous criminals who came to America to reclaim Aztlán and wreak havoc on our Home Depot parking lots? (That's right. Hide your kids. Hide your wife.)
It's a sad yet widely accepted fact: LAPD officers are no better than your average Arizona governor. But come on, guys -- you should know better than to say it out loud.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Department of Justice recently chastised the LAPD via snail mail for blatant practice of racial profiling. The evidence: a recording of two LAPD officers, who admit clear-as-day they couldn't do their job without it.
Police Chief Charlie Beck responded by saying all that's in the past.
"They are criticizing us for the way we used to do things," Beck said to the Times. Then: "It is a huge leap to paint the entire department with that brush. And it is just not true. It's not that type of department."
That must be why, in the recording, two officers accused of stopping a motorist because of his race respond with "So, what?" and "I couldn't do my job without racially profiling."
In the case, as described by Justice officials, the officers flipped a bitch to pull over a Latino man because his tail light was out, then asked if he was in a gang and checked to see if he had any outstanding warrants. (We'd like to remind the Department of Justice that, by stretching the guidelines of Secure Communities, a federally mandated program, the officers could have gone so far as to check his immigration status. It happens. A lot.)
In the letter, Justice officials find that the incidents indicate "a culture that is inimical to race-neutral policing." Huh -- you don't say.
The feds only ever step in once racist policing is so out in the open that it can't realistically be ignored. Like in July of this year, when they challenged Arizona's blatantly racist SB 1070. But maybe they should take a gander at their own agents: The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights released a report card for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials two months ago, and let's just say they're not on the Honor Roll.
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As many as 250 profiling complaints are filed every year, the Times reported. Here at the Weekly, we hear our fair share of stories: immigrant laborers pulled over for "dangerous tools" in the back of the pickup or any multitude of fix-its -- leading to a series of accusations like "Where do you work?" and "Are there drugs in the car?" -- or guys walking home from work taken to the station for "suspicious behavior."
L.A. Police Commission President John Mack is obviously just as clueless as the Department of Justice in terms of how to prevent the practice. He told the Times:
"I've heard many times that we can't get inside an officer's head, but somehow, some way, we need to figure out a way to get to the facts. I'm not talking about a witch hunt, but I am talking about reaching a point where we can say with confidence that these claims have been very fairly and very thoroughly investigated."
In other words, LAPD officers who claim to be incapable of doing their jobs without racially profiling are free to carry on as before, until the next letter from Washington. Let's hope that one will at least be a Howler.