Patterico's Pontifications

7/15/2007

Robert Parry on the Effect of the LAPD Consent Decree

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:11 pm



Regular readers will remember our old pal Robert C. J. Parry, a staunch LAPD defender who published an extensive essay on this site in May about the LAPD disciplinary system. Mr. Parry has an Op-Ed in this morning’s L.A. Daily News, which relies on statistics to show that federal oversight has not improved the LAPD in ways the activists predicted.

News reports of the day show that many predictions were made about the Advertisement decree’s benefits, but few were quantifiable. The only concrete promise was that the decree would provide definitive proof of LAPD racial profiling.

The message in the undercurrent was unmistakable: Things will change — fewer shootings and uses of force. Fewer public complaints [and] more complaints sustained . . .

Mr. Parry shows that in most of these areas, the opposite has happened.

Federal oversight has not resulted in fewer shootings. Instead, with federal oversight, shootings are up (although very few are found out of policy).

Nor has federal oversight reduced the number of public complaints. On the contrary, public complaints are up: in the 1990s, there were never more than 4000; now that number approaches 7000 some years.

The increase in complaints, interestingly, appears to have been almost wholly due to an explosion of unfounded complaints. The statistics show that the percentage of sustained complaints is way down. Notably, Mr. Parry’s statistics show that the absolute number of citizen-generated sustained complaints is about the same now as it was in the 1990s — perhaps slightly lower.

This isn’t for a lack of investigation, Mr. Parry notes:

All complaints against officers are now thoroughly investigated and subject to triple audits — by the LAPD Audit Bureau, the inspector general and the consent decree monitor. The complaint’s plausibility is disregarded. Just ask the cop who was investigated for stealing a woman’s ovaries.

In short, with shootings up, illegitimate complaints way up, and the percentage of sustained complaints down, federal oversight appears to have produced the opposite of what was intended. At the very least, it has been no panacea, serving to do little other than drive officers away from the Department.

Mr. Parry provided the Daily News with extensive charts detailing his raw data, but the Daily News declined to publish that data. (His piece, by the way, was declined by the L.A. Times. Is anyone surprised? Anyone?)

So Robert graciously allowed me to publish the raw data for his report here. All of it came from the LAPD itself — though as he explains below, not without a struggle. In the end, Mr. Parry says, after a month-and a half of begging, he still didn’t get everything he wanted.

Here is Mr. Parry’s data:

Finding the Truth in the LAPD Fog

Things the Consent Decree Should Reduce

things-consent-decree-should-reduce.JPG

Things the Consent Decree Should Increase

things-consent-decree-should-increase.JPG

Environmental Factors

environmental-factors.JPG

All three of the above charts are available in .pdf form, for magnification and closer scrutiny, at this link.

In addition, Mr. Parry has painstakingly compiled a very useful chart of consolidated statistics for the LAPD from 1996-2007, showing officer-involved shootings, assaults on officers, complaints, discipline, crime, and arrests.

lapd-consolidated-statistics.JPG

Click on the chart or this link to get the chart as a .pdf, which you can magnify to read the statistics clearly. For example, I took a clip of the top left-hand side of the file, with magnification at 200%, to show you how readable the statistics are at that magnification:

larger-statistics-example.JPG

Concerning this data, Mr. Parry writes:

While statistics reveal many claims about the “Gang in Blue” to be baseless, getting them confirms one allegation: The LAPD greatly needs improved transparency and public insight on its operations.

Data for this report came largely by sifting deep into publicly available multiple-hundred-page reports. Some came from department sources on condition of anonymity.

However, the Department’s primary provider of information, the Media Relations Section, proved disturbingly unhelpful. Six weeks of effort to obtain two basic blocks of information – use of force and public complaint data- proved to be an shocking litany of unreturned phone calls, denials, misdirection, and obfuscation.

At one point, the department claimed its Complaint Management System hadn’t tracked a particular set of statistics. Yet, someone had already provided the allegedly non-existent figures. In another case, an officer said providing the department’s 2006 arrest figures would require research. Apparently so. It took more than a month to get them.

Does anybody believe the LAPD didn’t readily know how many people it arrested last year?

The actions of cops on the streets may be quite different from perception, but the department’s primary source of information doesn’t help them.

I applaud Mr. Parry’s doggedness and thoroughness. I know that I’ll be referring to these useful charts — especially the final consolidated chart — again and again.

5 Responses to “Robert Parry on the Effect of the LAPD Consent Decree”

  1. This is impressive research. It took a lot of time and effort to gather, collate and analyze this data. If knowledge is the first step to making things better, and I think it is, then the LAPD and the citizens of LA are lucky to have someone like Mr. Parry who is willing to do this research and make it public.

    DRJ (31d948)

  2. Great Job Mr.Parry !!!!! This needed to be on the front page of both papers of record for the city of Los Angeles! I’m sure that LAT didn’t want to run it because it would force them to swallow the pill of reality that they seem to be unwilling to take.
    With reporters like Mr. Parry on the job, we Officers might see the tides turn back to the safety of the city being the status quo, and #1 priority to the Mayor and Chiefs offices again in our life time. With more stories like this one, the citizens just might demand the consent decree be lifted. Bean counters beware!!! Great work, Keep up the fight!

    To my fellow Warriors reading this, Stay Safe.

    Ed O’Shea

    Ed O'Shea (de5a83)

  3. Excellent post.

    What the whole mess shows it that the activist oppositional class hates the institution itself, not the occasional mistake of a worthy one; they present no plan for actual policing, only structural change that does little more than ultimately weaken policing. The dramatic increase in phony complaints shows I think that this has become an accepted meme in the culture.

    Patricia (824fa1)

  4. I live in South Cebtral Los Angeles and our LAPD police officers are the best! The gangs in the area have been empowered by this consent decree and the weak mayors office, going back to Bradley. We need more facts like these to come out and expose the lies of these activists! This is a great start to making this city safe again. How much does this consent decree cost us anyway? I wonder how many police we can hire with that money?

    Pedro in South Central Los Angeles (de5a83)

  5. In short, with shootings up, illegitimate complaints way up, and the percentage of sustained complaints down, federal oversight appears to have produced the opposite of what was intended.

    1 – shootings are up, but they’re justified – good to see that officers aren’t afraid to use force when necessary. That just means the feds haven’t cut their balls off.

    2 – illegitimate complaints way up – this is bad but not terrible – and to be expected.

    3 – legitimate complaints down – you mention that the number of legitimate complaints is down, and not for lack of investigation – isn’t that a good thing? That means there is less bad behavior by cops (out of malice or out of thoughtlessness).

    4 – oversight produced the opposite of what could be expected? You mean it reduced the amount of bad behavior of cops by listening to lots and lots of complaints, many of which were frivolous? That doesn’t sound unexpected.

    5 – I don’t know why there are more shootings, but the real questions I would ask are: how has the crime rate changed, and: are officers in more danger now than before. Those are the numbers that matter.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)


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