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Friday, August 22, 2008

LAPD ordered to mediate race profiling cases

Acknowledging that racial profiling exists among some LAPD officers but is almost impossible to prove, the Los Angeles Police Commission ordered the department on Tuesday to create a mediation process that allows citizens to confront cops they accuse of targeting them because of their race.

The commission also demanded that the independent inspector general audit the department's investigations into complaints of profiling - none of which has ever been found true.

"We are not calling people racists," said commissioner John Mack, the former head of the Los Angeles Urban League. "But what we are saying is there are some occasional acts and instances where people are not getting treated fairly based on the color of their skin. So we have to get a handle on it, as objectively as we can."

The new mediation is an attempt to build a better relationship between officers and a historically distrustful community. Previously, citizens could wait months before hearing back from the LAPD's Internal Affairs Division over a complaint and were often met with a thank-you letter that concluded that the claims were unfounded.

The new process would allow people to sit down with the officers and a supervisor and give their side of the story and maybe even get an apology in return.

The changes are among several that come after months of debate over the department's investigations into citizen complaints of racial profiling. [Mark Godsey]

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