We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
A Los Angeles Police Department internal email shows that the department has misclassified up to 80% of aggravated assaults as simple assaults. That’s important because if they can label a crime as belonging to the Part II family of crimes it doesn’t get counted in the overall violence crime statistics reported publicly—the only numbers that really matter to the LAPD and City Hall.
A November 3, 2016 email from the Commanding Officer of COMPSTAT Division John Neuman, shows that between January 1, 2015 and October 29, 2016 an inspection of simple assault crimes that included a dangerous weapon were classified by the department as a less serious Part II crime when they should have been classified as a more serious Part I crime like an aggravated assault or robbery.
According to Neuman’s email:
“The inspection is looking at a total of 1,792 Simple Assaults Citywide from the past 22 months. A very quick sampling of such showed that up to 80% of these were misclassified.”
Neuman’s email also indicated that the department was taking steps internally to fix the numbers but made no mention of alerting the public. If the department doesn’t fix and release the adjusted actual and real violent crime statistics for 2015 they’ll never be able to get an accurate account of the increase or decrease in crime from 2014. The same goes for 2015 and 2016.
Neuman’s emails seems to indicate that this was a random sampling so I am sure the number is much higher.
This isn’t the first time the LAPD has been caught cooking the books, though.
In 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that 14,000 serious assaults had been misclassified as minor offenses during an eight-year period, thus lowering the city’s crime levels. An internal audit by the department’s inspector general said that number was 25,000. The Times reported that, “More than a quarter of the errors were due to the LAPD failing to count cases in which suspects brandished weapons as aggravated assaults.”
At the time Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said they were taking steps to correct the problem. We’re now headed into 2017 and apparently the problem still isn’t fixed.
Here’s the email:
It looks like not only will the department have to adjust its numbers but also so will Chief Beck. If these numbers are off, then his weekly report of crime statistics is off too.
And finally, while we don’t blame the LAPD for the increase or decrease in crime–quite frankly that’s all on the public they police–we do expect Chief Beck and co. to be forthcoming and honest about what the numbers really are.