Attorney General Becerra Announces Independent Review of the Los Angeles Police Department’s CalGang Records and Policies
LOS ANGELES – Pursuant to the authority granted under Assembly Bill 90 of 2017 (AB 90), California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) will conduct an independent review of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) records and policies regarding the use of CalGang, a criminal intelligence database used by law enforcement agencies to share gang-related intelligence. This review comes as a result of reports that LAPD officers falsified field records used to identify possible gang members. LAPD has commenced its own internal investigation in response to the reports.
“Transparency and accountability are fundamental to effective policing. The CalGang database is only as good as the information put into it,” said Attorney General Becerra. “False or inaccurate data contaminates a system wholly reliant on the integrity of such data. It undermines the hard work of legitimate intelligence gathering accomplished by fellow officers. Our state legislature recently entrusted oversight of the CalGang system to DOJ. As part of that oversight responsibility, we will take appropriate measures to hold accountable those who misuse the CalGang system.”
In light of the allegations of abuse of the CalGang system by LAPD officers, Attorney General Becerra has notified LAPD that DOJ will, at a minimum, undertake the following:
- Conduct an independent audit and validation of CalGang entries by LAPD, not limited to the Metro division, which would include review of body-worn camera footage and any other recordings;
- Review LAPD’s internal controls and policies to improve accountability for officers who use the CalGang system; and
- Observe the re-training of LAPD officers on the use of the CalGang system ensuring that officers understand, among other things, the legal and social consequences for individuals in our community who are entered in the database.
These oversight activities will be memorialized in a formal agreement between DOJ and LAPD. As the situation unfolds, DOJ may take further steps authorized under AB 90. This new law provides DOJ with the authority to suspend or revoke LAPD’s access to the database, or issue a letter of censure.
Earlier this year, the LAPD issued a statement acknowledging that at least one person had been erroneously identified as a gang member by an officer. Following further review of the incident, LAPD reversed the designation. In the statement, LAPD noted that it had initiated a personnel investigation into the actions of three officers and that those officers and others have been assigned to inactive duty or removed from the field. LAPD then announced that it had completed the first of a series of investigations into the alleged misconduct. As a result, an officer’s case was directed to an administrative tribunal for the purpose of removal from the LAPD and referred out for possible legal action. In addition, LAPD announced that, as a precaution, it has ordered retraining for a wide range of personnel in advance of the implementation of more stringent criteria for the collection of information associated with the CalGang system. The investigation is ongoing, and DOJ is monitoring the situation to determine what or whether other oversight and enforcement measures need to be taken.
Under AB 90, the Legislature tasked the DOJ to formulate regulations aimed at improving the quality of the CalGang database. Prior to AB 90, DOJ did not oversee CalGang, which was governed by uncodified policies and procedures. DOJ is currently in the process of reviewing public comments submitted on the proposed CalGang regulations. The proposed regulations aim to balance the protection of individuals’ rights, public safety, and the legitimate needs of law enforcement as required under the law. Even after regulations are adopted, DOJ will continue to analyze relevant data and conduct empirical research to evaluate the effectiveness of CalGang and any other shared gang database in the state.