A Los Angeles Police Department review of its discipline system prompted by the rampage by ex-officer Christopher Dorner found widespread concerns among officers and civilians that the agency discriminates based on gender, ethnicity and rank, reports the Los Angeles Times. Focus group sessions held with more than 500 department employees found that many of those interviewed believed internal investigations were unfair and that punishments were subjective. Among the complaints were that the department overlooks misconduct by high-ranking officials, that discipline is influenced by public and media pressures and that nepotism infects the disciplinary process.
The report, also contained data that raised doubts about some of those perceptions of bias. Statistics compiled by the department show that the ethnic, gender and rank breakdown of officers sent to disciplinary panels for suspensions or termination roughly matches the demographics of the LAPD as a whole. White officers, for example, make up 36 percent of the department and 35 percent of officers sent to a Board of Rights disciplinary hearing for a lengthy suspension or termination. Black officers account for 12 percent of officers and 14 percent of those sent to such hearings. Police officials said in the report that they were planning to make a significant change: returning to using specific guidelines to determine what punishment an officer deserves. The move is intended to help ensure similar punishments are handed out for similar types of misconduct.