The Los Angeles Police Department is turning to technology to identify bad officers, the Associated Press reports. This month, the agency began using a $35 million computer that tracks complaints against officers and alerts supervisors to possible misconduct. The system is part of a federal oversight program after abuse allegations in the 1990s cast doubt on the department’s ability and willingness to police itself.
The system, developed by Sierra Systems Group Inc. and Bearing Point Inc., mines databases of complaints, pursuits, lawsuits, use of force, and other files to detect patterns that humans might miss or ignore.Anyone whose conduct differs sharply from their peers’ is flagged. That could, for example, target a vice detective who fires significantly more shots than other officers, or who has a high number of excessive force complaints. Other police departments, including New Orleans and Miami-Dade County, have turned to such tracking systems. New Orleans recorded a drop in citizen complaints, and Miami-Dade saw a decrease in use-of-force reports in the first years after systems were implemented, said a 2001 Justice Department study. The Los Angeles department is the nation’s second largest after New York City, with nearly 13,100 officers, jailers, dispatchers, and other personnel.