The U.S. Justice Deparatment has warned the Los Angeles Police Department that its investigations into racial profiling by officers are inadequate and that some cops still tolerate the practice, the Los Angeles Times reports. Justice officials pointed to two officers who were unknowingly recorded during a conversation with a supervisor being dismissive of racial profiling complaints. “So, what?” one said, when told that other officers had been accused of stopping a motorist because of his race. The second officer is heard twice saying that he “couldn’t do [his] job without racially profiling.”
The officers’ comments, Justice officials said, spoke to a “perception and attitude of some LAPD officers on the street” and suggested “a culture that is inimical to race-neutral policing.” Justice’s are a setback for the LAPD, which remains under federal oversight on the issue. The harsh assessment has also fed into internal tensions as members of the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department, grow impatient with the pace of department efforts to address more aggressively the politically and socially explosive issue that has long dogged the city’s police. Police Chief Charlie Beck disputed the Justice Department findings, saying they were based on cases that predated strict investigative guidelines put into place last year. He also rejected the suggestion that the candid comments of the two officers caught on the recording reflected a pervasive problem. “They are criticizing us for the way we used to do things,” Beck said.