L.A. Police Chief Vows to Reform Data-Driven Policing

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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore Tuesday vowed to modify a program that used data to identify individuals as “chronic offenders,” as activists at a Police Commission meeting denounced the data use as racially biased, reports the Los Angeles Times. A shouting, overflow crowd of 100 protesters called on the commission, the civilian panel that oversees the police department, to stop the agency from using the data-driven policing to reduce violence. Civil liberties groups say the statistics compiled by officers that fuel the computer models could be skewed by racial bias and result in unfair policing of blacks and Latinos.

As chants of “shut it down” interrupted the meeting, Moore vowed to make changes to the controversial program when he presents the agency’s response on April 9. Inspector General Mark Smith detailed how officers used inconsistent criteria to identify people with criminal histories who are likely to commit violent crimes. Jamie Garcia of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition lambasted officials for not giving credit to residents who had raised concerns about the programs. “This started by suing you,” Garcia yelled. “Now we are here. We claim the victory. We, the community, stopped you.” A program called Los Angeles’ Strategic Extraction and Restoration (LASER) mapped out zones indicating where many crimes have occurred and suggesting where to focus more officers. One component allowed each of the department’s 21 geographic areas to compile lists or “bulletins” of people calculated to be among the top 12 “chronic offenders.” LASER assigned people points based on prior criminal histories, such as arrest records, gang affiliation, probation and parole status and recent police contacts. The police department suspended the tool in August, after it created an uproar among civil liberties and privacy groups.

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