A recent report confirms what we already know about too many police departments in the U.S.
When police use their weapons, they are more likely to shoot people of color, those who suffer with mental illnesses or a combination of those two, says the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) about their own department. This data, the most comprehensive in the agency’s history, looked at how force was used against civilians, CBS noted. Presented earlier this week during a police commission, the report admitted that officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles have increased by a whopping 60 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Other findings included:
- Between 2011-2015, despite African-Americans making up a mere 9 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 35 percent of people shot by the police. Numbers-wise that means of the 223 people shot, 77 were Black, says the Associated Press.
- Shootings among those suffering with mental illness rose from five in 2014 to 14 in 2015. The 14 mentally ill shot last year, represented 37 percent of all the people shot in 2015. (Nationally, that number is 25 percent).
- Use of force among the LAPD officers is still rare, the report claims. Out of 1,924 use-of-force cases in 2015 represented 0.13 percent of the 1.5 million recorded interactions between the public and the police department.
- Yet, LAPD had some of the highest number of police-civilian gun killings with 21; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office had 14; the Houston Police Department had 12; and Chicago had 8 in 2015.
- Of those 21 people killed by the LAPD, 57 percent were Latino, 19 percent were Black, 19 percent were white and 5 percent Asian Pacific Islander.
Police Chief Charlie Beck hopes that this report will help city residents have a better understanding of police force. “This is the framework upon which we will build a discussion that I think needs to happen not only in LA but probably in the whole country,” Beck said.
Yet, Beck claims he can’t truly explain the “why” around these numbers per se. “Just the fact that it has increased and show over time where those increases are. And then that will cause discussions that I think this city and even this nation want to have about use of force,” he said.
But it did seem that the LAPD tried to use “Black of Black crime” to explain away the racial disparity piece, saying that “42 percent of homicide victims in the city and 39 percent of those arrested for those crimes were Black.”
Meanwhile, when it came to the mentally ill, Beck said that those numbers could be a combination of many factors, including the rise of the homeless population in L.A., which has increased police interaction with them. Despite the city’s bolstering efforts to train their officers to better deal with this vulnerable population, Beck admitted that ‘it’s going to take a lot of time’ for every officer to get all the additional training needed,” says the Associated Press.
A small group of protesters disrupted the commission, chanting about the fatal police shooting of 39-year-old unarmed homeless man Charly Keunang, also known as “Africa,” CBS Los Angeles confirms. The police commission ruled that Keunang’s 2015 death was justified, citing he grabbed a police officer’s gun before being taken down by other officers at the “Skid Row” scene.