The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is launching a program that would bring officers face to face with civilians who have accused them of racial profiling, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The program called “Community-Employee Mediation Pilot Program” will run about three years and would allow the officer accused of racial profiling and the racially profiled victim the opportunity to discuss the encounter where the alleged incident occurred.
Those who are interested in the meetings would attend only on a voluntary basis. The parties involved will have an impartial and trained mediator, a volunteer that would be provided by the City Attorney’s office.
The pilot program is a giant step for the LAPD, which has been dogged over the years with thousands of accusations of racial bias policing in its ranks. A report that was authored by Yale economist and law professor Dr. Ian Ayres was released in the fall of 2008 by the ACLU of Southern California, showing that Black and Hispanic residents are stopped, frisked, searched, and arrested by LAPD officers far more frequently than White residents.
In response to the report, the LAPD rejected a number of key recommendations made by Ayres, a renowned statistician who has authored several studies relating to issues of racially disparate treatment in a variety of areas.
The current program’s mediation sessions will take place in cases that do not involve allegations of physical assault, racially bias, verbal insults, or more serious charges.
If an LAPD officer agrees to participate in the program in good faith, then the department’s investigation in to the accusations against them will be closed. Officers with two prior complaints in the previous year are ineligible.
According to the L.A. Times, a director from the police officer’s union reportedly told the police commission Tuesday that the union supported the mediation plan and has urged officers to take part in the program.
Los Angeles is not the first major city to institute a mediation program with regards to racial profiling; San Francisco already has such a program in place. According to a study published in August 2012 by Shoshana Walter of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), African Americans are at least seven times more likely to be arrested than Whites in San Francisco.
The gap between the arrest rates for Whites and African Americans in San Francisco is well above state and national averages,