LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California attorney general on Tuesday made it impossible for law enforcement agencies to access entries that Los Angeles police made in the state’s gang database after three LA officers were charged, not convicted, of falsifying records.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s records are roughly 25% of the database, which critics have long said fosters racial profiling. Known as CalGang, the database lists nearly 80,000 people — the majority of them people of color — suspected of being active gang members or possible associates.
Banning access to the LAPD’s entries comes amid a national reckoning into police practices and racial injustice.
Three members of the department’s Metropolitan Division were charged last week. Prosecutors allege the officers misidentified dozens of people as gang members and some of the false information was used to enter individuals into the database.
Getting removed from the database can be difficult and take time. Advocates say being listed can be detrimental to a person’s immigration standing and efforts to find housing and jobs.
The LAPD has vowed to stop using the database “for anything other than removing individuals from it,” and an internal investigation found extensive issues in entries. More than 20 other officers are under investigation in the widening scandal.
The department revealed in January that officers had been assigned to home duty or taken off patrol after a mother complained last year that her son was wrongly identified as a gang member and a police supervisor began a review.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday urged other police departments statewide to audit their own entries.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: CalGang is only as good as the data that is put into it,” Becerra said in a news release. “If a quarter of the program’s data is suspect, then the utility of the entire system rightly comes under the microscope.”
The three LAPD officers are accused of writing at times that a person admitted to being a gang member, but video from police body-worn cameras showed those listed were not asked about gang membership. Prosecutors said some people denied gang affiliation but the officers wrote that they admitted being gang members.
Los Angeles Superior Court records do not indicate when future proceedings will be held.
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