(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 78)
As of 2018, according to Police Chief Michel Moore, Black, Asian and Latino police officers make up at least 60% of LAPD’s force in Los Angeles.
However, the Board of Directors for the police union, known as the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which works to “protect, promote, and improve the working conditions, legal rights, compensation and benefits of Los Angeles police officers,” is made up of nine officers, including just one Black woman, two white women, and six white men.
In other words, the board is not an accurate representation of what the majority of police officers in L.A. look like, and by extension, what their values are, as well as where they may see room to work along with members of the community in Los Angeles for the betterment of the public good.
The board of police commissioners, on the other hand, which “sets overall policy while the Chief of Police manages the daily operations of the Department and implements the Board’s policies or policy direction and goals,” is slightly more representative, but might be said to still fall short of “a fair share.” Made up of five mayor-appointed representatives, overseeing a police force where 60% of officers hail from Black, Asian and Latino communities, one could expect these groups to have, say, three out of five seats on the board.
Instead, two white women and one white man take up 60% of the board seats, while one Black man, and one Latina woman account for 40%. In a democratic country, numbers like this suggest we still have a ways to go before achieving an actual functioning democracy.
It’s therefore a good time for every LAPD officer to ask themselves: In the best case scenario, what might the future of policing look like in Los Angeles? For whom should police work, and how?
If there was ever a time for departments, organizations, and individuals everywhere in America to reflect on their own practices and representation, clearly that time has now arrived. And if there’s going to be any meaningful process of change and perhaps even reconciliation, clearly we have to ask these and more questions.
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