February 19, 2008
By Rachel Uranga
Latino officers now outnumber whites in the Los Angeles Police Department, but the LAPD still doesn't promote enough Latinos, blacks, Asians and women to high-ranking positions as required by a federal consent decree, according to a report released Tuesday.
As of January, there were 3,787 Latino officers in the LAPD and 3,770 white officers, according to the quarterly report named after the 16-year-
old federal consent decree that forced the department to increase the hiring and promotion of minority officers. There are 1,183 black officers.
The report found the LAPD has met 47 percent of the promotional goals - with the majority of the noncompliance within the rank of Latino officers.
It also found that the department should have at least nine more blacks and five more Asians in higher ranking positions. It also concluded that at least nine more women should hold a higher rank.
"It means that we make goals, but they still aren't fulfilled," said Arturo Placencia, president of the Latin American Law Enforcement Association commonly referred to as La Ley, or "the law" in Spanish, which represents 650 uniformed officers.
While Placencia called the new numbers a "historic event," he also said the LAPD command staff still does not reflect the city's diversity.
LAPD Chief William Bratton said after the report was presented to the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday that his agency has made major strides in diversifying the top ranks, and he is comfortable with the progress made under his five-year tenure.
Under the 1992 consent decree known as Hunter La Ley, the department was required to use "good faith" efforts to promote minority officers into coveted positions, from top-ranking police officer slots to lieutenant.
It arose out of a lawsuit against the department from minority officers who said they were denied promotions because of their race.
John Mack, a civil rights activist and the commission's vice president, pointed to the hiring of Latinos to top positions as an area where the LAPD fell most behind.
In five of the nine high-ranking positions for Latinos, the LAPD failed to meet its promotions goal. In the starkest, the LAPD set a goal to have Latinos make up 41 percent of its sergeant level-one positions, but as of Jan. 5, only 21 percent made up those ranks.
"The important thing is that we continue on a proactive basis," Mack said, pointing to a change in attitude among top brass who are now reaching out to younger officers and encouraging them to apply for higher ranks.
The LAPD has increased its outreach and has grown its pool of young officers. As of January, 50 percent of the first-rank police officers were Latino, 30 percent were white, 8 percent were black and 8 percent were Asian.
Gerald Chaleff, head of the department's Consent Decree Bureau, said a five-year analysis of promotions shows a pool of qualified minority candidates has been growing.
"As the population of the Hispanics grows, the leadership is moving up in the department," he told the commission. "It doesn't mean we are there yet, but we are getting there."