New LAPD Program Addresses Racial Profiling

The Los Angeles Police Department has received permission from the Police Commission to launch an experimental mediation program for racial profiling cases.

The three-year pilot program will give an officer accused of racial profiling and his accuser the chance to meet face-to-face with neutral volunteers trained by city officials serving as mediators. Participation in the meetings will be voluntary for both people involved. LAPD Commander Rick Webb said the goal is to have officers and their accusers "stand in each others' shoes."

The accused and accuser can reach an agreement or an agreement to disagree, with no formal resolution required. In other words, whatever happens, happens.

The Community-Employee Mediation Pilot Program addresses the few hundred complaints the LAPD receives each year accusing officers of racial profiling. These cases typically occur after a driver or a pedestrian is stopped by the police.

Despite the last several thousand cases the department has faced, no officer had been found guilty of racial profiling in internal investigations prior to this new program. Former LAPD Chief William J. Bratton has also said there was little the department could do to investigate profiling complaints, because knowing what an officer is thinking at the time of a stop is impossible.

Bratton's successor, Charlie Beck, has taken a different approach, directing reforms on how racial profiling cases are handled. Investigations no longer try to deduce an officer's exact intention and potential bias, but instead look at whether or not officers in the most serious cases violated the accuser's constitutional rights.

Now, if an accused officer is found to have participated in a mediation session in good faith, the investigation into allegations against the officer will be closed.

Keep your eye on what happens with this one.