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Patrick Smith, LAPD Officer, Faces Dismissal For Racial Profiling Against Latinos

Posted: 03/27/2012 1:38 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 1:44 pm

Police

A Los Angeles Police Department investigation concluded that one of their white police officers routinely targeted Latinos for traffic stops and falsified documents to cover up his record of racial profiling, according to the Los Angeles Times .

Officer Patrick Smith, who has been with the LAPD for 15 years, allegedly stopped Latinos based on their ethnicity while working alone on a motorcycle assignment in the department's West Traffic Division. The case marks the first time the LAPD has found one its officers "engaged in racial or ethnic profiling", according to the Los Angeles Times report.

However, a study conducted in 2008 by a Yale researcher found that the LAPD officers stopped blacks and Latinos at significantly higher rates than whites, "regardless of whether they lived in high-crime neighborhoods," according to the Los Angeles Times.

But Los Angeles isn't alone in its unflattering racial profiling history.

Last year, the Department of Justice released a 23 page report illustrating systemic discrimination against Latinos in East Haven, Connecticut by the local police department. The report found that Latinos were subject to disproportionate targeting for traffic stops, non-standard justifications for stops, and "serious incidents of abuse of authority."

"Discrimination and institutionalized indifference remain deeply rooted in the culture of the Police Department," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy L. Austin Jr. said at a press conference in New Haven, Connecticut.

Last year, Milwaukee, Wisconsin also garnered unwanted media attention for similar racial profiling charges. Black drivers in Milwaukee were seven times more likely to be pulled over by police than their white counterparts, while Latinos were five times more likely to be stopped, according to a study conducted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

While an average of 250 formal racial profiling allegations are brought against LAPD officers each year, all incidents have been "cleared" before those concerning Officer Smith, according to the Los Angeles Times. This may have to do with "the murky nature" of racial profiling cases, in that it is difficult to know "what officers are thinking in the moment they make a stop", according to LAPD officials.

Officer Smith will now face a disciplinary hearing, where a three-person board will decide if he will be exonerated or fired for his actions, according to the report.

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Filed by Cristina Costantini  |