By The Vanguard Staff
TORRANCE, CA – The police department in the Southern California city of Torrance is being investigated for “potential systemic failures in the department’s policies and practices…amidst deeply concerning allegations of excessive force, racist text messages, and other discriminatory misconduct,” according to a statement released Wednesday by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
The “independent review” follows a request for assistance by the Torrance Chief of Police, said Bonta, who said the “review will aim to promote public safety and rebuild trust between TPD and the community it serves.”
The review, according to AG Bonta, will be overseen by the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Enforcement Section with the assistance of DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement.
Bonta said DOJ attorneys and special agents will “work diligently to consider all relevant information, including from community members and organizations, local officials, TPD, individual officers, and more.”
The Office of the Attorney General noted that it has made “no determinations at this time about specific complaints or allegations against TPD. The Attorney General’s independent review of TPD is separate from ongoing administrative and criminal investigations at the local level.”
“Our communities deserve to know they can get equal justice under the law,” said AG Bonta. “Police departments are on the front lines of that fight every day as they work to protect the people of our state. However, where there is evidence of potentially pervasive bias or discrimination, it can undermine the trust that is critical for public safety and our justice system.
“I applaud Chief Jay Hart for being willing to engage with my office to tackle these concerns head-on. Now is a time for swift action to identify the facts, take corrective measures where appropriate, and work toward community healing. The California Department of Justice will independently and thoroughly review the Torrance Police Department to determine the appropriate path forward.”
TPD Chief of Police Hart commented, “As Police Chief of the Torrance Police Department, I am committed to accountability, and I will not tolerate any form of bigotry, racism, hate, or misconduct. In partnership with Attorney General Bonta, I will ensure that needed changes are implemented to regain the public’s trust and confidence.”
AG Bonta launched the Racial Justice Bureau within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section in May to “help address issues of implicit and explicit bias in policing,” according to an agency statement, that also noted in “July the AG released a full guidance package for the DOJ’s implementation of Assembly 1506, which requires DOJ to investigate all incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian.”
The AG also won a stipulated judgment involving the Bakersfield Police Department earlier that resulted in an “extensive range of actions to promote public safety and strengthen oversight and accountability systems in Bakersfield.”