Catalyst California and ACLU Report Details Unethical Police Work, Impact on Los Angeles and Riverside Counties

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By Claire Hsu 

LOS ANGELES, CA – Catalyst California and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California recently published reports detailing the results of an investigation of unethical police work in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, examining negative impacts conventional police work brings to underrepresented communities within these counties.

The reports note bias against people of color and unprincipled police routines exists, said Catalyst California, and encourages the state to admit the flaws present in the current system.

According to Catalyst California, the Los Angeles and Riverside County police compromise the security of those they represent, misuse large amounts of money and enable adverse effects on people of color.

The Los Angeles County report assesses the misuse of government dollars by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The piece also discusses the bulk of police routines, ways they specifically target people of color and the irresponsible usage of assets towards unimportant violations that do not pose a threat.

Like the Los Angeles County report, the Riverside County report created by the ACLU and California Catalyst, introduces ways unethical police behavior in routine work and improper usage of funds is biased against underrepresented communities.

According to the report on Los Angeles County’s unethical police ventures, the police spend large amounts of government funding on employee wages and benefits, totaling approximately $3.5 billion.

Even with the substantial amounts of money they receive, the police have devoted most of their work to pursuing low-risk crimes, such as small traffic stops, instead of seeking practices that could benefit the community, states the California Catalyst report.

In addition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department targets people of color, with stops focusing on low-risk cases, highlights the California Catalyst Los Angeles County report, and that targeting often leads to violent confrontations and excessive penalties.

According to the LA County report, these experiences with the police create adverse effects on the general population’s mental health and utilize assets placed in other areas that promote public interests, such as access to medical resources and safer roads.

Chauncee Smith, one of the contributors to the piece, states, “It amounts to millions of dollars of public resources wasted on these racially biased practices,” relays The Guardian.

The Guardian reports that the report states the LA County Sheriff’s Department receives $1.1 billion in government funding and the majority is used in addressing low-risk traffic infractions.

Smith asserts, “The vast amount of time that law enforcement is out on patrol is counterproductive to community safety,” according to The Guardian.

The Riverside County report, also prepared by California Catalyst and the ACLU, reveals similar results as the LA County report.

The California Catalyst and the Desert Sun reveal that in 2019 the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department conducted 58,292 traffic stops and only made arrests in 3.6 percent of these cases. The Riverside County report also indicates that the police establish 87.6 percent of police confrontations, while 12.4 percent of police work composes 911 and police assistance calls.

The Riverside County report states the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department received almost $800,000 in funding, much more than 10 percent of the county’s assets.

California Catalyst also highlights a significant difference in financing the police and supporting those struggling to find homes. According to the Riverside County report, the county used about $88 million to assist the homeless, less than 1.5 percent of the county’s total funds.

According to the Riverside County report, police confrontations, which often result in unpleasant police experiences for the community, are unfavorable to the population’s mental health. Police target traffic stops in communities where those of color experience financial loss and family separations.

The California Catalyst report indicates a relationship between the unethical police work to the excessive amount of money the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department secures.

Smith states in the Desert Sun, “Spending inordinate amounts of time on traffic stops for more issues… not only wastes public dollars but also leads to harassment, dehumanization, economic extraction through fees and fines, uses of force, and death.”

According to the Desert Sun, Chad Bianco, the Riverside County Sheriff, requested more money to fund his department, which the county granted. Despite the expansion in funds, records show that there is a growth in felony crimes, states the Desert Sun.

Sheriff Bianco has issued a release asserting that “… the Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing the highest and most efficient level of service to our residents,” reports the Desert Sun, and he said, “The ACLU is intentionally misleading the public…”

Sheriff Bianco added the California Department of Justice statistics on traffic stops isn’t correct, the Desert Sun writes.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he will investigate the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department because of evidence of police violence and misconduct, details the Desert Sun.

Attorney General Bonta affirms, “Unfortunately, it is clear that—amid concerning levels of in-custody deaths and allegations of misconduct—too many families and communities in Riverside County are hurting and looking for answers,” according to the Desert Sun and the California Catalyst Riverside County report.

Catalyst California and the ACLU note they strive to encourage authorities to acknowledge the issues of unethical police work and its impacts on the community through reports on Los Angeles and Riverside County.

Smith added, “Communities are safe when every person is healthy, secure and supported,” reports the Desert Sun.

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About The Author

Claire Hsu is an undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and minoring in Sociology. She is interested in policies related to advocating for API rights and prisoner's rights across California. After graduation, Claire plans on attending law school and pursuing a career in law. She is most passionate about criminal law and intellectual property law.

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