LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The California Department of Justice is reviewing the Los Angeles Police Department's records and policies regarding use of the state's gang member database after allegations emerged that officers in an elite crime suppression team falsified records and listed innocent people as gang members, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday.
The attorney general could revoke or suspend the department's access to the database, called CalGang. It is a statewide criminal intelligence compilation of 80,000 gang members and associates statewide used by local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information.
It is used by the Los Angeles Police Department more than any other agency and at least 20 members of the department's Metropolitan Division are under investigation after authorities found inaccuracies on field interview cards that police officers fill out after stopping and questioning people.
The department has presented the case to Los Angeles County prosecutors for possible criminal charges.
Becerra said authorities still do not know how many innocent people were erroneously listed as gang members in the database and declined comment when asked if other agencies are also being investigated.
False or inaccurate data contaminates a system that is reliant on the integrity of its data, he said.
While Becerra said the database is used as an intelligence-gathering tool, gang sentencing enhancements increase penalties in criminal cases.
A critical state audit in 2016 found that the long-troubled database lacked oversight and that some agencies could not substantiate some of the listings. Becerra, whose office was granted oversight of the database the following year, said officials are working on additional reforms to the system.