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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Parks, Attorneys Discuss Racial Profiling at Forum

March 10, 2000

A group of prominent black attorneys on Thursday night called for Police Chief Bernard C. Parks to compile information on whether LAPD officers target minority motorists, but Parks said other methods are more effective in preventing the practice known as racial profiling.

Several participants said they had been stopped numerous times because of their race by law enforcement agencies around the country.

"The last time I got stopped in Beverly Hills was when I was president of the Beverly Hills Bar Assn.," John W. Patton Jr. said at the Simon Wiesenthal Center gathering. "I've been stopped all over the place . . . from Cleveland to Washington, D.C."

Profiling is loosely defined as stopping minority motorists on the basis of a racial profile, without reasonable suspicion, to discover some evidence of criminal activities. Critics say it is used to harass and intimidate minorities.

Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), who was a panelist, wrote a bill to require all California law enforcement agencies to study whether profiling occurs. Gov. Gray Davis vetoed the bill last year.

But Parks and Sheriff Lee Baca have opposed collection of such data.

Parks said the best way to deal with the problems is through an "aggressive complaint procedure."

He said that the procedure was changed two years ago to better track complaints. He said that problems could be reduced by using computers to track statistics on arrest and field interviews and ensuring that officers follow the LAPD guidelines of giving business cards to all motorists who are stopped but not cited or arrested.

The discussion, which drew about 100 people, was low-key and subdued. Bernard James, a professor of constitutional Law at Pepperdine School of Law, and civil rights attorney Connie Rice, were also members of the discussion panel.

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