Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division stopped black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the population. Following the report, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered Metro police to cut back on stops. “We have made our streets safer with fewer vehicle stops than in recent years, and we have to keep prioritizing what works to both stop crime and strengthen trust,” said Garcetti in a statement.
As a way to combat increased violent crime in the city, Garcetti announced in 2015 that the Metropolitan Division would double in size to target hot spots. The division increased traffic stops from 4,300 in 2014 to nearly 60,000 in 2018. Metro officers typically engage in pretextual stops, using violations such as a broken tail light as a starting point to question a driver and potentially search their car. In a city whose population is 9% black, the investigation found that nearly half of all drivers stopped were black. South Los Angeles, the area where Metro made most of its traffic stops, is only one-third African American. The effectiveness of the surge in Metro’s stops is difficult to assess as crime did not dip until 2018. Civil rights and community groups are calling for Metro to withdraw from South L.A.