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LAPD Officer Shootings Double In 2015, Prompting Scrutiny Over Use Of Force

Los Angeles has seen nearly twice as many police shootings this year than the last, and a recent investigation found blacks are shot by officers at nearly three times the rate as whites and Latinos.

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Ringo H.w. Chiu / AP

People gather inside Paradise Baptist Church during a community forum Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles, to discuss the police shooting of 25-year-old Ezell Ford.

The Los Angeles Police Department will be looking into how its officers have used force in the last 10 years, an effort launched after it found the number of officer-involved shootings spiked this year.

The study into the use of force by one of the biggest departments in the country comes after an investigation by radio station KPCC found roughly one in four people shot in Los Angeles County were unarmed. It also found black people were shot at nearly triple the rate of whites and Latinos in the city.

KPCC looked at shootings from 2010 to 2014, which included 375 people shot by on-duty officers.

So far this year, LAPD officers have engaged in 45 shootings, a sharp increase from 23 reported shootings the previous year during the same time period.

"Despite the progress the LAPD has made, we are living in challenging times," LAPD Police Commission President Matt Johnson said during the meeting Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The LAPD, like police departments across our country, is facing a crisis in confidence with minority communities, particularly African Americans."

The study would also include a review of the department's body cameras, training, and use of less-lethal weapons.

Like several police agencies across the country, the LAPD's use of force has been under scrutiny after high-profile cases raised questions of officers' tactics, particularly when it involves minorities.

In Los Angeles, one of the officers involved in the shooting death of Ezell Ford on Aug. 11, 2014, was found by the police commission to have wrongly used force.

Since the shooting, protesters have stopped multiple public meetings by the police commission, including Tuesday's.

The study, involving one of the biggest police departments in the country, could provide a unique glimpse into the use of force by officers and the people at the receiving end of that force.

Though some police departments keep some data regarding police shootings and use-of-force, the data is limited and not comprehensive. State laws that keep personnel records on police officers, including California, also keep much of the data out of public view.

Earlier this year, President Obama decried the lack of data on police shootings during a criminal justice forum at the White House.

After attending that forum, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced its annual report of use-of-force incidents would be much more detailed, including demographic information of the person officers used force on, the type of call that initiated the response, and comparisons with its overall calls.

"I may not change folks' conclusions on the subject," Beck said after the announcement, "but I would like to put some fact sin front of them so they can make a better assessment of the way that the police department deals with use-of-force issues."

Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

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