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California bars LAPD info in gang database amid alleged falsified records scandal

California’s top law enforcement officer has pulled access to data entered by the Los Angeles Police Department into the state’s gang database amid a criminal investigation into more than a dozen of its officers for possibly falsifying records.

In a Tuesday announcement, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he revoked access to records in CalGang generated by the LAPD. The department’s entries account for about 25 percent of the roughly 78,000 records in the statewide database.

The move comes after three LAPD officers were charged last week with falsifying interview cards that labeled people as gang members or associates. Sixteen other officers in the department’s Metropolitan Division are currently under investigation for similar offenses.

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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, second from right, revoked access to entries Los Angeles police made in the state's gang database after three officers were charged with falsifying records, authorities said Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio, File)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, second from right, revoked access to entries Los Angeles police made in the state’s gang database after three officers were charged with falsifying records, authorities said Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio, File)

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: CalGang is only as good as the data that is put into it,” Becerra said in announcing the move. “If a quarter of the program’s data is suspect, then the utility of the entire system rightly comes under the microscope.”

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore conducted an internal audit that confirmed misuse of the database. He has since pulled the department from participating in the CalGang system.

A case was submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on a total of 19 officers, an office spokesman previously told Fox News. The LAPD declined to comment on the investigation.

The three officers indicted — Braxton Shaw, 37, Michael Coblentz, 42, and Nicolas Martinez, 36 — are each charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and multiple counts of filing a false police report and preparing false documentary evidence.

Last week, the LAPD said 21 officers were being investigated for misuse of the interview cards, which are used by officers on patrol when speaking to members of the public.

“Public safety tools must provide a real benefit to the public and withstand the durability test of constant scrutiny,” Becerra said. “It should now be obvious to everyone: CalGang must change.”

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Becerra has been under pressure from civil rights and criminal justice advocacy groups to scale back the CalGang system following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Many allege the database is used to target minorities who are unfairly labeled as gang members.

“CalGang is emblematic of the type of policing that has directly led to the recent unrest throughout the country,” read a letter last month to Becerra signed by several groups. “Gang units and other patrols fan out across communities, target Black people and other people of color, stop them under pretexts like a traffic stop or a supposedly ‘consensual’ stop, use racist stereotypes to deem them ‘gang members,’ and add their names and information into the database to be tracked.”

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