A Los Angeles Police Department report showing major gains in the recruitment of Latino officers was praised Tuesday as proof of movement toward achieving “population parity” in the department, but activist groups said Latino officers still have difficulty rising above the rank of sergeant.
The report, serving as a partial rebuttal to a discrimination complaint filed by an organization of Latino officers last month with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, won strong praise from Police Commission President Robert M. Talcott.
“This report clearly shows that significant and constructive steps have been taken by LAPD,” Talcott said. “Of major significance is that the department has upped its recruitment goals from 22.5% to 30% of each Police Academy class. There is strong reason for optimism that the department will eventually reach a goal of 30% Hispanic representation.”
Promotion Rates Cited
But while Talcott lauded the department for its Latino recruiting effort and for reducing the dropout rate of Latinos at the academy from 42% to 15%, he also said the report, ordered by the commission two years ago, shows serious gaps in the promotion of Latino officers.
“I must say that representation at the higher ranks definitely needs improvement,” he said. “This is easier said than done. It is not an easy task, and it will not be possible to instantly place minorities and women evenly at all ranks in the department.
” . . . But this board and department are committed to population parity at all levels.”
The report showed that Latinos now make up 18% of the department and 33.5% of this year’s entering Police Academy classes. It came three weeks after the filing of the discrimination complaint by the Latin American Law Enforcement Assn., known as LA LEY, charging systematic discrimination in promotion of Latino officers.
At a news conference before the Police Commission meeting, leaders of LA LEY and other Latino groups said they are pleased at parts of the report but still disturbed by the lack of promotional opportunity.
Upper Level Focus
“They are admitting there has been a problem with the promotional process,” said Emilio Perez, vice president of LA LEY. “Our concern has been population parity at the upper levels of the department.”
Also attacking the department’s promotional patterns was Alan Clayton, a representative of LA LEY. He said that while recruitment is up, only six of 45 officers promoted to sergeant in 1987 were Latinos.
“The 30% hiring figure is to be commended,” Clayton said. “Also the fact that the attrition rate has gone down at the academy. But in the area of promotions, the report shows a lack of progress. It should be better.”