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California

LAPD crafting new policy for online job postings after Breitbart controversy

LAPD Chief Michel Moore
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners that safeguards failed to stop a digital recruiting advertisement from ending up on the right-wing Breitbart website.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said the department was working to craft a new policy regarding online job postings after a furor erupted online Saturday when an LAPD recruiting ad landed on the right-wing Breitbart website.

On Tuesday, Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners that Google filters failed to stop a job posting from landing on a website not authorized by the LAPD. As a result, the department suspended all Google advertisements, he said.

Once the job posting was widely shared on social media, Moore and other officials immediately distanced the department from the post, saying the LAPD did not purchase the advertisement. Critics accused the department of trying to recruit racist candidates to one of the nation’s largest police forces. Department officials said in a tweet Saturday that the job listing would conflict with the department’s “core values.”

“It recognizes and shares the public’s concerns,” Moore said Tuesday about the department. “Those ads were directed to sites that were not selected by the LAPD or the Personnel Department. The lack of tight controls created the issue at hand.”

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Moore said employees in the city’s Personnel Department placed the online posting, not police employees.

Bruce Whidden, spokesman for the Personnel Department, said this week that the ad that ended up on Breitbart was part of a buy made through Google on Sept. 10 using the Personnel Department’s marketing money. Whidden said it was never intended to go on Breitbart.

Personnel spent $3,000 on Google ads in its Sept. 10 purchase, putting the LAPD recruitment ad on a number of sites at $40 a day, Whidden said.

Moore reiterated that the Los Angeles Police Department is committed to recruiting diverse and service-oriented candidates to the force. He said he directed top police leaders to work closely with the city’s Personnel Department to make sure job postings land on sites approved by the LAPD.

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Critics have repeatedly accused Breitbart of running racist and sexist content over the last decade, pointing to articles with such headlines as “The Smartest People in the World Are All Men,” “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” and “Data: Young Muslims Are a Ticking Time Bomb in the West.”

Asked about the LAPD ads on Saturday, Breitbart spokeswoman Elizabeth Moore issued a statement saying the company was “one of the most pro-police, pro-law-enforcement news organizations in America.”

Moore’s explanation did not satisfy a bevy of public speakers at the commissioners meeting who blasted the LAPD over the job posting.

“I’m livid,” one man screamed at Moore and the commission. “I took off work to let you know. You want to bring white nationalists here. You all lost your mind.”

Added Cue Jn-Marie, pastor of the Church Without Walls on skid row: “We know that Breitbart is not just about a site. We know algorithms determine where they target based on philosophies.”

Police commissioners said the department needs to be mindful of digital filters when recruiting new candidates. The commission said it would continue to review the issue and conduct oversight of the gaffe.

“We all found that deeply troubling,” Police Commission President Eileen Decker told Moore. “It does not reflect the attitudes of the commission or the department.”

Commissioner Dale Bonner pressed Moore for additional details on how the purchase occurred.

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“This shows us clearly that we need a defined and highly attentive policy and practice of how digital ad media will be deployed,” Moore replied.


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