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Small Area Police Departments See Controversy

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Photo by Ca-los! via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr


Photo by Ca-los! via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
As part of their local section today, the LA Times features two stories on two separate local police departments--one in the South Bay and the other in the Valley--mired in their own controversies.

In Torrance on March 4th, a 62-year-old black pastor driving his 15-year-old daughter from school when he was pulled over as police searched for a suspect in his 30s driving with a woman in her 40s. Both the suspects and Pastor Robert Taylor's car were white Ford Thunderbirds, but Taylor's vehicle had no spoiler and, unlike the suspect's, it had all four hubcaps. Still, when police ran Taylor's license plate and saw his name, multiple arrest warrants came up, but Taylor had to explain there were other people with his name out there with different ages.

When he was pulled over, he had to put his hands up and was frisked. "This was a totally degrading and traumatizing experience for me," Taylor said. "This means that any black male driving a car that looks like a suspect's car can just be pulled over, taken from the car, searched in front of everyone. That's profiling. That's harassment. . . . They were even talking about putting handcuffs on me."

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In Burbank, the culture of the police department has been ripped to shreds. "Allegations of excessive force, discrimination, retaliation and coverups leave deep rifts in Burbank's small department," reads the Times' deck on the story. "The chief stepped down after one of the accused officers committed suicide." The City Council has dedicated $1 million to problems for experts to assess the problem. In the past, the force in the past has prided itself on hiring officers with perfect backgrounds, not even a single use of marijuana, according to city employees.