ACLU Report: Anaheim PD is a Deadly Department in Need of Real Oversight

A strong civilian oversight board is needed for the Anaheim Police Department according to a new American Civil Liberties Union report released today detailing its disturbing patterns of deadly force. Officer-involved deaths in Anaheim surpassed the per capita rates in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco last year alone, the study found. The department continues to employ a number of repeat shooters. Blacks and Latinos are also killed disproportionately by its officers.

“For police accountability advocates in the city, this information isn’t going to be new,” says Jennifer Rojas, ACLU of Southern California’s community engagement and policy advocate who co-authored the study alongside staff attorney Peter Bibring. “But really, the purpose of this report is to garner a broader audience into the pattern and practices of Anaheim PD. This is an issue that all Anaheim residents should care about.”

The ACLU scoured police reports, coroner reports, newspaper articles, California Attorney General and U.S. Department of Justice data in coming to its conclusions. The civil liberties group has released similar studies of the Fresno Police Department, Bakersfield Police and Kern County Sheriff”s Office. But this is the first survey of its kind for an OC law enforcement agency. The ACLU looked at 33 deaths at the hands of Anaheim police between 2003-2016, with most caused by officer-involved shootings.

Back in July 2012, Anaheim policemen killed Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo in a pair of weekend shootings that touched off riots in the city and served as the impetus for the ACLU report. “Unfortunately, these killings and their aftermath are not isolated incidents, but part of a pattern of excessive force in Anaheim,” the study reads. In making its case, the ACLU notes that deadly force incidents, including those involving Taser and carotid restraint holds, don’t correlate with rising crime rates in the city, making for some jarring statistics by comparison. Between 2003-2016, police killings accounted for 17 percent of homicides in the city. That figure peaked in 2009 and 2016 when officer-involved deaths comprised 36 percent of all homicides.

The ACLU data sets also found that most police killings happened away from Anaheim Hills in the city’s mainland. Given that the Hills are mostly white, the demographics of death bleed down racial lines. Though blacks comprise less than 3 percent of the city’s residents, they account for 12 percent of those killed by police, a rate higher than the county average found by the Weekly’s own Blood Orange special report. Latinos make up 61 percent of officer-involved killings despite census data showing them forming just half of the Anaheim’s population. Forty percent of all killed by police were unarmed, a stat weighed heavily by black and Latino deaths; all whites killed by Anaheim cops were armed, save for one.

“The racial disparities that exist in terms of who’s impacted is very troubling,” Rojas says. “It’s something that Anaheim residents have long known, but hopefully the data puts some material validity to what folks have been experiencing.”

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