Victims of mental illness accounted for 37 percent of people shot by Los Angeles police last year, a new 300-page report finds. "We're more than willing to look ourselves in the mirror and say, 'What's occurring and how can we do better?'" LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. "That's exactly what this report does." The report, released on Tuesday, also shows troubling patterns of police violence that unfairly impact Latino and black citizens in the region.
"A vast majority of police interactions with the public do not involve use of force," the report insists, according to the Washington Post, though the prevalence of use-of-force situations deservedly remains a crucial point of scrutiny across Los Angeles and the nation at large. A total of 38 people were shot by LAPD officers in 2015, with 14 of those described as having "documented signs of mental illness." In 2014, the number of mentally ill victims hit by LAPD gunfire was dramatically lower with five reported incidents.
"This is the framework upon which we will build a discussion that I think needs to happen not only in LA but probably in the whole country," Beck promised, though he gave no definitive answer or theory as to the cause of the dramatic increase in mentally ill shooting victims. This report will be followed by an additional report in the weeks ahead, with Commission President Matt Johnson promising a 10-year review of the department's use-of-force incidents.
The report arrives in the middle of a continued public discourse surrounding the training and general behavior of officers in potentially perilous incidents, a discourse argued on both sides with such urgency that it's finally started to become a crucial component in the 2016 presidential race. "There needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system," Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said during a debate in January, as quoted by Refinery 29. "And that requires a very clear agenda for retraining police officers, looking at ways to end racial profiling, and finding ways to really bring the disparities that stalk our country into high relief."