Activists Demand Answers About Secretive LAPD Program: What Is Operation LASER?

Posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 7:44 am    

An alliance of activist groups is suing the city of Los Angeles because the city has allegedly refused to respond to a public records request. The request concerns Operation LASER, a computer program used to identify criminals and potential criminals as well as areas where crime is likely to occur. Activists groups led by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition have asked the city to give details on the factors they use to operate LASER.

If you have questions about Operation LASER or are facing criminal charges in the Los Angeles area, contact a criminal defense attorney from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a free case consultation.

How LASER Works

LASER, which is an acronym for Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration, tells police officers where they can locate both ex-criminals and persons whom they believe will be likely to commit crimes. LASER uses tools such as cell phone trackers and license plate scanners to search for these people, and combines this information with other data and CIA-created technology to pinpoint precise locations.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has praised the program for its “predictive policing” abilities, saying it helps reduce the amount of violent crimes committed in the city. Officers claim that Operation LASER has been a tremendous help in diminishing crime in the most dangerous neighborhoods and areas where gang violence is prevalent.

The Problems with LASER

While Operation LASER sounds like a great tool in theory, activist groups aren’t convinced. The fact that the LAPD is reluctant to provide public records on LASER, including the data collected and used to pinpoint criminals, has raised some concerns. They claim the program targets people using secretive tactics, and officers don’t actually inform these people that they are being observed as potential criminals. Peter Bibring, a lawyer for the ACLU, pointed out that once police intensify their observance of you, your chances of being wrongly accused of a crime often increase exponentially.

Groups are concerned about the police choosing to trail ex-criminals as well, saying it’s an unjustified move that keeps people under constant suspicion despite the fact that they have already paid their debt to society.

Another issue surrounding LASER is the data that’s used. What factors does the LAPD consider while pinpointing potential criminals? Groups fear the police are coming by this data in a dishonest manner, using information that is not regulated or made transparent to the public. While officers are encouraged to conduct reviews of their lists every six months, eliminating suspects who haven’t committed crimes in that time, there’s no actual requirement that they do so.

Contact a California Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are charged with a crime, it’s important that you remember your rights must still be observed. One way you can ensure you are treated fairly is by hiring a criminal defense lawyer. At Spolin Law P.C., we focus on building the best defense for your case, and we scrutinize treatment from the police and the courts to safeguard your rights as a citizen. To speak to one of our lawyers, contact us today at (310) 424-5816 to schedule a consultation.