Elite Los Angeles PD unit disproportionately stopped black drivers, data show

To combat a surge in violent crime, the Los Angeles Police Department doubled the size of its elite Metropolitan Division in 2015, creating special units to swarm crime hot spots.

Metro officers in unmarked, dark-gray SUVs began pulling over drivers to search cars for guns or drugs. By 2018, the number stopped by Metro was nearly 14 times greater than before the expansion.

The effectiveness of the strategy is hard to assess: Crime continued to rise for several years before dipping in 2018.

But it has caused a shift that some consider alarming: Metro officers stop African American drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population, according to a Times analysis.