Investigation reveals years of racist texting between police officers

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Racist and homophobic text messages between more than a dozen current and former officers of the Torrance Police Department in California have been discovered thanks to a Los Angeles Times investigation.

In an image sent by text message, a caption read “hanging out with the pals”. The image above shows several black men being lynched. Another photo asked what someone should do if his girlfriend was having an affair with a black man. The caption read: “Break a tail light on his car for the police to stop and shoot him.”

In another text exchange, an officer sent a photo of a candy cane, Christmas ornament, a starry treetop and a “enslaved person”.

“Which one doesn’t belong?” Asked the caption. “You’re not catching the star,” someone replied.

California Attorney General Announces Police Department Investigation Following Text Messages

California Attorney General Rob Bonta reacted quickly to the LA Times report. The senior state attorney has announced an independent investigation into the Torrance Police Department.

“The review comes amid allegations of excessive force, racist texting and other discriminatory misconduct,” Bonta said in a press release. Prosecutors said the racist text conversations went on for years.

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A dozen Torrance police officers were investigated for exchanging the old secret texts, according to the LA Times.

Officers exchanged hateful comments about people of color, as well as Jews and members of the LGBTQ community. Other messages referred to the use of violence against suspects and lying to investigators about a police shooting.

According to The Times, texting has already resulted in 85 criminal cases being dismissed. However, none of the officers are currently faces criminal charges in relation to the texts.

This is not the first time the department has faced scandal and scrutiny. Last November Lindley Hupp, a former Torrance police officer, confessed to illegally selling firearms while on force. In August of this year, the LA County District Attorney charged another Torrance Police officer with excessive force with a shooting in 2018.

County prosecutors threw out 35 felony cases in mid-November and the Torrance city district attorney’s office dismissed 50 more cases. According to records, the officers who sent the texts were potential witnesses in nearly 1,400 cases over the past decade.

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The exact number of officers involved in the scandal is unclear. Sgt. Mark Ponegalek, a spokesperson for Torrance Police, could not confirm or deny the identity of the officers involved. The ministry said 15 of its officers were on administrative leave due to the scandal.

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