The Beverly Hills Police Department has released arrest data from a task force assembled in the late summer of 2020 to patrol the Business District, according to documents obtained by the Courier. The task force, known as the Rodeo Drive Team, has come under scrutiny following the filing of a proposed class action lawsuit against the department on Aug. 30 for alleged racial profiling. While the numbers presented by the city reflect less of a racial disparity in arrest rates of Black people than claimed in the lawsuit, they still show that nearly 90% of arrests were of Black individuals.
The documents, obtained through a Public Records Act request, reveal two sets of numbers–arrests by the Rodeo Drive Team, and overall arrests for unemployment insurance fraud. The Rodeo Drive Team operated from Aug. 29 to Oct. 24, 2020, according to the city. In that time, the task force arrested 90 individuals, 80 of whom were Black.
The records also contain the number of total arrests for unemployment insurance fraud or Employment Development Department (EDD) fraud. Beverly Hills police arrested 107 people on suspicion of unemployment insurance fraud, 99 of whom were Black. While this number encompasses some of the Rodeo Drive Team arrests, it also includes additional arrests made by officers outside of the team, according to the city’s Chief Communications Officer Keith Sterling.
The lawsuit alleges that Team Rodeo Drive made 106 arrests, 105 of which were of Black pedestrians and motorists. The suit was filed by national civil rights attorney Ben Crump and local attorney Bradley Gage. Gage’s firm has recovered millions against the city, representing former BHPD employees in actions involving former Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli.
When asked to clarify the number of arrests that have led to prosecutions, Sterling told the Courier, “It is the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office that makes the decision whether to prosecute an arrested individual. Some of the cases are still under investigation, and accordingly, the city does not have complete information regarding the number of cases that will be prosecuted. The city is aware of at least 10 cases that have been prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.”