What is this?
This website is maintained by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a community group based in the Skid Row neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles.
Around a decade ago, Stop LAPD Spying developed a copwatch practice that we call Watch the Watchers. Copwatch refers to the practice of community members teaming up to observe and document police abuses, especially arrests and other violence. Watch the Watchers built on this practice with a focus on surveillance technologies and patterns. You can watch videos explaining our Watch the Watchers work at May Day actions in MacArthur park in 2015, where we exposed LAPD undercover surveillance, and in 2017, where LAPD officers tried to lie about spy technologies deployed to monitor the crowd.
This website is intended as a tool to empower community members engaged in copwatch and other countersurveillance practices. You can use it to identify officers who are causing harm in your community. The website’s ease of use also makes it a political statement, flipping the direction of surveillance against the state’s agents. Police have vast information about all of us at their fingertips, yet they move in secrecy.
Where is the data from?
All data on this website is drawn from public records released by city agencies. You can read more about Stop LAPD Spying’s work with public records in a zine we published, Know Your Fights: Using Public Records Laws in Abolitionist Organizing.
The project first began after we obtained a full roster of all LAPD personnel along with headshot photographs of every officer that LAPD had released in response to a public records request. LAPD regularly uses photos like this on its website and in propaganda materials, but they denied the public records request claiming that none of these photographs exist in a digitized format, so an LAPD unit “whose primary responsibility is to provide evidentiary photography” would need “to take affirmative steps to manually locate the negatives and produce photos.” LAPD claimed that this would be “unduly burdensome.”
That was a lie, and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition provided legal support to address the issue. We helped file a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles exposing that these photos were readily available and a matter of public record. In response to the lawsuit, LAPD turned over more than 9,000 headshot photographs. We then filed additional Public Records Act requests to both LAPD and the City Controller to obtain further details on every officer.
How reliable is the data?
Again, all the data used to build this website is drawn from government records, so we can only vouch for it up to that extent. The data is only accurate as of the date we received it from a city agency, indicated below:
Note that police move frequently between divisions/bureau, and some might have multiple division/bureau assignments. We plan to periodically keep refreshing that data from new public records requests as well as to add other data. In addition, for now this website only lists LAPD’s sworn personnel, not its “civilian” staff of over 3,500 additional employees.
If there's anything you think we should add to this website or if you want to contribute any data or work to the effort, we would love to hear. Stop by one of our meetings or email firstname.lastname@example.org.