PROBE SOUGHT IN LAPD CADET SCAN­DAL

Po­lice com­mis­sioner to seek in­spec­tor gen­eral re­view af­ter al­le­ga­tions of theft, sex­ual mis­con­duct.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Kate Mather

The pres­i­dent of the civil­ian panel that over­sees the Los Angeles Po­lice Depart­ment said he will di­rect the LAPD’s watch­dog to re­view its cadet pro­gram, the lat­est in­quiry stem­ming from a se­ries of dis­turb­ing al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing the long-cham­pi­oned youth pro­gram.

Matt Johnson, the head of the Po­lice Com­mis­sion, said he would ask In­spec­tor Gen­eral Alex Bus­ta­mante to look into how the LAPD re­cruits and su­per­vises its teenage cadets, as well as how the depart­ment over­sees the pro­gram in gen­eral.

The goal, Johnson said, is to “en­sure that this in­ci­dent is an ex­cep­tion and not a sys­temic fail­ure.”

He was re­fer­ring to the re­cent ar­rest of a 31-year-old of­fi­cer ac­cused of hav­ing a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with a 15year-old cadet, al­le­ga­tions that sur­faced af­ter seven teenage cadets were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of steal­ing po­lice cars and other equip­ment.

Chief Charlie Beck quickly or­dered a “top-to­bot­tom” re­view of the cadet pro­gram, along with the sys­tems the depart­ment uses to check out and track the equip­ment used by of­fi­cers.

City Coun­cil­man Mitch Eng­lan­der called for an au­dit of all LAPD youth pro­grams, ques­tion­ing how the LAPD su­per­vises re­la­tions

be­tween mi­nors and the of­fi­cers who men­tor them.

A re­view by the in­spec­tor gen­eral would al­low the fiveper­son Po­lice Com­mis­sion to pub­licly dis­cuss the find­ings — and po­ten­tially take action. Johnson said he would also ask the in­spec­tor gen­eral to look specif­i­cally at the depart­ment’s equip­ment rooms and how po­lice gear is se­cured and tracked. He said he would ask LAPD brass for a pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion in the com­ing weeks on those pro­ce­dures.

Johnson noted that Beck had pledged a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as­sign­ing some of the LAPD’s top de­tec­tives to han­dle the case.

“I am con­fi­dent that he will get to the bottom of this and en­sure all re­spon­si­ble par­ties, es­pe­cially su­per­vi­sors, are held fully ac­count­able,” Johnson said. “The Po­lice Com­mis­sion will be track­ing this closely.”

Bus­ta­mante con­firmed he would con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

An­other com­mis­sioner, Cyn­thia McClain-Hill, said she would rely on the chief and the in­spec­tor gen­eral to help un­der­stand how the al­leged acts oc­curred and to find ways to pre­vent such prob­lems. It was too soon to know ex­actly how to do that, she said, but the Po­lice Com­mis­sion — as well as the LAPD — was com­mit­ted to help­ing the cadet pro­gram flour­ish in the years to come.

“It sparks out­rage, in­spires sad­ness — but also re­solve,” she said in an in­ter­view. “Every mem­ber of this depart­ment is out­raged at these al­le­ga­tions and feel re­solve on be­half of these young peo­ple in this pro­gram to keep their heads high and con­tinue down the path that they’ve cho­sen.”

The case ex­ploded a week and a half ago, when three cadets were caught driv­ing two stolen po­lice cars. As po­lice in­ves­ti­gated how and why the teenagers took the cars, they un­cov­ered de­tails that con­tin­ued to stun the depart­ment.

The cadets had al­legedly taken more equip­ment: po­lice ra­dios, Tasers, a bul­let­proof vest and a cruiser that had been miss­ing for at least two weeks. Four more cadets were ar­rested. In­ves­ti­ga­tors learned the teens had pulled over at least one per­son while in a stolen po­lice car, warn­ing the driver be­fore let­ting them go.

Last week, per­haps the most ex­plo­sive ac­cu­sa­tion sur­faced: Of­fi­cer Robert Cain was ac­cused of hav­ing sex with one of the cadets sus­pected in the thefts.

Beck per­son­ally hand­cuffed Cain on Thurs­day morn­ing. Later, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found more than 100 guns in­side the of­fi­cer’s home, rais­ing more ques­tions.

Cain has not yet been charged. The of­fi­cer re­mains free on bail and is sched­uled to ap­pear in court next month.

Po­lice of­fi­cials have ex­pressed an ar­ray of emo­tions in the whirl­wind week and a half: dis­gust at Cain’s al­leged acts, dis­ap­point­ment in the cadets ac­cused of steal­ing but also con­tin­ued sup­port for the 2,000plus teenagers in the cadet pro­gram — in­clud­ing those caught up in the scan­dal.

Johnson, McClain-Hill and an­other com­mis­sioner, Steve Sobo­roff, ex­pressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments: If the al­le­ga­tions against Cain prove true, they said, he should be pros­e­cuted to the fullest ex­tent of the law. But they soft­ened when talk­ing about the teenagers who had been ar­rested.

“I am deeply dis­ap­pointed in the ac­tions of these seven in­di­vid­u­als. Their ac­tions were dan­ger­ous and could have had dis­as­trous con­se­quences,” Johnson said. “That said, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that they are kids.”

“They were and con­tinue to be young peo­ple,” McClain-Hill said. “I would sup­port coun­sel­ing, di­ver­sion and what­ever other meth­ods that we may have to mit­i­gate the dam­age that they’ve done and to give them an op­por­tu­nity to build the kinds of lives that brought them to the cadet pro­gram in the first place.”

Sobo­roff called it a “sem­i­nal mo­ment” for the teens.

“They’re at a fork in the road,” he said. “I hope they pick the right way. If they do, I’m first in line to try to help.”

Mark Boster Los Angeles Times

PO­LICE Com­mis­sioner Matt Johnson called for an­other pro­gram in­quiry.

KTLA

LAPD OF­FI­CERS re­spond to a June 14 col­li­sion in South L.A. af­ter chas­ing two stolen cruis­ers. Three teen po­lice cadets were ar­rested.

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