More cadets may be tied to scan­dal

Other teens be­sides the 7 ar­rested might have rid­den in stolen po­lice cars, chief says.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Kate Mather

Los An­ge­les Po­lice Chief Char­lie Beck said Tues­day that in­ves­ti­ga­tors have iden­ti­fied ad­di­tional cadets who may have taken rides in stolen po­lice cars, part of an on­go­ing scan­dal in­volv­ing the LAPD’s sig­na­ture youth ini­tia­tive.

Beck told the civil­ian Po­lice Com­mis­sion that the other cadets “may have had some knowl­edge” about or as­so­ci­a­tion with the seven teenage cadets who have been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of steal­ing po­lice cars and other equip­ment.

The chief cau­tioned that al­though the cadets were be­lieved to be “much less in­volved” than those who have been ar­rested, they still could face a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, di­ver­sion or re­moval from the cadet pro­gram.

The cadets may have rid­den in the cars with­out be­ing in­volved in tak­ing them and “may or may not” have known the po­lice cars were stolen, Beck said.

He de­clined to spec­ify the num­ber of newly iden­ti­fied cadets, calling it only a “small hand­ful.”

Beck said that so far, in­ves­ti­ga­tors do not sus­pect the in­volve­ment of any other full-time LAPD em­ploy­ees.

The chief also out­lined im­me­di­ate steps he planned to take to tighten rules re­lated to the cadet pro­gram, which is now un­der re­view. Beck said he would limit one-on-one con­tact and so­cial me­dia con­nec­tions be­tween cadets and of­fi­cers, par­tic­u­larly those not in­volved in the pro­gram.

LAPD brass have also made it “very, very clear” that cadets are not al­lowed to drive po­lice ve­hi­cles, he said.

The case ex­ploded al­most two weeks 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 fur­ther stunned the de­part­ment.

The cadets were ac­cused of tak­ing other 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, let­ting the driver off with a warn­ing.

Last week, a 31-year-old of­fi­cer was ac­cused of hav­ing sex with a 15-year-old cadet sus­pected in the thefts. Beck per­son­ally handcuffed Of­fi­cer Robert Cain on Thurs­day morn­ing. Later, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found more than 100 guns in­side the of­fi­cer’s home, more than a third of which were il­le­gal to own in Cal­i­for­nia, sources told The Times this week.

Beck con­firmed Tues­day that po­lice think at least some of those con­fis­cated guns were il­le­gal.

On Mon­day, two sources told The Times that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had found text mes­sages on Cain’s phone that al­legedly sug­gested he had en­gaged in sex with an­other mi­nor be­fore the cur­rent ac­cu­sa­tions came to light. One of those sources said the al­leged in­ci­dent prob­a­bly oc­curred years ago.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors do not have ev­i­dence of any ad­di­tional vic­tims, but Cain him­self al­legedly made the sug­ges­tion in a text mes­sage sent to the cadet he is ac­cused of hav­ing sex with, the sources said.

De­tec­tives also found sex­u­ally ex­plicit mes­sages be­tween Cain and the cadet, ac­cord­ing to one of the sources.

The LAPD is in the midst of what Beck has de­scribed as a “top-to-bot­tom” re­view to fully de­ter­mine what hap­pened.

Matt John­son, president of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Com­mis­sion, said he would also di­rect the civil­ian panel’s inspector gen­eral to re­view the cadet pro­gram, in­clud­ing its over­sight, and the mech­a­nisms the LAPD uses to se­cure and track its equip­ment.

Chris­tian K. Lee Los An­ge­les Times

A PO­LICE CRUISER crashed in Los An­ge­les after three cadets al­legedly led of­fi­cers on a chase June 17.

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