More cadets may be tied to scandal
Other teens besides the 7 arrested might have ridden in stolen police cars, chief says.
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.
A POLICE CRUISER crashed in Los Angeles after three cadets allegedly led officers on a chase June 17.