A Los Angeles city councilman said Friday an independent investigation may be needed into the police department’s cadet program after some juvenile cadets were accused of stealing squad cars and an officer was arrested for allegedly having sex with one of them.
“As a Los Angeles Police Department reserve officer and chair of the Public Safety Committee, I’m appalled by the alleged criminal behavior of an officer sworn to protect and serve the people of Los Angeles,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said.
“Anyone wearing the uniform must uphold a standard of conduct worthy of the morals and values of our police department,” he said. “I have full confidence that Chief Charlie Beck will continue to pursue a thorough and complete investigation and stand ready to provide any additional resources that may be required, up to and including an independent investigation.”
Englander also introduced a motion at Friday’s City Council meeting calling for a full investigation and audit of all LAPD youth programs.
“It is during this challenging time that we must look to the example of thousands of honorable officers dedicated to restoring the character and dignity of this vital leadership opportunity for our youth,” Englander said.
Officer Robert Cain, 31, a 10-year LAPD veteran, was arrested Thursday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who was a member of the LAPD’s cadet program. Beck personally took Cain into custody at the 77th Street Division station, where he is assigned.
Cain’s arrest came after the arrest of seven juvenile participants stemming from the theft of three police cruisers. The 15-year-old girl involved in the alleged sexual relationship with Cain is one of those seven, according to the chief.
Three cadets were arrested at the end of two vehicle pursuits the night of June 14. Police recovered the two cruisers involved in the chases, then found a third parked nearby. Four additional cadets were later arrested.
Six of the arrested cadets were assigned to the 77th Street Division program and one was assigned to the Pacific Division. Beck last week suspended the cadet program at those two divisions.
Beck said on Tuesday that the arrested cadets on a number of occasions impersonated police officers and initiated traffic stops of motorists, although no one who was pulled over was handcuffed, had force used on them or was issued a citation.
Investigators believe the cadets used their knowledge of the LAPD’s computer inventory system to check the vehicles out under the name of a sergeant who was on vacation, Beck said.
The cadet program has more than 2,300 active participants, and Beck has continued to express support for the program.
An LAPD supervisor doing inventory discovered that a squad car was missing from the 77th Street station on June 14, and the investigation quickly identified a female cadet caught on camera driving it off the lot, Beck said last week.
Police spotted two squad cars driving in tandem around 9:35 p.m. that night near the 77th Street station, leading to the chases.
One cruiser crashed in the area of 77th and San Pedro streets, where the driver was taken into custody. The driver of the other stolen cruiser crashed into a vehicle at Adams Boulevard and Central Avenue, and that driver also was taken into custody.
The vehicles were taken from 77th Street Division Station and the Central Division.
Beck also said last week that the suspects were in possession of some LAPD equipment, including radios, tasers and a bullet-proof vest, although no firearms are believed to be missing.
Beck said Thursday it was unclear if the alleged sexual relationship played any part in giving the cadets access to the unauthorized equipment. But Beck said Cain was at one point in charge of the mechanism by which you check out police equipment at the 77th Street station.
“I certainly think there may be a connection to the wooing of this underage female and access to the equipment,” Beck said. “I don’t know. That would be consistent with pedophile-type behavior.”
Beck said earlier he “was not sure” how long the cars had been missing, but one of them may have been gone for two weeks.
The LAPD has more than 1,800 black-and-white squad vehicles but they are not all used every day, and because of the suspects’ familiarity with the computer system, they were able to conceal the thefts, Beck said.
–City News Service
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