LAPD patch. Photo by MyNewsLA.com

The Los Angeles Police Department had about 450 new cadets in its youth program Sunday, and Chief Charlie Beck is ordering officers to protect young people entering the troubled organization “like they are your own.”

A developing sex scandal between a veteran officer and a female 15-year-old cadet, stolen police cars by cadets, cop-car chases, cadets impersonating officers — the cadet program has recently been the unwanted focus of lurid headlines.

But Beck reiterated his support for the Los Angeles Police Department’s embattled cadet program Saturday during remarks at a graduation ceremony for a new class of cadets.

The ceremony came just days after seven cadets were arrested for their alleged involvement in stealing LAPD squad cars — which culminated in two high speed chases and crashes — and an officer was arrested for allegedly having sex with one of the accused cadets.

“They’re our youth, they’re our future,” Beck said of the cadets, “and what they gain from this program is invaluable and we will make sure that we recommit to those values today.”

“You wouldn’t be in this program, you wouldn’t have graduated, if you didn’t know what the right thing was,” he told a total of about 1,200 cadets in the audience.

He told the assembled officers that “you will protect them (cadets) like they are your own.”

Before the graduation, Beck encouraged the media and public to attend “so they can see the other 2,200 cadets who so well served this city and are such good examples of young people in Los Angeles.”

Beck conducted a personal inspection of the graduating class before the 11 a.m. ceremony at USC’s Galen Center. The program is open to eligible youth between the ages of 13 and 20.

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.

The cadets are believed to have pulled people over while impersonating officers and also are suspected of stealing LAPD equipment, including tasers, radios and a bulletproof vest.

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.

—City News Service

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