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Chief Beck says a sting or surveillance operation to catch cops destroying equipment would be "too hard"

In the wake of a pair of embarrassing probes that hint at rampant officer misconduct, including the destruction of chest-mounted recording devices and car-mounted antennas that those devices communicate with, the top cop at the The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is offering a more contrite apology.
 
I. Chief Says Sorry, But Refuses to Try to Identify Criminal Cops
 
Just a week ago Chief Charlie Beck was referring to his department's failure to initially disclose the destruction of government property by cops-turned-criminals as "unintentional", commenting:
 
The department did not try to hide this issue.
 
He also argued earlier this month that it would be "too hard" to track down cops that broke the law, sabotaging taxpayer funded accountability equipment in various precincts.

LAPD Police Chief
LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck says he's sorry for not notifying his civilian bosses about cops destroying taxpayer-funded government property.  He stands by his assertion that it would be too tough to catch the cops committing the crimes, though. [Image Source: The LA Times]

This week, though, after being blasted by The Los Angeles Police Commission -- the civilian supervisory board that overseas the LAPD (effectively the LAPD's "bosses") -- and in the face of a mounting media firestorm, the embattled chief at last issued an apology.  He commented:
 
[The late notification] is on us.  We will take whatever actions are needed to make sure [it doesn't happen again].
 
His two deputy chiefs and an assistant chief were also present.  Comments Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger:
 
Did we fall short?  I think the simple answer is, 'Yes.'
 
[The recent hearings offer] an exclamation point on how important this whole question of digital in-car video and also other accountability technologies are to the department.
 
The LAPD has faced a series of hearings by the LAPC, the five-member board that represents the city's taxpayers in monitoring and issuing broad directives to the LAPD.
 
II. Criminals Could Get Away Due to Criminal Cops
 
The LAPD now admits that over 50 cars were damaged by cops who hoped to limit the range of their recording devices.  This not only could cover up criminal wrongdoing of cops, but it could also destroy crucial pieces of evidence (audio recordings), making it harder for cops to convict criminals.

LAPD trooper
The criminal acts by cops could lead to key evidence being destroyed and members of the public who commited crimes walking free. [Image Source: AP]

Despite his apology, Chief Beck for now is still standing behind his decision not to track down cops who broke the law and destroyed taxpayer property, potentially damaging criminal investigations in the process.  He claims that the LAPD did consider setting up a sting or surveillance operation to try to catch the criminal cops, but argues that with hundreds of cops per precinct, it would consume too much resources to catch the cops committing the crimes (a group of officers he believes are in the minority at the troubled precincts).
 
Instead, he backed a system of pre-and-post shift checks of the vehicles.  He says that system has largely worked and only one car has been vandalized since it was instituted last year.  However, it is unclear whether his department has installed similar programs regarding the loss and/or destruction of chest recorders, and if so, how successful they've been.
 
These incidents waste taxpayer money and potentially let criminals -- both in the public and in law enforcement -- go unpunished.  But what made them particularly disturbing is that they were occurring at the precincts of the LAPD with the worst reputation for racial profile -- such as the infamous Southeast Precinct.

Police recorder
The main site of the vehicle and recorder sabotage was the troubled Southeast Precinct, well known for rampant complaints of civil rights abuses and police brutality. [Image Source: Fortuna PD]

The LAPD as a whole has a reputation for police brutality, but just last year had marked the milestone of being allowed off federal monitoring.  Some have suggested that the recent destruction of accountability equipment could jeopardize that newfound freedom.

The LA County Sheriffs -- a separate law enforcement entity operating in the same region -- are also currently under investigation over complaints of civil rights abuses, particularly in the local prison system.

Source: LA Times





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