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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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yeah...
By chromal on 4/21/2014 6:04:18 PM , Rating: 3
Break the LAPD into smaller sections, under new leadership, until they are small enough where it wouldn't be "too hard." And I think we all understand what he means by "too hard."




RE: yeah...
By retrospooty on 4/21/2014 6:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
BS anyhow... I don't get the concept of "caught in the act" in this case. Equipment isn't handed out like t-shirts from a t-shirt cannon at a ball game... It's signed out. They know who had what car on what shift, and who has every other piece of equipment.


RE: yeah...
By LSUJester on 4/21/2014 7:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
If they're like our agency, then those vehicles get driven by many different people. If that's the case, I could understand not wanting to try to backtrack figuring who might have did it. Even with knowing who drove the vehicle, you'd also have to know the precise time the equipment was broken, and if it was at their fleet headquarters, then it could have been anyone walking by.

But, regardless, there's no reason for there not to be some sort of system of accountability going forward with this stuff. Do a check before and after your shift, filling out paperwork. I used to do it for forklifts, they can do it for patrol cars.


RE: yeah...
By marvdmartian on 4/22/2014 7:21:36 AM , Rating: 5
Backtracking might be difficult (or impossible), but that shouldn't prevent them from instituting a new functionality test, as each officer comes on duty, and signs for the equipment.

1. Get assignment
2. Check functionality of equipment
3. Report any non-functioning equipment, and replace
4. Go on shift
5. End of shift, check functionality again, turn in equipment

Do this every shift. When someone turns in equipment as functional, and the next guy who signs it out returns it as non-functional, have a technician check to see if it's a simple technical problem, or if it shows signs that it was tampered with. If tampering evidence is found, make the previous user accountable.

All you're going to have to do is charge officers for repairs or replacements a few times, and they'll stop breaking their "toys".


RE: yeah...
By HostileEffect on 4/21/2014 7:51:53 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, until you are buddies with the armorer and he shreds your ECR card and writes you a new one for new gear, back dates it, maybe even edits the armory counts and log books so the old equipment never existed in the first place. Signed out doesn't mean diddly when you know the right people to cover you, but there are limits on what you can get away with.

People destroy government property for fun and some of the collections of stolen gear are very impressive, this is just how .gov jobs work, everyone scratches each others back.


RE: yeah...
By BladeVenom on 4/21/2014 6:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
Just fire everyone, and start again from scratch.


RE: yeah...
By HostileEffect on 4/21/2014 7:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
Amen.


RE: yeah...
By Jeffk464 on 4/21/2014 7:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
Beck is an A hole. He is also being accused of protecting bad cops that have family connections by a higher up in internal affairs. One incident a cop got drunk at a bar and pulled his gun on someone. Apparently Beck protected him from being fired but he can't actually do anything because he has no credibility in court. I guess he makes a huge salary to sit at a desk and browse the internet.


gross incompetence
By Conroe on 4/21/2014 7:32:37 PM , Rating: 3
If they can not police themselves who can they police?




RE: gross incompetence
By catavalon21 on 4/21/2014 8:02:14 PM , Rating: 4
Duh. You and me, brother.


Man this guy...
By msheredy on 4/21/2014 6:10:06 PM , Rating: 5
... should run for office. No accountability whatsoever... he'd be perfect.




Who watches the watchmen
By Cerin218 on 4/21/2014 6:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
One law for you, another law for those that swore to uphold the law. Double standard in law enforcement is hardly new. Can't see any possibility for an abuse of power...




RE: Who watches the watchmen
By catavalon21 on 4/21/2014 8:05:24 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, we can hate it as much as we want (and I do, for the record), but heck, if Congress exempts itself from their own laws, why should we be surprised at LAPD's following their example of "do as I say, not as I do".


Obstruction of Justice!
By danjw1 on 4/22/2014 4:14:56 PM , Rating: 3
Chief Charlie Beck, should be charged with obstruction of justice. His refusal allow an investigate of this crime can be considered nothing else. Any others in the LAPD that were involved in the decision to not investigate these crimes, should also be charged. Then the The LAPC, should ask the FBI to step in and find the officers who were involved with the destruction of government property. Federal oversight needs to be restarted as well, since anything else is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.




RE: Obstruction of Justice!
By Jeffk464 on 4/23/2014 7:12:51 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think this violation rises to the level of an FBI investigation.


Police
By Richard875yh5 on 4/22/2014 9:05:50 AM , Rating: 3
Most cops see themselves about the law. That mentality has got to change.




Too hard.... really?
By UsernameX on 4/21/2014 10:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
As if catching criminals was harder? Give me a break.




By croc on 4/22/2014 6:59:57 AM , Rating: 2
Comms gear, right? Make everyone check in once a shift. Black mark to 'forget' more than once. Three black marks and you are out.




By FaaR on 4/23/2014 12:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


Well, luckily, in a society ruled by law (lest the Law be Judge Dredd that is), cops don't convict people. Courts however, do.

What's even more disturbing by cops wrecking audio monitoring equipment is that it makes it easier for cops to nail people for things they may not have committed. After all, doors swing both ways (well, some of them do anyway), and if audio which could have helped clear your name isn't recorded, and the cops won't back you up in a trial, then all you got is your own say-so. And usually, cops are considered more reliable witnesses in a courtroom than the accused.

So all this is extremely troubling. On many levels.




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