LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Department's inspector general found numerous flaws in the department's equipment room and cadet program policies in a report issued Friday.
The report comes in response to a June incident in which seven juvenile police cadets were arrested for allegedly stealing three squad cars after two high-speed pursuits and crashes.
Acting Inspector General Django Sibley's report cited various problems in how the LAPD operates the “kit room'' at its stations, which is a single room intended to secure squad car vehicle keys, shotguns, tasers and other equipment.
Among the problems cited was that only one officer is assigned to the kit room at any given time, but that officer may also be assigned to other duties and may not always be in the room. As a result, officers sometimes leave equipment outside the door of the kit room instead of officially checking it back in, or may take equipment and leave a post-it note as to what was removed.
The report also found that there is also no formal kit room manual or formal training, and only two divisions completed monthly vehicle inspections.
The IG made a series of recommendations for improving the security in kit rooms, including examining the feasibility of assigning a civilian full- time to the kit room, conducting regular auto inspections at each station and limiting who can log onto the computer system.
Troubles with the cadet program began June 14 when a pair of high-speed chases involving pilfered LAPD vehicles ended in crashes and led to the arrests of three cadets. Four more cadets were subsequently arrested.
The LAPD believes the juvenile cadets were able to take advantage of flaws in the kit room computer system and gain access to the squad cars and other equipment, with the thefts going unnoticed for weeks.
The department believes the cadets impersonated officers during traffic stops on at least several occasions, according to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
An officer, Robert Cain, was also arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of the cadets who was arrested. Cain, 31, has been charged with a half-dozen felonies. He is also facing weapons charges in San Bernardino County stemming from the seizure of weapons at his home in Rancho Cucamonga.
The LAPD has already conducted its own investigation into the cadet program and in August announced a series of changes, including implementing formal training for Youth Services officers and developing guidelines for social media interaction between cadets and department personnel.
The IG report found some of the same problems as the department's report and issued some of the same recommendations, but went further than the department in some instances, including on social media.
While the department recommended issuing department phones with social media access to all the Youth Services officers so interactions can be monitored by the department, the IG recommended re-evaluating “whether one-to- one communication is acceptable.''
Josh Rubenstein, a spokesman for the LAPD, noted that Beck had already documented areas for improvement with the cadet program in his report.
“We are pleased that the inspector general's report recognized much of this work and that many of the recommendations including specific training for Youth Service officers, have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed to ensure the integrity of the program, safety of our youth participants, and trust of our community,'' Rubenstein said. “The department has also convened a working group, of which the inspector general is a member, that is charged with identifying ways to improve our systems and procedures for checking out equipment from kit rooms.''