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LAPD Illegally Removed Recording Devices From Cars When Patrolling Black Neighborhoods

Photo by jondoeforty1.
Photo by jondoeforty1.

By
Los Angeles police officers removed antennas from police cars in several predominantly Black neighborhoods to disable the recording equipment and avoid being monitored while on duty, according to an inspection by LAPD investigators.

The department review found about half of the 80 cars in the Southeast division—which includes Watts and the Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens housing projects—were missing the antennas that help capture what officers say in the field. The review discovered at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions also had antennas removed.

Members of the Police Commission, which oversees the department, said they were alarmed by both the actions of the officers and the failure of the department to reveal their actions when they were first detected.

“On an issue like this, we need to be brought in right away,” commission President Steve Soboroff told the Los Angeles Times. “This equipment is for the protection of the public and of the officers. To have people who don’t like the rules to take it upon themselves to do something like this is very troubling.”

But LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the department did not purposely try to hide the matter from the commission and pointed out that he has always been a strong advocate of the recording devices. LAPD officials decided it would be futile to try to figure out which officers were responsible for removing the antennas, since so many of them use the cars during their shifts. Instead the department warned officers about removing the antennas and put checks in place to account for the equipment at the start and end of each patrol shift.

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