Los Angeles

Four More LAPD Cadets Arrested in Stolen Patrol Vehicle Investigation

Three cadets were in custody last week after a pursuit involving two of the stolen vehicles

Four additional Los Angeles Police Department cadets have been arrested after three members were taken into custody last week at the end of police pursuit involving two stolen department patrol vehicles.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that the four additional members of the department's cadet program have been arrested for their alleged involvement in stealing three squad cars. After the crashes involving two police cruisers Wednesday night, a third LAPD vehicle that may have been stolen by the cadets was found parked on a street, Beck said.

It was not immediately clear when the four additional cadets were arrested.

Beck, speaking at a Tuesday Police Commission meeting, said the cadets pulled over at least one, possibly two motorists, while they had the police cars. He said that he doesn't believe they took any enforcement action, meaning they didn't write any citations or arrest anybody, but cops are looking into it.

"We are pressing forward with this to make sure that we find everybody involved and take the appropriate steps," Beck said.

The cadet program has more than 2,300 active participants, and Beck continued to express support for the program to the commissioners. Cadet posts at the 77th Street and Pacific stations were suspended pending the findings of the LAPD's investigation.

"Even though we are very disappointed and unsatisfied with what happened over the last week, I realize the value of the program and that it is an important way for many young people in Los Angeles to increase their chance for success in later years, even if they don't become police officers, and actually most don't, but I think it prepares for life like so many quality youth programs do," Beck said.

Matt Johnson, the president of the commission, also expressed his support for the program, which he called "valuable," and said he doesn't want to "throw the baby out with the bath water."

All LAPD divisions were ordered to conduct inventories of police vehicles and equipment to ensure the prevention of unauthorized use of police equipment. Beck last week ordered a thorough review of the cadet program, saying the cadets may have been impersonating police officers when they had the vehicles at their disposal.

The pursuits involving two stolen LAPD SUVs began Wednesday night when officers spotted the vehicles in the South Los Angeles area. They were being driven in tandem at the time. 

Both pursuits ended in crashes.

Investigators said they 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. The chief said he "was not sure" how long the cars had been missing, but one of them may have been gone for two weeks.

The LAPD has more than 1,800 black-and-white squad vehicles but all are not used daily.

All of the vehicles were taken from 77th Division Station in South Los Angeles, and the vehicle that was discovered parked on a street was around the corner from the station, Beck said. Beck also said the suspects were in possession of some LAPD equipment, including radios and a bullet-proof vest, although no firearms are believed to be missing.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

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