A top-to-bottom review of the Los Angeles Police Department's cadet program found a "number of deficiencies" and a need for formal guidelines to avoid the problems that have recently plagued the youth program, Chief Charlie Beck said Friday.
At a Friday news conference, Beck explained the new procedures and lessons learned in the wake of the arrest of an officer who allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old female cadet who's accused of being involved in the theft of three squad cars. The LAPD is reviewing the youth program after the arrests of seven cadets for their alleged involvement in the squad car thefts. Two of the vehicles were involved in high-speed pursuits June 14 that ended in crashes.
Beck's comments came after he congratulated the department's next class of officers at a graduation ceremony. The guidelines include tighter restrictions on one-on-one contact and monitoring of text communications.
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About a week after the stolen patrol SUV pursuits, Officer Robert Cain, 31, was arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of the seven accused cadets. Cain was charged with felony charges of unlawful sex with a minor and 10 felony weapons crimes, including the illegal possession and manufacturing of assault rifles, according to a LAPD news release.
As for the cadet program, it was suspended at two divisions. The stolen vehicles were taken from the 77th Street Division and the Central Division.
Beck said Friday a top-to-bottom review found "a number of deficiencies" that he says the department has been addressing, most notably through the production of a new youth programs manual. The LAPD has also implemented formal training for Youth Services Officers and is developing guidelines for social media interaction between cadets and department personnel, Beck said.
Beck said the department's review of the cadet program, which has 29 different posts, found wide variations in the type of supervision provided to cadets, improper access given to some cadets using sworn officers' serial numbers and a lack of modern policies for how the program is operated.
The chief noted that the cadet program has tripled in size in the past few years.
"The program grew to levels beyond our expectations, and ... in some of the posts, that growth was not addressed in the proper way," Beck said, noting that the program is not designed to "create mini police officers," but provide vital mentoring to youth.
No other sworn officers or other cadets have been implicated in the cadet program scandal but an investigation continues.
The LAPD has called the program an integral part of its community policing strategy.