More juvenile cadets than the seven who have already been arrested for their alleged roles in stealing three police cars may have had knowledge or involvement in the scheme, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.
"We have found in our investigation a handful of cadets that may have had some knowledge or association with the group already arrested that could cause a reaction by our department — either a criminal investigation or removal from the program or a diversion," Beck told the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners.
The LAPD is reviewing its cadet program in the wake of the arrests of the seven cadets for their alleged involvement in the theft of three squad cars — which culminated in two high-speed chases and crashes on June 14. Last Thursday, Beck personally arrested an officer for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of the seven accused cadets, a 15-year-old girl.
Officer Robert Cain, 31, a 10-year LAPD veteran, was taken into custody at the 77th Street Division station, where he is assigned. More than 100 weapons were subsequently discovered at Cain's residence by the LAPD, and Beck told the commissioners that some of the guns are not legal to own in California.
"We're working with the ATF and charges relative to those issues will be filed with the district attorney as appropriate and when appropriate," Beck said.
Beck also told the commissioners that the investigation had not "so far" led to any other full-time employees with knowledge of — or involvement in — the car thefts.
Three cadets were arrested at the end of two vehicle pursuits the night of June 14. Police recovered the two cruisers involved in the chases, then found a third parked nearby. Four additional cadets were later arrested.
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Six of the arrested cadets were assigned to the 77th Street Division program and one was assigned to the Pacific Division.
The cadets are believed to have pulled people over while impersonating officers and also are suspected of stealing LAPD equipment, including tasers, radios and a bulletproof vest.
Investigators 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, while continuing to express support for the program, has instituted a "top-to-bottom" review.
LAPD Inspector General Alex Bustamante, at the request of the commission, will also be reviewing the program, while City Councilman Mitchell Englander has introduced a council motion calling for a full review of all LAPD youth programs and said an independent investigation may be needed.
Matt Johnson, president of the commission, expressed support for the cadet program.
"In the two years I've been on the commission, I've had the opportunity to interact with some of the cadets, and these are good kids who are in the program for the right reasons and who are getting a lot of great skills — leadership skills, character skills — out of the program," Johnson said.