LAPD Caught By Email Ordering Arrests to Look Good on TV
The Los Angeles Police Department and their motivation to make arrests are under scrutiny following an email blunder that provided a news organization with insider information.
By inadvertently hitting the dreaded "reply all" button, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, who heads the media operations for the force, let people at NBC Los Angeles know that he was asking for more arrests for illegal animal trafficking to "avoid negative coverage" in the press.
NBC4's "Get Garcia" team, working on a story about illegal rabbit sales in L.A.'s Fashion District, contacted the LAPD for info about arrests. Officer Tracy Fisher replied to the news team with the following: "One arrest has been made for illegal animal sales" this year and "none…for the purchase of animals."
And then Smith hopped on the email thread, meaning to reach just his LAPD crew, but instead including NBC4 in his reply:
"This story could be a black eye for us if we dont have a few arrests to show. The law has been on the books for months now, and the "rabbit people" are gonna scream that we dont care. Is there any way you or your crew could make a few arrests for illegal animal purchasing so we can avoid negative coverage?
Naturally NBC4 followed up, seeking to clarify if Smith really was asking his cops to take action for the sake of TV cameras.
"I want them to go out and make a few arrests," Smith told NBC4. "Not just because there’s going to be stories on it, but because it’s time to start making arrests. This is a gentle nudge to those officers to say, 'Hey it’s been on the books, we done fliers. Time to start going out and making arrests.'"
Uh huh. Of course, his "gentle nudge" in LAPD talk specifically references a desire to avoid bad press.
Also an issue is Smith's cavalier discussion of the animal rights activists who work to rescue rabbits from these illegal sales, which is raising the red flag to those activists that perhaps the LAPD doesn't really care all that much about the issue at hand.
One such person is "Bunny Lady" Lejla Hadzimuratovic, founder of Bunny World Foundation, who has put her life on hold for the past few years in order to focus on getting these rabbits off the street and properly cared for.
"The Los Angeles Police Department is committed to making a difference in the lives of animals here," Smith told NBC4. Smith also refused NBC4 an interview with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.