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Problem with Confidential LAPD Files Out in the Open Addressed

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Unsecured files next to a parking garage staircase | Photo by the Los Angeles Police Protective League

Remember last October when the LAPD's union busted the department for storing confidential files in common spaces like hallways and parking garages with no security (see photos here)? Documents with social security numbers, serial numbers, search warrants, arrestee booking information and more was there for the taking. Even some boxes were marked “Evidence” and “Analyzed Evidence."

Word spread through the media and the police commission quickly asked for a report "documenting the circumstances that lead to the problem along with the Office of Operations' corrective and preventive measures that were put into place," wrote Chief Charlie Beck in a memo to the commission with that report attached (.pdf), which was finalized in December.

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Unsecured files were found in three stations--Northeast, Southwest and Wilshire--with most records scheduled to be destroyed. However, files at Northeast were supposed to be, and eventually were, sent to a secured storage facility.

Reasons for the screw-up was mainly space capacity--when new records came in, they ousted older records, which should have been picked up for storage or destruction. "Had the Areas adhered to the yearly records retention schedule and shipped older documents for destruction the number of records retained by the Areas would not have exceeded their storage capacity," explained the report. "However, it is important to note that Area Records Department-wide are operating with a number of vacant positions that undoubtedly contributed to this problem."

The solution? Area Records Coordinators and the office in charge of records retention will work closely to make sure the job is done right from now on.

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