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Report Says LAPD Does A Poor Job Of Supervising Cadet Program

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Police Chief Charlie Beck. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images).
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The LAPD’s cadet program was rocked with controversy in June, when a series of incidents suggested that the department lacked oversight over the program. It started when three teenage police cadets stole two police cruisers in mid-June, crashing them in South L.A. as they were being pursued by officers. It was later revealed that those cadets, as well as several others, were stealing equipment from the division stations’ storage rooms. Further investigation into the matter led the LAPD to accused officer Robert Cain, who worked at the 77th Street Community Police Station, of being sexually involved with a cadet who was a minor (it was suggested that Cain was aware of the thefts).

The fiasco has led the Inspector General’s Office, which oversees the LAPD’s internal disciplinary process, to write up a report on the department’s handling of its cadet program and its storage rooms. Presented to the Police Commission on Tuesday, the report details a list of “problematic issues” that the report’s authors had gathered after speaking with personnel from 23 different divisions.

In regards to the storage rooms, or “kitrooms,” the report says that there isn’t a manual or any formal training for those who are assigned to watch over the equipment. The report added that, when a key to the kitroom wasn’t in proximity, the doors to the rooms were “occasionally propped open” to allow for access. The authors said that they’d “observed unauthorized officers enter or exit the kitroom when the kitroom officer was not present.” It added that uninformed officers were allowed into the rooms without having to show their IDs to the person overseeing the space.

Furthermore, the report says that when it came to vehicles, only two of the divisions completed monthly inspections where a person would simply walk into “the parking lot to confirm the presence of a Department vehicle.” And only one division has a master list of its vehicles.

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The report also notes that the digital database known as KITS (Kitroom Inventory Tracking Systems), which a kitroom supervisor uses to record equipment, is mired in loopholes. The authors say that it’s fairly easy for any officer to log onto KITS and enter and change data (they can, for instance, designate if a certain piece of equipment is checked out or not).

In regards to the cadet program, the report finds a similarly long list of faults. It notes that the program uses an outdated manual, which has led those in charge to “improvise to run their programs.” Furthermore, the officers who are tasked with watching over the cadets have “no specific mandatory training,” and there is no standardized practice in selecting those officers to be in charge. The report also notes that, at one division, there was a ratio of one supervising officer for every 60 cadets.

One interesting tidbit mentioned in the report (among many others) is that the LAPD funds the cadets program solely by paying Youth Service Officers (YSO), or the officers who supervise the cadets. This means that, for extracurricular activities, the YSOs and their cadets have to fundraise the money themselves.

The Inspector General’s office offers a number of recommendations for the LAPD’s handling of both the cadets program and their equipment rooms. For the cadet program, the report says that there should be a developed process for selecting the YSOs, as well as mandatory training for them. As for the kitrooms, the authors advise limiting access to KITS, requiring the presentation of ID for all officers entering a storage room, and doing regular audits on inventory.

Josh Rubenstein, a spokesperson with the LAPD, told the L.A. Times that the department had conducted its own internal review, and that many of the report’s recommendations “have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed to ensure the integrity of the program, safety of our youth participants and trust of our community.”