Teen LAPD Cadets Suspected Of Stealing, Crashing Cruisers And Posing As Officers

Claudine Rigal
Juin 21, 2017

A gunman who wounded a Los Angeles police officer and K-9 during an exchange of gunfire Thursday night has been captured, authorities said.

'We are going to take this apart top to bottom, ' Beck said at a news conference Thursday.

The teenagers were booked on charges including stealing the police vehicles and theft of other property found inside the cars. Authorities found two Tasers and two radios as well as a bullet proof vest that one of the suspects was wearing when he was taken into custody, according to Beck. All 1,800 vehicles are accounted for and no firearms ever went missing.

On Wednesday night, after officers realized two of the department's patrol cars were missing from the LAPD lot, police discovered them driving side-by-side down a street in Central L.A. The cadets led officers on a chase through Central and South L.A. Both of them collided with other cars, Beck said. "The vast majority of these young people come from hard neighborhoods, and have taken to the Los Angeles Police Department as not only mentors, but as a way to improve their education and increase their opportunities", said Beck.

A subsequent investigation revealed that a third auto had also been taken by the cadets, but it was quickly recovered near the LAPD's 77th Street station, Beck said.

The investigation into finding the vehicles promptly focused on the female cadet who had been assigned to the location where the vehicles went missing, Beck said.

Beck said it was "not easy" to check out a police vehicle, and cadets are not supposed to have access to them. She was "an innocent bystander in a separate vehicle", he said. Beck said the cadet program has more than 2,300 active participants.

One of the cruisers was stolen from the parking garage at Central Division downtown several days ago, according to two law enforcement sources.

They were not identified because they are minors. The auto inventory is checked on a daily basis, Beck said, and added that the system failed this time since one of the vehicles may have been missing for a while.

He added that people in the cadet program - which includes thousands of teens, many of them from "difficult neighborhoods" - are not allowed to drive police vehicles.

Cadets participate in an 18-week academy training program, taking various classes while getting an introduction to police work. It's also believed that they may have impersonated LAPD officers. Cadets must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average, have a clean criminal record and "maintain good moral character". They can not have a serious criminal record and must "maintain good moral character".

"We're very proud of our cadets", he said.

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