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

The Los Angeles police cadets suspected of stealing three cruisers and leading officers on wild vehicle chases this week had made themselves unauthorized police uniforms and had driven at least one of the stolen patrol cars more than 1,000 miles, according to police sources. 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 said.

Beck said it was "not easy" to check out a police vehicle, and cadets are not supposed to have access to them.

"We are going to take this apart top to bottom", he said.

How long the cadets had the cruisers remains unclear; Beck did not say when the vehicles were checked out, and when asked at a news conference Thursday, said "it is possible that one of them has been gone for two weeks". "It obviously didn't work in this case". Investigators later reviewed surveillance video that showed a young woman with the vehicle at a gas pump, he said. The goal is to foster relationships between the city's youth and police while helping participants develop skills that will aid them later in life. We would like anybody who has information on that type of activity being conducted by very young appearing male and female partners to call the Los Angeles Police Department, "Beck said".

That briefly gave rise to two chases in which police vehicles were chasing each other.

"One of the pursuits terminated when the pursuit vehicle was involved in a traffic collision".

The three were arrested on Wednesday night after two pursuits ended with crashes in South Los Angeles.

All of the vehicles were taken from 77th Division Station in South Los Angeles, and the vehicle that was discovered parked on a street was around the corner from the station, Beck said.

In addition to the three vehicles, police also recovered two Tasers, two police radios and a bulletproof vest, he said. He stressed that no guns were ever missing. LAPD officers said they knew right away they were being gamed by some punkass kids who'd participated in their highly touted cadet program meant to endear kids to law enforcement officials.

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.

Meanwhile, the LAPD is attempting to make sure a similar incident doesn't happen again.

Beck said he had ordered a review of the Los Angeles police department's cadet program and policies for managing inventory.

  • Leroy Wright