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Apr 10 2014

LAPD Officers Disable Tracking Antennae

Here’s an entirely unsurprising but appalling story. LAPD officers that are assigned to inner city neighborhoods have been disabling the antennae that allow their conversations to be monitored by their superiors and to be recorded for future use in tracking their actions.

Los Angeles police officers removed antennas from police cars in several predominantly Black neighborhoods to disable the recording equipment and avoid being monitored while on duty, according to an inspection by LAPD investigators.

The department review found about half of the 80 cars in the Southeast division—which includes Watts and the Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens housing projects—were missing the antennas that help capture what officers say in the field. The review discovered at least 10 more cars in nearby divisions also had antennas removed.

Members of the Police Commission, which oversees the department, said they were alarmed by both the actions of the officers and the failure of the department to reveal their actions when they were first detected.

“On an issue like this, we need to be brought in right away,” commission President Steve Soboroff told the Los Angeles Times. “This equipment is for the protection of the public and of the officers. To have people who don’t like the rules to take it upon themselves to do something like this is very troubling.”

The chief of police said he warned the officers but didn’t see any point in trying to figure out who disabled them because several officers might use the same car during a shift. There’s an easy solution to that: Every single police officer should wear cameras on their uniforms that record every movement during a shift. And if they try to turn them off, there should be serious and immediate consequences.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    “If you’ve got nothing to hide, why would you care?”

  2. 2
    Kaintukee Bob

    I’d be more in favor of cameras for police officers that, when turned ‘off’ instead switched to dumping their feed directly to servers owned and operated by the ACLU.

    No need to tell the officers about that feature, though.

  3. 3
    Phillip IV

    Every single police officer should wear cameras on their uniforms that record every movement during a shift.

    For some cops that would be rather embarrassing – five minutes of movement recordings from a three-hour shift…

  4. 4
    DBP

    Punish all of them that use the car during the shift that the antennae went missing. I’m sure they’ll solve the shit out of that mystery when threatened with unpaid suspension.

  5. 5
    Artor

    The chief of police said he warned the officers but didn’t see any point in trying to figure out who disabled them because several officers might use the same car during a shift.

    Gosh, if only there was some technology in place that could identify which officers were doing what around the antennae. It sounds like the chief’s “warning,” comes with a wink & a nod. It should be a serious crime to tamper with official recording equipment, and officers caught doing it should be fired with prejudice. I know if I broke off a pig’s antenna, I’d expect a beating and some jail time.

  6. 6
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    I know if I broke off a pig’s antenna, I’d expect a beating and some jail time.

    And if one of me and two other people broke it, and the cops didn’t know which one of us did it and we weren’t telling, all THREE of us would get the beating-and-jail-time treatment.

  7. 7
    doublereed

    Gosh. That sounds criminal.

  8. 8
    Rick Pikul

    The obvious thing to do to reduce the number of times the antenna is disabled is for responsibility to be clearly assigned.

    When an officer takes the car out, he signs that the antenna was fine.
    When he brings it back in, the guy in the motor pool signs that it’s still fine.

    When an antenna gets mysteriously damaged, whoever is currently signed off on it has some ‘splaining to do.

  9. 9
    D. C. Sessions

    This monitoring is what got the LAPD out of close supervision by the Court. My guess is that the Court is likely to find the high rate of monitoring failures in the precincts which also had the worst records of abuse to call for reimposition of the supervision until they have a working (as in, not disabled) monitoring system operating.

  10. 10
    notyet

    How much of this is a direct or indirect result of the War on Drugs? If these neighborhoods were not run by drug financed miniature warlords, the danger that makes cops feel that they need to act like rabid dogs in those areas might not exist. I am not in any way excusing the police for their actions, I am asking if we have created an environment that is unpoliceable through the application of senseless draconian drug policies.

  11. 11
    democommie

    @10:

    No, it’s not impossible to police effectively. We have chosen not to use the police and the rest of the justice system to good effect because it’s much harder work to be EFFECTIVE when you’re going after the big fish. So, instead of doing that many police forces spend their budgets on “catch and release” programs–not that they release them quickly–and arresting street level dealers and users. We also choose not to spend a lot of resources on treatment of drug users– keeping them addicted to drugs via, for instance, methadone clinics, rather than actually trying to break drugs’ hold on them.

    One of the reasons for cops to not want to be recorded on their duty tours is that they’re dirty cops, taking money from criminals for “looking the other way” or actually robbing them in bogus raids. It probably doesn’t happen as often as it is portrayed in popular movies but it certainly happens..

  12. 12
    dingojack

    When I read the headline….
    Nevermind, carry on. ;)
    Dingo

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