Perhaps you've heard this line from a police officer or some other person of authority, "If you haven't done anything wrong, what do you have to hide?" That would probably be one of the many questions being asked by the Los Angeles Police Commission - the civilian oversight board of the Los Angeles Police Department - of the LAPD itself, after it was revealed that officers had tampered with devices in police cruisers meant to record what they say.

The quick backstory: LAPD patrol cars are fitted with devices to videotape traffic stops and encounters, and officers wear transponders on their belts that capture audio and send it back to the vehicle recorder via an antenna on the car. In summer 2013 an internal LAPD audit found that antennas on patrol cars had been removed. Doing so doesn't disable the recorder, but it lessens the range over which it works.

After the investigation, Police Chief Charlie Beck told a then-recently-elected Police Commission member who's now the commission president, Steve Soboroff, about the problem and said that it had been resolved, with measures put in place to deter future incidents. But it went no further than that until this February, when the Commission noticed poor quality recordings being used in a shooting investigation; that's when the oversight board was officially informed of the tampering.

Chief Beck, an assistant chief and two deputy chiefs publicly apologized to the Commission this week, saying that the department "fell short" but that "The department did not try to hide this issue." The policemen also defended their decision not to conduct an investigation, saying it would be futile since numerous officers will use a single car throughout the day and there'd be no way to figure out who removed the antennas.

The chiefs said they have developed new protocols to ensure there's no more tampering, including officers documenting the presence of antennas at the beginning and end of each shift and spot checks by supervisors, but it isn't clear that the situation is solved: one antenna has been found missing, and "dozens" of the transmitters worn by officers "were found missing or damaged" in one single division.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      Dmitriy Markelov
      • 8 Months Ago
      The LAPD is basically shooting themselves in the foot. There is great distrust of police so the LAPD like many departments said "No, none of it is true, we're great honest people just trying to do some good!" but eventually they were forced to record all of their interactions to put the public at ease and show that they act fairly and responsibly. Then police officers start to remove antennas which have the sole purpose of facilitating these recordings as if to tell the public yes we have something to hide and we're going to do something back handed and dirty stuff to further conceal it. Real smart folks the LAPD is hiring...
        waetherman
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Dmitriy Markelov
        Shooting themselves in the foot... I wish they would sometimes. Better than shooting innocents and civilians.
        Arturo Rios Jr.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Dmitriy Markelov
        I can see the concerns of the police and general public but the way I see it is that media and the general public sometimes overreact to certain incidents as long as this don't affect them. It is easy for someone to point a finger but once that finger is pointed in your direction everyone will be more compliant. Police officers deal with the worst side of people, their jobs are one of the most stressful jobs out there yet few seem to care the moment they make a mistake. I have no doubt that there are police officers that should not be enforcing the law because of their conduct yet most of them are honorable officers serving the public. The moment a certain group is on the magnifier, America as whole judge them all as one and this should not be how things are done.
          Chris Cheng
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Arturo Rios Jr.
          Stressful? Doing what? Eating donuts? Gathering at starbucks? Or pick on people who didn't stop exactly on the stop sign? Oh oh I get it. Must've been stressful wasting our tax dolars just like thr guy in the article. And later we will see him get punished by "paid" suspension.
          Chris
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Arturo Rios Jr.
          I understand that cops put their loves on the line dealing with some of the most undesirable folks out there, and don't get paid much in return. With that said, there's no excuse for such dirty tactics. Other cops should be especially outraged because it's stories like these that make them all harder to trust.
      Chris
      • 8 Months Ago
      And they wonder why people hate cops? It's things like this that fuel those ill feelings toward law enforcement. Given the authority that comes with their position, they should definitely be held to higher moral and ethical standards. With the many similar stories I've heard, it's become apparent that far too many in law enforcement treat their line of work like a business or power trip.
      JaredN
      • 8 Months Ago
      My shocked face :/
      T1
      • 8 Months Ago
      I didn't know Tom Selleck was on the LAPD.
      Car Guy
      • 8 Months Ago
      I see the weekly anti cop autoblog article has arrived...,
        b.rn
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Car Guy
        Car Guy, Not all of us are voting you down. They shouldn't have removed the antenna, but Autoblog and many of it's readers WANT to see the worst in law enforcement. Who wants to work in a profession where so many people want to hate you?
        Chris
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Car Guy
        No, it's incidents such as this which fuel animosity and distrust towards cops and law enforcement agencies. How would you like to be a defendant trying to defend himself from the actions of an over zealous cop but not being able to because the cop tampered with his recording equipment? Not all cops and agrncies have the right intentions, but that typically doesn't stop judges from taking their word over yours in a battle of words. The police work for the tax payers, and their job is to serve and protect, not turn the tables to their advantage so they have an easier time convicting people. If you want to live in a place where cops are allowed to run around doing whatever they want then move to a place such as Cuba, Mexico, Russia, Iran, etc.
          Pj Taintz
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Chris
          I have a perfect response to this If the cop is suposed to be mic'd or have a video cam, and it is malfunctioning, then we must take the word of the defendant over the cop. He should have known his equipment was not working, and therefore we cannot trust his judgment in other words, if there is no audio and video record of the interaction with the cop, in the eyes of the law, it never happened. If we did this I guarantee that the bullspit will stop
      ken
      • 8 Months Ago
      Surprise? This is a nation that, two years ago, recording (holding an iPhone) law enforcement could land you in jail for up to 75 years.
      CHEDDARIFIC
      • 8 Months Ago
      After 25 years here, I've never seen so much widespread animosity toward the LAPD as I do now. In the 90's, before the riots, it was largely isolated to South Central and certain minority groups. Now, even the most upscale neighborhoods on the Westside are fed up with constant police abuse. No matter who they're talking to or what the issue is, LAPD officers will threaten arrest, lie, steal, use foul language, draw their weapons and even fire on innocents. And that's just the crime VICTIMS (they ki//ed one last week). Yet here we are, wondering why this never gets caught on their recording equipment and why we're threatened or abused when we need their services...
        SloopJohnB
        • 8 Months Ago
        @CHEDDARIFIC
        It starts at the top. Who is mayor of LA? Fire the Chief and promote the next guy. If he fails, repeat until done. Restructure the PD...it wouldn't be the first time. Gates had his problems too IIRC.
          Pj Taintz
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          not sure why you are being voted down, that is the correct way to deal with this. Remove the mayor and police chief, if the LAPD does not straighten up, rinse and repeat
          TelegramSam
          • 8 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          Police tend to be bought and paid for by the biggest crooks. Those crooks would also never permit a mayor to actually appoint an effective police chief. Things are broken on purpose.
      MechE
      • 8 Months Ago
      Enough! The next guy to say Shenanigans is going to get pistol whipped! I suspect they tamper with them bc lawyers can use tiny details to get an otherwise guilty person out of a crime or ticket. Not to say there arent also slime ball cops doing this to continue their powertrip. Either way, it's no excuse and they've made themselves look really bad.
      MiddleAmericaMS
      • 7 Months Ago
      Law enforcement tampering with in-car recording equipment is SOP & has been since its implementation many years ago (see dashcams). The same goes for incriminating evidence being "lost", covering-up crimes of fellow officers, & lying under oath to make a case (perjury). Corruption in law enforcement is systemic & usually swept under the rug. Officers that are caught generally get a couple month paid suspension. :(
      • 8 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      JULES
      • 8 Months Ago
      Its simple to figure out who removed the antenaa - Ask the officers under oath and see the recordings. who ever has the bad recordings first - did it .
      jcwconsult
      • 8 Months Ago
      Testimony under oath COULD find out which officer(s) removed the antennas. Upper management officers do not want to know. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association
        MiddleAmericaMS
        • 7 Months Ago
        @jcwconsult
        Except that officers cover for each other's crimes as SOP & routinely lie under oath. :(
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