LAPD review finds 'deficiencies' in cadet program, Chief Beck says

- A top-to-bottom review of the Los Angeles Police Department's troubled cadet program found "a number of deficiencies'' the department has been addressing, most notably through the production of a youth programs manual, Chief Charlie Back said Friday.

The LAPD has also implemented formal training for Youth Services officers and is developing guidelines for social media interaction between cadets and department personnel, Beck said.

Talking to the teenagers who are part of the almost 2000 strong LAPD Cadet program, you feel good. They talk about leadership skills, community service, accomplishing more than they thought they could, things like that.

They are not happy, at all, that 7 of their teenage colleagues and one 31-year old LAPD officer tarnished all of their reputations in the wake of a theft and sex scandal involving a 31-year old cop and a 15-year old girl in the program. 

The cadet program has been under fire since the June arrests of seven cadets for allegedly stealing LAPD vehicles, and the arrest of an officer, Robert Cain, for allegedly having a sexual relationship with an underage cadet. The cadet was one of the seven arrested.    

Cain, 31, has been charged with a half-dozen felonies. He is also facing weapons charges in San Bernardino County stemming from the seizure of weapons at his home in Rancho Cucamonga.  

Beck personally arrested Cain on June 22.

Beck said the department's review of the cadet program, which has 29 different posts, found wide variations in the type of supervision provided to cadets, improper access given to some cadets using sworn officers' serial numbers and a lack of modern policies for how the program is operated.

"The objective of the review was two things -- to make sure that we understood where the program needed to be strengthened and that we implemented improvements to make sure that we didn't have a recurrence of the events of June,'' Beck said at a news conference at the LAPD Academy in Elysian Park.

The department has developed new social media guidelines for cadet and department employee interactions, Beck said, which includes providing department phones with social media access to all the Youth Services officers so interactions can be monitored by the department.  

The chief noted that the cadet program has tripled in size in the past few years.

"The program grew to levels beyond our expectations, and ... in some of the posts, that growth was not addressed in the proper way,'' Beck said, noting that the program is not designed to "create mini police officers,'' but provide vital mentoring to youth.

Troubles with the program began June 14 when a pair of high-speed chases involving pilfered LAPD vehicles ended  in crashes and led to the arrests of three cadets. Four more cadets were subsequently arrested.

Beck has said the cadets' familiarity with the department's procedures allowed them to steal the cars without them being immediately discovered, and one of the three stolen vehicles may have been missing for several weeks.

The department believes the cadets impersonated officers during traffic stops on at least several occasions, according to Beck.

Beck said the department's Office of the Inspector General is also conducting an investigation of the cadet program, and the department is still investigating Cain and the theft of the vehicles.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who has two daughters and is a fierce defender of the program, made a lot of changes and updates and imposed stricter controls, which he thinks will make everything work better and avoid future problems like these.

Of course there are no guarantees. '' We recruit from the human race.'' Beck said. 

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