By Aviva Shen on
April 9, 2014 at 12:48 pm
"Los Angeles Cops Tampered With Equipment Meant To Record Police Abuse On The Job"
Los Angeles police officers tampered with voice recording equipment
in an apparent attempt to keep their behavior from being monitored,
according to an investigation by the Police Commission.
Cops reportedly removed the antennas on at least fifty squad cars,
mostly in the Southeast division, which patrols low-income and
minority-heavy communities and has a history of excessive force. The antennas help audio recorders worn on cops’ belts transmit back to the car from farther distances.
Police departments are starting to embrace recording equipment in
patrol cars and on cops themselves as a way of internally monitoring
officers. Cameras in the dashboard of a car turn on automatically when
an officer switches on the emergency lights and sirens, and officers
also wear audio recorders on their belts. On top of this, the LAPD is
also preparing to make officers wear lapel cameras.
Recorders have helped expose a number of police abuses all over the
country. In the case of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man who
was beaten to death
by cops in nearby Orange County, digital transmitters worn by the
officers captured Thomas begging for his life, as well as the officer’s
now infamous threat: “See these fists? They’re getting ready to you
Dashboard cameras have also caught officers beating, sexually molesting and planting evidence on people.
Still, even with footage of these abuses, cops rarely face
consequences for their actions. In fact, top LAPD officials learned
about the sabotaged equipment last summer but kept it under wraps for
months. The Police Commission only discovered the tampering during a
shooting investigation, where some of the recordings were fuzzy while
others were clear. Police departments’ reflex to close ranks and protect
abusive officers means many complaints go ignored and dangerous officers stay on the streets, sometimes with fatal results.
The LAPD recently ended over a decade
of monitoring by the Justice Department that had been mandated after
rampant civil rights abuses and corruption. A federal judge decided the
department had reformed enough to lift the federal oversight, as the LAPD promised to continue internal policing like the car recording. The department has been praised for apparently transforming from one of the most corrupt and violent police forces in the nation into a success story.