Patterico's Pontifications


Sloppy Record-keeping in the LAPD

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 2:30 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

I’ve written previously on the federal consent decree that until recently governed operations within the Los Angeles Police Department. Although the consent decree has at last been lifted, one of its more pernicious provisions is still in force, that being the requirement that officers assigned to gang and narcotics enforcement provide detailed financial information to department auditors. The Los Angeles Police Protective League (of which I am a member) contested this requirement through a protracted court fight and lost, with the result being that anyone transferring into a gang or narcotics position is now required to submit his financial records to department scrutiny. Despite official claims to the contrary, applications to these specialized details have all but ceased, leaving some areas of the city with vacancies in these important units.

One objection officers have to this requirement is that they are not satisfied that the LAPD will safeguard the financial information and protect them from the prospect of identity theft or other mischief that might occur should the records fall into the wrong hands. Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten, among others, tut-tutted at this objection, even as example after example evidence of LAPD carelessness with confidential records became public. Now comes a report from the Protective League of even more instances of LAPD negligence in the storage of what should be confidential records.

At both the Northeast and Southwest Division police stations, officers recently have found boxes containing sensitive information stacked up in areas that, while not open to the public, were accessible to any employee at the stations and even to visitors. The documents included evidence, crime and arrest reports, and overtime reports that include officers’ Social Security numbers.



The yellow tape in the top photo is apparently intended to discourage the curious from peeking inside all those boxes. It would appear that officers’ misgivings about the department’s record keeping are well founded. The financial disclosure rules will be in place until at least 2011, by which time some gang and narcotics units will no doubt be dangerously understaffed. Only time will tell what the effect of this will be.

–Jack Dunphy

22 Responses to “Sloppy Record-keeping in the LAPD”

  1. Boy… I hope that isn’t, you know, important evidence in that box that says it needs to be refrigerated…

    And moxes of money… Neat.

    No offense, Jack, but Thank god I don’t live in LA. The Keystone Cop style that seems to pervade the ranks of your bosses does not fill me with confidence.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  2. The boxes of money are kind of cool.

    Oh yeah, bootlicking authoritarians.

    JD (b63e69)

  3. I just finished volume one of The Age of Reagan. In the book, Steven Hayward discusses the explosion of crime under the liberal regimes in cities during the 60s and 70s. I still remember how movie audiences applauded at the end of Death Wish. Somebody should write a book about just that topic; the failure of left wing theories about crime and the civil society. They wrecked the cities and we are still living with the consequences. This is just the tail of a long and sad story.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  4. Naw, JD, those boxes of money are kind of empty.

    You can even see that someone hastily opened the top one. I must admit, the ruse of spoiling DNA evidence in the box on top is a clever way to ensure it’s a long time before the theft is discovered. From now on, if I want a box to remain closed, I will write ‘DNA EVIDENCE: Refrigerate!’

    I do wonder, how much evidence does a place like LA generate? I bet processing it is a ridiculous endeavor.

    Dustin (bb61e3)

  5. The “Don’t let people with possible financial problems near people criminals who could bribe them,” mindset seems to be standard operating procedure for law enforcement nowadays. Correctional facilities want detailed records on guards’ loan debts and overall finances, and balk at hiring or retaining people with low credit ratings (which then find out about by accessing their credit records).

    It’s an insulting procedure for the employees to go through, but many of those hirees and already-employed workers do their jobs at lower salaries and in some cases, take those jobs out of financial necessity, not out of any long-standing love of guarding inmates. I would think officers already on a police force applying to specialized details would have more of a love of their job, and would be less likely to accept bribes from the people they’re trying to arrest, but judging by the story, the suits overseeing LAPD don’t appear to know or case about the difference.

    John (d4490d)

  6. When I had a corporate job, we used to write “Hold for (name of CEO)” on the outside of boxes that we really didn’t want people to steal. It worked for while, until the CEO’s secretary saw them.

    Mrs. carlito had a similar experience with some records for the Chicago Police, but it wasn’t nearly this bad. They are supposed to deliver her a locked file cabinet any day now.

    carlitos (831ee5)

  7. Although ascribing such stuff to malice is more economical and likely to be correct, sometimes incompetence really is the answer.

    Richard Aubrey (a9ba34)

  8. This would be Los Angeles.

    happyfeet (f62c43)

  9. Is that large brown box on the left labeled “handgun”?
    If I, as an FFL, stored a handgun like that in an unsecured area, both the CA DoJ, and the ATF would have serious issues with me.
    This organization is being run by idiots!

    AD - RtR/OS! (086c92)

  10. I want a box of money, please.

    JD (a6c61b)

  11. I good friend (LAPD) informed me of this situation more than two years ago. I see nothing has changed.

    Bar Sinister (d2caac)

  12. #7 said, “Although ascribing such stuff to malice is more economical and likely to be correct, sometimes incompetence really is the answer.”

    There’s another possibility: it might be both. For a real eye-opener look into how LAPD handled the evidence of RFK’s murder. Then decide if it was malice or incompetence. Or perhaps the carefully crafted appearance of incompetence used to conceal malice.

    I know this sort of comment upsets some of the smug rabbits here, but that’s hard cheese.

    Caveat: The careers of snoopy investigators might be rather abruptly truncated if they actually go too far poking around in these murky and dangerous waters. Family men should tread softly. One more bit, have look at the evidence itself before you let any so-called authority tell you what to think, especially Bugliosi.

    ropelight (d9d0b1)

  13. Maybe Mr. Rutten would like to volunteer his financial records, as a test case, so we can all see how paranoid the officers are. No? I didn’t think so.

    Rochf (ae9c58)

  14. This kind of nonsense is the natural extension of liberal democratic policies. Just a guess, but what do you think the political orientation of the proponents of the consent decree is?

    So when the police unions sell their allegiance to the democrats, this is the kind of deal they make. Accept your bargain with the devil.

    TakeFive (7c6fd5)

  15. It seems like your article could just as easily be presented as evidence that lifting the ‘consent decree’ was aburdity, as these LAPD barney fife’s can’t even keep boxes of paper stored securely.

    It’s sort of twisted logic isn’t? We can’t secure our own house, so we shouldn’t be responsible for providing the financial records of the most easily corrupted segment of our ranks, but at the same time, announcing how reasonable releasing this dysfunctional asylum of LEOs from federal supervision is.

    Oh and, a PD ‘leaking’ something both in violation of the law and as an attempt to obstruct justice, tamper jury pools, or just generally ruin someone’s life! I’m shocked, just shocked to learn of these potentials horrors!

    bear (202e3b)

  16. AD – by idiots, I believe you mean liberals, no?
    I love LA, but seeing this makes me want to move.

    Audacity (2fd5ad)

  17. Everybody needs to take a deep breath here and deal with a little reality. In the LAPD, money and guns and analyzed evidence are not booked in boxes that somebody then writes, “Money” or “Guns” or “Analyzed Evidence” on. All of these items are booked in preprinted envelopes which list the items. The envelopes are then sealed with seals which the booking Officer has to sign and date. And finally they have to be checked by the Watch Commander who also signs his signature in the Evidence Book signifying that it has been booked correctly. How these boxes where used exactly I couldn’t say, (training scenario, organizing a large quantity of evidence before booking, who knows). But I can assure everyone that there are no guns, money or analyzed evidence in any off those boxes. That is not how the system works.

    Now Officer Dunphy’s views on the filing of records, whether Officer or the Public’s, is closer to the truth. The procedures that are used for their processing is a lot more, shall we say, unrestricted.

    Paul (b573a8)

  18. I can only assume that the uppers levels of management at the LAPD mirror the competance exhibited by the Police Commission and the City Council.
    You live in LA at your own risk.

    AD - RtR/OS! (086c92)

  19. And of course, they discover in a police station evidence that purports to support the police unions position against releasing personal information.And who, pray tell, would have access to all the information that’s stacked in that corner. Somebody drive in off of the street with a forklift and just move it?

    I’ve often wondered why ALL financial information of All LEO’s isn’t scrutinized. If they don’t like the requirement, perhaps they shouldn’t take the job.

    Mike Giles (39c34b)

  20. That would be typical for the City of Los Angeles not just the Department of Police. Would that also be typical for California? The L.A. politicians’noses are everywhere but where they belong. No doubt the same goes for the money over which the politicians have a fiduciary responsibility for the public services for which the City was chartered by the State. More ‘n likely a whole lot of derelection goin an heah. I’m shocked, shocked! Ah, the envelope! Thank you. We’re closed now, everybody must leave.

    John Pasadena (71ecf1)

  21. It is interesting this is now being reported, since these record storage practices have been this way for decades.

    There is a simple solution. Drop off a dozen boxes in front of the L A Times. Once actual files are published, within a week every errant box will have been properly stored, and the L A Times will actually have a story people will read.

    Bob Davis (c577be)

  22. Why am I not suprised. LAPD to little to late. No Justice, No Police – it works both ways. Good job Jack, do not give the “administrators” in the “Glass House” an inch!

    JEB (9d1bb3)

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