A handful of LAPD cadets may have known about the theft of patrol vehicles that led to the arrests of seven other participants in the program and of one officer who allegedly had sex with a 15-year-old cadet, the police chief said Tuesday.
Chief Charlie Beck made the disclosure in a morning update to the Los Angeles Police Commission on the continuing scandal involving the 2,300-member youth program.
The case began on June 14, when police discovered two black-and-white patrol vehicles were missing. The vehicles were soon found being driven in tandem in the South L.A., prompting a pursuit that ended in two separate crashes. Three teens – two drivers and a passenger – were arrested. They turned out to be Los Angeles Police Department cadets.
A few days later, police arrested four more cadets in connection with the vehicle theft and taking of other police equipment. Text messages on one of those cadet’s phones led investigators to suspect that cadet was having a sexual relationship with the officer who operated the equipment room at 77th Street Division.
The officer, 31-year-old Robert Cain, was arrested on suspicion of statutory rape. Beck himself took Cain into custody at the 77th Street station.
A search of Cain’s Rancho Cucamonga home uncovered more than 100 firearms, some of which, Beck told commissioners, may not be legal in California. Police are working with federal firearms investigators on the case.
Now Beck said an additional “handful” of cadets may have “had some knowledge or association” with the group of seven cadets already arrested.
“These are much less involved individuals,” Beck told the Police Commission.
The cadets could be criminally investigated, removed from the cadet program or be subject to “diversion,” Beck said.
No other full-time Police Department employees are suspected of involvement, he said.
Beck has crafted a directive to limit one-on-one contact between individual officers and cadets via social media and text messaging, he said.
“Also, we have made very, very clear that cadets are not to drive LAPD vehicles,” he said.
Investigators are working in “partnership” with the Officer of the Inspector General on the case.
Beck said he hopes the cadet program will “emerge from this stronger than ever.”