A Los Angeles Police Department unit is under investigation by the FBI after officers allegedly made a practice of turning off their body cameras during traffic stops.
The officers, who are members of the Mission Division Gang Enforcement Detail, first came under scrutiny after two officers allegedly searched a man’s vehicle without his consent or probable cause, an interaction that was not captured on the officers’ bodycams, the Los Angeles Times reports.
An LAPD investigation sustained that man’s allegations and also “identified similar undocumented incidents and suspected failures to activate their body-worn video cameras involving other members of the same unit,” the LAPD said in a Thursday news release.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is working “in consultation” with the LAPD, the release said, and they’re not the only agencies looking into the allegations.
“This investigation has been referred to the Public Corruption Civil Rights Section of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Civil Rights Division has initiated an investigation,” the LAPD said. “The Los Angeles Police Department will fully cooperate with all investigations surrounding this incident(s).”
City leaders have reiterated their support for the inquiries.
“I have been briefed on this incident and what I’ve been told is very disturbing,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “Instances like this can erode confidence and trust in our police department … I am encouraged by the leadership of LAPD taking an aggressive posture towards this investigation to ensure Angelenos are being served with fairness and integrity.”
In the LAPD release, Chief Michel Moore said “the Department’s expectations are that all traffic stops or detentions will be fully documented, and body-worn video devices will be used as required.
“Consequences for any member who would purposely avoid our requirements will be certain and severe,” Moore said. “Such misconduct undermines the public’s trust and tarnishes the badge of the vast majority of officers who conduct themselves with integrity and reverence for the law.”