LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department tampered with voice recording equipment in dozens of patrol cars in order to avoid having their conversations monitored while on duty, according to a report Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Times reported LAPD investigators found about half of roughly 80 cars in one South L.A. patrol division were missing antennas, which help capture what officers say in the field. At least 10 other vehicles in neighboring divisions had also been tampered with, The Times reported.
The cameras, which can be manually activated or enabled automatically whenever an officer activates the car's emergency lights and sirens, are used to record traffic stops and other encounters that occur in front of the vehicle.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and other top officials learned of the issue last summer, but chose not to investigate which officers were responsible, according to The Times. Instead, officers are now required to verify the equipment works on every shift.
Beck said there was no deliberate attempt to keep the commission in the dark, The Times reported.
Members of the Police Commission, which oversees the department, were not briefed about the problem until months later, according to The Times.
Police Commission Chairman Steve Soboroff told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the officers' actions don't necessarily indicate they wanted to hide something.
"I think that it was more a statement, you know, 'Hey, there's some things here that we'd rather not or we don't like', or they weren't clear on the rules," Soboroff said.
Soboroff added that the recording devices were put in place to protect both officers and members of the public, and that it's "unacceptable" for officers to disconnect them.
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