LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Four more Los Angeles police cadets were arrested on suspicion of stealing police cars, two of which were involved in police chases last week, Chief Charlie Beck of the LAPD said Tuesday.
Three of the four suspects arrested last weekend are under 18 years old. The fourth was identified as 18-year-old Leonel Roberto Flores, who will be 19 next month. He was being held on $25,000 bail and charged with unlawful driving of an emergency vehicle. Ironically, Flores was honored as 2015’s South Bureau Cadet of the Year.
The new arrests bring to seven the number of cadets taken into custody.
Speaking at a police commission meeting, the police chief said all seven cadets, six males and one female, took turns taking police cars for joy rides.
The cadets also impersonated police officers and made traffic stops, the chief confirmed. But none of the drivers, who were pulled over, was handcuffed, had forced used on them or was issued a citation.
“We are pressing forward with this to make sure that we find everybody involved and take the appropriate steps,” Beck told commissioners. “As a chief and as a father and someone involved in youth programs, it’s very very disappointing. These are young people at the time of your life when you make bad decisions, and a number of them made very bad decisions. Some of them were influecned by peer pressure.”
The stolen vehicles were taken from 77th Street Division Station and the Central Division. The LAPD suspended the cadet programs at the 77th Street and Pacific divisions over the weekend.
Beck also revealed the suspects had some LAPD equipment, including radios and a bullet-proof vest, but no firearms were believed to be missing.
Despite its recent troubles, Beck reiterated his support for the cadet program, which has more than 2,300 active participants.
“Even though we are very disappointed and unsatisfied with what happened over the last week, I realize the value of the program and that it is an important way for many young people in Los Angeles to increase their chance for success in later years, even if they don’t become police officers, and actually most don’t, but I think it prepares for life like so many quality youth programs do,” Beck said.
Police Commission President Matt Johnson joined Beck in supporting the “valuable” program.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)