LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has recalled an estimated 200 badges that were given to local politicians in the wake of the Cudahy corruption scandal.

KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the department has faced criticism for handing out official-looking credentials to civilians with no law enforcement duties.

Sheriff Lee Baca’s decision to recall the badges comes two weeks after the FBI arrested three city officials in Cudahy on bribery charges.

In support of the charges, the U.S. attorney’s office released a photo of a smiling young woman in a Cudahy nightclub, brandishing two handguns and wearing a councilman’s badge on her chest.

But despite a report from The Los Angeles Times citing one command-level sheriff’s official attributing the badge recall by the revelation in Cudahy, Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said that the timing was purely coincidental.

“He wanted us to review why are we doing this, is this a problem?” said Whitmore. “And it turned out that the sheriff said yes, we don’t want to do this.”

Whitmore said the review by Undersheriff Paul Tanaka of directives where the badge issuance to city officials was authorized by Sheriff Lee Baca had been underway since January.

The emergence of the Cudahy photo is the latest in a series of incidents in which official-looking credentials given to civilians by law enforcement agencies have come under scrutiny, according to The Times.

Critics have long said badges and identification cards appeared to be rewards for political contributions and had the potential for abuse.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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