LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Police Department’s efforts to go green with electric cars is raising some red flags, including a police psychologist who was caught using one of the department’s fleet of electric BMW’s to commute to and from work.
When CBS2/KCAL9 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein asked, “Why should taxpayers be paying for you to take this? You’re basically commuting to and from your house, aren’t you, sir?” the psychologist had no comment.
The cars are part of a multi-million dollar taxpayer funded project to help the LAPD’s environmental impact.
For three years, 100 vehicles were scheduled to be delivered each year to be used for administrative purposes and non-emergencies.
The department is leasing the fleet. The cost: $10.2 million, including charging stations.
But last year, a Goldstein investigation exposed abuses in the system, like an administrative commander driving to get a manicure while using the BMW.
CBS2/KCAL9 found that some cars had just a few hundred miles on them. Because of that, the LAPD postponed the delivery of the final 100 BMWs.
But now, updated figures obtained from the department through November show the cars are still underused, some with just a few thousand miles on them – even though some are almost three years old.
Political watchdog Jack Humphreville says the low mileage shows the cars aren’t needed.
“Nobody’s really thought the thing through. You know, how are you going to use these?” he asked.
Many BMWs have been used to go to lunch and to commute, like one that was used to commute between the LAPD North Hollywood station and Monrovia. That’s about 26 miles each way, and it’s coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
The police psychologist was storing it at a Monrovia public works yard. He arrived in his personal car from his home about a mile away and transferred his belongings into the BMW before commuting on the taxpayer’s dime.
The department gave him approval to do so because they claim he has to drive to different police stations every day. But when he’s not using it, it was revealed that the car sits locked up, sometimes for days.
“This is part of a $10 million pilot program. Was the car parked here for four days during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, sir?” Goldstein asked.
“I have no comment,” the psychologist replied.
But LAPD Chief Michel Moore has defended the program.
“As the transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, how’s that transition going? Is it worthwhile, is it efficient?” Moore said. “I believe it is.”
The department is doubling down. Some of the leases expire in June, and the LAPD is negotiating with BMW for a new fleet.