LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four more police cadets have been arrested in a widening probe that started last week after three police cruisers, stun guns and radios were stolen, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.
The teenagers, who were in a program for those who may want to become officers, created homemade uniforms made to resemble actual Los Angeles police uniforms and went out on patrol in the stolen vehicles, Beck said. The teens pulled over at least one driver, but they didn’t try to make an arrest or issue a summons, the chief said.
Seven cadets between the ages of 14 and 20 have been arrested since last week.
The cadets, who perform volunteer work at police stations and go through an academy to learn about the criminal justice system, used a vacationing sergeant’s name to access the police department’s automated inventory system and sign out the cars, two police stun guns and two police radios, Beck said. They drove the three cars out of a police station parking lot, and the cadets had one of the vehicles for at least two weeks, the chief said.
While driving around in the marked police vehicles, the cadets impersonated officers and pulled over at least one driver, though detectives haven’t found any evidence they tried to issue any summonses, handcuffed the driver or used any force during the encounter, Beck said. Investigators are looking into the possibility they had conducted more traffic stops.
Three of the teenage cadets were taken into custody last Wednesday after leading officers on wild pursuits around the city in two of the stolen police vehicles that both ended in crashes. The four other cadets are accused of riding along with their friends in the stolen cars, Beck said.
Beck ordered a thorough review of policies for managing inventory and has temporarily suspended the cadet program in two police divisions. The program has about 2,300 cadets in 21 separate police divisions.
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