More than three hundred undercover Los Angeles Police Officers are asking the city and the department to answer for their names and photographs that were made public through an online database. The Police Officers’ action follows a public request to the progressive news outlet Knock LA, who received the documents from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. The records include the Officer’s identity, race, rank, date of hire, badge number and division or bureau.
California law requires the Police Department to hand over the records but there are exemptions in place for safety and investigative reasons. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is known for its opposition to police intelligence-gathering and wants people to be able to use the information from the database for counter-surveillance initiatives. In response to the legal claims — submitted by over 300 officers — lawyer Matthew McNicholas is pursuing a lawsuit against the City and the Department.
Officers are concerned for their safety, as well as the safety of their families, and want to know whether the city will provide protection for them. There have already been several investigations conducted by undercover officers that have stopped in the wake of the disclosure — investigations into gangs, drugs and sex traffickers. McNicholas reported that 321 officers had submitted legal claims, with more set to come.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore has recognized the error in releasing the photos and understands that “that ship has sailed.” Officer Jeff Lee, a spokesperson for the Department, said the agency would not comment on the pending litigation. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents the department’s rank-and-file officers, have also filed lawsuits against the police Chief for their attempts to “claw back” the undercover officers’ photographs and prevent further disclosure.
The disclosed information comes from Matthew McNicholas, the attorney form McNicholas & Associates LLP who is representing the affected officers. He has more than 20 years of experience guiding employers and employees through the legal landscape, making sure their rights are respected and that their interests are fully met.
Liz Rhodes, who is the constitutional policing director for the Los Angeles Police Department, is also being investigated by the inspector general for the allegations made by the officers’ union. There is no concrete information regarding how many officers could possibly be impacted by the disclosure.
The Los Angeles Police Department has grown to become one of the most sophisticated and respected law enforcement agencies in the world. They are committed to providing the highest level of public safety and service, while protecting civil rights and liberties. The LAPD has adopted the community-oriented problem-solving model to combat crime, ensuring there is a strong partnership between the police department and the community they serve. This lawsuit is an unfortunate reminder of the delicate balance between safety, privacy and freedom that needs to be maintained.