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300 L.A. Undercover Police Officers File Claims Over Their Disclosure

More than 300 undercover Los Angeles police officers filed legal claims against the city and police department Tuesday after their names and photographs were released to a technology watchdog group that posted them online. The watchdog group Stop LAPD Spying Coalition posted more than 9,300 officers’ information and photographs in a searchable online database following a public records request by a reporter for progressive news outlet Knock LA. Hundreds of undercover officers were included in the database, although it’s not clear exactly how many because the database doesn’t specify which officers work undercover, the Associated Press reports. The officers were not given advance notice of the disclosure, and the backlash has roiled the department. The inspector general is investigating Chief Michel Moore and constitutional policing director Liz Rhodes after an officers’ union filed a misconduct complaint.


While the city attorney’s office determined the agency was legally required to turn over the records — which includes a photograph and information on each officer including name, ethnicity, rank, date of hire, badge number and division or bureau — under California law, exemptions are often made for safety or investigative reasons. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition opposes police intelligence-gathering and says the database should be used for “countersurveillance.” Attorney Matthew McNicholas said 321 undercover officers filed legal claims, the precursor to a lawsuit, through his office and more are expected to come forward. The officers’ names were not listed on the court documents. “Only time will tell how many there are total,” McNicholas said Tuesday. The claims allege negligence and seek unspecified damages. The plaintiffs say they can no longer work as undercover officers and, in some cases, may not be able to work in policing altogether going forward.

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