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LAPD Undercover Cops' Faces Turn Up on Watchdog Site

A firestorm spread through the Los Angeles Police Department's upper ranks after the department accidentally released the names and photos of numerous undercover officers to a watchdog group that posted them on its website, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition launched Watch the Watchers, a searchable online database of more than 9,300 officers' photos, with their names, ethnicity, rank, date of hire, division/bureau and badge numbers. The group called the site the first of its kind in the country, designed to provide transparency and obtained through a public records request. The LAPD has launched an internal investigation into how the mistaken release occurred.

An LAPD source who works with undercover units described “shock and panic that shuddered through their ranks and families” after the department chose to release images of officers and detectives who work particularly sensitive undercover details, involving cartels, gangs, narcotics and even counter-terrorism. Hamid Khan, a coordinator with Stop LAPD Spying, an activist organization that opposes police intelligence gathering and is pushing for widespread reform, called it ironic that the department would be opposed to such a disclosure, considering its history of surveilling and gathering information about residents. “We’re not publishing their home addresses, we’re not publishing things that are outside their role as police officers,” he said. Police officials said that even if the information was obtained legally, it could still compromise the safety of officers who normally operate in the shadows. In a department-wide email Saturday, Police Chief Michel Moore said he learned of the disclosure “after it had occurred and had in fact expressed my opposition to such a release in a media interview earlier that day.” Moore apologized in an email to the department's officers, saying, "each of you should be able to depend on me and this department to demonstrate the appropriate sensitivity in these types of situations." The police union filed a formal complaint related to the disclosure Monday against Moore and Lizabeth Rhodes, director of the LAPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing. “We demand to know who knew what and when did they know it?” the union said in a statement. “If the chief did not know, as he has claimed, then who did and when will they get shown the door? We will also be pressing to ensure those officers that are working in sensitive assignments are accorded the appropriate security to keep them and their families safe.”


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