(UnitedVoice.com) – The Los Angeles County Police Department (LAPD) is one of the largest in the country. The officers on the force patrol the streets of the second-largest city in America. One that’s known for its rampant gang violence. It should go without saying that protecting the personal information of the police who work for the department, especially the undercover agents, is critically important.
Unfortunately, the city made a big mistake several weeks ago. Now, it’s being sued by hundreds of angry officers.
In March, the Los Angeles Times reported the LAPD released the personal information and identities of over 9,300 police officers to an activist group. The information included the cops’ photos, badge numbers, ethnicities, rank, the division they work for, and their dates of hire.
The activist group, known as Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, then created a searchable online database that included the information of those officers. The database, called Watch the Watchers, makes it easy for citizens to scroll through the photos and find specific cops, a real and dangerous problem for the undercover agents whose information was also released.
LAPD brass immediately launched an investigation into the incident. Officials called the release a mistake. Police Chief Michel Moore apologized to the officers whose information was released, saying he “expressed his opposition” after learning about what happened.
Hamid Khan, the head of the activist group, said it was deeply ironic that law enforcement officers didn’t want their names known when they have a history of surveilling LA residents. He claimed his group never posted anything related to the cops’ personal lives, like their home addresses.
On April 4, over 300 LAPD officers who worked on sensitive cases, such as undercover assignments, notified the city that they would be filing a lawsuit as a result of the leak. The officers are required by law to give notification about pending suits against the city. The LA Times reported the officers are seeking damages because of the LAPD’s alleged “negligent, improper and malicious” release of their information.
Matthew McNicholas, an attorney, told reporters that several undercover operations were ended because of the release. He also said officers have been threatened, and their families have had to move as a result of the release of their personal information. Another lawsuit that was filed on the behalf of three officers said a website called “killer cop” listed bounties for officers, putting them in extreme danger. The website is now inactive.
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