Cops’ Union Files Complaint Over LAPD Chief’s Release of Data to Anti-Police Group

A letter detailing sweeping misconduct and negligence allegations against Michel Moore and an administrator comes after 9000 officers’ data is made public

The Los Angeles Police Protective League—the union representing LAPD rank-and-file officers—has filed a sweeping misconduct and negligence complaint against Chief Michel Moore and an administrator with the department after thousands of photos of officers and personnel data were sent to an anti-police group, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which has put the information online.

 “Some genius at LAPD fucked up and exposed everybody, including those who are undercover,” Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the LAPPL, told LAMag on Tuesday.

On March 14, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition filed a public records lawsuit against the city challenging the LAPD’s refusal to release personnel information. The suit’s introduction opens by stating that simply asking a beat cop, “How tall are you?” is considered to be “an unwarranted invasion of privacy” under LAPD policy; the suit then explains that a prior petition for officer data was denied, as according to the LAPD, it “would not serve the public interest.” But suppression of this information is in violation of well-settled law and the public has a significant interest in overseeing government operations — “law enforcement in particular,” the coalition’s suit against the city says.

“[The] LAPD’s ‘personal privacy’ objection defies law and logic,” the suit states, adding that each time the department is sued for similar records, it eventually caves in and hands the data over—but not after devoting a chunk of its massive budget via litigation trying to suppress this information’s release. This is the 8th public records lawsuit Stop LAPD Spying Coalition has filed against the city.

In response to the suit, the police department turned over headshot photographs of more than 9,000 Los Angeles officers to the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, whose stated mission is to abolish the police state; the coalition then, according to a statement on its website, filed additional Public Records Act requests to both the LAPD and the City Controller to obtain further details on every officer, including their ID number, work assignment, and date of hire.

On Friday, that information was released to the public on an unrestricted website managed by the group. 

Saggau said the first time anyone at the union was made aware that all LAPD officers’ photographs, names, and serial numbers had been publicly released to the coalition was when a reporter with the Los Angeles Times phoned him seeking comment on Thursday night. But at that point, the photos and data of every L.A. police officer employed by the LAPD were in the hands of the coalition.

The complaint from the PPL states that the department had released but not redacted the names and photographs of officers engaged in undercover assignments, “placing their lives and the lives of their families in extreme jeopardy and peril,” the complaint reads.  

“What we find ironic is that, apparently, the department did redact the names and photographs of officers engaged in investigating alleged officer misconduct, yet did not redact officers working sensitive assignments,” the complaint says.

Read the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition lawsuit here

Read the APPL Rhodes-Moore complaint here

The explosive allegations in the PPL complaint include that, in an attempt to cover up the fact that proper notifications were never made, Rhodes didn’t notify the chief of police of the disclosure of sensitive personal information and pending litigation until after the personal information was disclosed—and lied when she claimed she had notified League President Craig Lally and General Counsel Robert Rico. In addition to misconduct and negligence, PPL is accusing Rhodes and Moore of “egregious neglect of duty, false statements, and conduct unbecoming an officer or employee.” 

The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition-managed website, Watch the Watchers, allows anyone to search for an LAPD officer by name or serial number. The activist nonprofit, founded in 2011 and based at the Los Angeles Community Action Network office building in the Skid Row section of downtown L.A., advertises the website as the “first-ever effort anywhere in the country to publish headshot photos of a police agency’s entire sworn personnel.”

“This tool will boost our efforts to identify the cops who brutalize our communities, said General Dogon, a human rights organizer with the Los Angeles Community Action Network. “A decade ago, during our successful fight to end LAPD’s Safer Cities initiative campaign of mass arrests in Skid Row, we made a booklet of officer photos. This new website will make it easier to document police terror across the city.”

L.A. Chief of Police Michel Moore
Lizabeth Rhodes

Rhodes was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2019. As the Director of the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy, the graduate of Smith College and UCLA School of Law is the senior legal and policy advisor to the Chief of Police and directly oversees the operations of the Risk Management Legal Affairs Group, Ombuds, Audit Division, Legal Affairs Division, Risk Management and Policies Division, Governmental Liaison Section, and Strategic Planning Section.

Chief Moore was reappointed to a second five-year term on Jan. 31 after a unanimous vote by the L.A. Board of Police Commissioners.

This is a developing story LAMag will be updating it as news emerges on Tuesday.

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