LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police Chief Charlie Beck told graduating cadets on Saturday to “be strong. Be ethically correct. Do the right thing” after a scandal in the youth program involving allegations of stolen police cars and underage sex.
During a ceremony at the University of Southern California, Beck told more than 2,000 teenagers and young adults that the day was joyous but also somber because some cadets had acted inappropriately and an LAPD officer “acted criminally.”
On Thursday, Beck personally arrested Officer Robert Cain. The 10-year veteran is suspected of having unlawful sex with a 15-year-old cadet.
A search of Cain’s Rancho Cucamonga home turned up a cache of weapons that were being examined to determine whether they were legal under California law, a Police Department statement said.
More than 100 weapons were seized, including modified assault rifles and a non-functioning grenade launcher and grenades, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The paper cited three law enforcement sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.
Cain is free on bail, but it was unclear whether he had an attorney. No one could be reached Saturday at Cain’s alleged underage lover is among seven cadets arrested in recent days on suspicion of unlawfully using stun guns, radios and police cars to joyride and even pose as officers.
Six of the cadets, including the girl, were assigned to the 77th Street Division where Cain worked in the equipment room. He wasn’t involved in the cadet program.
On Friday, City Councilman Mitchell Englander called for an audit of all LAPD youth programs.
“This was an officer that was in a station, in a kit room, and somehow developed a relationship with these kids?” Englander said. “That means there’s definitely flaws in the system as far as supervision and oversight.”
Beck has ordered a full review of the program.
On Saturday, the chief pledged to parents: “We will take care of your kids like they’re our own. We’re committed to the safety of these young people and to the development of their futures.”
“I will make sure that should someone again abuse one of your cadets, step outside the parameters of the program, cause the program to be questioned, that I will take strict and decisive action,” Beck said.
He told youth service officers to commit to protecting the cadets “from predators on the outside and predators on the inside.”