The action follows the release of a photo, in conjunction with the arrest of three Cudahy officials, of a woman in a nightclub wearing a councilman’s badge.
Robert Faturechi and Jeff Gottlieb
July 13, 2012
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has faced criticism for handing out official-looking credentials to civilians with no law enforcement duties, is recalling an estimated 200 badges the department gave to local politicians, according to documents and interviews.
Sheriff Lee Baca‘s decision to recall the badges comes two weeks after the FBI arrested three city officials in Cudahy on bribery charges. In support of the charges, the U.S. attorney’s office released a photo of a smiling young woman in a Cudahy nightclub, brandishing two handguns and wearing a councilman’s badge on her chest.
One command-level sheriff’s official briefed on the badge recall said the move was prompted by the revelation in Cudahy. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore, however, said that the timing was a coincidence and that a 2007 state attorney general’s warning prompted the call to return the badges.
(…) The emergence of the Cudahy photo is the latest in a series of incidents in which official-looking credentials given to civilians by law enforcement agencies have come under scrutiny. Critics have long said badges and identification cards appeared to be rewards for political contributions and had the potential for abuse.