LAPD policy allows abuse
either be a cop, or be a private eye ... but not both
by Edward L. Woody
An open letter to Chief Bratton
(please be sure to see previous responses from LAPDonline below)
December 10, 2002
CHIEF WILLIAM J. BRATTON,
CC: Board of Police Commissioners
The Los Angeles Police Department official policy allowing LAPD
Officers to operate as Licensed Private Investigators must be abandoned.
This policy creates a conflict of interests, and leaves the door
open to unfettered illegal domestic spying upon the citizens of
Currently, there are many active duty LAPD Officers who hold California
Private Investigators licenses with official LAPD permission.
The LAPD policy allows officers to work as public employees, that
is, LAPD Officers, while simultaneously working as private investigators.
These officers should be instructed to decide which job, either
public servant or private eye, they want to hold.
Many other LAPD Officers possess the CA. P.I. licenses without
LAPD sanction. You can easily check for these unauthorized operations
by comparing the LAPD roster to the list of licensed California
Private Investigators available from the California License Division.
The officers operating without sanction should be immediately dismissed
from the department.
These police officer owned private investigative and security companies
operate only for the criminal purpose of investigating, intimidating,
and spying on the private citizens of Los Angeles. They exist only
for the financial enrichment of the officers involved, and to the
benefit of the rich and privileged, who pay your police officer/private
investigators for their illegally acquired information. This, in
fact, turns them into spies in the hire of anyone with enough money
to pay them.
While these officers/private investigators work for the LAPD they
access our private information, available only from purloined law
enforcement files, databases and information sources. This is done
for their personal financial gain, while on LAPD payroll, and at
The likelihood that officers involved in these enterprises would
not access the LAPD's resources for their private purposes, is as
remote as the possibility, that children, set loose in an unguarded
candy store, would not eat the candy. Any possibility of this kind
of abuse taking place should preclude any LAPD officer from holding
a California Private Investigator license.
According to the California License Division's Bureau of Security
and Investigative Services, the only assurance, or control, that
guarantees police officers/private investigators will not illegally
use police department resources to investigate private citizens,
is the integrity of the private investigator licensed police officer.
The perception that the LAPD has absolutely no integrity, is commonly
held by many of the citizens of Los Angeles.
How are we, the taxpayers of Los Angeles, to be assured of the integrity
of any LAPD officer who holds a California Private Investigators
The LAPD is already tarnished by the debacle of Rampart Division's
scandal, which included breaking into LAPD evidence rooms to steal
drugs, which were then sold, and also included, false arrest, perjury,
assault, murder, and generally operating a Mafia type crime family
within that division.
LAPD integrity has also been tarnished by the Rodney King beating.
This tarnishing has continued with so many other abuses that an
entire book could be filled with their depiction.
In light of the recent Anthony Pellicano investigation, we also
know that many private investigators have no integrity.
It only takes one LAPD officer/private investigator, with the same
lack of integrity, to wreck havoc within your newly acquired department.
Please stop these spies for hire, who are also police officers,
from further besmirching the LAPD's reputation. You can accomplish
this, first, by outlawing the LAPD policy which allows this unfettered
pilfering of private information for profit. Then by prosecuting
the law breakers who have abused the policy.
I also ask you to investigate for illegal actions and prosecute
any of these intelligence gathering private security organizations
who are operating illegally within your police force. Any violators
of the public's trust must be publicly exposed, then expelled from
within the department.
Without this preemptive action, there will never be any trust in
the department by the citizens of Los Angeles, and the LAPD will
become even more isolated and besieged by the oppressed and spied
Chief Bratton, I beseech you sir, to please, clean these massive,
multi-million dollar enterprises, operating illegally, out of your
This domestic spying represents a clear and present danger to the
civil rights of the citizens of this fine city and creates a huge
liability issue for the department. Your official LAPD policy presently
allows this police abuse.
No one can serve two masters. Either be a cop, or be a private eye.
One job, or the other, but not both. And certainly not while simultaneously
receiving pay for both, from both, their public and their private
Edward L. Woody
323 / 850-6181
EDITOR'S UPDATE: Please see these additional thoughts written
Jan 5, 2003:
/ PI confict of interest from the other side
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for excerpts of
California Business and Professional Codes pertaining to
see this previous correspondence. After
sending a version of the letter above to LAPDOnline, the author
had the following exchange:
Mr. Edward Woody,
The rules governing the licensing of Private Investigators in the
State of California is governed by State Law and not the Los Angeles
Police Department. The Los Angeles Police Department makes every
effort to eliminate and/or minimize and conflict of interest issues
and we are committed to investigating any reported incident of violation
of State, City, and Department policy. If you have any specific
complaints regarding our Department employees, please feel free
to contact Internal Affairs Group by phone, in person, or via our
Department website, www.lapdonline.org.
Thank you very much for your comments and concerns and if we may
be of further assistance in the future, please feel free to communicate
If this practice is legal, and it is open and above board, you should
have nothing to hide from the public. I ask my question once more.
How many LAPD officers are currently California licensed Private
Edward L. Woody
Citizen and taxpayer
Please contact Personnel Division at 213 / 485-3243.
Tom Brennan at Personnel Division says he has no way of knowing
that information and suggested going to the Work Coordinator's office.
I tried that, but was refused information. Crystal, the work permit
coordinator, to whom I was referred, said it would take a week just
to look up the information and that she did not have time.
Next I was referred by Mr. Brennan to the Human Resources Division
at 213 / 485 4048. Lt. Blake Chow will call back when he has time.
I ask once more. How many LAPD officers currently hold Private Investigators
This is a simple question that should be easily answered. Is there
no list available of these officers?
This lack of monitored information should indicate to you just how
out of control this situation has become. How can you monitor and
control these P.I.s within the LAPD without a list of holders of
How many criminal complaints are handled by LAPD officers who also
work as P.I.s?
Do any of these officer/private eyes also work for law firms as
Do any of these law firms, who retain LAPD officer owned private
investigator companies, represent clients in criminal cases?
If even one such example of this exists, then the policy allowing
LAPD officers to be Private Eyes must be forbidden.
This policy allows a conflict of interests to exist within the department.
Edward L. Woody