Open letter to Chief Bratton
. . . and previous responses from LAPDonline

Official LAPD policy allows abuse
either be a cop, or be a private eye ... but not both

by Edward L. Woody

Dec. 10th

An open letter to Chief Bratton

(please be sure to see previous responses from LAPDonline below)

December 10, 2002

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 this city.

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 taxpayer's expense.

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 license?

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 upon taxpayers.

Chief Bratton, I beseech you sir, to please, clean these massive, multi-million dollar enterprises, operating illegally, out of your house.

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 employers.


Edward L. Woody

Los Angeles
323 / 850-6181

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Please see these additional thoughts written Jan 5, 2003:
Sworn / PI confict of interest from the other side


EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for excerpts of
California Business and Professional Codes pertaining to

Private Investigators


Please see this previous correspondence. After sending a version of the letter above to LAPDOnline, the author had the following exchange:

Dec. 6th

LAPDOnline wrote:

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, 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 with us.




Edward Woody wrote:

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 Investigators?

Edward L. Woody
Citizen and taxpayer


LAPDOnline wrote:

Please contact Personnel Division at 213 / 485-3243.



Edward Woody wrote:


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 licenses?

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 P.I. licenses?

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 investigators?

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