Controversy in the Los Angeles Police Department after data of its undercover officers was provided to an anti-police activist portal. The Watch The Watcher website, managed by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, collected data from the entire Police Department staff and made it public through its website.
Since then, accurate data such as first and last names, photographs, badge numbers, ethnicities, ranks, target divisions and dates of hire can be accessed for any of the more than 9,300 police officers in the city of Los Angeles. According to representatives of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, police officers are not citizens like everyone else and the people of Los Angeles deserve to know the facts. According to Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, this data was obtained through the Police Department itself, which provided it to a journalist.
The problem came when the Police Department officials reported this weekend that, by mistake, the data of those police officers employed in undercover duties, working in street clothes or even undercover, were also provided. A city police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, issued a statement regretting that the department had not warned staff before releasing the data.
Stop LAPD Spying Coalition claims that the data published on its website was obtained legally. "We are not publishing their home addresses or data that is outside of their terms as police officers," Hamid Khan, a representative of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, told the Los Angeles Times. According to Khan, they seek to lobby for the Police Department to end its citizen data collection policies.
On Twitter, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition account made a joke referring to the Barbara Streisand effect and asked not to use their website to search for potential undercover officers.
Please DO NOT use https://t.co/1ghvVmqf52 to search for potential "undercovers." DO NOT DO IT. https://t.co/DG83Gb9GTC
— Stop LAPD Spying Coalition (@stoplapdspying) March 21, 2023
For now, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in a statement to department staff that he did not learn of the disclosure until late in the evening. "I apologize to each member of this department impacted, and your families, for not having provided you with advance notice of this release. While I recognize that an apology may be of little significance to you, each of you should be able to depend on me and this department to demonstrate the appropriate sensitivity in these types of situations," he added.