(NewsNation) — The union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers has drafted a misconduct complaint in response to a public records request that included the names and photos of the city’s officers.
In its complaint, which is posted to the city’s website, the Los Angeles Police Department Protective League said a watchdog website created a database of the names and photos of officers, including undercover agents, using information obtained through a public records request.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the department’s release of undercover officers’ names and photographs was inadvertent. The city attorney’s office had, however, determined the agency was legally required to turn them over under California’s public records law, The Associated Press reported.
The union now is calling for an investigation into LAPD Chief Michael Moore and Lizabeth Rhodes, a police administrator III, concerning the release of the information.
The journalist who originally filed the request has since posted photos of an email exchange between his attorneys and the city’s attorney, who, according to the screenshot, said that undercover officers’ information would not be included in the final response.
Reporter Ben Camacho, who writes for Knock LA, filed a lawsuit against LAPD last year, claiming the department violated the California Public Records Act by denying his original request for employee headshots.
“To be clear, the city never brought up safety concerns during the actual lawsuit, aside from the 100 (undercover) officers mentioned in the email screenshot,” Camacho wrote in a tweet. “Apparently, LAPD didn’t let the rank and file know that their photos were being released, per LAPPL statement.”
He told NewsNation in an online message Thursday that he uses photos as part of his investigative reporting.
Last week, the police department learned the officers’ photos were uploaded to another website, managed by the watchdog group Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. According to the union’s complaint, an LAPPL spokesperson received an interview request from the Los Angeles Times about the group’s plans to publish the information.
“I’ve directed an immediate investigation into the circumstances of the release of this information, which actually occurred last September pursuant to a California Public Record Act request,” Moore said in an official statement. “This third-party website apparently gained access to the release.”
Responses to all the city’s completed public records requests are uploaded and publicly available online. Representatives from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition said anyone could have accessed the information, which they used to build a searchable database for police accountability and transparency.
“The LAPD is notorious for not sharing their name, not sharing,” Stop LAPD Spying Coalition Organizer Hamid Khan said. “What this website does is kind of brings that information together in service to the community.”
Khan clarified his organization did not receive or release any officers’ personal addresses.
Officers, however, say they’re now concerned about their safety and the potential compromising of undercover investigations.
“We have already initiated an ongoing awareness for the development of any threats stemming from those who attempt to use the information garnered from the involved website for some nefarious purpose,” Moore said.
Police say the information has made its way to one Twitter account and website that appears to promote violence against police. They’re seeking to have those accounts removed.
“It’s a historic level of incompetence on behalf of the management of the Los Angeles Police Department that caused this leak to occur,” Robert Rico, in-house counsel with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said. “And we’ve had hundreds of officers who have notified us that they are not only in fear for their safety but for the safety of their families when you have online websites as a result of this historic, incompetent leak, calling us and expressing fear at a level that we’ve never seen.”
Rico said there are websites being set up where people are putting bounties on officers’ heads. He said that one website has even offered $1,000 more for the murder of a police officer who’s a female.
“It’s disgusting,” Rico said. “Our officers won’t stand for it, and we as a union will not stand for it.”
NewsNation writer Devan Markham contributed to this report.