LAPD police union sues Chief Moore, wants images of undercover officers taken offline

The union that represents the Los Angeles Police Department sued Chief Michel Moore on Tuesday to force the department to stop releasing photos of the officers and reclaim pictures of undercover officers released under the state’s Public Records Act .

The lawsuit follows controversy more than a week after the LAPD released the names, photos and other identifying information of more than 9,300 officers to a surveillance group, which published them on its website.

The LAPD released the images and information as part of a public record request to a journalist from the nonprofit Knock LA newsroom. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, an activist group, then turned the photos into a public, searchable database called “Watch the Watchers,” which includes name, ethnicity, rank, hire date, department/office, ID number, and Includes photo of each officer.

Robert Rico, legal counsel for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said Tuesday the union will also ask the judge to temporarily shut down the Watch the Watchers website until the city determines which images by these officers should be barred for safety reasons.

After the site launched this month, department heads announced they had inadvertently released photos of undercover officers as part of a disclosure required under the California Public Records Act. LAPD sources, not authorized to discuss the matter, have said the number of undercover officers whose identities have been compromised is in the dozens, if not hundreds.

Rico said the lawsuit would give officers who believe their positions put them in potential danger “an opportunity to seek remedy in court and go to the court to reclaim their photos and names.” That is a legal term.”

He said the union had a broader definition of “undercover” than the public: “Any officer working on a genuine undercover or other sensitive assignment. For example, we have officers monitoring. They are not covered, that is, they have no disguise, they did not have full-grown beards. But they are working on details to monitor home robbers, people involved in potential domestic terrorism.”

The league’s proposed exclusions would extend to officers who had previously worked undercover, he said.

Rico acknowledged that the photos had already spread far beyond Watch the Watchers to other corners of the internet. But, he said, the union wants the court to “establish an appeal” to delete those photos of undercover officers if they surface online.

Hamid Khan, a coordinator for the Stop the LAPD Spying Coalition, called the union’s filing a clear “attack on people’s right to access information” needed to hold the LAPD to account. The coalition wants to scrap traditional law enforcement, but has since pushed for what it calls radical transparency.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the police union alleges negligence by the LAPD and said it was forced to sue the city and Moore after they refused to take legal action to prevent further disclosure of undercover officers’ photos

The lawsuit asks a judge to require the city to “take all necessary legal and/or reasonable measures to prevent further disclosure of photos taken by undercover officials, including but not limited to securing photos unlawfully disclosed.” of the CPRA beneficiary and the seizure of these photos will never be publicly disclosed in the future.”

The union is asking for an injunction and an immediate restraining order to prevent further damage, which it says pending a final judgment in the case.

On Friday, Moore said he took steps to address safety concerns from those whose photos were released. “We were wrong in the sense that there are photos that shouldn’t have been there,” Moore said in an interview. “Well, but the ship has sailed.”

Moore declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had not seen the union’s lawsuit.

The union has already filed a formal complaint against Moore and Lizabeth Rhodes, director of the LAPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing. Moore has asked the Inspector General to undertake the investigation into the release of the data to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mayor Karen Bass tweeted over the weekend that the release was “an unacceptable violation that puts the lives of our officers and their families at risk” and said she expects a “full account” of how it happened.

However, free speech experts say the union’s argument to seek a court order is part of a long history of efforts to prevent the press from publishing sensitive material through “prior restraint”.

According to David Loy, legal director of the 1st Amendment Coalition, this protection, established in the landmark 1931 decision Near vs. Minnesota by the US Supreme Court, extends even to materials that were published inadvertently.

Such legal arguments are “virtually always unconstitutional,” Loy said. Whether the LAPD screwed it up or not is another matter.

“The First Amendment is not self-defending, and there is never a shortage of people trying to stop others from speaking out, whether it be law enforcement or anyone else,” Loy said. “Freedom of expression is the oxygen of civil society. We cannot allow courts to silence protected expressions of opinion, because if we allow that kind of prior restraint, where will it stop?”

Several LAPD sources, not authorized to discuss the photo controversy, said Rhodes, who oversaw photo disclosure, should have made sure every undercover officer was locked out. LAPD police union sues Chief Moore, wants images of undercover officers taken offline

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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