The Los Angeles Police Protective League filed a lawsuit on March 17 against the owner of a "killer cop" website that allegedly placed bounties on officers by publishing their photographs and other personal information.
In response to a public records request by a journalist, the LAPD released the names and headshots of more than 9,300 officers, almost every sworn officer on the force, including undercover cops who work with the Mexican mafia and cartels.
The information was posted to an online database called "Watch the Watchers" by Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a group that seeks to abolish traditional law enforcement.
"This website is intended as a tool to empower community members engaged in copwatch and other countersurveillance practices," the group wrote. "You can use it to identify officers who are causing harm in your community. The website's ease of use also makes it a political statement, flipping the direction of surveillance against the state's agents."
The Los Angeles Times reported that legal action was taken on behalf of Officers Adam Gross, Adrian Rodriguez, and Douglas Panameno, who seek to have their personal information removed from the website.
LAPD Detective Jamie McBride told "Fox & Friends First" that he believes the "reckless behavior" will "incite violence" against law enforcement officials.
"This has never happened before my 32-year career … this is uncharted territory for all of us," McBride stated. "These officers are very dedicated to what they're doing in their investigations. They're going to take precautions now and constantly look over their back on their way home from work."
McBride explained that the release of officers' information would likely have a significant impact on recruiting during a time when the LAPD is already facing an understaffing issue.
The lawsuit accused the website owner, Steven Sutcliffe, of posting on Twitter a picture of a monetary reward with the caption, "Remember, #Rewards are double all year for #detectives and #female cops."
In another tweet, Sutcliffe allegedly posted a link to a database of LAPD officer photos with the caption, "Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z."
Sutcliffe's Twitter account, @KillerCop1984, has since been deleted.
He told the Los Angeles Times that the lawsuit is "malicious" and "retaliatory."
"It is vindictive and frivolous. Their motion is filled with lies," Sutcliffe stated. "They are trying to silence my free speech. The truth cannot be retaliatory. It is 1st Amendment protected speech."
McBride argued that "it's not simple as free speech."
"That's not free speech. That's reckless behavior, and that's going to incite violence because you have people out there right now that are a little off-center, and they're going to look at this and say, 'hey, let's go kill a cop and make some money,'" he said.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore reported that the police department is investigating the "solicitation for violence against officers" to determine whether it was criminal.
"The posts, the nature of the posts, they're not just intimidation. They're threatening, and they may constitute a crime," Moore said. "This is one of those things that I worried about and feared when we released these photographs ostensibly to be transparent, that others were going to use them to threaten our officers."
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