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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Invasions of Privacy > L.A. Wiretapping Scandal

L.A. Wiretapping Scandal

In 1998, it came to light that the Los Angeles Police Department was extensively using illegal wiretaps to monitor citizens, collect evidence illegally, and invade the privacy of innocents.

The police avoided revealing the existence of their electronic intercepts using a procedure known as "the handoff technique." Officers gathering information on one suspect would turn over information about other people to other detectives, without identifying the source of the information. The other detectives would then try to gather facts independently that would provide "probable cause" for a judge to sign a search warrant targeting the new suspect without revealing the existence of the first wiretap.

This system may have persisted for many years in Los Angeles, resulting in many illegal arrests and convictions, and causing many innocent citizens to be eavesdropped on by police. The number of illegal convictions may number in the hundreds, and the number of innocents who were illegally deprived of their privacy is unknown.


LA drug cops' pervasive illegal wiretaps since 1985 post on Interesting People list (April 27, 1998)

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[updated 8/28/00]

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