LAPD Drug Buys in the Schools

The reports in The Times (Feb. 21) of a “romantic” attachment between the unsuspecting high school student and an Los Angeles Police Department undercover officer posing as a classmate is more evidence of the fundamental flaws in the LAPD’s school-buy program.

The unusual aspect of this case is not that an undercover officer betrayed the trust of a student, but that the LAPD acknowledges the error. Firing a single officer will not solve the problem, however.

Improper and dishonest relationships are intrinsic to the school-buy program. The LAPD program requires young attractive police officers to enter the schools pretending to be new students, make friends, and try to convince as many as possible of their new “friends” to buy them drugs, usually marijuana.

When other adults try to get young people involved with drugs, we call it contributing to the delinquency of a minor. When the LAPD does it, we call it the school-buy program.


Many arrests made under the school-buy program are of first-time offenders arrested for agreeing to obtain a small amount of marijuana as a favor for a friend who turned out to be a police officer. Real drug sellers are sophisticated enough to see right through the undercover officer’s fake identity.

The American Civil Liberties Union has long denounced the school-buy program as an improper intrusion into the privacy of students and systematic entrapment of young people. The “romantic” attachment disclosed recently is just one more reason that the LAPD should get their undercover officers out of high school classrooms.



Staff Attorneys

American Civil Liberties Union

Los Angeles