The following is a long read … but it establishes the foundation for what happened so long ago in the LAPD. A story of good cops gone bad. A true story lost in time; this is one of the few places you will learn of this LAPD police burglary scandal …
December 7, 1981, two Los Angeles Police Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas assigned to the Hollywood Division were arrested by LAPD Internal Affairs Division (IAD) for committing burglaries on duty in uniform in the Hollywood area. Jack Myers was a field training officer (P-3 Training Officer), and Ron Venegas was what is called a P-II, (not a training officer, just a patrol officer). They both worked what is called morning watch or what most people call the midnight shift. Ron Venegas was a very likable officer and popular among the Morning Watch Officers (same as the midnight shift) and Supervisors. Jack and Ron both played softball with the other officers off-duty in Griffith Park on Sunday mornings.
Earlier that year, Hollywood Division deployed a new Burglary Alarm car. It was called the Code 30 car. The car was your standard black and white marked LAPD police vehicle operated by uniform police officers. They would respond to all burglar alarms, of which in Hollywood there were many. This allowed officers working other patrol units to respond to all other more important radio calls, like shootings in progress, robberies, rapes, domestic violence, etc.
Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas volunteered for the new Code-30 car. Venegas and Myers were close friends who both lived in Simi Valley. They worked off duty movie jobs for extra money and the word among most other officers was that they slept on duty when not responding to Code-30s.
Note: a “movie job” is where officers are allowed to work off-duty for the movie studios in police uniform as “security” during movie productions. It pays quite well, usually several hundred dollars per day.
How it began
The criminal investigation began earlier in 1981 at the Canadian Border. Another LAPD police officer by the name of Greg Cullins, and friend of Venegas and Myers was arrested trying to drive a stolen car across the Canadian border. As with most criminals when caught, Cullins offered to give information about other corrupt LAPD officers for immunity or a lesser sentence. The FBI wanted to handle the investigation but then Police Chief Daryl Gates insisted on investigating his own officers. Chief Gates then turned over the investigation to Internal Affairs Division (IAD). So Cullins gave up Officers Myers and Venegas for a lesser sentence! And that is how the story started as did the criminal investigation into Myers and Venegas by LAPD Internal Affairs.
Police Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas would respond to Code-30 burglar alarms. It is a fact that over 90% of these alarms were false alarms due to environmental conditions or other fallacies within the alarm system. This is still true today, which is why “false alarms” usually result in a monetary fine to the business and or alarm company due to the police resources responding to such alarms.
Commercial businesses, electronic stores, and video stores whose burglar alarms activated required a police response. Officers Venegas and Myers working the C-30 car would respond. In 1981, video players (recorders) were expensive and cost over $1,000.00. After a verified burglary, It was not uncommon for officers to have to wait for hours for the owners or managers of these stores to respond to secure their business. It was (as still is) the responsibility of the police to stand by for the owners to respond and secure their businesses.
It is believed that this is how Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas first got the idea that they could steal expensive electronic equipment that they would personally keep and use, and sell any other electronic equipment to other police officers at a discount. This was easy money and the insurance companies would reimburse the store owners as a result of a burglary committed by unknown suspects. So, according to Jack and Ron, “no harm, no foul, everyone is a winner!”
As time moved on, Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas decided they would accelerate the “burglaries” by using marbles or (large) ball bearings and a sling shot to break the store windows, which caused the alarms to activate, resulting in a Code-30 alarm, that they would respond to, ensure a Code-4 (no other units needed) was broadcast and then fill their police vehicle trunks with electronic merchandise and anything else of value that they could use or sell. After ensuring they stole what they wanted, they would then notify the store owners of the burglary and await their arrival. Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas would sell the excess stolen equipment to other Hollywood officers on the midnight watch at a “discount”. In other words, a $1200 video player might go for $100 or $200.
Due to deployment issues and required days off, unfortunately, a third officer was assigned to the Code-30 car. Police Officer II Brad Fisher was a young, hard working impressionable officer who was assigned to Hollywood out of the police academy. After completing his probation (six months in the police academy and six months in patrol at the time), he transferred to another command. A few years after that he chose to transfer back to the Hollywood Division. Upon his return, he was assigned to the Code-30 car with Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas.
So back to the Internal Affairs investigation .
As a result of the information received from Officer Cullins, Internal Affairs began a surveillance of Officers Jack Myers and Ron Venegas; it was then decided that IAD would set up a sting. With the cooperation of a local businessman, a video electronics store on Melrose Avenue had its alarm activated (Code-30) and Officers Venegas and Myers responded. The back door of the store was pried open and money was lying about inside. The building was searched by backup Hollywood officers for possible suspects. A suspect wasnt found so the other officers left Venegas and Myers at the store to await the owner and complete the crime report; that is standard procedure.
After completing the crime report, and loading up their trunk with electonics merchandise, Venegas and Myers attempted to drive away. They were stopped a short distance later and arrested by IAD. One of the officers had money in his pocket and another had a sling shot with marbles! The money was covered in a powder that showed under a black light. The money had been planted by Internal Affairs. All Hollywood officers working that night were checked for that powder residue.
Venegas, Myers and others were responsible for over 100 Hollywood business burglaries. Some resulted from taking property after a business was already broken into and others they went shopping. Shopping involved businesses that had something the officers wanted. The officers carried a slingshot and marbles. They would smash out a window and wait for the alarm call. They would then request backup officers to search the premises for suspects. When the uninvolved officers left, they would take whatever they needed.
Ron Venegas made a deal and cooperated with investigators. He resigned from the LAPD. He was sentenced to probation and never did any jail time. Jack Myers died in an automobile accident shortly after his arrest. It was ruled accidental, most speculated he committed suicide or was run off the road by an unknown officer to silence him. Unfortunately, we will never know if he was murdered by others involved in the criminal scandal.
Twelve officers and supervisors were either charged criminally or administratively. One police sergeant was actually tried in court. The judge found him not guilty. The only evidence was Venegass statements and the Judge stated, Venegas is an admitted criminal and I wouldnt believe him if he said the sun will rise in the morning.
All the involved officers resigned and were never charged, one other officer got probation. Several of the Hollywood officers were guilty of receiving stolen property because they had purchased expensive merchandise (from Jack or Ron) at so low a price, they should have known it was stolen.
Personal Response Essay
And what became of Police Officer Brad Fisher? View the video interview and how former officer Brad Fisher describes how he crossed the line from good cop to bad cop.
After viewing his interview respond to the following 1 through 6 in well thought-out responses please:
How did a good cop turn bad?
What were the warning signs?
Could this have been prevented?
Why didnt he go to a supervisor and report this crime?
What is meant when Chief Gates spoke of the “little things?” Why are the little things important?
Provide any other comments that would contribute to this discussion of police corruption.
Click the link below for the interview:
LAPD former officer Brad Fisher Interview (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)
Note: Due to the time period when this occurred, this is one of the few existing accounts of the Hollywood Burglary scandal that exist today. During that time period there was no internet, no cell phones, no cell phone cameras, so the information is limited. Yes, there were newspapers and TV news reports of what occurred, but even those reports are difficult to locate.