We've seen what can happen when people abuse the "Reply All" email button, but it's not too often that it catches police officers suggesting alternative reasons to fight crime.
While working on a story about illegal animal trafficking in LA's fashion district, local NBC4 producer Robbi Peale emailed the LAPD asking for arrest numbers for people buying or selling illegal animals on the street. (Apparently, baby rabbits, too young to be away from their mothers, have become are a popular item.) A month earlier, the police held a press conference to announce they were cracking down on the practice, and Peale wanted to see if they actually had anything to show for it.
That's when Commander Andrew Smith, the head of the LAPD's media relations department, fell victim to the dreaded "reply all" blunder. He emailed the following to a fellow officer, but accidentally cc'd Peale.
This story could be a black eye for us if we dont have a few arrests to show. The law has been on the books for months now, and the "rabbit people" are gonna scream that we dont care. Is there any way you or your crew could make a few arrests for illegal animal purchasing so we can avoid negative coverage?
Peale responded, asking Smith if he was simply rounding people up for show. Smith said no, that it was just a "gentle nudge" to his officers to start enforcing an existing law. But when he didn't think anyone was looking, he specifically cited "negative coverage" and a reason to take action. Suggesting that people sent to jail to avoid looking bad, is a much bigger black eye that not actually arresting bunny bandits. Almost as bad as a media relations commander not know how to work his email correctly.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.