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Long Beach : Case of the Missing Police Warrants Finally Solved

February 20, 1992

The case seems to be finally closed on the tale of the missing warrants.

In a memo to the City Council this week, the Long Beach Police Department provided details about an episode involving the deletion of 3,102 Long Beach arrest warrants from the County Warrant System late last year.

Acting Police Chief Bill Ellis reported that the warrants were erased by county personnel as a result of a telephone call from a Police Department employee.

"The employee who made this call mistakenly assumed he had approval to delete the warrants from the system and made that request. . . . Employees at the county deleted the warrants without any formal approval from the Police Department, which is contrary to the county's policy," Ellis wrote.

He explained that the department was thinking of deleting warrants because warrant officers had been reassigned to a Gang Task Force. The warrant supervisor consequently became concerned that he did not have enough officers to pick up suspects wanted for minor offenses in distant parts of the state. But Ellis implied that the unidentified police employee jumped the gun, asking that warrants be erased from the county system--which feeds into the State Wanted Persons System--before the request had been authorized.

Ellis said that all of the deleted warrants involved suspects wanted on bails of less than $7,500. All but three of the warrants were for misdemeanors and all have since been put back in the county system, according to police.

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