LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Despite calls for its closure amid a scandal involving a veteran officer and an underage girl, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said the Los Angeles Police Department's embattled cadet program is "here to stay."
"We've had it for decades," Beck said. "It has had extremely positive results in young people's lives."
The program came under fire after an investigation triggered by the theft of police cruisers resulted in the arrest of seven cadets and eventually led to the arrest of a 10-year veteran of the force who is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who was a member of the program and among the cadets arrested in the cruiser thefts.
MORE: LAPD officer arrested for alleged sex with 15-year-old cadet
The officer, Robert Cain, was charged with the illegal possession and manufacturing of assault rifles after nearly 100 weapons were seized from his home after his arrest. Cain has pleaded not guilty to the felony charges.
MORE: Ex-LAPD officer at center of cadet scandal pleads to weapons charges
A group of protesters called for an independent review of the LAPD's cadet program Tuesday afternoon.
"Stop the cadet program. LAPD must defund the cadet program and publicly acknowledge and take ownership of its history," said Nia-Amina Minor, with Black Lives Matter.
The LAPD has said calls for the end of the program are "misguided and misinformed" and would prevent "educational and skill-building opportunities for thousands of young adults."
MORE: Beck defends LAPD cadet program at graduation while planning overhaul
Beck agreed Wednesday, saying, "I and other city leaders completely support the program, recognizing that we had some that failed horribly and one that failed criminally."
He also largely dismissed the protesters, calling the program's demise "just their topic of the day."
Beck's defense of the LAPD's cadet program comes amid another scandal affecting a similar program at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
On Tuesday, the LASD announced that a deputy is being investigated for an allegation of misconduct involving a teenage cadet. The department is also launching a review of the explorer program, but said it is not aware of any other misconduct allegations.
MORE: LA sheriff's deputy being investigated over allegation of misconduct with teen cadet
Sheriff Jim McDonnell ordered "swift and appropriate action" be taken to hold anyone accountable who is not protecting the cadets and the department program.
Beck, meanwhile, said the LAPD intends to pursue the criminal charges against Cain "to the fullest."
LAPD chief: Cadet program is 'here to stay'
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