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Latest media spin on LAPD

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  • Latest media spin on LAPD

    It never amazes me how the news these days seem to turn editorials into factual news reports. It used to be that the two were separate, and for good reason.

    Here is an example, followed by a short response to each news section. Quotes are from Yahoo news, taken from the AP.

    LOS ANGELES - The Police Department's violent response at the end of an immigrant demonstration is the latest incident highlighting what critics describe as the force's "warrior culture."
    Are we talking about a Zulu tribe? Violence brings violence, they say.

    It's an ethos that's been on display before — the use of clubs and tear gas to disperse 15,000 peaceful anti-war protesters in Century City in 1967, the Watts riots, the Rodney King beating in 1991, the harsh crackdown on demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
    What was on display before was reactive. They failed to mention that.

    Public outcry and inquiries that followed each event haven't deterred some officers from cracking a few kneecaps to assert order, even in front of cameras.
    These days, public outcry and inquiries are conducted in any number of things including seatbelt citations. Were there kneecaps that were cracked? Can they verify this? I guess better kneecaps than sculls.

    Chief William Bratton's criticism of his department and decision to quickly reassign two high-ranking officers after the immigration rally near two weeks ago were roundly applauded, though skeptics say it's not nearly enough to address deep-seated issues that produce violent responses by some officers.
    I'm glad he got his kudos, but if it were up to the public, there would be a hanging. Even for those officers that were not there. Guilty by association right? I wonder what would "be enough" to those skeptics.

    Bratton was appointed in 2002 to steer the LAPD after a rogue anti-gang unit scandalized the department by assaulting and framing people in the tough Rampart district. Dozens of criminal convictions were tossed out as a result of the scandal.
    Though I agree Rampart was a real mess, the press might as well say "In the shadow of the Watts riots, Braton was charged with making sure such an incident never happens again". Rampart was not the reason Braton was elected. How long ago was that?

    Bratton has since had some success in improving community relations, including his swift action following the May 1 immigration rally violence.

    However, skeptics say none of these efforts are enough to address the deep-seated culture that has caused repeated bouts of excessive force.
    Swift action vs no job. I'd be motivated too! Again, it seems that the skeptics would have a public hanging. Never mind Mr John Q Public with a bottle in his hand spitting **** and fire.

    "The LAPD is a big ocean liner and it will take a long time to turn around," said Joe Domanick, a senior fellow of criminal justice at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism. "(Bratton) has not focused on the paramilitary culture and us-against-them mentality that seems to still persist in the LAPD."
    If this guy had brain one in that skull, he would see that the "us vs them" goes both ways. As for paramilitary, I can see Demolition Man right now and that just doesn't work for me. What seems to be your boggle?. Please drop the gun.
    Walk a mile in the shoes of the average LAPD officer and he may see how "us vs them" it is. All be it "them" doesn't encompass every citizen.

    He said the culture originated during the reign of William H. Parker, hired as chief in 1950, who imagined the city's police force as an urban army.
    1950? Wow, mission statements aren't really the same these days as back then. But there is a time for paramilitary and large crowds of unruly subjects are certainly one in my book.

    Domanick said Parker's view was: "We're the only thing standing between chaos and anarchy. We are the professionals. We know better. No one tells us better."

    After the King beating, lawyer Warren Christopher, who later became secretary of state, was tapped to lead a commission in dissecting the department.
    In many cases (especially these days) the LAPD is in fact the only thing between chaos and anarchy.

    The Christopher Commission examined five years of reports, police radio communications and hearings and interviews with dozens of residents and police, and found that "a significant number of officers" routinely used excessive force.
    Do you really believe that? Are these the same people that say being in cuffs is cruel and unusual?

    "The Department not only failed to deal with the problem group of officers but it often rewarded them with positive evaluations and promotions," according to the report.
    Show me. Wait, what does this have to do with the rally?

    Civil rights attorney Connie Rice led a similar investigation after the Rampart scandal and, in a 2000 report, found little had changed.
    Again with the old reports! How does this effect the now? 2007? Are they trying to show pattern?

    The anti-gang unit, known as CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums), "developed an independent subculture that embodied a 'war on gangs' where the ends justified their needs,' the report said. "They resisted supervision and control and ignored LAPD's procedures and policies."
    They as a whole? I think someone wrote this after watching the movie. Again, where is the proof?

    Since then, Bratton has had to take a number of actions in response to police use of force.
    Though I don't envy Braton, I wonder how many of those were guided by the mayor and followed by "or I will find someone who will".

    He restricted police from firing on cars in most cases after officers killed a 13-year-old car theft suspect who rammed a squad car in 2005. In 2004, Bratton banned police from carrying long metal flashlights after video showed a Hispanic police officer using one to repeatedly beat a black suspect who was lying on the ground.
    Pretty soon they will have a gun with one bullet, and that bullet will be made of paint. I must admit that I am surprised that they didn't turn the flashlight incident into a racial beating. Just leave out the ethnicity of the officer and you have front page news. Use what you have, that's what I say.

    Critics say it will take a lot more to change the LAPD's warrior culture.
    What, like replacing LAPD officers with muppets? Not that I agree that LAPD is a warrior like culture, but I wonder what would be ideal to the critics.

    Particularly telling of a resistance to change was the department's decision to put Cmdr. Louis Gray in charge of policing the May 1 rally, said National Lawyers Guild attorney Carol Sobel. Gray was the one who gave the order to fire rubber bullets at demonstrators outside the 2000 convention, said Sobel, who said one of the rubber projectiles hit her between the eyes.
    So they have switch hit from blaming LAPD as a whole, to one man. And on the note of projectiles, there is no full proof delivery method. It's just not realistic.

    "The institutional memory is very short," said Sobel, who worked with police afterward to revise crowd control protocols.
    I would welcome this. But instead of a change of protocol, how about methods? It's easy for them to armchair quarterback.

    Bob Baker, president of the police union, turned down a request for an interview, but issued a statement defending the police response after the May 1 clash, saying officers responded appropriately when some members of the crowd threw bottles and rocks at police.
    Second to last paragraph they mention the bottles and rocks. Typical.

    "As Chief Bratton says, 'sometimes policing isn't pretty and there is little if any time for reflection and discussion before action,'" Baker said. "... In the coming days it will become clear what transpired. Until then there should be no rush to judgment."
    I agree with both statements. Too bad that there was a rush to judgment and the critics still don't realize Braton's quote.

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