I did my probation on the LAPD in Wilshire. It is predominately African American. Almost all of my training Officers were, African American. Some of them had grown up in the division. I gained a real appreciation for what they endured not only in society but on the department as well in the 50’s and 60’s and perhaps some of the 70’s. The one thing I never experienced was a racial attitude on behalf of the LAPD Officers towards any ethnic group. We simply did not like bad guys. If you were a bad guy then we went after you regardless of your ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious preference. A bad guy was simply…a bad guy. I have been accused by arrestees of ‘planting’ things (guns, dope, money etc.) on suspects we arrested. It’s the oldest game in town. No… I did not run around with pockets full of rock cocaine, vials of PCP, balloons of heroin and stolen guns on the off-chance that I could ‘plant’ them on a suspect.
The LAPD today closely resembles the United Nations with guns. You name it, we got it! It is so far removed from the stereotypical southern cop of the pre-seventies era it’s not even funny. The job they are faced with in this day and age is unimaginably more difficult and stressful than the streets where when I once worked.
Today everyone is watching everything you’re doing and most probably, filming whenever you are working. Many of these videos are capturing only a portion of what transpires. There is no video capture of the initially generated radio call nor the previous observations made by the Officer of the suspect prior to the cell phone video coverage. In other words, what is rendered is only a spliced frame of time of an overall complex incident. This can lead directly to public outrage and a plethora of talking heads on the news based on limited information at best. This fact seems to have been lost in the blizzard of media frenzy.
Now on the obverse side, there is the fact that perhaps what is captured on video is in fact, improper action on behalf of an Officer. If this is the case then it will be dealt with. Someone called for a national “standardization” of deadly force laws for police. Well, to that unfortunately rather uninformed individual, there is one. In fact there are many starting with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Graham V. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989) No.87-6571. All police must abide by this and other decisions which have reset the standards for use of force for many decades.
One fact which struck me the past week was that despite the negative publicity and outrageous accusations leveled against ALL police, I observed dozens of Officers running TOWARDS, not away from a gunman in downtown Dallas TX. Five of these Officers were lost to us. This speaks volumes about those who protect us all.
I distinctly remember on the first day of my Academy class in 1976 sitting in the converted trailers on the running track, which served as our classrooms and the front door opening. A blinding light surrounded a silhouetted, rotund figure as grains of bright dust floated around his head and uniformed shoulders. The figure’s voice broke the uneasy silence, “You are the thin Blue line between anarchy, chaos and order… do whatever it takes and do it right!” The figure departed as quickly as it had appeared closing the door behind. It had Been Chief Ed Davis. There were only about 4,000 or so LAPD Officer’s back then… a thin Blue line indeed.
I do not like bad cops. I despise them. I have seen some of these and they hurt all of us. The vast, vast majority of Police out there are trying hard in a job many would not, nor could not, endure for a single minute. Always remember this!