It has been nearly 15 years since I carried a badge. In that time, I’ve been disheartened to watch police philosophy devolve in far too many places from one of service, sacrifice and selflessness to self-absorption and isolation from the public officers serve and represent. Officers who once understood and accepted the risk inherent in their chosen occupations, men and women who took seriously the responsibility of being under arms, now hold no principle so dear as finishing each shift unscratched, and have no qualms about doing everything and anything—or nothing—to see that happens. Worse, their supervisors and leaders not only allow, they abet this deadly conceit.
PJ Media contributor and LAPD Officer Jack Dunphy recently wrote of the aftermath of one of the bizarre incidents related to the February, 2013 Christopher Dorner murders and manhunt: the shooting of two innocent and entirely unthreatening Hispanic women delivering newspapers in Torrance, CA by eight LAPD officers who unleashed a fusillade of 103 rounds of handgun and shotgun fire at their pickup truck. Not only did they wound both women—who miraculously lived and quickly won a $4.3 million dollar settlement—they managed to shoot up seven nearby homes and nine cars.
[Disclaimer: I am also a PJ Media contributor. My PJ media article archive may be found here.]
The occasion is the recent release of the official LAPD report on the shooting, and the obvious unwillingness of the LAPD to hold anyone accountable for the near-murders—but for the officer’s abysmal marksmanship—of two innocent women. Dunphy’s article is a surprising and alarming apology for all involved, from Chief of Police Charlie Beck to the judgment and shooting ability-impaired officers involved. My surprise and alarm is inspired by Dunphy’s departure from his usually professional policing philosophy. He begins with Shakespeare:
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, Shakespeare tells us. And while the worries heaped on the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department may not rival those that kept Henry IV awake into the small hours, it’s safe to say that, some nights, Chief Charlie Beck does a good bit of tossing and turning before drifting off.
Beck was reasonably worried not only about Dorner and the safety of LAPD personnel and their families, but less reasonably about the politics of punishing officers. And while some police executives are far too quick and anxious to punish officers for the slightest honest error, it appears that Chief Beck can’t bring himself to punish officers that represent a clear and present danger to themselves, their fellow officers and the public. As you read, remember, these officers nearly killed two entirely innocent women and shot up a neighborhood in the process.