First Baltimore, Now Los Angeles?

 

shutterstock_140272873Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is as obtuse as ever. Addressing the sharp decline in arrest numbers from the Baltimore Police Department, Rawlings-Blake told a reporter for the Baltimore Sun she expects the officers to step it up. “We know there are some officers who we have some concerns about,” she said. “I’ve been very clear with the FOP that their officers, as long as they plan to cash their paycheck, my expectation is that they work.”

And the officers’ expectation is that if they perform their duties within the law, they won’t be arrested and charged with crimes so as to appease a riotous mob. Or at least this was their expectation. Now, since the arrest and indictment of the six officers implicated in the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore cops live with fear that they could be next and are conducting themselves accordingly.

The mayor claims the officers aren’t working. In fact, they are: they’re merely adjusting their work habits so as to bring them into alignment with the current political climate. They’re out on patrol in the same numbers and manning all the posts they were before Freddie Gray’s death, but they’re being far less proactive in their efforts to reduce crime. And who can blame them? Imagine yourself as a Baltimore cop. You are driving the streets in your patrol car when you see someone you know to have a violent history. You see him tug at his shirt or adjust his pants or change his gait in a certain way, any of which might indicate he is carrying a gun. Do you get out of your car and investigate with the knowledge that — if he doesn’t shoot you — he’ll run away and force you to chase him?

A few weeks ago you might have, but not now. If you chase him, you might catch him — and if you catch him, you might have to shoot him or hit him or wrestle with him, any of which might make you infamous when the YouTube video makes it to CNN. No, better to drive on by and around the corner. When the guy shoots someone, you can respond to the radio call and take a report; if the victim dies you can put up the yellow tape at the crime scene and stand around while you talk about how unfortunate it is that all these people are being murdered (136 so far this year, 21 so far this month) while the homicide detectives and the evidence techs go about their business. You can do that day after day and not make a single arrest, but your paycheck will be exactly the same and nobody can claim you haven’t been “working.”

And now it’s L.A.’s turn. My most recent piece at PJ Media concerns a perplexing decision by the Los Angeles Police Commission regarding an officer-involved shooting that occurred last summer. As happened with Michael Brown — who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri — this case concerns a man who tried to take an officer’s sidearm and paid for it with his life. Ezell Ford, 25, died two days after Michael Brown.

The Police Commission, the five-member civilian body that oversees the LAPD, ruled last week that one of the officers who shot Ford was justified in doing so while the other one was not. You can read their rationale for this conclusion in the linked column; even the thought of summarizing it again here is raising my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.

On Sunday, the vice president of the Police Commission appeared on the local NBC affiliate and lamely attempted to explain how she and her colleagues reached their decision. Watch it if you dare, then ask yourself if you would take many risks if you were a cop in L.A. while this person is in a position to judge your actions.

Violent crime is already up in Los Angeles, and with this decision by the Police Commission it’s going to get much, much worse.

There are 38 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    I wonder if Jack Dunphy and his crowd have any sort of realization that the general public has no real issue at all with a duly-elected mayor (in Baltimore, L.A., or anywhere else) reasserting some authority over her police department. This whole post gives off the impression that there is some moral and self-preservation reason for countenancing “blue flu.”

    That sort of excuse-making will, eventually, ensure that even conservatives will no longer Salute the Flag, and Respect the Badge. Is Jack Dunphy prepared to open that door?

    • #1
    • June 18, 2015, at 5:53 AM PDT
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  2. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    The mob has been given its head. Nobody in a leadership position in Baltimore has shown any interest in taking on the mob. So the police will stay on strike.

    • #2
    • June 18, 2015, at 6:35 AM PDT
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  3. SkipSul Moderator

    This sort of article needs to be in the papers and all over the news.

    • #3
    • June 18, 2015, at 6:35 AM PDT
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  4. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy Post author

    Here’s what “Jack Dunphy and his crowd” realize: Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, did absolutely nothing wrong and was still hounded from his job. Even after Eric Holder’s Justice Department cleared him, he was still a pariah, and the “hands up, don’t shoot” myth persists to this day, at least among those who succeeded in getting rid of Wilson.

    The six Baltimore cops charged in the death of Freddie Gray did nothing wrong, with the only exception being their failure to secure him with a seatbelt, a requirement that went into effect just days before they arrested Gray. Yet they await trial on a range of charges that includes murder, this to appease the mob that ran riot through Baltimore after Gray’s funeral.

    Eric Casebolt, the cop who lost his cool in McKinney, Tex., recently, was hounded from his job, this despite the fact that he injured no one. He deserved a suspension, perhaps, but nothing more. Today he’s out of a job and in hiding after receiving death threats.

    And now a cop in Los Angeles, whose chief has determined he followed both the law and policy in shooting a man who was trying to kill him, is waiting to learn if his will be the next hide tacked to the barn door.

    I’m not making excuses; I’m merely articulating the political atmosphere in which cops must operate today. No one should be shocked when they calculate the risks of that atmosphere and behave accordingly.

    • #4
    • June 18, 2015, at 6:36 AM PDT
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  5. Profile Photo Member

    Thank you, Jack Dunphy, for your response. I greatly appreciate it.

    That said, I should let you know that I am a Colorado resident. Which means, after the Jeffco Sheriff’s handling of the Columbine massacre, I am instinctively repulsed by any suggestion that police should consider self-preservation a principal duty. The Jeffco Sheriff’s office clearly stated in their after-action reports that officer safety was “Paramount,” even though such a stance arguably allowed more high school students to die at the hands of Harris/Klebold when the reports clearly showed there was a way to stop the further killings.

    Furthermore, police are public servants. Period. Full Stop. When a public servant uses the “political atmosphere” excuse as a means to tread the line between fulfilling duty and dereliction of duty, well, let’s just say you lose public support rather quickly.

    Given that you’ve written for many a conservative publication, I think you’ll agree that it’s not a good idea to give conservatives the impression that the police are no different in esteem than your average AFSCME-represented sanitation worker.

    • #5
    • June 18, 2015, at 7:03 AM PDT
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  6. Last Outpost on the Right Inactive

    Brad2971.

    Your latest response seems to conflate two items: officers’ willingness to put their lives on the line (officer safety) vs. officers’ confidence that their civilian leadership will support them when they do risk their lives.

    I live in Baltimore. I saw the devastation first-hand, and it continues to this day.

    It is the plain result of civilian leaders willfully turning a known drug-dealer into a martyr, and punishing the officers who were trying to get that drug-dealer off of the streets.

    One of the purposes of punishment is to prevent (supposedly) undesirable behavior from recurring. Baltimore City police officers are responding rationally to the punishment that was meted out on their fellow officers. They still put their lives on the line. They still respond to 911. But only the political animals are blaming them for staying in their cars.

    Respectfully, Jose.

    • #6
    • June 18, 2015, at 7:22 AM PDT
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  7. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy Post author

    Brad2971:

    Few cops would dispute that Columbine was mishandled disastrously. Attitudes and training have changed since then, and cops everywhere are now prepared for “active shooter” situations.

    But please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Cops are willing to face the physical dangers inherent to the job and will still place themselves in the line of fire in a life-saving situation. We train for the physical dangers, but there is no training that can prepare a cop for the dangers that emanate from City Hall or the district attorney’s office. The mob is in charge now, and anyone who doesn’t recognize that fact is a fool.

    • #7
    • June 18, 2015, at 7:25 AM PDT
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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Last Outpost on the Right:Brad2971.

    Your latest response seems to conflate two items: officers’ willingness to put their lives on the line (officer safety) vs. officers’ confidence that their civilian leadership will support them when they do risk their lives.

    I live in Baltimore. I saw the devastation first-hand, and it continues to this day.

    It is the plain result of civilian leaders willfully turning a known drug-dealer into a martyr, and punishing the officers who were trying to get that drug-dealer off of the streets.

    One of the purposes of punishment is to prevent (supposedly) undesirable behavior from recurring. Baltimore City police officers are responding rationally to the punishment that was meted out on their fellow officers. They still put their lives on the line. They still respond to 911. But only the political animals are

    Respectfully, Jose.

    Out of simple curiosity, in the midst of the public martyring of Freddie Gray, did any public official state or imply that police procedure in Baltimore MUST CHANGE? From what I saw, there was no such implication.

    So based on that, police in Baltimore should continue BAU until they hear otherwise. That’s the expectation Mayor Rawlings-Blake has, per the linked article. The Baltimore PD currently has an issue with meeting that obvious expectation, and Jack Dunphy calls the Mayor “obtuse” for having such an expectation.

    • #8
    • June 18, 2015, at 7:26 AM PDT
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  9. Dave of Barsham Member

    Brad2971:(SNIP)

    This whole post gives off the impression that there is some moral and self-preservation reason for countenancing “blue flu.”

    “Blue Flu” is when they don’t show up to work at all. These officers are working their normal beats but are making a fairly rational choice to not proactively put themselves in situations where a reaction they make within seconds will end their career or put them on trial for murder to appease a mob. The proactive work they do sweeps up a lot of crime and it’s not being done anymore.

    That sort of excuse-making will, eventually, ensure that even conservatives will no longer Salute the Flag, and Respect the Badge.

    I think I know where you’re coming from here, but it’s time to retire this phrase for a while…

    • #9
    • June 18, 2015, at 7:35 AM PDT
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  10. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    I taught in inner-city schools for more than 40 years. There is a real similarity between what I did and what police officers do. Expectations were put on us to control the behaviors of disruptive teens, but, simultaneously, our administrators put handcuffs on us limiting what actions we could reasonably take and frequently failing to discipline students we wrote up or escorted to the office.

    Whenever I came upon a student acting in a manner that was considered a violation of school rules, a not infrequent occurrence, I had to question whether in doing my duty I would be 1) setting myself up as being ajudged a “racist” for noticing this behavior, or 2) likely to become involved in a confrontation which could easily escalate the situation beyond its current levels. Interestingly, this problem was much more common when I had to deal with my principal who was white than with a vice principal who was black.

    I was pretty thick-skinned and had a good reputation for a high level of professionalism, so most often I did what needed to be done. Other, younger teacher teacher, had a lot more to consider when they approached the same situation. I fully comprehend and support the actions of Baltimore police officers. I know exactly where they are coming from.

    • #10
    • June 18, 2015, at 8:19 AM PDT
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  11. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    Just a brief addition to the above: in reference to 2). Students who had not been disciplined after being written up or taken to the office tended to be far more explosive the next time they were approached. They had learned that teachers were essentially impotent, and felt uncompelled to to show any respect at all. The consequence of this attitude was an immediate and violent escalation of volume and language, no matter the manner in which they were approached. I feel certain that any police officer can relate to that.

    • #11
    • June 18, 2015, at 8:24 AM PDT
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  12. ctlaw Coolidge

    Jack,

    Clearly, the vice president of the Police Commission is bat guano crazy (i.e., a typical Los Angeles politician).

    That being said, I disagree with your categorical dismissal of the result as incongruous.

    We agree that the second officer, finding the first officer in a life and death struggle with the decedent, and having no additional information, was justified in using deadly force.

    The question of how the first officer found himself in his position is relevant to the first officer’s justification.

    You casually dismiss Hayes as involving negligence:

    No one has claimed either of the officers who shot Ezell Ford was negligent, though the commission infers negligence on their part by ruling that there was no justification for stopping Ford in the first place.

    However, that could easily represent negligence (regarding justification for stopping) or even intent (to stop unjustly).

    • #12
    • June 18, 2015, at 9:31 AM PDT
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  13. Peter Connaughton Inactive

    I thought it was particularly telling that this woman in the video mentioned slavery twice when discussing the board’s decision. She even brought up how cops in the past hunted slaves. She gave examples of slavery and women not being able to vote over a century ago as examples of how fluid the law is.

    No mention of the fact that those things were NOT fluid. New laws changed the old ones. It was not the opinions of an(Im assuming) un-elected star chamber with an agenda and public opinion screaming for a head.

    • #13
    • June 18, 2015, at 10:06 AM PDT
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  14. Douglas Inactive

    iWe:The mob has been given its head. Nobody in a leadership position in Baltimore has shown any interest in taking on the mob. So the police will stay on strike.

    And they should.

    • #14
    • June 18, 2015, at 10:36 AM PDT
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  15. A-Squared Inactive

    Brad2971: That sort of excuse-making will, eventually, ensure that even conservatives will no longer Salute the Flag, and Respect the Badge.

    This mantra of yours was boring, repetitive, and tense a month ago. It is even more so now.

    Any rational person would do exactly as Jack describes. When you know going in that the politicians will serve you up on a race-based platter for doing your job, you are inherently more cautious. To do otherwise would be asinine.

    • #15
    • June 18, 2015, at 11:07 AM PDT
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  16. Pathfinder1208 Member

    Excellent post Jack. It is my wish that individuals such as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spend a few days in the shoes of those they criticize. If at her current job, surrounded and protected by law enforcement officers, she were asked to respond to a situation that was life threatening, to both her and other members of the community, then I think she wouldn’t be so quick to judge. Under the current environment there is no way I would act proactively as a law enforcement officer. Some understand what that means for society and others do not understand the repercussions. It is a waste of time to argue with the latter.

    • #16
    • June 18, 2015, at 11:09 AM PDT
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  17. A-Squared Inactive

    Brad2971: Out of simple curiosity, in the midst of the public martyring of Freddie Gray, did any public official state or imply that police procedure in Baltimore MUST CHANGE? From what I saw, there was no such implication. So based on that, police in Baltimore should continue BAU until they hear otherwise.

    Here, let me google that for you.

    • #17
    • June 18, 2015, at 11:16 AM PDT
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  18. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Here’s my question – how is this an issue? I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force? The officers did not initiate the use of force (talking with someone is not initiation) and the officers were acting in response to an immediate threat to one of them.

    I am sick of people trying to defend the guys who attack police officers or innocent people and get killed for their trouble.

    • #18
    • June 18, 2015, at 12:27 PM PDT
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  19. ctlaw Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin: The officers did not initiate the use of force (talking with someone is not initiation) and the officers were acting in response to an immediate threat to one of them.

    Yes they did! Physically stopping a person in order to talk with him is initiating the use of force.

    It is relevant if one of the officers caused that “immediate threat” by violating someone’s rights.

    • #19
    • June 18, 2015, at 1:10 PM PDT
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  20. ctlaw Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    As a non-officer, you would properly be facing murder charges.

    • #20
    • June 18, 2015, at 1:20 PM PDT
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  21. Yudansha Member

    ctlaw:

    OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    As a non-officer, you would properly be facing murder charges.

    This is exactly the reason cops are not trusted by so many people. If I can be charged with murder for exactly the same reaction under exactly the same circumstances, then police powers are out of control, and they should be vastly reigned in.

    I am a law abiding citizen with no criminal record, and I consider police to be as arbitrary, untrustworthy, and every bit as dangerous to my life and property as any of the criminals mentioned in the OP.

    • #21
    • June 18, 2015, at 1:50 PM PDT
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  22. Miffed White Male Member

    Yudansha:

    ctlaw:

    OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    As a non-officer, you would properly be facing murder charges.

    This is exactly the reason cops are not trusted by so many people. If I can be charged with murder for exactly the same reaction under exactly the same circumstances, then police powers are out of control, and they should be vastly reigned in.

    I am a law abiding citizen with no criminal record, and I consider police to be as arbitrary, untrustworthy, and every bit as dangerous to my life and property as any of the criminals mentioned in the OP.

    The police can legally do lots of things you can’t do in exactly the same circumstance. They can carry guns in areas where you cannot. The Police can take you out of your car, restrain you, and lock you in a cell against your will. If I do that to you, I’d be charged with kidnapping.

    • #22
    • June 18, 2015, at 2:40 PM PDT
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  23. Yudansha Member

    Miffed White Male: The Police can take you out of your car, restrain you, and lock you in a cell against your will. If I do that to you, I’d be charged with kidnapping.

    I suppose that’s a necessary distinction. Police do need arrest powers. However, in terms of defending one’s own life, the rules should be identical.

    • #23
    • June 18, 2015, at 3:19 PM PDT
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  24. Dave of Barsham Member

    Yudansha:

    Miffed White Male: The Police can take you out of your car, restrain you, and lock you in a cell against your will. If I do that to you, I’d be charged with kidnapping.

    I suppose that’s a necessary distinction. Police do need arrest powers. However, in terms of defending one’s own life, the rules should be identical.

    We would need to consult one of the lawyers here on Ricocet (unless one of you are one, I can never remember :) ) but I think if someone attacks you and grabs for your gun it then becomes self defense doesn’t it?

    • #24
    • June 18, 2015, at 3:36 PM PDT
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  25. A-Squared Inactive

    Brad2971: I am instinctively repulsed by any suggestion that police should consider self-preservation a principal duty.

    Can you elaborate why you think a policeman should NOT view self-preservation as a principal duty?

    On its face, your comment implies that a police officer should not do anything to protect himself while under fire, so I think it’s probably just an over-simplification on your part. If not, let me be clear, I strongly support police officers putting self-preservation as a principal duty. They put themselves in harm’s way every day and they have families they want to go home to every night. Why should they not do everything they can to ensure that they do come home every night?

    • #25
    • June 18, 2015, at 4:04 PM PDT
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  26. ctlaw Coolidge

    lesserson: but I think if someone attacks you and grabs for your gun it then becomes self defense doesn’t it?

    But the commission effectively found that the officer attacked the decedent.

    • #26
    • June 18, 2015, at 4:15 PM PDT
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  27. Dave of Barsham Member

    ctlaw: OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    But that wasn’t what you responded to:

    OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    (emphasis was mine)

    I’m not saying the police office was right in this case because I don’t actually know the particulars on it. I was talking about what was proposed by OmegaPaladin, which you said would result in murder charges.

    • #27
    • June 18, 2015, at 4:25 PM PDT
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  28. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    ctlaw:

    OmegaPaladin: I am not a police officer, but if I am carrying a firearm and someone assaults me while attempting to take my weapon, is that not a fully legal justification for the use of deadly force?

    As a non-officer, you would properly be facing murder charges.

    According to Andrew Branca’s Law of Self Defense, this would meet the elements for proving self defense. Sure, you would probably be facing murder charges because of the way prosecutors handle these things, but this would likely be an easy case to win.

    There is clearly reasonable fear for one of the officer’s lives, and there wasn’t even an option for the officer on the ground to retreat.

    Could we get someone with expertise in Self Defense law here?

    • #28
    • June 18, 2015, at 4:39 PM PDT
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  29. ctlaw Coolidge

    The problems with 27 and 28 is you are totally changing the facts to create a situation where officer 1 (or civilian you) was minding his own business and was attacked. The commission found otherwise and police testilying weasel words of the report are consistent with that.

    You do not have the right to go up to someone who you have any suspicion about, grab him… and then use deadly force even if he grabs your gun.

    Search for “initial aggressor”. You might get the murder charge reduced to voluntary manslaughter. Not an “easy win”.

    • #29
    • June 18, 2015, at 5:31 PM PDT
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  30. Dave of Barsham Member

    ctlaw:The problems with 27 and 28 is you are totally changing the facts to create a situation where officer 1 (or civilian you) was minding his own business and was attacked. The commission found otherwise and police testilying weasel words of the report are consistent with that.

    You do not have the right to go up to someone who you have any suspicion about, grab him… and then use deadly force even if he grabs your gun.

    Search for “initial aggressor”. You might get the murder charge reduced to voluntary manslaughter. Not an “easy win”.

    Edit: Never mind, I think this whole string is one long misunderstanding of who said what.

    • #30
    • June 18, 2015, at 5:49 PM PDT
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