A growing nationwide disdain for police officers has resulted from several highly publicized shootings of “unarmed” minority men who have resisted arrest or attacked officers.  The media’s rhetoric has inflamed passions, resulting in the murders of two New York policemen seated in their cars, and the assassination of four Lakewood, Washington, officers eating in a restaurant.  There are many other incidents that include rioting and assaults on officers, including most recently the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland.

Political figures, from President Obama down to the usual race-baiting self-appointed minority “leaders,” have criticized police actions, even when they are shown to be justified and the officers exonerated following exhaustive investigations and legal inquiries.  Conservatives and libertarians, justifiably concerned about militarization of the police, are overlooking the fact that today’s police face enormous difficulties—obstacles to effective police work and unnecessary threats to their lives.

The media have made profiling a dirty word.  But a police officer who does not “profile” is not doing his job.  Crime stats show that minorities commit most crimes of violence.  In a June 25, 2010, editorial in the New York Times, Heather Mac Donald writes that “Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of reported gun assaults. . . . Non-Hispanic whites, on the other hand, committed 5 percent of the city’s violent crimes.”

“To Protect and to Serve” is only a slogan.  Police officers have no duty or legal requirement to protect anyone, except in a few instances, as when those duties are specifically promised.  However, police officers often find themselves under media attack for the legal and proper performance of their actual duties.  They are profiled by complaints.  Under consent decrees and hostile administrators, an officer can lose his assignment through administrative transfer, his future promotions, or his very career because of the mere number of complaints made, even if those complaints are not sustained.  A proactive officer making a lot of arrests and investigations will often generate more complaints than a slacker who slothfully answers his radio calls and initiates few enforcement actions.  (Which sort of officer would you prefer to respond if you and your family found yourselves surrounded by gangbangers in some isolated spot?)

Another obstacle comes from the widespread practice of affirmative action.  When Thomas J. Bradley, a black man and former police lieutenant, was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 1973, he immediately began to push for an expansion of affirmative action, appointing commissioners and staff who would carry out his social and political fantasies.  “Diversity” was his goal.

Changes to police applicant qualifications and federal consent decrees were not greeted with the expected enthusiasm by the rank and file.  Considerable resistance came from those who oversee police performance—field sergeants and watch commanders.  These “complainers” were ordered to be “identified and counseled” on their six-month evaluation reports—the “kiss of death” for promotions.

Black police officers have been the first to complain.  They (correctly) foresee that lowered standards will adversely affect them.  They come on the job with the same standards as the rest of us, but cut-off dates are soon forgotten.  Everyone assumes they, too, are affirmative-action hires, recruited in the apparent belief that blacks cannot succeed unless standards are adjusted for race.

LAPD recruiting decisions were quickly prioritized to achieve “gender” and diversity goals.  Women and minorities gained entrance into the next academy class by scoring 70 or better on their oral exams.  (The written is now a simplified “pass or fail.”)  A Caucasian male must score close to 100 (or higher, thanks to the possibility of a 10-point veteran’s credit) even to get on the two-year civil-service list, and even then he will fail to advance if enough females and minorities continue to apply.  Good officers are still hired, but it is despite, rather than because of, this discrimination against white males.

Minority and female applicants often fail the old LAPD “college-entrance exam”—the physical, IQ, psychological, personality, and other time-tested qualifications.  The public might be surprised to know just how many of them answer the question “Why do you want to become a police officer?” with variations of “I like to hurt people.”

Arrest records and questionable backgrounds are now overlooked.  In Tombstone, Arizona, I inherited a deputy who was indicted for a double homicide with a vehicle, arrested for rape of a 15-year-old, wrote NSF checks, lied on his police applications, and generated millions of dollars in suits for excessive force and other misconduct.  Arizona POST (Police Officer Standards & Training) refused to decertify him, despite numerous violations of their rules.  As soon as I fired him, he was hired—as a deputy—by his buddy, then Cochise County sheriff.

The academy ceased being a stressful experience intended to “deselect” recruits and became a kinder and gentler program designed to graduate as many as possible.  Most females lack the size and upper-body strength of males.  They are often hesitant to grab a suspect and take him down to the ground to control him.  Females rarely engage in contact sports in school and are reluctant to do battle with violent or threatening suspects.  They make fewer arrests and wait longer for male officers to provide backup, while the situation escalates.  They then “swarm” and beat the suspect down with batons and Tasers.  A suspect, confronted by a small female and realizing she cannot hurt him, resists.  This is especially true if he comes from a male-oriented culture that lacks respect for female authority—e.g., the non-Western Third World countries from which our “diverse” illegal immigrants originate.

Few small police departments have the manpower or training venues to replace pregnant officers or to supply their many demands for daycare, lactation rooms, and other facilities.  Females successfully sue cities that refuse or have few light-duty positions.  As Lori Connelly writes in “Pregnancy & Policing,” the ladies typically refuse work “involving stress, firearms, loud noises, and toxic chemical exposure (defined as cleaning their duty firearms).”  They cannot work traffic because of potential exposure to the fumes of burning flares.  Some lack the finger strength to fire their weapons, and others complain of back problems because of the weight of the uniform badge.

Females and smaller males often are unable to follow steps in the Escalation of Force Continuum: physical/uniformed presence, verbalization, pain compliance holds, control holds, baton, and, finally, deadly force.  Female officers sometimes escalate directly from verbal to deadly force, as they lack the will or the ability to respond.  They simply perceive threats and run out of options in situations men do not consider threatening.  Many lawsuits are quietly settled and not reported as they can be career-endangering to whistle-blowers.  “Injured on duty” tax-free pensions and lawsuits with multimillion-dollar payouts of taxpayer money go to these worthless affirmative-action warriors.

Social engineering should not take place in positions where other officers and the public are endangered by inadequate physical capabilities.

A third obstacle comes from the overall politicization of police work.  The L.A. Police Commission, comprising civilians appointed by the mayor (the chief of police acts as a general manager, carrying out their policies), often speculates as to why officers do not shoot the guns out of the hands of criminals or disarm machete-wielding gang members with judo tricks.  As OIC of the Enforcement/Investigations Section, I try to educate them on field ride-alongs.  I place any commission member who is willing into “when to shoot” video scenarios at the academy.  (Most are “killed” or shoot innocents.)  I emphasize to them that there is usually no nice way to arrest a dangerous and combative suspect.  Police work can be violent and unpleasant to view.  And everyone has cameras.

During the Golden Era of the LAPD—from Chief William H. Parker through Chief Daryl F. Gates—the force was not white, black, brown, red, or yellow.  It was blue.  Chief Parker told us academy recruits in 1960, “You come from all segments of society and share its attitudes and prejudices.  But if you treat anyone with disrespect or unfairness, your ass will be mine.  I cannot change your beliefs, but I can change your employment!”

The white sections of Los Angeles pressured Chief Parker to deploy officers heavily in their areas, as they pay the most taxes.  Black leaders insisted that black officers work only with fellow blacks and in black areas.  They soon complained that black policemen are tougher on their own people than are white officers.  Parker responded to all of us that he deployed us to wherever the crime problem is greatest.

Golden Era police chiefs in Los Angeles enjoyed civil-service protections.  They could not be fired unless guilty of misconduct.  Voters in 1992, however, approved a ballot initiative altering the city charter.  Gates became the last chief to be insulated from political influence.  Politicizing the delivery of police services gives equity and justice a back seat to political infighting.  The chief no longer serves the citizens but the mayor.

Crime escalated, and by 1996 the more than 9,000 current officers were making 100,000 fewer arrests per year than were the 5,500 of us a few years earlier.  In a letter to the L.A. Times responding to a spate of editorials, Mayor Richard Riordan wrote that “It was vexing and surprising to learn that the LAPD is now making 100,000 fewer arrests, issuing over 200,000 fewer citations, and conducting over 20,000 fewer field interviews per year.”  The department blamed “community policing” for the decrease in emphasis on enforcement.  But criminologist James Q. Wilson countered that claim in January of the following year, noting that other measures of productivity were also dramatically down.  Field interviews, for example, had been expected to increase under community policing, but they had fallen by over 172,000.

In today’s legal and cultural environment, officers are tempted to spend inordinate amounts of time writing reports and staying off the air.  If police allow plenty of time for a criminal to escape a robbery, rape, or assault, their pay remains the same.  If trouble results from confronting criminals in places with large minority populations, and the very act is considered racist and meddling, doing nothing seems the only available choice.  Doing nothing actually keeps the police chief happy.  It also pleases liberals—unless they themselves need help.

Retired L.A. officer Clark W. Baker, who blogs at Ex-Liberal Hollywood, sums it up:

Although I had arrested thousands of career criminals, junkies, felons, and drunks before 1994, I successfully avoided criminal suspects and arrested no one between 1992 until I retired in 2000.  Warren Christopher would have been very proud of my spotless complaint record.  I figured that if jurors, prosecutors, judges, politicians, and my police department refused to support my efforts [then] arresting predators was pointless.  As far as I was concerned, LA’s residents would get the gangs, crime, and declining quality of life that they deserved.


So I went through the motions.  My uniform and motorcycle were spotless.  I kissed babies, smiled, waved, and became the model of the new LAPD—an all-American patriot who did everything except the job he was sworn to do.  As an LA cop, I became little more than an attractive, well-paid lie.

So, beware the unintended consequences of unfairly pillorying your police department.  If the public and the media continue failing to back officers in the legal and expected performance of their duties, we may be forced to live with the alternative: life without 911.