Patterico's Pontifications

5/10/2007

When the Last Hero Leaves L.A., Will Anybody Notice?

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

[Editor’s Note: the following is a piece by Robert C.J. Parry, a freelance writer and a keen observer of local politics and culture. It is the result of months of work chasing down an interesting and important story about the Los Angeles Police Department. All credit for this piece goes to Mr. Parry. — Patterico]

By Robert C. J. Parry

Despite the tenor of news reports surrounding last week’s violence in MacArthur Park, many officers in the Los Angeles Police Department are valorous and dedicated. In fact, this morning, 17 current police officers will receive the LAPD Medal of Valor. Notably, three of them now serve in other communities.

In fact, according to the L.A. Police Protective League, fully 60% of LAPD officers have been with the department less than five years. At that rate, almost the entire department could have been replaced twice since the 1992 riots. Notably, officers who leave the LAPD in their first five years have to repay the City for their academy training.

If you want to understand why the LAPD can’t retain officers, don’t look to the Los Angeles Times. The story below was first told to five of their top staff writers. Each deemed it interesting, but none reported it. In fact, this very column was presented to their OpEd section, and was rejected because a vaguely similar piece ran last year, addressing a less compelling set of facts. Apparently, only limited space is allotted to critical local issues in Los Angeles’s newspaper of record.

So, instead of looking to the Times, look to two other certified heroes: officers Troy Zeeman and Bryan Gregson. Last November, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented them with California Medals of Valor, for engaging a suspected killer in a running gunfight through a South L.A. apartment building.

The LAPD, by contrast, ruled them tactically deficient, worthy only of retraining.

If that’s confusing to you, it wasn’t to Zeeman and Gregson. They’d both spent a decade in the LAPD hall of mirrors.

But to get the details, you’d have to drive to Newport Beach. That’s where both cops moved months after the shooting.

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners’ (BOPC) official account of the 2005 shooting (available at LAPD Online) provides no reason to consider them anything but courageous. On February 17 of that year, while on patrol in the violent Harbor Gateway area, they spotted gang member Frank Garcia. They knew the 22-year-old Garcia was suspected of having killed a woman with a stray bullet in a late 2003 drive-by shooting. In November of 2004 they arrested him following an extensive search with helicopters and K-9s. He was released when no citizens would testify, Zeeman explained.

Three months later, two hours into a Thursday afternoon shift, they spotted Garcia and other gangsters outside apartments at 227th Street and Harvard Boulevard. He drew their attention by suspiciously hiding behind bushes. They pulled over, he ran — trespassing through the apartments — and the chase was on.

Since Garcia had a head-start, Gregson ran to the back of the complex while Zeeman chased Garcia into an alcove. Suddenly Garcia shouted, “you’re dead,” and fired a shot around a corner. Miraculously, it missed. Zeeman fired back, and chased Garcia west toward Gregson, who shot and captured the gang member.

As LAPD’s official reviewers of lethal force incidents, the members of the BOPC (most of whom have never carried a gun) nit-picked Zeeman and Gregson’s actions — literally step by step.

They complained the officers didn’t “make a plan” — as if Garcia had stood awaiting permission to run. They opined as to what should have been broadcast mid-stride over their radios –- berating Gregson for saying 228th Street instead of 227th –- and said that they “would have preferred” that Zeeman had ended the pursuit when Gregson separated. They even complained that Zeeman wasn’t broadcasting while shooting. “I dropped my radio when I ducked,” he explained.

Despite their penchant for second-guessing the officers, the members of the BOPC did not say what they themselves would have done. But “cower in fear” was not an option for Zeeman and Gregson.

Both cops were ordered to undergo formal re-training at the police academy. They complied — and left for Newport Beach within weeks.

Ignoring the nitpicking, Gov. Schwarzenegger presented their medals well after the BOPC’s ruling. The shameless LAPD touted their achievement in press releases and other announcements that often failed to mention that neither man continued to hold an LAPD badge. Ironically, the same LAPD brass who attended the ceremony declined to give them department awards because of the BOPC’s ruling.

Monday morning quarterbacking is only half of the story. Not discussed in reports or press releases were the things that truly drove them to leave the streets of South L.A. to gangsters like Frank Garcia.

The sergeant who arrived at the scene had questioned them about the incident and separated them per the consent decree standard. But, he never inquired as to their welfare –- an inquiry that the consent decree doesn’t require. Locked in rooms at Harbor Station, they were treated as suspects in a grueling 14-hour interrogation. Had the location been Guantanamo Bay, civil libertarians would fume.

Zeeman describes being treated this way as “accepted,” much like he accepted that he would risk his life every day as a cop. What was not accepted was the second-guessing and stress from the politically-driven BOPC.

“I was confident that Gregson and I did what the public would expect — take a violent gang member off the street, even if it meant putting our lives and family in danger,” Zeeman said. But, he added,

I doubted the LAPD, the city officials and the public would deem (it) “good.” Instead, I felt they would not take into consideration the dangers and the decision to put our lives on the line.

While their supervisors offered support, Zeeman says, they too were driven by the requirements of the federal consent decree that governs almost everything LAPD cops do. It created a constant feeling that doing good, aggressive, honest police work is the slowest way to climb the LAPD ladder.

“Being proactive is a liability for the City,” said Zeeman. “The LAPD, the city officials and the public don’t want ‘good’ cops to do their jobs.”

Being proactive, he said, “is career suicide.”

At the time of the shooting, Zeeman was on the LAPD’s High Risk Management List, a watch list of potentially problem officers. “If you do good, aggressive police work, you get on the list,” he says. Though he had one previous shooting and had engaged in 10 years of violent altercations with resisting suspects, he’d never had any citizen complaint sustained for any reason.

Still, he’d been on the list for most of his career. As the department became driven more by politics and the consent decree than by common sense, disciplinary procedures became more onerous — and simultaneously more meaningless. The department now investigates every single complaint, regardless of plausibility. In one incident, repeated by many cops, an officer was questioned for allegedly “stealing a woman’s ovaries.” A 28-year-old officer was investigated for “raping a woman every day for 55 years.”

It would be a joke, except for this: when a complaint is filed, an officer’s career goes on hold. “Most complaints take a year for the department to investigate,” Zeeman says. “While it’s open, you can’t promote or transfer.” So, gangsters’ lies and psychotics’ delusions limit career prospects for certified heroes like Troy Zeeman.

But the part of the system that finally made Zeeman move on was the most humiliating. Although the department never sustained any complaints against him, it also failed to clear some of them. “My complaints were mostly for using ‘discourteous language,’ and most were ruled ‘unresolved,’ meaning the department couldn’t decide between believing me or a felon.”

It was one insult too many from a city whose gangsters had twice tried to kill him. So, both cops abandoned their half-vested pensions and found a community that embraces a partnership with its cops: Newport Beach.

In L.A., the complaints and second-guessing create a paranoid ambiance that causes officers to prioritize political perceptions over capturing criminals — and even their own safety. “I know a lot of cops who don’t carry batons,” said a South L.A. gang investigator who refused to be identified in print, fearing LAPD retribution. “They’d rather watch a crook run away than risk a fight,” he explained. “Gangsters ask me why I don’t carry one and I say ‘I’m not gonna end up on YouTube. If you want to fight me, we’ll do it with fists.’”

Though he attended the Police Commission’s re-training as ordered, Zeeman said most cops don’t take the Commission very seriously. He said: “their motivation for any decision is ‘job security.'” Yet that “security” comes from a mayor who is driven purely by political winds.

So, in their quest to hunt down even the slightest defect in LAPD officers, the members of the Commission have marginalized its influence.

As Zeeman prepared to leave LAPD, his commanding officer pleaded with him to stay, saying she wished she could pay him better. But nothing could possibly convince him to stay. “No amount of money … would have kept me working in that environment,” he said.

To the media, the LAPD story is about “secretive” personnel hearings and the virtues of the consent decree. One reporter who ignored this story said to me: “cops leave the LAPD all the time, what’s the big deal?” Apparently, a story about certified heroes fleeing the police department does not fit the agenda of the newspaper of record in America’s second largest city.

Like many reporters, that gentleman regularly seeks analysis from police critics like civil rights attorney Connie Rice. Quoted by the Times in 10 stories in as many months, despite having never worked the street, she is deemed credible because she issued “Rampart Reconsidered,” a report criticizing the department’s “warrior culture.”

On page 47 of that report, which was issued days after Officer Kristina Ripatti was shot and paralyzed, Rice blamed this “warrior culture” on “the myth and lore of urban policing.” Notably, not one interview since has questioned whether Rice considers Ripatti’s experience to be “lore,” merely a “myth” — or perhaps a case history from which officers should learn.

While The Times seeks critics to parse police actions, it ignores those critics’ ethical lapses. BOPC President John Mack publicly condemned the LAPD shooting of Devin Brown weeks before he was appointed to the Police Commission. But, in a glaring conflict of interest, he later voted on the BOPC’s ruling about the incident. Yet The Times ignored this obvious conflict of interest — and even quoted his statements on the case without caveat.

So, five valorous cops — Zeeman, Gregson, and three who will be decorated today — move to other agencies. Yet the political and media focus simply magnifies the factors that drive cops like these out of the Los Angeles Police Department. The results are not hard to gauge.

Weeks after Zeeman and Gregson were decorated, 14-year-old Cheryl Green was murdered — a mere 20 blocks from the site of the Frank Garcia chase. In reaction, Mayor Villaraigosa launched a highly publicized gang crackdown with full media fanfare. Mayor Villaraigosa may have political savvy, but his city is missing something far more important: two courageous and experienced cops who know Cheryl Green’s neighborhood better than the mayor ever will — and who know gangs better than the newly-hired 60% of the department.

There is an ironic post-script to this story. Three blocks from the scene of the Garcia shooting, two other LAPD officers shot a gang member during a running gun battle in an apartment complex.

One must wonder if they will receive medals from the LAPD, or new badges from Newport Beach.

But, if you want to know, the last place to look is the L.A. Times.

[E-mail the author at rcjparry@gmail.com]

64 Responses to “When the Last Hero Leaves L.A., Will Anybody Notice?”

  1. This should have run in the LA Times. How can the Times’ editors credibly believe its readers don’t need information and perspective like this? Kudos to Mr. Parry and Patterico – this is blog journalism at its best.

    DRJ (c6d1df)

  2. How can the Times’ editors credibly believe its readers don’t need information and perspective like this?

    Simple; it’s the wrong perspective.

    Thanks for posting that, Patterico.

    Scott Crawford (ea7e56)

  3. Thanks for putting this up. A VERY Good read.

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  4. This was far more compelling than any of the usual op/ed fuffle in the LAT. This is so disturbing, and just a symptom of the diseased bureaucratic mindset that has allowed Los Angeles to degrade.

    Thanks for posting this, Patterico.

    TimesDisliker (799ffa)

  5. Our world is so freaking backwards. These guys are heroes. Thanks for posting.

    Chris (050b4e)

  6. Web Reconnaissance for 05/10/2007…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention….

    The Thunder Run (59ce3a)

  7. I left L.A. in 1995 after living there 32 years. I’m in NY and this is no piece of cake, either. We try to visit my dad every year and he’s now in Beverly Hills; we just visited 3 weeks ago.

    After years of homesickness, not only was I shocked at how much I no longer miss L.A., but also at how I have no more desire to ever live there again. It’s like another planet. Climate, food, entertainment, etc. are no longer good enough reasons to withstand the daily assaults and insults of gridlock, self-centered indulgence, and 3rd World ambiance.

    I lived through the Olympics, fires, mudslides, the Rodney King episode, earthquakes, etc. There was a sense of community and shared experiences, as well as pride over the recovery from the ’94 quake. There was some pride in the LAPD. Now that’s all gone. Furthermore, the local media is saturated with trivia. As for the LAT, I bought one and couldn’t find a single thing in it worth reading. Screeds, pabulum and nonsense. Unlike Instapundit and others, I do actively yearn for the demise of certain papers, the NYT, LAT, and Strib among them. It would be good for everyone involved and affected.

    Still mourning the L.A. Herald-Examiner…

    Peg C. (836973)

  8. ” Had the location been Guantanamo Bay, civil libertarians would fume.”

    I really don’t think being being berated, for any period of time, is quite the same has being hung up by your arms while they’re tied behind your back

    AF (d700ef)

  9. Re arms tied behind your back – I didn’t see any mention of such treatment at Gitmo in that article. Did I miss something, AF?

    GunTrash (74fe25)

  10. As soon as I saw the Gitmo reference, I knew that one of the usual suspects would go for it like a moth to a flame.

    Way to miss the point, AF. As usual, you fail to fail to disappoint.

    Squid (9e6447)

  11. It’s like watching a dog try to lick peanut butter off the roof of it’s mouth, isn’t it?

    Amusing, but horrible none-the-less…

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  12. OT, but anybody got anything to day about the Gonzales hearings?

    QOTD (so far anyway):

    I think I may be aware of that.

    Gotta love it. AGAG can’t quite remember whether or not he forgot.

    Crust (399898)

  13. The bureaucratic foot-dragging described later in the article regarding complaint investigation does sound like a serious situation that needs improvement. But I can’t help but wonder what the other side of that story is, after Parry has snowed us with his inflammatory, sensational, one-sided reporting of the BOPC review early on in ths story.

    Parry’s article entirely misconstrues what the purpose of the BOPC report is, as well as what the report actually found. A couple of short examples:

    California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented them with California Medals of Valor, for engaging a suspected killer in a running gunfight through a South L.A. apartment building.

    The LAPD, by contrast, ruled them tactically deficient, worthy only of retraining.

    When I read the actual report, I’m rather mystified. I don’t see “retraining” listed anywhere in the report, nor are the words “tactically deficient” used. I do see the finding that the “officers would benefit from additional tactical training by the training devision.” That’s not the same thing as “retraining” on things the officers were supposed to have already learned.

    In addition, the report makes an across-the-board finding that all of the use of force and actions were “in policy” and no excessive force was used. There was no finding that they were “tacticaly deficient.”

    As LAPD’s official reviewers of lethal force incidents, the members of the BOPC (most of whom have never carried a gun) nit-picked Zeeman and Gregson’s actions — literally step by step.

    “Nit-picked”? I read the report, and I don’t see nit-picking. But Parry wants to use the word “nit-picked” to set a sensational tone.

    The report contains an evaluation of tactics, not “nit-picking”. And a report issued after a review of a use of deadly force is an entirely appropriate time to do an evaluation of such tactics. If the department doesn’t evaluate the tactics used in run-and-gun situations, how can the department ever improve its tactics?

    Apparently Parry considers evaluation of shooting at a person “Nit-picking.” I disagree, and have to wonder what exactly should be evaluated, in his perfect law-enforcement world.

    They opined as to what should have been broadcast mid-stride over their radios –- berating Gregson for saying 228th Street instead of 227th

    “Berating”? How exactly does Parry decide that the BOPC was “berating” the officers, just by pointing out an actual error? He doesn’t — he makes it up to make his article more sensational.

    What about the fact that the BOPC noted that a “potential crossfire situation” existed becuase of the officers decision to split up and lose visual contact with each other? Was that “berating” the officers, too?

    I think all the comments on tactics are legitimate. There’s no implication that the tactics used by the officers were in violation of any police policy — just suggestions of how the job could have been done better. Assuming there’s going to be repeated incidents like this, it seems like a very good idea to go over what worked and what could have been done better.

    Phil (427875)

  14. The LA Times hasn’t been the same since the Tribune company took it over.

    Mark In Irvine (f73fb3)

  15. Phil-

    I agree that a tactical evaluation is always appropriate. However, Gregson corrected his 228th broadcast, so why bring it up? Apparrently the BOPC thinks he’s too stupid to realize that telling folks the wrong location could be dangerous.

    And you don’t think that it is nitpicking to criticize Zeeman for dropping his radio while being shot at?

    I’ve got the feeling that you’ve never been in a tactical situaion. Things flow without hesitation or time to think. Is there a tactical question mark in splitting? Yes. Did it lead to the gangster beig captured? Yep.

    And, yes, it is retraining. There is no practical way to train a cop (especially a basic street cop) for all tactical eventualities.

    The bottom line is, they captured an alleged murderer, and the LAPD didn’t say thanks.

    And that’s why 60% of the department has less than a quarter of a career under their belts.

    RCJParry (50a453)

  16. Phil-

    Addendum: There won’t be repeated incidents like this. Zeeman and Gregson are in Newport Beach.

    RCJParry (50a453)

  17. LAPD: No good deed goes unpunished…

    Want to know what happens to smart, aggressive, courageous — no, wait, make that heroic — cops who police the streets of Los Angeles? Well, they get citations for valor from Gov. Schwarzenegger. They also get investigated, Monday-morning quarterbacke…

    Out on a limb at Mike Lief.com (0d19bc)

  18. However, Gregson corrected his 228th broadcast, so why bring it up?

    I don’t know. I tried to find reference to the incorrect broadcast in the report, but couldn’t. If you show me the context, I might agree with you that the mention was pointless.

    Apparrently the BOPC thinks he’s too stupid to realize that telling folks the wrong location could be dangerous.

    See, this is the sort of inflammatory, sensational language I’m talking about. Where, ever, does the BOPC call anyone “stupid,” or anything close to that? You keep using very inflammatory characterizations, which aren’t backed up by the actual documents.

    And you don’t think that it is nitpicking to criticize Zeeman for dropping his radio while being shot at?

    Again, this is your characterization of a report that actually says something very different. If you can show me a place where the BOPC criticized Zeeman for “dropping his radio while being shot at” then I will apologize, but I don’t see any such statement anywhere. I get the impression you made it up.

    I’ve got the feeling that you’ve never been in a tactical situaion. Things flow without hesitation or time to think.

    What are you trying to say here? That I wouldn’t have done any better than these officers in the actual situation? That’s a pretty easy claim to make, but it’s impossible to prove or disprove, and it’s irrelivant.

    Is there a tactical question mark in splitting? Yes. Did it lead to the gangster beig captured? Yep.

    You’re assuming that the gangster wouldn’t have been captured had the officers stayed together. If you can show me that the officers wouldn’t have caught the gangster had they stuck together and avoided the crossfire situation, then your statement would be true.

    And, yes, it is retraining. There is no practical way to train a cop (especially a basic street cop) for all tactical eventualities.

    So “additional tactical training” isn’t something that officers can benefit from? I don’t think such a conclusion follows from your claim that you can’t train someone for “all tactical eventualities.”

    The bottom line is, they captured an alleged murderer, and the LAPD didn’t say thanks. And that’s why 60% of the department has less than a quarter of a career under their belts.

    So your real beef is that the LAPD isn’t grateful enough? Because none of your other allegations hold water.

    One thing I agree with you on, hands down, is that officers should be recognized for accomplishments. But please try to argue that, rather than taking all these cheap, sensational shots at other parts of the system.

    Phil (427875)

  19. The LAPD has been a mess for a very long time.

    Think of the bad police work (it looked like “enhancing” the evidence to me and the jury) on the OJ trial.

    Or the Rampart Scandal which showed that the LAPD had a culture of planting evidence and killing people.

    And of course we have drug prohibition financing the gangs.

    Once upon a time we knew how to end a crime wave caused by a prohibition regime. Evidenlty we are stupider than our grandparents.

    If you really want to fix this End Drug Prohibition is a good first step. Focus on crimes of fraud and violence. Protecting people from themselves is a recipe for corruption.

    Prohibition is an awful flop.
    We like it.
    It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop.
    We like it.
    It’s left a trail of graft and slime,
    It won’t prohibit worth a dime,
    It’s filled our land with vice and crime.
    Nevertheless, we’re for it.

    Franklin P. Adams, 1931

    M. Simon (957841)

  20. Phil-

    Your entitled to your opinion on tactics. Like the BOPC, you wish to parse decisions by writing a paragraph that will take longer to edit than the entire incident. You can engage in all of the philosophy 101 evaluations that you want, but the bottom line is that the officers of the LAPD clearly are not happy and do not respect the BOPC.

    Did you only read half the article? You don’t think putting a cop’s career on hold to invesitage whether or not he raped a woman for 27 years before he was born is problematic?

    You don’t think that it sends a terrible message to cops that the department doesn’t trust your word over that of the felon you arrested?

    And you don;t think it is at all a bad sign that 60% of the Department has less than 5 years on the force? Ideally, that number should be less than half that. Consider, that a cop needs 20 years on to collect a pension, and senior officers have 30+ years on. So, 40% of the department has between 5 and 35 years, but 60% has less than 5? And everything is hunky-dory?

    Not even the Army is that low on experience, and soldiers sign up for 4-years at a time.

    You’re right about one thing. Just because you can’t do the job yourself, doesn’t mean you can;t question those who do. But, if you question them enough, you might be the only one left to do it.

    RCJParry (50a453)

  21. Phil is a prime candidate for the next slot to open on the BOPC.

    Too bad Cathy Seipp isn’t here to see me make a snarky comment about her beloved LA and the attractions of Newport Beach. Laguna Beach is now doing an LA imitation for criticizing the local cops for a weird shootout in a luxury hotel.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  22. I wonder how this compares to the NYPD? At the very least, Giuliani stuck up for his officers, earning the wrath of many coddlecrats and criminal sympathizers.

    Isn’t Bratton still police chief out there? Whither COMPSTAT?

    Granted, in NYC Kelly and Bloomberg are a bit kinder and gentler, but I don’t think the NYPD are nearly as dispirited as their cohorts in LA.. And NYPD doesn’t pay that well either :p

    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (15626f)

  23. I heard that Phil participated in the sacking of Carthage and I would formally like to request that his career be put on hold for year while Patterico investigates.

    Phil, please note that I am not using inflammatory language; all I ask is that a thorough investigation take place while you are being retrained.

    ras (adf382)

  24. Oh, for heaven’s sake — look, last night I got involved in a scuffle between a woman and some nut. Did I make reasonable on-the-fly decisions? Yeah, I think so. Could I have handled it better? Sure. Is it worth thinking it through and deciding how I should be smarter next time? Absolutely.

    The police have routine after-action reviews to identify things that go wrong and decide how to prevent them. Maybe the military should stop having debriefings and AAR’s and just give out medals so as not to hurt anyone’s self-esteem? Who is being a “coddlecrat” here?

    CC (9a11b0)

  25. Parry, I’m not directly criticizing the part of your story about the police department’s response to complaints, or their failure to reach quick decisions so that questions aren’t hanging over officers’ heads.

    In fact, that part of your story was very disturbing, and I’d have liked to learn more about the situation. Unfortunately, I have to take your word for all of these facts, because you don’t provide the source material.

    What I am criticizing is the tone you take with regard to the specific report that you did provide a link to. It is clear with regard to that report that you are making drastic characterizations and turning all inferences against the police department. You make the report sound like something it is not.

    When you do this with a source that I can check myself it makes me lose all trust in your interpretation of all these other records you’re referring to but not providing.

    You may be right with regard to all the other stuff that I can’t check the on. But your obvious mischaracterization with regard to this specific example means I have reason to distrust your interpretation of all that other research.

    It seems to me that you’re so emotionally involved in the problems you’ve researched that you start trying to twist everything you read into a thunderous indictment of the system. At least, that’s what you’ve done with this rather routine use-of-force debriefing. Not every document is a smoking gun — this one certainly isn’t.

    If you’re seeing smoking guns everywhere, it’s no wonder your stories are getting rejected by major publications. You may have some good facts in there somewhere, but maybe somebody else needs to write about them to get them across properly.

    Phil (427875)

  26. The police have routine after-action reviews to identify things that go wrong and decide how to prevent them. Maybe the military should stop having debriefings and AAR’s and just give out medals so as not to hurt anyone’s self-esteem? Who is being a “coddlecrat” here?

    Amen. This was an interesting article, but maybe it was rejected for being transparently one-sided, and manipulative in extent of that.

    All the seemingly genuinely worrisome hits, like “I was investigated after being claimed that someone raped me for 45 years” are unsubstantiated one-liners with no backing. There’s no way to eval if the Cop on the Risk List belonged to be there or not.

    The LAPD indeed should investigate every complaint. If someone wants to suggest that investigations shouldn’t take a year, that could be reasonable, but there’s no evidence that that is actually happening.

    This article smells like sour grapes from top to bottom, ending with the anecdotal cherry-pick suggestion that lack of LAPD experience and high turnover is related to after-action-reviews. True? False? Who knows? We do know that this story, if the same standard of evidence was used to say, for example, that the cops are too heavy-handed, would be ripped to shreds for liberal bias.

    glasnost (bad118)

  27. Phil/Glasnost

    The article was submitted as an OpEd, and thus appropriately is opinionated. Back in November, I started calling writers at various local pubs saying “this is something you should look in to.” All agreed, none did. Had they done their jobs (even with inappropriate bias) this article would not have been written

    AARs are not good – they’re vital. As a combat infantryman, I’ve done more than I care to remember about incidents more harrowing than this. And, I’ve found fault in my own actions in them, and had others find fault in mine (subordinates no less, never mind superiors). But, how is Troy Zeeman supposed to believe John Mack’s opinion of anything?

    And why would you believe a syllable of the LA Times when it quotes Mack et al as authorities, yet rarely (if ever) addresses their biases and faults?

    There is one compelling fact here that cannot be disputed. Two cops who got a very prestigious award from the state were denied recognition by their own department, and subsequently left it.

    I think that’s something anyone in the jurisdiction of that department should find to be of grave concern.

    You seem like the kind of gentlemen who are suspicious of the police at every turn. Well, do you want experienced cops or rookies roaming your neighborhood. When the LAPD has 60% folks under 5 years of service, the level of wisdom and experience is not increasing.

    RCJP (2fc153)

  28. And why would you believe a syllable of the LA Times when it quotes Mack et al as authorities, yet rarely (if ever) addresses their biases and faults?

    OK, but by the same token: do you see why it takes away from your reasonable points when you completely distort what seems to be a perfectly reasonable (if disputable) AAR?

    CC (9a11b0)

  29. Notably, officers who leave the LAPD in their first five years have to repay the City for their academy training.

    L.A. pays starting police officers $56,000 a year, beginning the day they enter the police academy.

    Newport Beach pays experienced police officers $100,000 a year and has a violent crime rate 1/10 of L.A.’s.

    There would seem to be a compelling economic reason to begin a police career in L.A., put in 5 years, and then move on to a more pleasant city to work in.

    alphie (015011)

  30. What did I distort? On second thought, against my better judgement, let me adress Phil’s original points head-on.

    Phil writes:
    California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented them with California Medals of Valor, for engaging a suspected killer in a running gunfight through a South L.A. apartment building.

    The LAPD, by contrast, ruled them tactically deficient, worthy only of retraining.

    When I read the actual report, I’m rather mystified. I don’t see “retraining” listed anywhere in the report, nor are the words “tactically deficient” used. I do see the finding that the “officers would benefit from additional tactical training by the training devision.” That’s not the same thing as “retraining” on things the officers were supposed to have already learned.

    In addition, the report makes an across-the-board finding that all of the use of force and actions were “in policy” and no excessive force was used. There was no finding that they were “tacticaly deficient.”
    When I read the actual report, I’m rather mystified. I don’t see “retraining” listed anywhere in the report, nor are the words “tactically deficient” used. I do see the finding that the “officers would benefit from additional tactical training by the training devision.” That’s not the same thing as “retraining” on things the officers were supposed to have already learned.

    In addition, the report makes an across-the-board finding that all of the use of force and actions were “in policy” and no excessive force was used. There was no finding that they were “tacticaly deficient.”

    BOPC REport, Pg 4: The BOPC Found that Officers A & B would benefit from additional tactical training at Training Division.

    All officers go through training in tactical principals. It is safe to assume that the BOPC would not send them to “learn something new” about being s street cop that the whole department didn’t need. Thus, re-training. Why retrain them in tactics if they are not tactically deficient?

    Phile further writes:
    As LAPD’s official reviewers of lethal force incidents, the members of the BOPC (most of whom have never carried a gun) nit-picked Zeeman and Gregson’s actions — literally step by step.

    “Nit-picked”? I read the report, and I don’t see nit-picking. But Parry wants to use the word “nit-picked” to set a sensational tone.

    BOPC Report Pg 3: The BOPC noted that Officers A and B did not and communicate a and discuss a tactical plan with each other prior to stopping, and they did not properly plan their foot pursuit tactics…

    Ever been in an ambush? Do you know what a battle drill is? Sometimes, you can’t make a plan, and you react. There’s no time to pull out the manual and a map and discuss. They saw the guy, he saw them and it was show time. Not checking boxes when a situation is unfolding is nit picking.

    Phil further notes:
    They opined as to what should have been broadcast mid-stride over their radios –- berating Gregson for saying 228th Street instead of 227th

    “Berating”? How exactly does Parry decide that the BOPC was “berating” the officers, just by pointing out an actual error? He doesn’t — he makes it up to make his article more sensational.

    And Phil ascribes motive without evidence. I think that berating is an appropriate word. Perhaps criticized would be more so. But, given the ‘piling on’ nature of their analysis, I think it fits. Oh, one other thing, according to Zeeman, Gregson’s broadcast, (while he was running) went something like this: “Harvard and 228th… correction 227th.” Functional, there was no actual error.

    Phile writes:
    “Assuming there’s going to be repeated incidents like this, it seems like a very good idea to go over what worked and what could have been done better.”

    But, there won’t be any more incidents like this, ’cause Zeeman and Gregson took their service elsewhere.

    Again, if you don’t think there’s a problem with 60% of the department being new to the job, then I guess there’s nothing top worry about.

    RCJP (2fc153)

  31. Mayor Villaraigosa seems to have learned that he can take an ACLU-inspired view of day-to-day police work and still be given credit for being “pro-cop” as long as he keeps Chief Bratton close by his side. Chief Bratton seems to have learned that he can outfit himself with political teflon armor as long as he throws a few beat cops under the bus anytime Mayor Villaraigosa’s allies get their dander up. The ones who get screwed at every turn are the rank-and-file officers.

    JVW (b840ac)

  32. Alphie:

    “No amount of money could have kept me in that environment,” Zeeman said.

    Troy Zeeman is a cop who loves chasing crooks. He got into police work to take evil doers off the street. The violent part of town was where he thrived because it was where he could do the most good.

    He didn’t leave because of what he went home to, or what was outside the station door. the unpleasantness he left was inside the station door.

    RCJP (2fc153)

  33. In fact, according to the L.A. Police Protective League, fully 60% of LAPD officers have been with the department less than five years.

    Zeeman is just one cop, RCJP.

    I was talking about the whole department.

    L.A. seems to have set itself up as California’s “get paid while you learn” police college.

    alphie (015011)

  34. L.A. seems to have set itself up as California’s “get paid while you learn” police college.

    That does seem to be the case. But the Mayor and the Chief and the BOPC don’t seem to care.

    RCJP (2fc153)

  35. Jack Dunphy has written extensively of Drive and Wave. Which this article backs up. You have cops who perform heroically to take a dangerous gang member off the street. They are not given awards, but rather a ticky-tack review by a hostile and anti-police Police Commission. Result?

    The leave for another city.

    The net is going to be a passive, Drive and Wave police force that will simply sit back and let criminals do what they want. Mayor Tony gets plaudits from the African-American, Latino, and West Side Communities for this, but the net will be an out of control crime wave and murder spree by Gangs who will run the city.

    Recall Karen Toshima? You’ll have nice innocent West siders getting killed on the Third Street Promenade, Grove, Beverly Center, and other places important to the City. Because crime and criminals won’t just magically stay in East LA or South Central.

    Cops having been burned so many times (the latest in the May Day Riots) will simply sit back and let it happen. This happened in NYC with the Puerto Rican Day Parade assaults on women after the Diallo shooting and anti-police sentiment whipped up by Sharpton and Jackson.

    The end: LA looking like Guatemala or El Salvador, with the same gangs and the wealthy with bodyguards, everyone else preyed on by gangs, and those who can moving out.

    Mayor Tony will preside over the ruin of LA. But hey, he really stuck it to those police.

    ONLY an aggressive, pro-active police force can keep crime in check in sprawling, illegal immigrant heavy LA with massive ethnic tensions, low level criminality as a way of life, and a huge geographic area. You will only get that if you actively reward aggressive cops. Punish it and you’ll get the passive, avoid any confrontation with criminals that Mayor Tony wants. Good luck.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  36. This was an interesting article, but maybe it was rejected for being transparently one-sided, and manipulative in extent of that.

    Oh look… It’s ol’ Glassy… Joy

    To respond to this rather dim-witted statement, I’d just like to say that ‘one-sided’ was never a reason for the LAT to stop any of their other stories…

    Perhaps it’s because this was one-sided in favor of cops, and not one-sides against them…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  37. The stuff the LA Times doesn’t care about…

    This is awesome reporting by one of Patterico’s readers, a freelance journalist who tells the story of a couple of hero cops who were run out of LA for taking the initiative and chasing a badguy and wining a gunfight–and……

    JunkYardBlog (621918)

  38. Not only were Gitmo detainees strung up with their arms behind their backs , THEY WERE REPEATEDLY TORTURED WITH DROPS OF ACID INTO THEIR EYES.

    Terrance (f6ecc4)

  39. Ironically, I spent this evening at a Coast Guard training session where we critiqued (or as Parry would have it, berated, complained about, nitpicked and second-guessed) the actions of two guys who did something courageous but not optimal.

    But maybe we should stop doing that because it’s too mean?

    CC (de1490)

  40. You need police to minimize people being victimized. That applies to IRAQ and LA. Like Ms. Hilton we’re too narcissistic to accept supervison, too narcissistic to see anything like a ‘hero leaving the city.’ More’s the pity.

    michael (27da17)

  41. […] Yesterday, Patterico carried the work of free-lancer Robert C.J. Parry, who, in explaining the shabby treatment its best cops are receiving, also tells us why The Thin Blue Line in Los Angeles stays so thin. […]

    BizzyBlog » Couldn’t Help But Notice (051107) (34f45e)

  42. CC-
    Clearly you’ve not read my comments and know nothing about me. I’ve done AARs after fire fights and IED strikes in Iraq.

    But my AARs were done by folks who’d been in the same battles, not avowed soldier-haters with no experience in tactics.

    The BOPC does not do AARs, they do employee reviews with an eye to criticism. Lethal force should always be reviewed, but by competent professionals with no other agenda. And they should focus on substantive issues that take context into account.

    Quibble all you want. The facts are indisputable. Cops who earn decorations for valor and otherwise are exemplary are patrolling Other towns. And the media is looking the other way.

    RCJParry (2079a7)

  43. Anyone else get a Planet of the Apes-type feeling when they think about how L.A. has changed over the past 25-30 years? Not that our new neighbors are ape-like, but that the Charlton Heston character must have felt a similar sort of disorientation.

    Chris (f6ecc4)

  44. The Times didn’t print this because it is too accurate. East Coast cops used to day, “if you want your pension do what you’re told, but if you want to chase criminals, go to LAPD.” That changed in 1992 with Charter Amendment F.

    Bratton’s just another East Coast chief. For $300K a year, he’ll do anything Horacio Vignali’s friends want him to do. And as long as the LAPD is forced to defend itself from LA politicians and its roll-over pretend-chief, LA cops will be too busy to protect LA residents.

    I left the LAPD after only 20 years (1980-2000). I thank God every day that I’m out’a there. What’s the point of protecting residents who keep electing these Democrat bozos?

    Clark Baker (35519b)

  45. BTW, during the 1992 riots I was deployed to the Motors B Shift at Parker Center and South LA. I didn’t arrest anyone and quietly rooted for the rioters. After all, Tom Bradley and Warren Christopher had lied to LA residents and Bradley, an hour into the riot, had the gall to tell rioters at a press conference that rioters “have the right to be angry and to demonstrate their anger.” My squad wanted to arrest Bradley for inciting a riot.

    I arrested several thousand felons during the 1980s. From 1992 until I retired in 2000, I refused to arrest anyone. Oh yeah, I was also one of those cops who’s baton was stolen and, for some reason, never replaced.

    Drive, wave, kiss babies… If you want to be loved, join LAFD. If you want to arrest criminals don’t come to LA – they run this city.

    And if you’re an LA taxpayer, don’t get mad at me. You deserve what you vote for.

    Clark Baker (35519b)

  46. So folks that vote for Democrats deserve to get shot? That’s brilliant.

    The problem is really the toxic political culture that happens in any big city, part of which does have to do with term limits. You don’t see the same stuff happening at LASD, LBPD, SMPD, Pomona PD, Glendale PD. All of these jurisdictions have their fair share of crime, but yet all of them seem to keep decent relations with their public, primarily because the media spotlight isn’t as hot. (Baca is also elected, which gives him some protection from the wrath of job-hopping politicians.)

    calwatch (0a62fc)

  47. The CRP refused to back Walter Moore as the sole GOP candidate for mayor against Tony. Fuck the CRP, and shame on you purported “Republicans.” Fucktards.

    http://web.mac.com/waltermoore/iWeb/MooreIsBetter.com/Home.html

    Y’all should be ashamed for yourselves for putting your political force behind Arnold, while ignoring Walter Moore, you sheep. This global warming agenda and complete governmental malfeasance is what you get.

    No one speaks out against the party (CRP), no matter its deviation from principles, because the last discussion about the sell-out of America (IRCA, 1996) is verboten. Thanks again, Ronald Reagan.

    If you thought Richard Riordan was bad, you had no idea Tony Villar would take his place. Fools.

    Blame the CRP for absolute concession of the territory of Los Angeles County to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and parts beyond. I’m sure Patrick could muster up a bitch slap or two on this issue; but most drink too much Kool-Aid to have any consciousness of any of the truth. I’m not holding my breath for any so-called “conservatism” from the “blogosphere.” I expect more “victim” status. From this blog, I expect the opinions of someone who works for me, the taxpayer, and I don’t like what I see.

    Y’all have yourselves to blame for the state of affairs and the state itself, you self-absorbed “Republicans.” Arrogant circle-jerks, all of you. You can quote me, you pathetic crybabies.

    Petit Bourgeois (375601)

  48. And who did you vote for Petit?

    Karl Rove (08e1e8)

  49. Enjoy your move to Arizona, Petit. Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.

    JVW (b840ac)

  50. I used to live in LA but moved to a beach community when i had a chance to buy property. I hate to say it but I don’t mind when the media and special interest groups attack the LAPD for doing their job. Every time something like this happens, more people look for the exits. It is making my property value soar. LA people are willing to pay more to get away from the stupidity found in all branches of the LA City govt. I do pity those who don’t have the economic wherewithall to move. Something is going to happen to swing this pendelum (sp?) back in the other direction and I just hope the violence isn’t too great. But it is going to happen.

    Uncle Mike (9136c2)

  51. Retired NYPD Detective the Police in NYC saved the city and Mayor Rudy Giuliani took all the credit. He also refused to give the Police Officer a raise, for three years the Police received “ZEROS” their contrack. Rudy can not be trusted.

    tommy (b1cca4)

  52. and tommy can not spell nor form a comprehensible sentence…

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  53. bah

    “comprehensible” should “comprehendible”

    Scott Jacobs (feb2f7)

  54. If you want to write about Rudy, read “Prince of the City.” He backed Bratton inn the “broken windows” theory of policing and he had Dinkins to show how bad it could get before he took over. He made a mistake letting Bratton go but look at Bratton now.

    I moved here in 1956. Talk about a different city ! But the LAPD in those days operated on a military mode of policing. They were always a small force but made up for it with discipline. After 1992, it all fell apart. I sent money to Stacy Koon’s family while he was in jail. I had already moved to Orange County but, if I was still in LA then, I would have seen it was time to move. We will see the Hispanic version of Detroit here before they are done with LA. Too bad. It was a beautiful place in 1956; smog and all.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  55. But the LAPD in those days operated on a military mode of policing. They were always a small force but made up for it with discipline. After 1992, it all fell apart. I sent money to Stacy Koon’s family while he was in jail. I had already moved to Orange County but, if I was still in LA then, I would have seen it was time to move. We will see the Hispanic version of Detroit here before they are done with LA. Too bad. It was a beautiful place in 1956; smog and all.

    Maybe the United States Army should police L.A..

    If they had done so after the 1992 riots, perhaps they would be doing a better job policing Iraq.

    Michael Ejercito (0407a6)

  56. […] Patterico wonders if the last hero in LA will turn out the lights […]

    The Anchoress » Saturday Scan of the ‘Sphere (22ef8f)

  57. To Scott Jacobs F….You Tommy. How that for spelling and grammar.

    tommy (1f0f07)

  58. To Scott Jacobs “F…You” from Tommy. Better yet.

    tommy (1f0f07)

  59. You’re formatting is a little off, but the message survives… Much better…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  60. Perhaps if the LAPD weren’t surrounded by lower primate savages everyday, they wouldn’t need to be a so-called “warrior culture”.

    Anonymous Jerk (b0c50b)

  61. I find it interesting that the lower crime rate has mostly persisted in NYC, while nearby Killadelphia and distant LA are getting hammered. Bloomberg is less confrontational or seemingly egotistical, but I don’t think there’s been much if any of a reversion to pandering to “community leaders” that’s so common elsewhere.

    Perhaps Giuliani, the plunger, the 41 shots, etc. was the chemotherapy that killed off NYC’s crime cancer? Maybe that’s just what you have to live with in order to kill the greater evil? So be it.

    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater (15626f)

  62. To Dr. Noisewater; Mayor Bloomberg from day one started pandering to the so called “community leaders” …crime is down only because of the great work of the NYPD. m

    tommy (f6bb23)


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