Patterico's Pontifications

11/21/2007

L.A. Times Mentions Shooting Policy in Story on Officer Run Down by a Car — and Strains to Publish His Identity Despite His Undercover Status

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:31 am



To my surprise, in today’s story about an LAPD undercover officer run over by a suspect in a car, the Los Angeles Times has highlighted LAPD’s shooting policy, which prohibits shooting at cars used as weapons in most instances.

It sounds as though the possible effect of the shooting policy is very much a live issue:

Three officers were involved in the 8:30 a.m. incident near the intersection of East 4th and South Dacotah streets, said LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz.

The officers had been conducting surveillance on Ortiz when they saw him make an alleged drug sale near the intersection and then watched him pull his vehicle into a driveway in the 100 block of South Dacotah Street, Diaz said.

When officers attempted to arrest him, he backed out of the driveway, nearly hitting one of the officers who identified himself as from the LAPD, and then sped south on Dacotah.

At that point, the officers radioed [redacted], who was part of the surveillance team and stationed farther down the street, and warned him that the suspect was fleeing in his direction.

[redacted] identified himself as an LAPD officer and ordered Ortiz to stop, but the suspect ignored him and struck him, authorities said.

At one point, the officer fired his weapon at the vehicle, but it was not clear Tuesday evening whether he shot at the car before or after he was run down.

So, one officer is nearly run down but doesn’t fire. Another is run down, but we don’t know if he fired beforehand.

It definitely sounds like it’s worth exploring whether the policy tied the officers’ hands. And the story does mention the policy:

Tim Sands, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said Tuesday’s incident is the latest example of an assault on a police officer by a suspect who used a vehicle as a weapon.

“The attempted murder today of an LAPD officer . . . is a sad example of the dangers officers face every day,” he said. “Attempting to stop a suspect in a motor vehicle constitutes one of the least predictable and, hence, most potentially dangerous of a police officer’s routine duties.”

At least 25 officers nationwide have been killed during the last four years by cars driven by crime suspects.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Police Commission recommended tightening a long-standing LAPD policy by prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless another deadly threat existed.

The new rules followed the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who had led police on a short car chase.

aaaaaaaaaaaand?

And had then run his car at police officers, and into a police car.

But kudos to the paper for at least mentioning the policy.

But big jeers to the paper for straining to learn and publish the officer’s identity, knowing that the department didn’t want his name publicized because he was undercover:

The LAPD did not formally release [redacted]’s identity because he works undercover, but several officials named him.

Did it ever cross their minds that LAPD might be right? That maybe it’s not a great idea to splash the name of an undercover officer all over the pages of the city newspaper?

The officer is not named in stories by the Associated Press (in stories here and here), MyFox in Los Angeles, the local NBC affiliate, the Long Beach Press Telegram, the local CBS affiliate . . . etc. etc. etc.

All these news organizations were responsible. They undoubtedly could have named the officer, but didn’t. (My post last night, quoting an L.A. Times article, initially named the officer until I realized the department wanted his name kept under wraps because of his undercover status — at which point I immediately redacted the name out of my post.)

As far as I can tell, only the smarty-pants people at the L.A. Times felt the need to blow the identity of an undercover officer.

Nice.

P.S. Now that the officer’s name is in the paper, it’s really a pointless exercise to redact it from the post. I do it today more for rhetorical effect than anything else. In any future posts on this issue, I may not bother.

13 Responses to “L.A. Times Mentions Shooting Policy in Story on Officer Run Down by a Car — and Strains to Publish His Identity Despite His Undercover Status”

  1. Swear to god, if something happens to that cop or his family because the LAT decided it wanted to post the victim’s name, I’m personally going to go express my displeasure all over the place there.

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  2. I wonder if the L.A. Times attitude would change, if some thug deliberately ran down reporters and/or judges?

    LarryD (feb78b)

  3. I have just written a letter to the editor and the reader’s rep about revealing his identity, even if its after the fact, because their arrogance might put a family in jeopardy:

    In part:

    ‘Regarding the LAPD officer injured…, I would like to know why the L.A. Times named the officer publicly when it was clear he worked undercover?

    Your article states that the LAPD did not release his name due to his position and that ‘officials’ did. Who are these officials? And who do you think you people on Spring Street are to reveal his identity, thereby possibly putting he and his family in jeopardy? What benefit did the officer, his family, or the public derive from having this information made public?

    You owe the public an explanation for this decision of disclosure because if the LAPD felt it prudent to not release his name, who are you to override that and determine otherwise?’

    Dana (09ddac)

  4. Who makes up these idiotic policies? I am shocked the police union hasn’t sued the city if a policeman is killed because of this policy.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  5. Nothing new w/ LAT’s anti-social actions here. Just last year, the LAT took pains to rush to publish the name of the witness in the Long Beach Halloween night assault on 2 defenseless females in an obviously racially motivated attack.

    This brave gal stepped up dispite the fact that she was poor, young, African-American and residing in a gang-infested area of North Long Beach. (Too bad she had not made a bogus rape allegation. The LAT sure cares about confidentiality then.)

    These people are filth and I have told them so in several letters to the Editor.

    Eugene F. McMenamin (e7f7fb)

  6. The LAT is just trying to keep up with their heroic counterpart the NYT in revealing the covert ops of our imperialist, patriarchical, violence-loving, enemy….government.

    After all, this enemy won’t hurt them back.

    Patricia (aaa977)

  7. I’m not sure if it’s more stupid for the paper to ID an undercover cop, or for the undercover cop to attempt to ID himself in such a situation. Perhaps they deserve each other.

    htom (412a17)

  8. Well, when making an arrest, UCs usually have to identify themselves.

    Also, if they don’t, and they pull their weapon, it’s self defense if you shoot them instead of “murder”.

    As it stands, by announcing he was a cop, I believe that the guy that ran him over is guilty of trying to kill a cop, which if I’m not mistaken is a Capital Offense.

    Correct me if I’m wrong…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

  9. in the overall scheme of things, i don’t think this is a big deal. the first thing i would want to know, is he a good undercover cop or a bad undercover cop? i acknowledge that there are good undercover cops. then there’s the one from the central valley awhile back…

    after he died in a motorcycle accident, the newspaper printed his picture, and a group of neighbors recognized it. they had started an anti-war group, as was their right, and he had infiltrated it to gather information on them. his actions undoubtedly chilled the dialogue at meetings of other such groups as people sat around living rooms looking at each other and wondering “ok, which one is the spy?”

    assistant devil's advocate (b87c28)

  10. mr. jacobs, you’re wrong. attempted murder isn’t a capital offense, no matter who the target is. an actual murder of a police officer in california would indeed be a capital offense.

    assistant devil's advocate (b87c28)

  11. The LA Times should be given a taste of its own medicine: someone ought to publish the salaries and expense reports of the “star” reporters and columnists for the paper. That is nowhere near as potentially threatening as outing an undercover cop, but it would be information that the paper would want kept secret just like the LAPD wants the identities of its undercover cops kept secret.

    JVW (477e5a)

  12. More liberal poppycock from the L.A SLIMES why should anyone continue to subcribe to this rag anymore?

    krazy kagu (d7018c)

  13. It does sound, though, that the police officer who was run down would have been in the line of fire of the pursuing officers. And they would have been in his if he fired as the car was coming at him. Let alone that they would have been firing down a residential street. So Paul from the previous thread was likely right — that it was instinct (or simple common sense) rather than policy, or even training, that accounts for the fact that the police were restrained in the use of their firearms.

    nk (09a321)


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