Patterico's Pontifications


In the LAPD: What’s the Price of Financial Disclosure?

Filed under: Crime — Jack Dunphy @ 1:51 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Back in December, I wrote this column for Pajamas Media on the financial disclosure policy soon to be imposed on the Los Angeles Police Department. Briefly, officers assigned to gang and narcotics units will be required to disclose detailed financial records to LAPD auditors so as to comply with the federal consent decree under which the department now operates. Many of the affected officers have said they will accept reassignment to other duties rather than comply with the disclosure requirement. (I also addressed the issue here, and Patterico did so here.)

And so what? one might ask. Consider Wednesday’s shooting in South-Central Los Angeles. Gang members confronted each other on an MTA bus, and when they left the bus, one of them opened fire on his rivals, missing them but wounding eight others, including children walking home from a nearby school.

The suspect was arrested Thursday by two officers working the gang unit at the LAPD’s Newton Division, in whose jurisdiction the shooting occurred. The officers were well informed on both of the involved gangs, and they knew where and how to look for the suspect. They spotted him walking down the street and, when he tried to run, chased him down. Thus was a horrible crime solved within 24 hours thanks to the expertise and dedication of two police officers, both of whom, thanks to the consent decree, may soon be working other assignments.

If the financial disclosure policy results in the expected exodus of officers from LAPD gang units, arrests such as this one may soon be a thing of the past, and the streets of Los Angeles may be that much more dangerous.

But at least the LAPD will be in compliance with the consent decree.

–Jack Dunphy

45 Responses to “In the LAPD: What’s the Price of Financial Disclosure?”

  1. Jack,
    Do you feel that some sort of oversight is in order? If so what is a middle ground that you see as appropriate and not overly intrusive?

    voiceofreason2 (b1499c)

  2. Every cashier is subject to a cash count before shift and again after shift.

    Hey Mike Nifong phrases it well, if you have nothing to hide then why lawyer up?

    Goose, Gander? Who cares?

    If you have nothing to hide, then comply, if you don’t then get a shit job, else go count coin at Mcdonalds!

    Oh wait a minute, do I hear LE personnel actually saying that they have rights that they will not allow private citizens to adhere to without added challenges?

    Little things like longer sentences, additional charges filed, minors trumped into courts as felony’s and the like. Or possibly a beating with camera off, back on in a pool of blood? Threats, coercion actually lying to potential defendants, refusing to actually allow having a lawyer present?

    So what you are professing is that the citizens do not have a right to know where that 100 grand windfall actually came from? Or even suggest some possibility as to how you can drive a Lamborghini?

    Though I see some real invasion of personal information, choosing to be in a public position as well means that the public has a right to know too much. Say it comes with the job, it does actually.

    Besides it don’t seem to take cops long to know all about the citizens they police now does it? Well, when they actually bother to spend the time and funds to do an actual investigation, which seems to be getting less. CI’s are great right? RE. Ryan Fredericks in VA of recent.

    If such job requirements does not suit you today, then all I can offer is my best chances you can get on with the FBI or CIA. McDonalds is always hiring.

    Gangs seem to handle their differences, and so far LE has proven as effective as they are on the “War on Drugs”, as they are on the “War on Gangs”!

    “Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

    –William F. Buckley, Jr.*

    Why do I have this feeling that testing for roids would be objected to by cops as well as financial disclosure?

    When you choose a profession paid by the taxpayers, it’s just possible that you will give up some constitutional rights as well. After all cops expect the citizens that actually create the revenue for their pay checks, think citizens should, 100% of the time when any “contact” is made! Right?

    Cops today think that they deserve a level beyond respect, they expect instant obedience from those that pay for their families to eat. The laws are certainly stacked against one that so much as dares to ask a question to a LE officer. Nothing but “sir yes sir” is acceptable.

    I can but wonder how the only real “role model cop ” in the nation would accept such, Andy would, I think, not be happy with such, but would say, well these folks hire us they have a right to know, I suppose. Simply because they do, nothing more nothing less.

    TC (1cf350)

  3. Perhaps the middle ground could be a pay differential that will off-set the cost and hassle of the extra disclosures. However, I am curious how the Dept. would enforce similar disclosures from wives and adult children- much less brothers, sisters ans parents.

    Demetri (c3f397)

  4. When you choose a profession paid by the taxpayers, it’s just possible that you will give up some constitutional rights as well.

    Really? Where is that specified in the Constitution?

    Seriously, the folks arguing against Dunphy seem to be emoting more than thinking. For example:

    Every cashier is subject to a cash count before shift and again after shift.

    That’s because the cash they’re handling is their employer’s, not their own. A more appropriate parallel is to require employees to account for the money in their own wallets, even when there is no discrepancy in the company’s accounts.

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  5. Though I see some real invasion of personal information, choosing to be in a public position as well means that the public has a right to know too much. Say it comes with the job, it does actually. Per TC above

    TC that’s ‘lazy thinking’ on your part. The “public right to know” is a shibboleth that gets waved, and waived, by all sorts of fools. Witness Hillary Clinton running for President who people assert is required to reveal her income tax returns; after all that’s a pretty big public job isn’t it? So far she’s managed to avoid it and put disclosure off etc. And depending upon what does or doesn’t happen to her in the upcoming primary elections, she may never disclose them. And since there’s been a suggestion that she and her husband have received significant payments from foreign governments and businessmen– “Gang of Dubai” anyone?–there’s probably a more compelling reason to disclose that information than anything that might apply to an LAPD Gang Unit member.

    I don’t doubt that your average detective sergeant in a Gang Unit in the LAPD will be required to reveal almost as much financial and personal information to Target stores when he applies for a credit account as he’s going to have to reveal to the LAPD on this compliance order.

    However, Target stores [unlike the LAPD] (wonder why I chose that name–could it be because these cops are worried about having their families become targets?) doesn’t have an HR or Credit Department that has a documented record of leaking information like a sieve. Also Target store’s collections people aren’t likely to be to be using a pistol while looking for a Target debtor with an overdue bill. On the other hand a gang member or friend of a gang member may well be carrying a Glock while seeking to “settle” some scores with an LAPD Gang Unit member.

    I’d suggest that an LAPD Gang Unit member be required to reveal no more than exactly the financial disclosures required of say the Mayor and City Council members. I mean if you’re going to claim this Public Right to Know because after all we’re paying them, then disclosure sauce for the Gang Unit member should also be served up to Villaraigosa and his posse on the Council.

    Mike Myers (31af82)

  6. As I understand it, the main argument against financial disclosure is that if these officers have to turn over personal information about themselves, that information might be mishandled, or leaked, or otherwise fall into the wrong hands.

    There’s something wrong with this picture. The fact that the police are afraid of giving their financial information to the police, because of fears it will be mishandled, does not inspire confidence in the ability of the police to handle the information they collect about everyone else.

    So, if the police are afraid to hand over their own information to themselves, to me that’s a great reason to make them do so. If police faced the same risk of being hurt by sloppy department procedures that everyone else faces, wouldn’t the police be more inclined to improve their information security?

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  7. I guess the public is who suffers when the police don’t do a proper job of policing themselves.

    joe (33ce8e)

  8. It’s not clear to me why, at this point, any sane officer would stay at the LAPD when he could move a couple departments in any direction and make as much money doing a safer job, and without many of the hassles. Do the courts think the department will improve if the city has to lower recruiting standards because nobody wants to work there?

    Or will we get what Pournelle calls “anarcho-tyranny”, where certain neighborhoods simply aren’t policed because it’s too risky for an officer’s career?

    Eric (09e4ab)

  9. I spent a quarter century in the Air Force, then after retirement went into contracting and ultimately federal civil service. That explains my “personal bias” in regards to this subject.

    We routinely gave personal info, take lie detector tests, and have our financial affairs investigated every five years or sooner if there is cause. Heck, when I married a foreign national we had to report that and do a background check on her as well.
    My point is that I just don’t see it as a big deal for people that work for the taxpayer to have oversight to ensure their trust in public servants is honored.
    For this particularly case it seems that it may be a little too sweeping. Not sure what the happy medium should be but like so many things the all or nothing proposition is not the correct approach either.

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  10. It seems to me that every police officer should file a disclosure form, or none of them. Picking out only certain units is nonsensical. Corrupt cops are not limited to the narcotics beat.

    But I do think it is logical that some level of disclosure be required for anyone in public service–teachers, US senators from New York, mayors and police chiefs of Los Angeles, cops on the beat, and prosecutors among them.

    kishnevi (8731ef)

  11. VOR, I’ve done defence work as well, and we never had to do “regular and periodic” financial disclosures. I don’t recall any of the uniformed military I worked with having to do it either. There’s a big difference between submitting to a background check as a condition of employment and having ongoing scrutiny of your finances.

    I don’t think that’s reasonable at all.

    Eric (3411aa)

  12. Eric,
    What do you think they check every five years when you do the periodic reinvestigation for security clearances? They go back and talk to neighbors and co-workers, run the credit checks, etc.
    If you work in the highly classified arenas you can have access suspended for simply filing bankruptcy, having an affair or failing a polygraph to name a few. It happens more than you realize. I’ve worked as the security manager and know quite a bit about the process.
    Like I said, my experience colors my outlook on what is reasonable. No one ever used the info against me and I don’t feel “violated”.

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  13. VOR, hmmm… the only dangerous civil service job I can think of off the top of my head is the postal service. And that’s just the danger from irate coworkers. But the LAPD have a lot more at stake if that information is mishandled than the average bureaucrat. Your local Social Security administrator doesn’t worry that if his name and address appear in the phone book he’s going to get shot. But a gang enforcement police officer has good reason to be cautious.

    There’s got to be a better way.

    Don (c9e244)

  14. Don,

    I agree there must be a better way. As for a dangerous job; it is the information we are supposed to safeguard, not the work place hazards (or lack thereof)that require the precautions.
    If I work in an unclassified environment I will have a low level clearance that is only rechecked every decade or so.

    The police are entrusted with public safety, often uncover milions of dollars in drug money, large quantities of dope, etc. For reasons very similar to why there is oversight on our behavior I think it is appropriate for the police to have oversight. A meter maid on the other hand may not need much oversight.

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  15. I’m finding it hard to be sympathetic to these officers.

    It was their actions and in the acse of the Rampart scandal inactions that brought this mess on. Maybe if a few more officers had done the right thing over the course of the last 30 years or so the LAPD wouldn’t be in this predicament.

    chad (719bfa)

  16. TC…”Besides it don’t seem to take cops long to know all about the citizens they police now does it? Well, when they actually bother to spend the time and funds to do an actual investigation, which seems to be getting less. CI’s are great right? RE. Ryan Fredericks in VA of recent.”from TC -the malcontent-above.

    When your a DRUG DEALER and you hear a pounding at the door and a voice yell “P O L I C E DEPARTMENT, SEARCH WARRANT!” followed by your door getting kicked in, that’s a pretty good indicator as to who might be entering your home … legally! But you sound like an obtuse little bed wetter so I expect pathetic and illogical rhetoric from malcontents like you! After taking your next bong hit, try real hard lil guy to keep focused on the topic.. We get it you want marijuana legalized, blah, blah, blah, cops are bad, blah, blah, puff, Gore was robbed, blah, George Bush is to blame for my small pecker, blah, blah! Typical bed wetter!

    Biographical Info Of Detective Jarrod Shivers
    Age: 34
    Tour of Duty: 8 years
    Badge Number: 1129

    Incident Details
    Cause of Death: Gunfire
    Date of Incident: Thursday, January 17, 2008
    Weapon Used: Handgun; .380 caliber
    Suspect Info: Charged with murder

    Detective Jarrod Shivers was shot and killed while attempting to serve a narcotics search warrant at a home on Redstart Avenue at approximately 8:35 pm.

    Detective Shivers was attempted to force entry into the home when the suspect inside fired one shot through the front door. The round struck Detective Shivers, fatally wounding him. The man then barricaded himself inside the home before being taken into custody and charged with murder.

    Detective Shivers was a US Navy veteran. He had served with the Chesapeake Police Department for 8 years and was assigned to the Special Investigations Section. He is survived by his wife, son, and two daughters.

    Shall we continue…..

    TC…”So what you are professing is that the citizens do not have a right to know where that 100 grand windfall actually came from? Or even suggest some possibility as to how you can drive a Lamborghini?”

    A Lamborghini?????? We are ghetto cops not Don Johnson in Miami Vice you complete dolt! No wonder you are such a delusional malcontent, you watch much too much TV. 100,000.00???? I don’t have a pot too piss in, but my freedom, family and integrity are worth much more to me than taking $100.00 or even $1,000,000,000.00 from some drug dealer! That you think that’s common place is all one needs to know about your bankrupt morale compass! A pillar of society like yourself probably finds 5 bucks on the floor at work and pockets it.

    You really are ignorant on the topic at hand, so please educate yourself on the facts before you opine again, you have thoroughly embarrassed yourself this time around! Try real hard to be intellectually honest, as much as it pains you! And loose the El Che screen saver.

    And for the record we already get drug tested, randomly, but you can test us for roids anytime you like! Your incoherent and ignorant rant is not much unlike the crack head, or a person who has been up for days smoking methamphetimines, so perhaps your employer over there at McDonalds should be testing you!

    TC…”When you choose a profession paid by the taxpayers, it’s just possible that you will give up some constitutional rights as well. After all cops expect the citizens that actually create the revenue for their pay checks, think citizens should, 100% of the time when any “contact” is made! Right?”

    You might want a do-over, or retract and restate this one??? Serious monkey mind going on there! Or again ease up on the Meth, it’s killing you! Not only am I a cop, but fancy this Batman, I am a citizen too, and I have NOT given up any of my Constitutional rights! Nor will I! See I live my life lawfully and when and if I deal with the Police in my off time, I do so with respect, not unlike I do with anyone who I cross paths with on or off the job! You obviously have not been raised properly, or you would not have illustrated your disdain for the police or authority so clearly!

    But seriously, please become a regular on this site … your pathetic and feeble position was mildly entertaining. Ease up on the Meth though, it realy does sffect your ability to coherently make a point!

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  17. If this is a worthy idea, it is worthy across any and all governmental units in which bribery is feasible. The first area that comes to mind are all areas of inspection – building, food, whatever. There is a rich history of such here, no? Is there a public interest? Duh.

    Obviously, all voting councilors and commissioners are subject to these temptations. Do they have any influence on public safety? Has there been any history of corruption? Double duh.

    While I’m at it, how ’bout dem judges? A little strict scrutiny wouldn’t hurt, would it? They got nuttin’ to hide, eh?

    I am sick to death of this concept that our government and all its permutations need be more pure than Caesar’s wife. It will never happen.
    This latest boondoggle is further evidence of man’s conceit that he can legislate/mandate good. Headline news: not in any prior or future lifetime.

    Ed (8166cd)

  18. Ed O’Shea,
    I sincerely hope you are getting counselling. Someone who is angry as you appear to be is not someone who should be dealing with the public under any circumstances.

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  19. And wait until some judge orders the financial records to be turned over to defense lawyers . . . . that will happen.

    Law (62ca0c)

  20. Ed O’ Shea, after that post, I am now fully in favor of any police program that will cause you to quit.

    I’m sure you think you’re a great, heroic guy, but I don’t want you anywhere near me or anyone I care about with any sort of law enforcement powers at all. I sorta suspect your satirizing law enforcement. But if you’re for real, you’re everything I most fear in a militarized police force.

    You apparently think law enforcement is just a high-intensity rugby game, and you’re out to score as many points as possible, not matter who you knock over doing so.

    Do you seriously believe that a skinny little kid with no criminal record who likes growing maple trees would barricade himself in his house with a gun and shoot a cop OVER A FEW GRAMS OF WEED? Come on, really? You have that sort of absolute faith in these cops?

    It couldn’t possibly be that the cops played Rambo in a situation where it was completely unnecessary, thus scaring the crap out of this skinny little kid, causing him to make a horrible mistake in a few split seconds, that resulted in a tragedy that never should have happened?

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  21. Ed O’Shea, I thought your post did a great job of mocking TC, who really doesn’t seem to have a clue.
    Phil, what was it he said that brought to mind a soccer game? You lost me there.
    Let me guess, you don’t like Drug warrants; so enforcement of the laws caused the skinny little kid to kill a working Det. and you are worried about his getting scared. I think I like O’Shea’s priorities better.

    Labcatcher (afe438)

  22. Mr. O’Shea–you might have included the defendant’s side of the case–that he thought someone was breaking into the house and believed he was shooting at a burglar, not a policeman.

    The only problems I see with this situation are that one group of policeman are picked out, when the net should be cast wider, and that there is a real concern about maintaining the confidentiality of the records.

    But you, Mr. O’Shea, show every indication of having succumbed to the lure of power that is the peril of being a police officer.

    kishnevi (a117ab)

  23. “The belief is widespread that police officers went way overboard in trying to arrest a man they believed grew and sold marijuana. Frederick had no prior criminal record in the region, only traffic offenses. After the shooting, only a small amount of pot was recovered from his home.

    Likely the same amount that was found in Kathryn Johnston’s home. I’m starting to wonder whether “small amounts of pot” are issued by the Clerk of the Court along with every no-knock search warrant.

    nk (b63350)

  24. To the naysayers and Phil: I love my job, my city and my country and will NEVER quit! I have served my time in the USMC and protected YOU from the underbelly of society for quite some time. I do not think of myself as a Hero, just someone who does the best he can to make YOU safe! So, your welcome! Unlike you I take my job and my oath very seriously! I don’t use it as a punch line at the coffee shop!

    If you had someone choking the life out of you or any of your family members, you would THANK GOD to have me or cops like me coming through your door! Because you/they might live another day! Or perhaps I should knock first and hope that you have enough breath left to give me the OK to kick it in?! But unlike you, who comes on here and waxes intellectual, I actually go out provide a community service and have been doing so since 1989! And for the record, I personally think pot (only) should be legalized, it’s far less hurtful than Crack, heroin, PCP or methamphetamines, and just above cigarettes! But until it is, I have to up hold the laws that are on the books.

    Until next time, I will continue to chase gang members and predators and keep you safe! And you lefties continue to be criminally arrogant and ignorant to the reality of the world we live in! And please double up on the little pink pills and ease up on the little blue ones!

    This financial disclosure doesn’t affect me, because I am not going to sign it! It affects the good people of south Central Los Angeles, which is about 90% of the people down there! You people waxing ignorantly about the FD have NO idea what these people down there have to deal with on a daily basis! You just like to bash the Police and run your jibbs at your elitist parties! Typical pinko’s, all bark no bite and no balls, or ovaries, to actually help the good people in the down trodden parts of the city!

    Try comforting a 14 year old girl who just watched her mother EXECUTED, by being shot in the head with a 357 magnum, right in front of her, by her gang member boyfriend! All because she was sick of being used as a punching bag by this poor misunderstood 42 year old scumbag!

    Or how about comforting a 12 year old boy who watched his 9 year old brother, 18 year old uncle and 21 year old uncle executed right in front of him! The only reason he did not get executed himself is because the AK-47 jammed and the gang member didn’t know how to clear the malfunction! The 12 year old did get shot in the ass and the round blew his testicle off! But I guess some of you naysayers would like us to focus on the less violent offenders out there. Situations like these are why Officers like me are so passionate about gang violence! We don’t just see it on the news and wax about it on a blog, we do something about it, and the weak city leaders have created an environment that lead some dolts to believe all cops are bad! Shame on you if you believe it and shame on the city for not calling Rafeal Perez what he was! I criminal gangster who abused his position under the color of authority! But now under the CD we have to be painted with a broad brush!
    What a shame for the good people!

    I myself have had several “green lights” put on my life, but it would be a violation of the oath I took to allow the gang members or the obtuse city officials to keep me from protecting the people of this city. That includes you ignorant types on here that are more interested in demonizing the Police than doing something about helping the people you claim to be speaking for! Stay in your coffee shops and nice secure homes and we will keep fighting for the rights and safety of the people that cannot do it for themselves. On the way we will occasionally pick up the fight for ourselves which, like with the FD, overlaps the fight to keep people safe!

    Wash, rinse and repeat until you safely exit oblivion and enter back into reality! If this will be your first trip into reality, allow me to welcome you, the view is much clearer here!

    Ok, stepping down! Have a great night all! even you Phil!

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  25. Ed, don’t waste time on Phil, he’s not worth your attention or time.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. nk–as I understand it, the defense is admitting that there actually was a small amount of pot inside; it’s the rest that it’s contesting (especially the police claims that they made their presence known–so it’s not a true no-knock situation anyway).

    Mr. O’Shea–calm down! Listen to some good music or whatever! If your temper is always like that, I’m not sure I’d want you as a cop on my beat, even if you have the best intentions in the world!:) (But I apologize for the last part of my comment in #22.) But there are more than a few policeman who basically take their badge as a license to make the rest of us miserable, and who think it gives them immunity to beat and shoot the people whom they are supposed to protect–and shamefully, often enough they do get that immunity. Moreover, the number of that type of cop seems to be growing. As a policeman, you have a power that no one else has–the power to end the freedom and possibly the life a person in the name of protecting the rest of us. It’s a power that can be abused, and that can corrupt the person using it very easily; and sadly there are plenty of policemen who allow that corruption to take place. There even seem to be some that become policemen because they want that power. Maybe the proportion of such cases is not more than it was in earlier times, and it’s merely that we only notice what we live with in our own time. But the problem is there, and all the good cops in the world don’t excuse it.

    kishnevi (da26af)

  27. I’m confused, I thought that this thread was about the consequences of proposed financial disclosure rules at LAPD, not kishnevi’s theories of police officer personalities?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  28. kishnevi … the pejorative tone in your response to my rebuttal and illustration of what victims go through in South Central is all one needs to know about your uninformed outlook! Enjoy your spot on the bench! You sit behind your computer and cast stones about what you see as the problem, yet you jump to conclusions about Officers actions in any given situation! And that’s demonstrably with no working experience of Police work. Shameful!
    I would not want to work with an Officer that beats and shoots people indiscriminately and without Just cause! But the unfortunate part of Police work is, it ain’t pretty when violence is necessary to effect an arrest and gain control of a suspect, lawfully! But then I suspect you have never been in a gun battle or chased some murder suspect who is carrying a gun, through the dark alleys of South Central?! You keep on believing the hype and left wing rhetoric fed to you by the media. See in my world Cops, Fire Fighters, Teachers, EMT’s, Doctors, Nurses and other public servants are to be respected for the sacrifices they make! Does that mean I want you to pat me on the back or follow me blindly? No! But don’t judge me by the incompetence of my upper “leadership” and the spineless city officials that only appreciate a Police Officer and he and his families contribution when he’s killed in the line of duty! Only then is he/she a Hero and worthy of praise! I submit to you as evidence, Randall Simmons, a great Human being, Father, Friend, Husband, A True Community activist and Police Officer. As for how I would treat you, and for how expect to be treated by the community, of which I am a part of, I would treat you and any community member or thug with the same respect until you misconstrued my kindness for weakness, then all bets are off, and it is you who dictates how you are treated. All I ask for is a modicum of respect in return, you don’t have to sir me to death, I put my pants on the same way you do, but I don’t think what I and my fellow Officer expect is to much! Act like an adult and civilized human being, get treated like one! Act like a savage, and you will be treated like one, within the confines of the Law of coarse. In your world, we (the Police) are demonized and depicted as bullies and power hungry? A morally bankrupt position, but typical of a someone who lacks the intestinal fortitude to take make any attempts to make a difference of his own for a community that doesn’t immediately affect him. Again, typical position of people of your ilk! That is until the wolf is at your door, then and only then do you thank God for the sheepdog (Police officer)! Now you have been quite presumptive of me and my fellow Officers, so I can only presume by your pejorative tone that you are a very callow individual!
    Your response is quite typical of a man who is quite insecure, and rightfully so, most likely in his past inability to speak up for the little guy or himself when wronged by anyone. Typically called running a muck. Somewhere down the line YOU had your head tucked a little to far up your tail, and one of my fellow Officers attempted to metaphorically extract it for you, probably in the way of a ticket, and now all cops are power hungry and badge heavy. Typical response! Closet case self loather!
    The following is an article by Lt. Col Dave Grossman. It might assist you and the rest of the fence sitters what us Police Officers and more specifically how we gang Officers think. I hope this helps you!

    On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs – Dave Grossman
    By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of “On Killing.”
    Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? – William J. Bennett – in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

    One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:

    “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

    Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

    I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin’s egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.? For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

    “Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

    “Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.”

    If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed

    Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools.

    But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

    The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

    Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”

    Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

    The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

    Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

    Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

    Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

    There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

    Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

    Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes, business people and parents. — from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

    There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. – Edmund Burke

    Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

    If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

    For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

    I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?”

    Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’ school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

    Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?”

    It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

    Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn’t bring your gun, you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

    Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: “…denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling.”

    Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

    And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself…


    This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

    This little joust has been fun and I will try and check back later. Until then, Jack Dunphy for President of The United States Of America!

    Thank you all and good night, from your humble public servant Ed O’Shea

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  29. OhShea”If you had someone choking the life out of you or any of your family members, you would THANK GOD to have me or cops like me coming through your door!”

    Do they make better photographers of dead bodies?

    Gee I almost thought we were not going to be subjected to the normal rant of a cop, but I was wrong, right on cue your second post ran it up the flag pole.

    TC…”When you choose a profession paid by the taxpayers, it’s just possible that you will give up some constitutional rights as well. After all cops expect the citizens that actually create the revenue for their pay checks, think citizens should, 100% of the time when any “contact” is made! Right?”

    Oshea You might want a do-over, or retract and restate this one???

    You got me there, that would be personal privacy rights, bringing the constitution into play with most cops would probably require some S.H.I.T. (special high intensity training), to happen first.

    OSheq, I’ve not doubt you have a tough job in a tough area of town, but please make an attempt to calm yourself, cuz I’d sure not desire to have someone with your attitude and apparent lack of self control running around with a gun and a badge.

    Oh and I must say how nice it is to hear all the fun little names you called and others here as well. We occasionally catch such stuff by cops on YouTube as well, our beloved public servants at their best.

    When did they change the Protect and to serve to Persecute and subjugate?

    Ways of communicatation

    Go read the first two threads with their comments, there are two cops there, neither one of them remotly sounds like OShea here. While there you will have the opportunity to learn about police tactics that do not always reward bad behavior.

    “Briefly, officers assigned to gang and narcotics units will be required to disclose detailed financial records to LAPD auditors so as to comply with the federal consent decree under which the department now operates.”

    It seems to come down to obey the feds or give up all the neat police toys and federal handouts to keep your jack boots polished like your heads, don’t it?

    As far as an exodus from the gang unit, most can bet the kids under you today will have plenty of quick promotions ahead of them. That is reality on the front line, the Marines should have taught you that many years ago.

    I’m sure I’ve abraided the nerves of some very good cops with this and others, I apologize to you if I did, the intent is but to open our eyes a bit. What is presented as a potential travesty is not, it’s keeping the fed mega bucks flowing into the LAPD. Without which many officers would be terminated for lack of funding. If some cops don’t like that then they can reassign, and go tell the feds they don’t agree with the regulations. My bet is that most will abide by the new regulations complaining about it all the while filling out their forms. Some won’t.

    Good article Jack, but using fear of pending doom and mayhem don’t work.

    TC (1cf350)

  30. Well TC it appears I was wrong, I made the fatal error of thinking my fellow Officer was successfull in extracting your head from your ass! Shame on me! Na nite cupcake!

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  31. There are a lot of people here from the Anarchist Wing of the Libertarian Party.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  32. Dunphy has posted that confidential information routinely leaks out. I know many confidential information was leaked to the Press during the Rodney King incident and also the Devin Brown incident.

    I was involved very briefly and peripherally with an effort to standardize LAPD info security systems. At that time, a number of years ago, the LAPD was not happy with their controls, authorization, etc. For example if someone obtained a password and login there were no biometric controls to verify the identity and authorization level of the person reviewing information. LAPD at the time was concerned over two issues:

    An ongoing problem of various personnel (including non-sworn civilians) helping reporters, PIs, and so forth obtain confidential information that by statute and regs were not supposed to be given out.

    As Jack Dunphy says, a concern over individuals within the department looking over confidential personnel information of various people in the Dept. This is a non-trivial issue.

    It would be my guess that officers have no confidence in the long and rather pathetic attempt of the LAPD top brass to keep confidential information (about officers) confidential. Certainly if this was a true priority a new information system with biometric, and one-time pin generator password systems would have been implemented. Heck the brass can’t even keep Papparazi from accessing info on Britney Spears.

    Biometric and one-time pin generators (per session), the hardware devices, are no panacea but would go a long way to fixing the access problem. There would be an audit trail pointing back to who accessed the info, when, and disciplinary measures.

    Let me point out again, civilian employees also have top-level access to information. Properly audited this is not a problem but I certainly understand LAPD gang and drug task force members reluctance to rely on a system that has failed repeatedly in the past with no fixes.

    Bratton and Mayor Tony are likely to see their bluff called, and see South Central EXPLODE into violence as MS-13 and other Latino gangs cleanse Blacks out of South Central.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  33. Nice try, Mr. O’Shea, but the sheep/sheepdog thing begs the question. Where is the shepherd? Sheepdogs don’t do anything more than the shepherd wants them to do. They don’t get to “dog” it, they don’t get to harry the sheep, and they don’t get to bare their fangs at the shepherd. If they do, they are put down.

    The police are a paramilitary organization and what’s required from them are discipline and obedience. Conformity to the demands of their department whether or not they consider them inconvenient or ureasonable. Uniformity of thought and attitude, to go with the uniformity of dress.

    nk (7b0075)

  34. I like how the officers don’t trust the cops with personal information.

    stef (4fe3dc)

  35. Mr. O’Shea: what’s perjorative about stating the obvious:that many police these days seem, if not to have turned into wolves themselves, to have acquired a deep contempt of the sheep they are supposed to protect? And for some of us, that’s more of a problem than anything the gangstas of South Central and similar locations can inflict.

    I don’t mean a personal reflection on you, although your attitude suggests that you share in that contempt more than you may realize. I’m assuming you are an honest and dedicated police officer, and I agree with your assessment of the higher ups. But refusing to acknowledge there is a problem does not solve the problem.

    kishnevi (0f8f9b)

  36. The history of the LAPD is that they are not a professional, disciplined, American police force, dedicated to serve and protect, but a barely controlled bunch of goons who missed their calling as “Arkan’s Tigers”. From the time they formed a blue line to keep the Okies who were fleeing the Dust Bowl from lowering the Angelenos’s property values, or Chief Horrall’s strong-arm squads composed of ex-Marines whose job was to keep out out-of-town gangsters who might challenge Mickey Cohen or Jack Dragna.

    nk (7b0075)

  37. Nk….. you’re a perfect example of an OVER medicated wackjob! Please, block your nose, hold your breath, close your eyes and fart! That should clear out your mind! Then head back on over to copwatch with the rest of the antiestablishment morons and jump back into the circle-jerk with the rest of the Law Enforcement haters! Morons like this is why we need mental health reform ASAP! Unreal!

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  38. Mr. O’Shea,

    If you’re a real LAPD officer who is not either in prison, a mental hospital or on disciplinary leave pending discharge for mental disability, I am either the Queen of England or perfectly right in my previous comment.

    nk (7b0075)

  39. Well, NK, comparing LAPD to Arkan’s Tigers was a wee bit over the top. I doubt the LAPD is as bloodthirsty as that.
    Mr. O’Shea, if you look over NK’s comments in other threads in this blog you’ll find him neither moronic nor mentally unsound; and if he’s antiestablishment, he’s only anti those parts of the establishment that most of the other people on this blog are also anti-.

    kishnevi (a815bc)

  40. Interesting! I had no idea we were in the presence of royalty! I know you were a Queen! But I am a real live Police Officer and proud of my service!

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  41. Well, NK, comparing LAPD to Arkan’s Tigers was a wee bit over the top.

    Kishnevi, you’re right. And they’re not dogs, either. Sheepherding or otherwise.

    nk (b410db)

  42. NK you are coming close to understanding the sheepdog/sheep/wolf metaphor! Nothing negative was meant by you being a sheep! Hence my point, if the sheepdog harms even the lowliest little lamb, he must be put down! The level of trust is too high, and that trust cannot and must not be abused or broken! I agree with you completely! Obvious differences aside. Being a Police Officer or Military man, does not make me a better person than you or anyone for that matter, at least not morally. As sir Robert Peel stated so long ago,and it still holds true today, ” The Police are the community and the Community are the Police”! I think you know what he meant by that.

    What I think some of you should look into is the LAPD citizen academy! That way you can go through some in-depth training and be able to fully understand what we are fighting out there! Or do a ride along in South Central?! I offer both these ideas not to be argumentative (this time) but so that you can educate yourselves on what the true job description is, and what the stakes are. If your going to come on here and wax even A little, that proves that your at least open to discourse, no matter how uninformed you sound. So get involved in the training and gain some first hand knowledge on the topics. Consider it and let me know if you are interested and I will post the info! Or you can look it up yourself on

    Ed O' Shea (56a0a8)

  43. Stef writes: “I like how the officers don’t trust the cops with personal information.

    You are not paying attention. Rank and file officers don’t trust top level LAPD commanders and staff with personal information about them. With good reason given what a badly managed police department the LAPD has been for the last decade or so.

    There is a difference. But understanding it obviates cute little remarks.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. I am a police academy dropout, Mr. O’Shea. I could not tolerate the discipline. Before that I worked for the Chicago Crime Commission and as part of it I went on a ride-along in Chicago’s Cabrini Green in the four to midnight shift. There were several incidents, including a man with a gun. I was in a suit although the officers I was with were in uniform. Little kids kept coming up to me in a friendly way asking if I was a detective.

    nk (7b0075)

  45. “You are not paying attention. Rank and file officers don’t trust top level LAPD commanders and staff with personal information about them.”

    Thats what I’m reacting to.

    stef (be3863)

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