Friend of the blog Robert C.J. Parry makes some news this morning in an op-ed in the L.A. Times. The op-ed addresses the aftermath of the tragedy in which a man named Jose Peña got high on cocaine, grabbed a gun, and threatened to kill himself and his 9-month old daughter Suzie, whom he was holding in his arms. He emerged from the building and fired at officers, hitting one. In the ensuing gun battle, Peña and his daughter were both killed.
Parry writes that Chief Bratton promised a board of inquiry to investigate the incident and make public recommendations. None of it happened:
Shortly after [Suzie Peña’s] death, Police Chief William J. Bratton appointed a board of inquiry to examine the incident. Its mission, he said, was to investigate the officers’ tactics and other factors in the shooting. “For the safety of the public and officers, we need to understand intimately what transpired in that incident,” he said at the time.
In fact, the board did nothing of the sort. None of the SWAT officers from the Peña shooting were even interviewed by the panel, according to multiple sources. Indeed, the board’s eight members included fewer tactical experts (one) than attorneys (three). In its final report, the board acknowledged that it had been “ultimately precluded from gaining a full and complete understanding of what transpired in Peña until after this report was finalized.”
What’s more, Assistant Chief Sharon Papa privately promised the team shortly after the incident that the report would be aired openly, according to officers who were present. That didn’t happen either. The final report — completed 15 months ago — has not been released. Many senior department officials have never seen it, and Times reporters have repeatedly requested it but have been turned down. I received a copy earlier this month from a source.
The report shows that instead of fulfilling Bratton’s promises, the board used the Peña case (with Bratton’s encouragement) as a way to push for a series of politically correct changes within SWAT — changes that many cops believe will have absolutely no benefit and that they believe will endanger the lives of citizens and cops alike.
It turns out that the attorney-heavy panel made a bunch of recommendations to make SWAT look more like Los Angeles. “The new test’s only physical challenges are a modest physical fitness qualification and a modified obstacle course. ‘My preteen daughter could pass that,’ one officer said.” If these recommendations are implemented, you are likely to see a mass exodus from SWAT.
There are two issues at play: 1) the P.C. proposal to revamp SWAT, and 2) the issue of why this board of inquiry didn’t investigate the case it was supposed to investigate, and why the findings were not made public. Robert concentrates on the first, which has to do with officer safety. I have a feeling that, the L.A. Times being what it is, we’re going to be hearing a lot more about the second, which has to do with Bratton’s integrity, and LAPD reform and secretiveness. Look for much more about this in coming days.
UPDATE: I originally said: “He emerged from the residence and fired at officers” — but it wasn’t a residence. This has been fixed.
Also, I am given to understand that Jack Dunphy may have a piece coming out on NRO which will have other interesting details about this. Stay tuned.