Patterico's Pontifications

3/16/2008

Robert C.J. Parry on Attempts to Bring Affirmative Action to SWAT

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:24 am



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.

7 Responses to “Robert C.J. Parry on Attempts to Bring Affirmative Action to SWAT”

  1. Probably the commons sense reason the report was realeased was that the higher ups realize how idiotic it and the process that produced it was.

    kishnevi (151de9)

  2. You generally want your most capable officers on tac teams, and skin color has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that. When things are going sideways at a high rate of speed, you need your best guys… not some PC-driven mish-mash “B team.”

    If they want more sensitivity, or wish to ensure that racial/ethnic differences don’t lead to somebody being killed over a cultural misunderstanding, they might include a few minority folks as negotiators… but the tac guys themselves need to be physically capable, weapon-proficient, good judgement, and so forth… and none of those things are culturally or ethnicity-bound.

    TheNewGuy (114368)

  3. Yet another signal to the competent on the LAPD force that its time to find another department to work for.

    Pronto.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  4. “… which has to do with Bratton’s integrity…”

    Well, the LAT has two possible routes here:
    1 – If they think that Bratton actually has any integrity, they will denigrate it; or,
    2 – If they believe he is just like all the rest of the Spring Street pols, they will deplore his lack of integrity, but determine that it’s not his fault (insert “Geraldine” Defense here).

    Personally, they (Bratton and the LAT) deserve each other.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  5. Is Jack pro or con on the proposal?
    ;^)

    andycanuck (32f14f)

  6. Its time to totaly abolish AFERMATIVE ACTION its getting rediculous

    krazy kagu (89f761)

  7. With the way affirmative action has infected the LAPD and LAFD since 1980, it’s hard to believe SWAT could remain so professional for so long. I went to Motors in 1990 because I tired of being ordered to pass my failing rookies. But unlike SWAT, the physical forces of a motorcycle have a way of weeding out marginally qualified cops.

    But if affirmative action is such a good idea, why aren’t the Dodgers and Lakers formed the same way?

    Clark Baker (93da83)


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