POLICE ARE LEARNING!
I was encouraged by the recent actions of the LAPD regarding a protest in their city regarding the decision of the St. Louis County Grand Jury regarding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
I know that it seems to some of you I have overplay the negative actions of police and not so much their improvements. The problem is that I see mistakes as changing more minds against police than doing a good job improves those relations.
Nevertheless, when police do a good job, when they are improving, the local media need to support them and give them credit where it is due.
It is true that in America, the press is the “fourth estate” along with the executive, legislative and judiciary! And police leaders need to pay attention to them, work with them, and, yes, court favor.
Here’s a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Daily News about the fine response their department made in responding to the Ferguson decision protest. In my opinion, the LAPD is trying to move forward!
“Along with criticism when they screw up — sometimes with fatal, tragic consequences — police everywhere should get a pat on the back when they do better.
“The Los Angeles Police Department, which has left a lot of room for improvement over the decades, deserves praise for its handling of the Thanksgiving-week protests stemming from the grand-jury decision not to indict the Missouri officer who shot to death a black teenager.
“Its actions mean the department has come further and further since its latest major failure, the 2007 May Day disaster in MacArthur Park in which an over-aggressive police response to an annual immigrant-rights march led to a $12.85 million lawsuit settlement by the city, with nearly 300 people injured or otherwise affected.
“And its reactions this time show the department is aspiring to the high standards to which L.A. residents hold their law-enforcement agencies.
“Not that police tactics in the face of demonstrations came without controversy. The LAPD and California Highway Patrol arrested 323 people in three days of protests. Many claimed they were unjustly detained, that the police were heavy-handed, that protesters were not given warning to disperse before they were arrested.
“But those claims are not supported by news reports from the streets. Demonstrators were not prevented from expressing their message, and innocent people were not injured. The police did not cause more damage and danger than they headed off.
“The police seem to have let demonstrators get their message out, to vent their justifiable frustration at the Ferguson grand jury’s inaction, one in a long list of examples of law-enforcement officers avoiding trial for deadly encounters (my emphasis). Make that a long and still-growing list, since another arrived this week with a New York grand jury clearing a police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
“The police seem to have made arrests when the alternative was to let protesters endanger themselves and others, and block traffic on streets and the 101 Freeway near downtown; there were arrests for unlawful assembly, for alleged assaults on officers, and for outstanding warrants. Police should be held accountable if they’re proven to have detained people for unlawful assembly without warnings, but so far that doesn’t appear to be true.
“The result is that the demonstrations came off without the violence and property damage that occurred in Ferguson and Oakland. It didn’t turn into another May Day melee, another lingering Occupy demonstration, let alone anything like the 1992 Rodney King riots.
“That Chief Charlie Beck ordered most detainees released in time for Thanksgiving dinner is the latest mark of the change in tone that has helped to clean up the LAPD’s image since the dark days of the King beating, and the Rampart civil-rights violations and resulting federal consent decree. Another mark: Beck’s admission this week that officers violated policy when they shot to death unarmed Brian Newt Beaird after a 2013 chase.
“Scrutiny will continue, and should. Last week’s L.A. protests were also about the deaths in August of Ezell Ford in a shooting by LAPD officers and Omar Abrego in a struggle during an LAPD arrest.
“But even amid controversy, L.A. police should receive credit where it’s due. Controlling these demonstrations was a job well done.”