By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Which increases suspicion about people who aren't police officers.
"Absolutely. I think people here think I have some unusual views about certain things. Rodney King, for example. I think what they did was excessive, out of line, criminal, and they should have been prosecuted, absolutely, no question about it. But if I tell somebody that in here . . ."
You're in the minority.
"Here's the argument I got back: We [the LAPD] did exactly what we were taught to do, okay? And I said, it didn't work for the Nazis at Nuremberg, it didn't work for Calley at My Lai, because you can't violate basic human rights. I don't give a shit whether or not the law said it was okay, or if you thought in your mind it was okay. There was a higher law, crimes against humanity, and you can't violate that. And nobody can authorize you to ã do that. Nobody. You have to rely on your basic moral guideline. And yeah, people don't like it when I say that. And I have just one more thing to say."
He leans forward and speaks directly into the recorder:
"Nothing I tell you has any bearing on the police department's philosophies, or what the police department thinks. I speak as a private person, an individual, and these are only my opinions."
MICKY HAS FIRST SHIFT WEEKDAYS, starting at 11:30 a.m. She's around 50, with a short blond bob, a salty tongue and a fashion sense that runs toward Dodgers jerseys. She's worked in restaurants and bars for 35 years, at the Short Stop for 14.
"As a group, cops are considered socially offensive," she says. "'We' think they're terrible. Like watching the Rodney King tape. We all agreed -- it looked terrible. But blown up from beginning to end, you realize, if he really got hit in the head, he'd be dead! But they never showed the whole thing. The media does this to cops."
The afternoon wears on. Owner Mike Balmer takes care of business for JAMMS Bail Bonds, which he runs from an office next door, and Conrad Haider, the owner of the Saratoga across the street (a favorite restaurant of downtown judges and lawyers, and notably where Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark lunched during the O.J. trial), buys the house a round. Other than that, there's only a trickle of customers, who stop in for a quick beer, some advice on alternative medicines (Micky's avocation) and to catch up on gossip: who's died, who's retiring, who's pregnant with a baby not her husband's.
"People can come here, everybody's friendly, and nobody bothers them," says Micky. "Other people can go other places; other places will have them -- hell, they'll close off a whole room for them. But where can the cops go? They need to come here and talk about stuff the wife and kids won't understand or don't want to hear about. And they need to do it together. We used to have more people. Now, the cops gotta be home to take care of the kids, 'cause the wife is going to work. Plus, home is now Rancho Cucamonga -- we didn't used to haveRancho Cucamonga back then. They've tried to get them to live closer, but who wants to live near the people you arrest?"
I spend all day with Micky, eating handfuls of peanut M&Ms from the vending machine and drinking 7-Ups. I see the Bud guy. The ice man. The guy who fixes the jukebox. We watch Judge Judy.
A detective the size of a Sub-Zero refrigerator stops in around 3. Micky gives him a pint of cola, and together they watch early news coverage of the latest mass murder, an Atlanta day-trader gone berserk.
"Where people are allowed to carry concealed weapons, the crime rate goes down," says the detective in a stentorian voice.
"Plummets," says Micky.
"It's called the Dirty Harry school of thought," he says. "I might have a gun, I might not: Are you feeling lucky? I don't trust that New England Journal of Medicineand the other liberals and their gun laws. Look, they don't work!"
"And what about the way you always see them shooting in the movies?" asks Micky, pantomiming holding a gun at a sideways slant with knuckles facing up. "All that ever gets you is a gun that jumps. You're never gonna hit your target. I've had a gun pulled on me 33 times, and the only guy I ever shot was the one who held it with two hands. Everyone else was jiggling around."
"There was some Israeli military guy the movies hired," says the detective, "taught 'em all how to shoot like that. What you have to do is simple." Keeping his gun in its holster, he executes a smooth three-step move: Pull out gun with right hand, steady wrist with left hand, pop-pop. "Pull, steady, shoot. This way, I could hit that clock in the center with a .45. And that's a big gun."