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
“First of all, I think the police culture is the most undiscussed issue in law enforcement today in the United States. In my opinion, it’s all about the culture.”
All right, now we’re finally getting down to business. So what exactly is it all about?
“It’s called public trust,” he says, “the essence of strong policing is strong public trust. It’s a question of leading-from-the-heart. The biggest secret in America today is that most cops do lead from the heart. LAPD, Sheriffs Department — that’s true of all police agencies.”
Yes, yes, I love this whole leading from the heart thing. It really speaks to my sensibilities, but are you sure it’s true? My friend Tharell, a 26-year-old black born-again Christian in Watts, says deputies keep leading him from the heart to a curb seat when he goes out to buy diapers for his kids. True, he looks a little thuggish, it’s the clothes again ... but have you seen what the people who work at Parker Center are wearing? There oughta be a law!
“I think I’ve been very effective in getting the politicians to see a new model of how to coordinate things with the intervention, recovery and enforcement elements,” Baca says. “Education, recovery, enforcement — we’ve finally crystallized our planning process.”
Zzzzzzzz ... zzzzzzzz ... oh, sorry. I must have dozed off for a second. But it sounds great. Yeah. Umm, what were you saying? Something about bringing education, recovery and service tools to people who are meandering. That sounds expensive. Are you sure politicians know how to organize resources effectively enough to make it happen? I’m thinking they don’t.
This cop-culture stuff is so multilayered it’s hard for a simple citizen like me to wrap his head around it. So many points of view. Sometimes there’s nothing left to do but invoke the Connie Rice factor. It’s unavoidable. She riffs out on this shit so hard your ears will start smoking.
Operating from the inner sanctum of a clusterfuck of law enforcers and adjudicators, she’s compassionate but has razor-sharp talons. After suing the cops for 20 years, Rice is now adopting a different tactic, operating inside Parker Center as a constructive critic. Bratton says she’s “inside the tent.”
“When you use aggressive policing in a containment-suppression mode with a war on drugs and a war on gangs,” she says, “you end up with a mass-incarceration strategy that creates extraordinary levels of alienation. It’s not even a question of trust, it’s what’s the level of antipathy and hostility.”
Rice always does her homework. She’s interviewed 365 cops, including FBI, L.A. Sheriffs and LAPD for one of those big reports she serves up to the politicians, which they then use for doorstops. In the course of her research, she asked a gang of young LAPD officers how you get into SWAT.
“Every last one of them said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. You get assigned to South Bureau or Hollenbeck, where you can do whatever you need to do. And hopefully you’ll get a righteous shoot, and you’ll be really aggressive, and SWAT will pick you up.’”
Ouch. That sounds like bad news for D-Black, Marky-D and Mauricio.
“The cops [on the street] are telling us we’re full of shit, and they’re right. We pay lip service to community policing that serves community problems and bonds with the community,” Rice says, “but then we run a police force that’s too small to do problem-solving.
“There’s never been a point in time in L.A. where we’ve had policing leadership like this. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I’m not blaming the police. They’re doing what we’ve asked them to do. I’m blaming the politicians, because they don’t have the backbone and the will and the sense of urgency to actually position the approach to this problem on a solution footing. They’re not willing to put the resources in because these people don’t matter. L.A. is to violence what Bangladesh is to diarrhea. That’s how violent our hot spots are. Even though the crime rate citywide has gone down and keeps going down, it’s concentrated around the hot spots.”
So we’ve decided to leave it to law enforcement to wipe up the shit but forgot to give them a WIC voucher for toilet paper?
“The right people are dying. That’s the politics of it. That is the body politic,” she says. “That’s us. Our politicians are only looking at a headline and a poll, and so they’re not going to solve anything. We’ve got another 10 years of work to do, but I thought we’d never get to the point of saying that, ‘Okay, now we can start.’”