Watching the Los Angeles Police Department's response to the post-Lakers-championship unrest downtown Thursday night we were quick to score one for Chief Charlie Beck, who has had a trial by fire during his first year as the city's top cop. Officers didn't get out of hand, and potential rioting was mostly quelled.
But Jack Dunphy, the pseudonymous LAPD writer, was there, and he would know better than we would. He wasn't too impressed with the command staff or the department's overall response, saying reaction to unrest was slow and lumbering and that much smaller groups of officers with quicker movement could have saved a few cars, storefronts and broken noses:
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was there at the Staples Center along with many of his top command staff, and they all looked rather stricken when it became apparent that their master plan, months in the making and forged by the department's failure at the same event last year, was found wanting.
…Police officers everywhere know, and LAPD officers might know best of all, that the degree of success in any tactical operation is in inverse proportion to the number of command officers present. Seldom has this proven more true than in downtown Los Angeles Thursday evening.
… Even with the arrival of the additional officers, the situation remained chaotic for more than an hour and a half. Commanders gave orders that were sometimes nonsensical, conflicting, or both. “Mobile field forces” of fifty or more officers were dispatched to violent outbreaks that could have been suppressed with ten or even fewer.
Dunphy concludes that commanders spun the evening in the “could-have-been-worse” framework and, on that point, we would agree. But he argues, also, that officers could have been more nimble and effective, too.
[Spotted at LA Observed].