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Bratton Boasts Perfection
As far as racial profiling is concerned, Los Angeles’ Perfect Department (also known as the “Los Angeles Police Department”) is now in its approximately seventh year of perfection according to the Los Angeles Times in an article published April 30, 2008. It never does it, whether the person is Black, Brown, Yellow, or Muslim. Despite hundreds and hundreds of complaints filed during his tenure, Chief William Bratton says that his thousands of mostly White police officers never stop young Black or Brown males specifically based on being tattooed, wearing red, or blue, or black, or whatever the latest incarnation of colors or clothing is for what is perceived to be “gang attire.” No, the police have never stopped your uncle, sister, grandmother, or nephew because he or she is African American.
Feel me on this: It never happens, says Chief Bratton. Wait! I got a poor reception on my radio, but I can still hear the announcer’s voice. News flash! This just in: The LAPD has just learned, ladies and gentlemen, that the terrorists who fired upon Sen. Clinton and her entourage were in fact the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and Elmer Fudd! (Police won’t say where, but they’re reportedly in LAPD custody, sharing a cell with the Hamburglar!) Posturing is pitiful, especially when done by an inept Department that fancies itself on being flawless.
This, to be sure, is a statistical impossibility. Let’s put this in perspective. In simple terms, it’s like hundreds of LAPD officers coming to the free throw line, shooting a shot, and all making it on the first try. Or, to center it more in the realm of law enforcement, it’s like hundreds of police officers going to the Academy firing range and, one after the other, all hitting the bull’s eye on the first shot. Keep dreaming. The assertion that there were no sustainable complaints has to qualify as one of the wildest fantasies every perpetrated by the beleaguered Department.
No, this is not a blanket condemnation of the LAPD. There are plenty of good men and women on the Department, sworn and non-sworn, and they come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Many of them, virtually in all ranks, disagree with Bratton. I offer them sincere thanks for being thinking people and for a job well done. But to the Chief and sponsors of this wacky idea of perfection I submit the following: Despite what you may think of the collective intelligence of our racially diverse city here in beautiful sunny, Southern California, we sincerely do not expect the LAPD to feed us our fantasies. We have the likes of Hollywood, Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios for that. Although there are those who believe the building has been commandeered by a bunch of clowns, Parker Center doesn’t cut the mustard.
In one of the many instances where the fox is watching the henhouse, LAPD’s Internal Affairs Group cleared 320 cases in 2007 where officers were accused of racial profiling in some way, shape, form, or fashion. The WB’s (William Bratton and his Wild Bunch) spewed the propaganda before Bratton’s bosses on the Los Angeles Police Commission a week ago Tuesday, on April 29, 2008. When they were not as obsequious as he had hoped for, he became obstreperous.
Commissioner John Mack provided a rare but welcomed “Mack Attack” when he incredulously responded to the fanciful data with the terse statement, “A big, fat zero.” Having headed the Los Angeles Urban League, Mack knows all about racial profiling and the manipulation of numbers by internal units within police departments. “In my mind, there is no such thing as a perfect institution...I find it baffling that we have these zeros,” Mack asserted according to the Times. Recall that a previous Times article dated January 31, 2007, quotes Mack as saying: “I’m not suggesting that every allegation is a valid one. But I find it strange that we consistently never have a finding of one sustained complaint.” Other commissioners also expressed their disbelief in Los Angeles’ Perfect Department, and for good reason.
And then there is the predominantly White Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), whose very name some say implies that White police officers should be protected in their practice of racial profiling. Indeed, though the League claims to represent all cops irrespective of color, there has never been a Black board member, though there has been a White female president. The current president, Officer Tim Sands, has been very vocal in defending Los Angeles’ Perfect Department.
In a letter to the Commission dated April 30, 2008, Sands writes: “Frankly, it is circular logic to think that just because there are complaints against LAPD officers that some of them must be found guilty of wrongdoing. In the case of the number of racial profiling complaints, thorough investigations uncovered that they had no merit.” Did he say, “thorough investigations”?
Well, here’s the reality of the situation as documented by the Times: “In February, the inspector general released a report that concluded investigators frequently failed to fully investigate citizen complaints against allegedly abusive officers, often omitting or altering crucial information.” So much for the imaginary “thorough investigations.” What nobody mentioned is that the vast majority of investigators are White, a few of them having reportedly replaced Blacks and females who sued the Department after being forced out.
“The 95% compliance standard set by the Decree was, on its face, an unrealistic goal for a large organization,” a whining Sands noted. However, his logic, or lack thereof, is telling. On the one hand, he complains that the “95% compliance standard set by the Decree was, on its face, an unrealistic goal for a large organization,” but, on the other hand, he brags that this same “large organization” received a perfect passing score of 100% no-merit “racial profiling complaints.” Such is the disturbing deficiency in logic that is in fact the product of severely warped reasoning. It’s a non sequitur. According to the Times, “In 2006, the city contracted with an outside consulting group to look into the issue. The study found that Latino and African American motorists in most areas of Los Angeles are significantly more likely than whites to be asked to leave their vehicles and submit to searches when stopped by police.”
On a personal note, I’ve personally worked as a Systems Analyst II in LAPD’s statistical unit before Bratton came to the LAPD, and have been privy to information that Sands could only dream of being privy to. The numbers don’t lie. Racial profiling is rampant in the LAPD, as is racism and discrimination, which the decree addresses.
The solution? “The time has come for the City to stand up and say the LAPD is done with the Consent Decree,” says Sands, who “himself was cleared of a racial profiling accusation about 20 years ago” according to the Times. Happily, a federal judge lambasted the suggestion when placed before him. Now, alternatively, in their blind desperation, William Bratton and the Wild Bunch have produced perfection. And in the spirit of yet another WB, they stand by their outlandish claim and say: “That’s all folks!” Well, let’s hope not ladies and gentlemen. Let’s hope not….Amen.
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at 800.501.2713 or