Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Police Shootings In L.A. Likely To Increase After State Court Secrecy Decision

The L.A. Times reports today that there were three fatal shootings involving law enforcement in this area over the weekend, and, no thanks to a recent State Supreme Court decision, those grim numbers seem certain to only increase.

The court, which has become more and more likely to side with police secrecy over the press and the public interest, recently ruled 6-1 that police disciplinary proceedings be closed to the public even when appeals reach civil service commissions and that the names of problem officers involved in questionable acts need not be released to the public.

This will only lend itself to an atmosphere which has led in the Los Angeles area to more shootings already, and is another instance of the police being allowed to brutalize segments of the public, mainly minorities, without adequate public scrutiny.

Anyone who works with police matters can tell you that hiring and training of good officers is a ticklish task and that a thankfully low but still measurable number of police officers turn out to be psychopaths.

Tracking these problem officers and terminating their employment has been a major preoccupation of police reform efforts, such as the Christopher Commission in Los Angeles.

At the same time, resistance within police and sheriff's departments, and especially from the police unions to the reforms has grown to fearsome proportions. It is not only the prison guards union that we have to worry about; the police unions are just as bad. Attorneys like Richard Shinee in Los Angeles actively seek to protect dangerous officers who have killed and probably will kill again. The law enforcement unions make contributions to politicians which are perverting the political process, introducing dangerous corruption.

This is why I shuddered when I read of the high court decision. In the name of protecting the privacy of officers, the court has thrown out the baby with the bathwater, neglecting public rights to know more about the shootings that occur.

Police shootings of civilians is not at all common in New York, but they are common in Los Angeles, and, often, such excuses as, "he was backing up his car and threatening to run us over," or "we thought he had a gun in his hand," are used to justify shootings, which then often are not subject to adequate investigation.

This is a bad trend, one of several in increasingly overbearing law enforcement. It has little or nothing to do with terrorism. By far, the vast majority of these shootings are against possibly errant individuals who pay with their lives for misconduct that does not justify their deaths.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The increase in police shootings can be attributed to the increasingly violent actions of suspects. It would not be fair to ask an officer to give his or her life so that a knife or gun wielding suspect will live. If officers were not forced into using deadly force by the armed suspect, these shootings would not occur.

8/24/2007 4:34 PM  

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