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Warrior Culture in Los Angeles Police Force

Anguished questions are being raised over the police brutality seen while dispersing a rally of immigrants in Los Angeles on May Day.

To quote from an eye-witness account - Without warning, cops descended into a park full of families, homeless and handicapped individuals and street cart vendors. They were merciless.

For the next 30 minutes, hundreds of activists and bystanders were shot, beaten by night sticks and run out of the park. The police had no intention of entertaining requests from people who were not able to move quickly enough. They were forcefully hit on the legs until they were immobile."

Police Chief William Bratton himself admitted the next day, " Quite frankly, I was disturbed at what I saw. Some of the officers' action .were inappropriate in terms of use of batons and possible use of non-lethal rounds fired."

Critics charge that a "warrior culture" has permeated the Los Angeles Police Department (LPAD).

It's an ethos that's been on display before the use of clubs and tear gas to disperse 15,000 peaceful anti-war protesters in Century City in 1967 the Watts riots, the Rodney King beating in 1991, the harsh crackdown on demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Public outcry and inquiries that followed each event haven't deterred some officers from cracking a few kneecaps to assert order, even in front of cameras.

Bratton has quickly reassigned two high-ranking officers after the incident.

He was appointed in 2002 to steer the LAPD after a rogue anti-gang unit scandalized the department by assaulting and framing people in the tough Rampart district. Dozens of criminal convictions were tossed out as a result of the scandal.

The anti-gang unit, known as CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums), "developed an independent subculture that embodied a 'war on gangs' where the ends justified their needs,' the report said. "They re sisted supervision and control and ignored LAPD's procedures and policies."

Since then, Bratton has had to take a number of actions in response to police use of force.

He restricted police from firing on cars in most cases after officers killed a 13-year-old car theft suspect who rammed a squad car in 2005. In 2004, Bratton banned police from carrying long metal flashlights after video showed a Hispanic police officer using one to repeatedly beat a black suspect who was lying on the ground.

However, skeptics say none of these efforts are enough to address the deep-seated culture that has caused repeated bouts of excessive force. They also note that he has condoned police terror time and again.

"Every law enforcement officer or other government official, whether federal, state, county, city, municipal, or otherwise, takes an oath of office and promises to serve and to protect. Unfortunately, over the years we have witnessed such abominations as the Rodney King beating, a graphically disturbing atrocity caught on videotape, or the Nathaniel Jones beating in Cincinnati.

We read or hear stories about Amidou Diallo, an unarmed man, being shot forty-one times by the NewYork Police. We find it incomprehensible that Abner Louima, an immigrant from Haiti, was assaulted by police officers outside a Haitian nightclub in Brooklyn; handcuffed and thrown into a squad car, then beaten with radios and fists. At the police station, the officers pulled Louima's pants down, took him into the bathroom, and sodomized the cuffed man with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger," a critic pointed out.

Joe Domanick, a senior fellow of criminal justice at the University of Southern California's Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, sys that Bratton has not focused on the paramilitary culture and us-against-them mentality that seems to still persist in the LAPD.

He said the culture originated during the rei gn of William H. Parker, hired as chief in 1950, who imagined the city's police force as an urban army.

Domanick said Parker's view was: "We're the only thing standing between chaos and anarchy. We are the professionals. We know better. No one tells us better."

The Christopher Commission examined five years of reports, police radio communications and hearings and interviews with dozens of residents and police, and found that "a significant number of officers" routinely used excessive force.

"The Department not only failed to deal with the problem group of officers but it often rewarded them with positive evaluations and promotions," according to the report.

Police brutality exists in the U.S. for the simple fact that, they do not give proper screening of individuals before they give them a badge and gun.

They give these gung-ho I-can-do-whatever guys who think they can get away with it, many groups have noted and demanded a continuing psychological counseling for police personnel all over the country. But their demands have been in vain.


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