Burlington Coat Factory OIS - Part II; The Politics of Policing in Los Angeles County
Unfortunately, police officers have either been lionized or demonized simply for being cops. It would be inaccurate to think of every cop as a hero or a demon; police officers are merely members of the general public who chose the profession for myriad reasons. They are human beings prone to mistakes just like anyone else.
To imply that every officer is a “hero” simply because they are officers puts these “heroes” in an unrealistic predicament; either they can do no wrong (hero), or everything they do is wrong (demon). As anyone who works for a police department can tell you, there are good cops, lazy cops and cops who should not be cops. Everyone knows who they are, and simply avoid them in the field to protect themselves from becoming involved in an out-of-policy incident due to the incompetence of marginal officers.
From Police Officer to Warrior
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001, the very cops who were vilified by media on September 10th, like the NYPD and FBI, were suddenly elevated to heroes on September 11th. However, the police officers, firefighters, and others who ran into those buildings on 9/11 trying to save lives are truly the heroes of the day.
After 9/11, local police departments became the first line of defense against terrorism in America, and with donated tactical vehicles, firearms, and other equipment from the military, cops became counterterrorism “operators.” This caused a shift in the mindset of law enforcement. Cops began thinking of themselves as warriors after 9/11, and cops across America started to look like Navy SEAL’s with facial hair, tactical vehicles, tactical vests, and patrol rifles. The Adam-12 look of law enforcement began to wane.
The War on Cops Begins
During the Obama administration, the anti-police sentiment of the White House permeated the general population--a phenomenon well-documented in Heather MacDonald’s critically-acclaimed book, The War on Cops. Feeling the pressure from politicians, activists, and journalists, law enforcement administrators tried to change police culture from the 9/11 “warrior” mindset back to the peace officer-guardian of the community ethos.
Suddenly, American cops everywhere were performing as flash mobs in uniform, singing and dancing in music videos hoping to soften their image with “the community.”
Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing sought to “support programs aimed at building trust, reducing bias, and helping law enforcement transform their agencies into departments that live up to the expectations of their communities.” While garnering tremendous support and enthusiasm, the task force did not provide meaningful, actionable, public safety reform policy; instead, it provided progressive talking points that have led to confusion in training for cops policing America’s streets.
Progressive Public Safety Policy
Politics and elections have consequences. We are witnessing and experiencing the effect progressive ideology has had on policing and public safety. In the last decade, the California legislature and voters did more to undermine public safety than at any other time in history. Progressive district attorneys, coupled with laws like AB109, and propositions 47 and 57, have made California a sanctuary for criminality.
The aggregate impact of “re-imagining and defunding” police has been legalized theft, legalized drug possession and usage, and reclassification of violent felonies to allow for early release of criminals from prison. Add to that, the emptying of jails due to the Coronavirus, the City of Los Angeles has never been more unsafe for law-abiding citizens as it is in 2022.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s disastrous decision to release seventy-six thousand (more) prison inmates--many who were known to be repeat, violent criminals--and the election of progressive District Attorneys, like George Gascon in Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, has led to thousands of career criminals walking the streets, committing acts of violence and criminality not seen since the 1980s. Both of these DAs will likely face recall elections in 2022.
George Floyd’s In-custody Death Changes Policing in America
After the in-custody death of career criminal George Floyd who was under the influence of meth and fentanyl in 2020, many local police administrators capitulated to the demands of politicians and activists and either took a knee during the rioting in Los Angeles County, or put their officers in stand-down mode, or both.
Note: It should be noted that even though the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin was not the cause of Floyd’s death, journalists, activists, and politicians continue to refer to the “murder” of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Police Chiefs like Michael Moore in Los Angeles, Cynthia Renaud in Santa Monica, and Robert Luna in Long Beach had their respective police officers stand down and watch, as criminals from all over Southern California came to Los Angeles County to riot and loot businesses freely in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Long Beach.
Only L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was willing to have deputies address violent crime that occurred in their presence, however, said in an interview with The Gil Contreras Program in May 2021, that police chiefs like Renaud and Luna had LASD deputies deployed to areas of their cities where the deputies were not needed. And, when LAPD officers did use less-lethal weapons to try to control rioters and looters in L.A., they were chastised by activists, the media, and Democrat politicians.
Chief Renaud (rightfully) retired some months after the riots; Chief Luna retired in 2022, but now wants to replace Sheriff Villanueva to lead the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Chief Moore rightfully deserves derision for the recent LAPD community bulletin that encouraged potential victims of violence to “cooperate and comply” with the demands of criminals. Chief Moore, who recently said after an LAPD OIS, that officers should show a “reverence for life” when dealing with violent criminals, has been a huge disappointment to Los Angeles.
In 2022, police officers in Los Angeles County are caught between progressive politicians pandering to activists and activist journalists, rising crime rates while being defunded, and being issued outdated equipment like the Vietnam-era M16 used by the officer at the Burlington Coat Factory. And, police administrators who should know better, continue to genuflect to the progressive ideology on public safety that is destroying my city, county, state, and country.
In Part III of this series, I will show how the confusion at Burlington Coat Factory, the convoluted 911 calls, the inadequate security at Burlington, and the politics of policing all collided with poor training, the wrong rifle for the circumstances, and the lack of tactical command by supervisors on-scene led to the death of Valentina Orellana-Peralta.
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