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DORNER: Opening LAPD Board of Rights Hearings, A Former LAPD Cop Says He Lived What Dormer Describes, Audio Questions…and More

February 14th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


WILL DORNER’S CASE BRING A RETURN TO OPEN BOARD OF RIGHTS HEARINGS FOR THE LAPD?

LAPD Board of Rights disciplinary hearings used to be open to the public-–until 2006 when a famous California Supreme Court ruling shut them down. In 2007, then state senator Gloria Romero tried to get them opened again through a bill in the state legislature, a move that was supported by Mayor Antonio Vilaraigosa and then Chief of Police Bill Bratton. But a push back from the law enforcement unions eroded support and the bill went down to defeat.

Now with the strong feelings and concerns over the case of Christopher Dorner, the issue is coming up again. An LA Times editorial votes for seizing this painful moment as an opportunity to reopen the hearings for the good of all concerned. (WitnessLA strongly agrees.)

The Times writes:

Police disciplinary boards, where the most serious charges of misconduct are considered, were open to the public for years, and that helped the Los Angeles Police Department on its long trip back from ignominy to esteem. Their closure in recent years, as well as the department’s refusal to release the names of officers involved in shootings, threatens to undermine that slowly recovering public confidence.

Those arguments might be easy to dismiss coming from a newspaper — it’s natural for an editorial page to favor openness over secrecy. This past week, however, L.A. has been reminded in the starkest terms that the price of closure is not just inconvenience for journalists; it’s the threat that the public won’t trust the institutions protected by such secrecy

A story by Michael Juliani and Brianna Sacks of Neon Tommy explains the history of the matter.

NOTE: By the way, we are told an individual officer may wave his or her right to privacy and open his own hearings.


A FORMER LAPD OFFICER TURNED AUTHOR SPEAKS ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE WITH RACISM IN THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT

Former LAPD Cop Brian Bently says he lived a lot of what Dorner described. Here’s a clip from the story by Jasmyne Cannick in EurWeb.

…Brian Bentley left the LAPD in 1999 after serving ten years with the Department. He was a police officer in 1992 during the uprising and was assigned to guard O.J. Simpson’s house in Brentwood during the infamous trial. He served under police chiefs Daryl Gates, Bayan Lewis, Willie Williams, and Bernard Parks. However, he was fired for writing the book One Time: The Story of a South Central Los Angeles Police Officer that detailed the massive misconduct and racism he witnessed during his time at the LAPD’s Southwest and West L.A. divisions.

But don’t settle for the clip. This requires a full read.


WRITER STEVEN IVORY WRITES ABOUT THE RACIAL DIVIDE THAT KEEPS WHITE AMERICANS FROM UNDERSTANDING WHAT BLACK AMERICANS FEEL IN READING THE DORNER MANIFESTO

In his essay, also in EurWeb, writer Steven Ivory makes in clear that he abhors Christopher Dorner’s actions:

I believe Christopher Dorner is a cold-blooded murderer. The young couple he is charged with killing as revenge on LAPD had their whole lives ahead of them, and he took that. It’s just horrible. And chances are, the officer whose life he took didn’t even know the particulars of Dorner’s situation; he was simply doing his job. I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t say that what Dorner allegedly did was absolutely, unequivocally wrong. He flipped. He’s gone mad.

But then he writes:

However, much of the contents of Dorner’s now infamous manifesto, labeled rhetoric by LAPD, the press and the white general public, is all too familiar to black America.

Again, this requires a full read.


TWO AUDIOS GIVE THE CONFUSING IMPRESSION THAT POLICE MAY HAVE DELIBERATELY SET FIRE TO THE CABIN WHERE DORNER WAS BARRICADED, BUT SAN BERNARDINO SHERIFF SAYS FIRE NOT PURPOSELY SET

Although on Wednesday, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon specifically said that there was no attempt on the part of law enforcement to set the Dorner cabin alight, although some still feel that law enforcement audios suggest otherwise.

The LA Times reports on McMahon’s press conference:

McMahon denied speculation that officers intentionally set the fire, saying officers first used traditional tear gas to flush the man out. When that didn’t work, they opted to use CS gas canisters, which are known in law enforcement parlance as incendiary tear gas. These canisters, filled with more potent gas, have a significantly greater chance of starting a fire.

“We did not intentionally burn down that cabin,” McMahon said.

Here’s the audio from a period shortly after the firefight that resulted in the death of SBSD deputy Jeremiah MacKay, and the serious wounding of deputy Alex Collins, when emotions were understandably running extremely high.

And there is this audio from right before and during the period when the fire broke out.

NOTE 1: We’re told that the colloquial expression for the incendiary tear gas is “burner,” thus the use of the term in the audio does not necessarily mean that burning the cabin was the intention, but just a discussion of tactics.

NOTE 2: WLA takes no position on the audio confusion. In fact we think what McMahan says makes sense. We’d simply like someone to definitively clear it up so all the conspiracy theorists would go away.

And finally here is an edited dispatch recording from much of the early half of the Dorner standoff— courtesy of Law Officer magazine. It has nothing to do with the audio controversy. It is simply interesting to listen to the laudably calm and professional San Bernardino County dispatch people during those extremely difficult hours.


SAN BERNARDINO DA’S OFFICE AND THE TWEETING PROHIBITION

Around 3:30 pm-ish on the day of the Dorner standoff, the San Bernardino DA’s Office tweeted that the SB Sheriff’s Department wanted all news media to stop tweeting immediately, that it was endangering officers.

Now keep in mind, no such blanket prohibition had gone out to TV and radio reporters, which were merrily broadcasting anything they could get their hands on. (Although, the SBSD had asked the TV folks to back off a bit with their helicopters, for the safety of all concerned)

So if broadcast was fine, what was with tweeting ban?

Certainly all reporters understand the need for certain kinds of information to be embargoed—for the safety of officers, to protect the privacy of victims or minors, and myriad other reasons. Everyone routinely complies.

But an across-the-board blackout on tweets and only tweets?

A few media outlets observed the tweet ban—most notably the Riverside Press-Enterprise and KCBS. (Of course, KCBS was the one station that had a reporter very close to the action, Carter Evans, who was able to send back cell-phone recordings of the shootout, so what did they care about tweets?) Most LA print and online reporters ignored it, but appeared to take care to modulate their tweets so as not to give anything away that might compromise anyone’s safety.

There were, however, some snarky remarks from some quarters involving the First Amendment, et al..

Eventually, the SD DA’s office quietly took its STOP TWEETING tweet down.

But not before Kim Bui at KPCC managed to document it and the rest of the tweet kerfuffle. Her story provides a glimpse of a slightly lighter moment in the midst of Tuesday’s tragic drama.


AND IN NON-DORMER-RELATED NEWS, OFFICIALS CALL FOR PROBE OF LASD BULLETPROOF VESTS

Normally, we’d lead with this update on last week’s LA Times story regarding the weird mystery of the LASD bulletproof vests shipped on the down-low to Cambodia…..but this week other dramas hold the high card.

In any case, here’s a clip from the story by Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard reporting that local officials such as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gardena Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Johnson are concerned by the whole matter.

Local officials Tuesday called for investigations into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department funneling hundreds of bulletproof vests to Cambodia through the city of Gardena.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas requested an audit to determine whether officials violated the law in shipping the vests a decade ago to the Southeast Asian country. A Gardena official also said she would be asking for an investigation into her city being used as an intermediary for the unusual transaction.

The announcements Tuesday were prompted by a Times investigation published over the weekend that found that sheriff’s ballistic vests were shipped to Cambodia and not declared to customs officials, as required by federal law. Instead, they were stuffed inside one of a number of patrol cars that the Sheriff’s Department was shipping directly to Cambodia, avoiding the rigorous vetting process the U.S. government requires to prevent body armor from getting into the wrong hands abroad.

Posted in LAPD, law enforcement | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. REALLY Says:

    Why would any responsible media quote a guy who hasn’t worked in LAPD for 20 years. He is information is dated and not relative to the men and women of LAPD in 2013.

  2. Cognistator Says:

    The LAT has run a number of articles on this subject (BOR Hearings) and these articles have elicited a number of “Me too!! I suffered the same thing” responses, one of which, user name “Fight Corruption”, seems especially pertinent:

    http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-me-0210-manhunt-20130210/10

  3. prophet mo' teff Says:

    “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,..Miss Lewinsky” – President Bill Clinton

    “We did not intentionally burn down that cabin,…(Mr. Dormer)” – San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon

  4. prophet mo' teff Says:

    FOR THE RECORD:
    LAPD: A Feb. 12 editorial about transparency in the Los Angeles Police Department said it does not release the names of officers involved in shootings. In fact, it releases those names as a matter of policy.

    Let’s not overlook the significance of what happened in the printing and posting of this editorial.

    This website, WitnessLA.com, reprinted a portion of the L.A. Times editorial containing a false claim about LAPD policy on identity disclosure of officers involved in a shooting.
    The L.A. Times’ error should have been glaringly obvious to this website, but somehow it reprinted the error and recommended the editorial.
    That mistake pales in comparison with L.A. Times first printing of their editorial criticizing the LAPD based partly on the false claim.
    I believe its been about 2 years since LAPD Chief Charlie Beck instituted the policy of disclosure on O.I.S.
    Officer name and length of service on the department would be disclosed for any O.I.S.
    We assume a real newspaper is informed on this policy for the law agency whose home base is the same turf the newspaper covers.
    The significance of the L.A. Times mistake is compounded because of their active involvement in lawsuits seeking the court’s order for identity disclosure in a number of O.I.S. covering LAPD, LASD and LBPD. If the L.A. Times is mistaken on the current policy, then probably most of the public also has it wrong in their heads.
    Chief Beck has led the LAPD in stepping forward among agencies in the region towards greater transparency. The policy on disclosure of officer identity may be his boldest move, yet he can’t even get recognition for making the reform. Instead, Chief Beck finds himself left on the critic’s hit list of local law agencies that refuse to open up.
    Where is the incentive for Chief Beck to move ahead? where is the incentive for other law agencies to follow his example on disclosure policy?
    We complain about the culture of unfair practice at LAPD.
    Does the public display its own entrenched culture of complaining?
    How much change does the public expect from LAPD when we bring our own bag of sticks, yet leave all the carrots in the cooler?
    The way things look at this point, Dormer is a rallying point for everyone to find the faults – which appears to be our favorite past time.
    The result is degradation of the public’s trust in the organization and the organization’s trust in the public.
    Which simply brings us nearer to conditions similiar to those in existence in April 1992.
    Apathetic, disengaged, misinformed citizens whining about lack of virtue on their police force.
    We should schedule all the fire and paramedic units and put the National Guard on alert.
    Why wait any longer?
    We might as well just get over with now.

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