Author Bill Weiss Reveals Shocking Details 25 Years After The Los Angeles Riots
I recently had the honor of interviewing author Bill Weiss, a 32-year veteran of the LASD. Bill had incredible experiences over those years and shares some of them in his soon to be released book, Never Again. The book chronicles his experience behind the scenes of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots – also referred to as The Rodney King Riots.
As the 25th anniversary of the events of the Los Angeles Riots that impacted our country’s history approaches (April 29th, 2017), Rodney King, the central figure, won’t be around for interviews or special reports. He passed away four years ago, on June 17th, 2012. Rodney King’s death by accidental drowning was later reported to involve alcohol and drugs. Whether or not his death was accidental, he will forever be associated with the incident that set off a week of death and destruction from which many innocent people never recovered.
Here are the details of my interview with Bill Weiss:
Judith: Thank you for your time today, Bill. Having been privileged to read the draft of your new book, Never Again, I’m excited to share your story with my blog followers.
What was your role behind the scenes during the historical Los Angeles Riots in 1992?
Bill: I was the watch commander for Lennox Sheriff’s Station in South LA. I was in charge of the station. Our northern boundary was one mile and thirteen city blocks from the intersection of Florence and Normandie (the flash point of the riots). I developed a response team of 15 deputies with 10 radio cars ready to go into LAPD’s area when Reginald Denny was being beaten in the intersection.
Judith: That’s a scene not too many of us will ever forget. We learn by reading the hour-by-hour story in your book that as the circumstances surrounding the riot unfolded, you created a plan by which the LA Sheriff’s Department, Lennox Station would intervene. We also know that plan was squashed by unavoidable last minute decisions outside of your control.
How did it feel to watch the events unfold with your hands tied behind your back?
Bill: I felt as if I had been stabbed in the chest. I wanted to argue and challenge authority (the captain). It made me mentally withdraw for a few moments as I was shocked, numb, and felt helpless, but so close. I felt like a failure and knew that we lost a golden opportunity to stop the madness. That thought obsessed me for quite awhile. We were in a war zone for days and I carried a sense of guilt with me that still hurts to this day.
Judith: It’s been almost 25 years since the momentous events on April 29th, 1992. How do you think the country was impacted by the Los Angeles riots, both positively and negatively?
Bill: In 1992 many elected and community leaders, including those in law enforcement, recognized a need to do things differently and treat problems and people differently. ie: more community-based policing was developed, having officers of the same race patrol certain neighborhoods started to increase, more youth programs were developed, additional resources (economic, jobs, businesses etc.) were brought in to certain deprived areas of LA.
There was also a negative impact on the country. I believe many took notice and it may have hindered the progress of race relations in the south for example, which may have been improving prior to the LA riots. A step back definitely occurred in LA and from what I can remember in many parts of the country. As I mentioned in my book several other cities throughout the country experienced rioting due to LA. Some people came together, but I believe those who didn’t took a major step backward; regressing for quite awhile due to a lack of trust, revisiting old wounds, etc.
Judith: Bill, Do you think that something of the magnitude of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots could happen again? If so, are we at risk presently?
Bill: Unfortunately, yes it could happen again and the risk is there now. What we have experienced with Ferguson, Missouri (2014) and Baltimore, Maryland (2015) and more recently the disturbances we have witnessed during the current presidential campaigns, I see some disturbing similarities and elements.
Judith: In light of what you experienced during the LA riots along with your perspective on the recent contemporary unrest our country has seen (mentioned above) what advice would you give new law enforcement agents?
Bill: Public pressure, concern with image over safety, and the issue of political correctness should never again interfere with law enforcement performing its functions. Passive response to these initial disturbances allowed disorder to develop into major riots. Treating people with respect and allowing them to vent their frustrations is one thing, but standing by and allowing people to kill, assault, rob, steal, and destroy property should never be acceptable.
Judith: Thank you, Bill. When will your book, Never Again, be available?
Bill: Pre-order on my website, http://www.billcweiss.com. Orders will ship in August of 2016.
*Note- This interview was conducted prior to the tragic police killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Judith Cassis is a New York Times Bestselling ghostwriter, blogger and book coach. She is the founder of The Golden Pen Writers Guild and Writers Mastermind Alliance and publisher of the Writer to Writer series. Follow her blog: www.judithcassis.com and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.cassis. Private and group sessions are available for scheduling. Judith offers free group lectures and teleseminars based upon availability.
As a retired Lieutenant and 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bill Weiss worked various patrol, custody, administrative, investigative, and special assignments. He has been an Incident Commander for several major tactical incidents. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
To follow Bill and or purchase his book, “Never Again”, please go to his website- http://www.billcweiss.com.