I recently posted an article addressing the recent increase in the disregard many citizens have when encountering law enforcement. My comments included the influence initial public opinion weighs on the expectations and acceptance of the final investigative results of these encounters. These perceptions also affect how law enforcement responds to civil disturbances resulting from these incidents.
The Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and the more recent civil disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, were similar in terms of the way law enforcement responded to the initial stages of related public outbursts. Whether it was the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the in custody injuries and death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, law enforcement did not respond properly to the disturbances resulting from these incidents.
Law enforcement has the duty, responsibility, and obligation to protect. The lack of an immediate, effective and coordinated response to these disturbances led to needless deaths, injuries, and destruction. Ironically, countless citizens and groups voiced concern and frustration with officers failing to engage with rioters and allowing looting and destruction to occur. Police were better prepared and trained than they demonstrated in each of these incidents. These difficult lessons learned should never again be repeated.
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.
My next posting will discuss the use of body cameras in law enforcement. I will touch upon the issues of transparency, privacy, and the review of the footage by officers and the public. #1992LARiots, #civildisturbances
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.