Friday, May 20, 2005

What's in a Name?

My Bio - The Elevator Version (Updated June 2009)

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California. I served in the Marine Corps from 1975-1981 and the LAPD from 1980-2000. After I wrote these Daily News essays that were critical of then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, I was falsely accused of assaulting a jaywalker. Although the LAPD cleared me of all charges, a jury convicted me of assaulting the uninjured suspect. I was sentenced and, a few months later, fired.

I returned to the LAPD in 1994 after the judge and prosecutor were found guilty of misconduct. The original prosecutor was accused of filing more than 100 false complaints. I retired from the LAPD in 2000

In 2011, the LA Times finally admitted that retaliation has been a serious problem for decades (2).

I now work primarily as a private investigator, occasionally interrupting work to write, dive, fly, photograph, make videos, travel (to places like Thailand, Newfoundland, Prague, Kenya, and Australia) and celebrate life. I mentor political candidates, physicians, and police officers, and serve on the Board of Semmelweis Society International. I support organizations that include the RJC, AFA, and Stand With Us.

My children are now grown. Both are married – my son is now serving his second Marine Corps enlistment while my daughter teaches high school geometry.

Bio - NOT the Elevator Version

I was born in 1957, the first of Howard and Dores Baker’s two children. Our first home was located in the lower-middle class neighborhood of Pacoima, California. We moved to Reseda in 1960.

Mom

My mother was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil to a German father (Walter Gretzschel) and Brazilian/Portuguese mother (Arlinda). Still a young girl, Mom sailed to Germany with her aunt and uncle to their extended family in Berlin, remaining there until 1932 as the Nazi’s came to power. Although not Jewish, their refusal to join the Nazi Party made life difficult for them. Without party affiliation, employment and social relationships became increasingly difficult; and when Nazi thugs seriously injured one of her cousins in an assault, they returned to Brazil. They purchased passage back to Berlin in 1939 but cancelled the trip when Germany invaded Poland.

Walter moved to the Belgian Congo and remarried. Shortly after WWII began, he and his family were taken to an allied prison camp where they remained until 1948. Mom’s half-sisters Uli and Lotte grew up in the camp. They met Mom in Rio a few years later.

After graduating from secretarial school, Mom briefly worked as a secretary before becoming an airline stewardess. She met Hans Wendt, a painting contractor who asked her to move to Rio. Hans was a good man and successful entrepreneur, but overbearing and violently jealous. After several violent assaults and a failed escape attempt, Mom was too afraid to run away and had nowhere to go. With the help of Ernst Jahn (mutual friend) and step-sister Uli (from Africa), she secured her passport and tourist visa.

In the spring of 1956, Mom left with Uli and Ernst for the United States. Hans didn’t learn of their departure until they landed in Caracas.

After arriving in Miami, they bought a used car and drove north. As the heavy rains followed them north through Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, Mom remembered that a friend had warned her of the bad weather along the East Coast compared to California. After a short conversation, they changed directions and headed west.

When they arrived in Los Angeles with no money, Ernst traded his camera for two nights at LA’s Figueroa Hotel. The next day they drove to the San Fernando Valley where Mom and Uli found work waiting tables for tips at the Casa do Brasil in Reseda.

An adventurer at heart, Ernst spent the next 15 years droving his VW bus from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, writing and publishing his Pan American Highway Guide for many years. He disappeared near Colombia during the 1970s and was not heard from again.

Dad

My father, Howard, was the second of four children born to Clark and Lucille Baker in Bryan, Ohio. Dad’s Grandfather James “Wilson” and Uncle Robert were pioneers of Ohio (1838) and Kansas (1868). Clark’s accidental death at the height of the Depression was catastrophic for Lucile and her four young children. They relied on community welfare services until Dad and his siblings were old enough to work. As the oldest boy, Dad often fished for dinner in the local ponds and Beaver Creek. On cold winter nights, the children wore paper bags in bed to stay warm.

Every month, Lucile and her children dressed up before visiting the community welfare coordinators in Montpelier. Even as a child, Dad felt deep shame as his mother struggled to show the board of how she and her children deserved ongoing public assistance.

Dad worked mostly as a farm laborer until 1946 when he joined the Army-Air Corps. He served in the US and Europe as an aircraft mechanic until the end of the Korean War. When his enlistment ended, he tinkered with his cars and worked various jobs as a mechanic. When his married sister (my Aunt Betty) invited him to visit her in the San Fernando Valley, he rented a room in Encino. Howard met Dores at the Casa Do Brasil in the spring of 1956, married, and I was born the following summer.

Growing Up
I was a happy kid, growing up with my siblings (we adopted my older brother in 1962), neighborhood friends and loving and supportive parents. When Nikita Khrushchev visited Los Angeles in 1959, his passing LAPD motorcycle escort left me with a lasting impression.

I attended public school, which I found extremely boring. I paid attention in class but rarely did homework. Except for a few, my teachers were mostly uninspiring. One standout - my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Aldrich, who had returned from a tour as a marine officer in Vietnam in 1969. He was later the commanding officer at HQ 2/23, a reserve unit where I served during the early 1980s. Albert Mayes taught me to love choral music, as did Margaret Hindee at Reseda High School. I kissed my first girlfriend, Carrie Weiss, in the 2nd grade.

I grew up hearing conflicting stories about the LAPD. Television shows like Dragnet, Adam-12, and Wambaugh novels told one side of the story while the news media’s growing infatuation with militants and hippies told another. I wasn’t sure who to believe, but I knew I wanted to make a positive difference in my community. I loathed bullies and, while watching the SLA shootout in 1974 on TV, I reaffirmed my commitment to join the LAPD.

Marine Corps

After graduating from Reseda High School in 1975, I enlisted in the Marine Corps primarily to optimize my chance of being accepted into the Police Academy. After completing infantry training school (top center), I was assigned to the 9th Marine Regiment (Weapons - E 2/9) at Camp Schwab, Okinawa. In September (1976), our battalion deployed aboard the USS Dubuque, which took us to training facilities in Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and a joint training exercise with the Korean Marines in Pusan, Korea.

In February 1977, I received orders to Henderson Hall in Washington DC. I was honored to serve the remainder of my enlistment at the US Consulate General in Calcutta India and US Embassy in El Salvador with the Marine Corps’ MSG Battalion.

India

As a 19-year-old marine, I was grateful to travel, live, and work in foreign lands. My official passport was the fastest ticket through customs – no lines or waiting.

As part of the diplomatic community, I was regularly invited to many formal and informal diplomatic events.

I received one of my first invitations shortly after arriving in Calcutta in May 1977, when our Consul General hosted a reception for US Ambassador Robert Goheen. As the newest arrival, I decided to keep a low profile and stay out of the way. After filling my plate with the unfamiliar Indian cuisine, I found a remote corner of the living room couch where, within a few moments, US Ambassador Robert Goheen settled next to me!

Fearing that I’d say something dumb, I kept my comments short and polite. He soon disarmed me with his easy manner and I found myself comparing LA’s public and private schools with those I’d seen in the Far East and India. When I voiced my admiration of how well-behaved and advanced students appeared in Asia compared to the often kids I knew back home, he countered that the US public school systems were the best in the world. Having just graduated from Reseda High School, we got into a friendly dispute until he said he’d once been a school administrator. When I asked where he worked he said, “I was the President of Princeton University.”

Although I wanted to crawl under the couch at the time, my later involvement with the Los Angeles Unified School District reconfirmed my skepticism regarding the teacher unions and their disastrous influence in America’s public schools, which rank 23rd (below Thailand, and the Slovak and Czech republics).

One cannot compare the constant grind and hardship in a marine infantry company to my assignment in Calcutta. Instead of living on a base with thousands of troops, I served in a detachment of six and lived at the State Department’s very comfortable housing on Gokhale Road, still located between the Victoria Memorial and the Calcutta Club. We each had our own apartment and servants conducted the routine chores of housekeeping and meal preparation.

Shifts generally consisted of one eight-hour shift with 24 hours off for three days (Day-PM-Graveyard) before taking two days off. I soon traded my jeans for a kurta-pajama and spent many days walking throughout the city, inhaling the sights, sounds, hardships, and realities within one of the world’s most desperate cities. When I hear someone railing about poverty in America today, I think of those who would have given anything for the opportunity to live in the comparative opulence of any of America’s ugliest housing projects.

At the consulate, one never knew who would show up. One morning, two women dressed as nuns walked straight to the elevators without stopping to introduce themselves. I’d never seen them before and, reflexively, I called out.

“Hey you!”

Both turned toward me, as did the shocked receptionist. A holdover from the Crown Colony days, Mrs. Robinson scolded me in the King’s English: “That’s Mother Teresa! She can go in!”

I’d heard of Mother Teresa but had not seen a picture of her. Instead of proceeding up the elevator, Mother Teresa returned to my desk and smiled sweetly.

Hello, I’m Mother Teresa and today I would like to visit the Consul General before stopping by…”

I didn’t want to detain her but she stuck around a few moments longer as if making sure that my authority had not been bruised. When she saw me during later visits she made a point to stop and check in with me. I sensed that she was flirting – at least as much as a saint could flirt with a marine.

On another day, a big guy walked up and gripped my hand.

“Hello Corporal,” he said, “I was in the Corps too – many years ago.”

He said he’d been a marine aviator during WWII and talked briefly about his days in Asia and India. He said his name was Greg Boyington but that everyone called him Pappy. One never knew who would stop by the consulate for a chat.

I met Malati Raman a few days before my 20th birthday in 1977. A senior at Calcutta’s Presidency College, Malu’s father had worked at the Consulate until 1976, when he was suddenly stricken by a heart attack. His passing was a terrible blow to the family, who had many friends at the Consulate.

Although it was clear that she wanted nothing with me, I was hooked. We were engaged by December 1977 and, shortly after informing the Marine Corps of my desire to stay in India, I received orders to the other side of the planet. After a few days of leave in Reseda, the State Department ordered me to El Salvador.

El Salvador

Although President Carter spoke of human rights in the media, I learned that his military support was helping regional dictators murder and torture thousands throughout Central and South America. By 1978, El Salvador’s military junta was implicated in the murder, kidnapping, torture, and disappearance of more than 100 dissidents each month. This number eventually included American nuns and Archbishop Romero.

Junta death squads acted with impunity while then-Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher oversaw Latin American affairs. When President Carter's top State Department civil rights czar Patricia Derian questioned reports of brutality, torture, and murder, Christopher essentially blamed the brutality and murder on a handful of problem officers within the Junta. Before I left El Salvador in 1979, Christopher oversaw or supported policies and regimes that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of dissidents throughout Central and South America.

As distressed as I was that President Carter's civil rights policies were being perverted by Christopher (with or without Carter's knowledge), I couldn't discuss the policies without jeopardizing my top secret clearance or future employment with the LAPD. Evidence of Christopher’s complicity can be found in Weakness and Deceit: US Policy and El Salvador (Bonner 1984). It’s no surprise that Christopher and Carter’s autobiographies hardly mention their conduct in Central or South America - a possible sign of their consciousness of guilt.

After I transferred into the USMC Reserve in September 1979, I returned to India and married Malu. We moved into a small apartment in Van Nuys and I sold men’s clothing while learning how to fly helicopters and airplanes. Malati worked at a local bank.

Although I had already corresponded with the LAPD in 1978, the hiring process was no picnic. Affirmative action policies meant that male white candidates needed a minimum score of 96, while women and minorities could score in the low 70s. As a result of LA’s anti-white discrimination, some of the low-performance minorities only perpetuated stereotypes of inferiority that the rest of us were required to ignore – lest we suffer charges of intolerance and discrimination. When an entry-level board member asked why I wanted to join the LAPD, my unrehearsed reply was simple – “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

I’d been building my hours as a pilot and enjoyed ferrying parts and firefighter pilots between airports and remote landing strips during the summer of 1980. I was laid off in mid-September and, within the week received a call from the LAPD asking if I was ready to enter the October Class.

I entered the LAPD Academy on October 6, 1980 and marched my class on graduation day, February, Friday the 13th, 1981. I had heard that change was coming to the LAPD and wanted to be part of that change - the new LAPD.

The LAPD

During the next decade, I was assigned to Van Nuys, Southwest, West Valley, Pacific, and Foothill patrol divisions, working primarily in low-income neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. During that time, I was also assigned to specialized details and loans that included vice, narcotics, and air support divisions. Although I enjoyed those assignments, it didn’t take long for me to get bored with the routine of those assignments. When offered a detective trainee position at Narcotics, I declined because of the monotony, unwarranted egos, and claustrophobic offices. At air support, I was surprised by the hectic boredom and monotony of circling, coordinating perimeters and pursuits, and the commute downtown. Although I thought that being an LAPD pilot was my ultimate goal, I soon discovered that I didn't want it as much as I once thought I did. Besides, I thrived in the challenge of the street’s random unpredictability. There was no intoxication like it.

Drugs, Politics, and Violence

Throughout the 1980s, general anesthetics like cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP) were the drugs of choice in the inner city. Both produce severe psychosis, especially after periods of sustained abuse. While LA’s gay scene frequented bath houses and huffed poppers and meth, frustrated black men and Latinos often escaped with crack and PCP. The white kids and affluent addicts mostly got high in the privacy of their own homes.

Despite media and political stereotypes, my partners and I were too busy to bother those who got high at home. But when neighbors called about the naked man who was assaulting speeding cars at a busy intersection, we had few alternatives - and more often than not, the man was black or brown. Naked black and brown suspects who assaulted cars in intersections were also more likely to attract the attention of crowds, media, and politicians.

In 1975, the LAPD reported (page 8) that officers had engaged in four million police-citizen contacts in 1973 alone. Of those contacts, suspects reported only 166 complaints of excessive force, or about one complaint in every 24,000 contacts. Of those complaints, none were attributed to “upper body” (carotid) control holds.

The LAPD also reported that from 1975-1982, eleven suspects died after LAPD officers used upper body holds to control them. Eight of the 11 were black and all were either heavy drug users or under the influence of drugs or alcohol when arrested. While medical experts later concluded that the demographically higher incidence of hypertension, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia could have contributed to the higher number of black deaths, those experts refused to admit that inner city blacks abused crack, PCP, and alcohol more often than suburban whites or other groups. And while cops and the community understood the stereotypical realities of dangerous drugs in the black community, the politicians who hated and feared LAPD’s independence used the statistically irrelevant and insignificant black mortality as proof of out-of-control cops and a racist LAPD.

Almost every day, I watched as LA’s Democrat politicians and complicit media exploited and promoted LA’s most corrupt and malleable black activists and politicians to push the mythology. Clowns like Maxine Waters, Merv Dymally and others were elected largely to blame the disastrous results of liberal-Democrat policy on white LA cops, while scam artists like Steve Yagman and Johnny Cochran enriched themselves by promoting the ugliest stereotypes.

Despite the fact that between 1975-1982 only eleven suspects died after applications of the upper-body control holds during the course of 30 million police-citizen contacts, anti-LAPD politicians and the media had grown weary of the LAPD’s willingness to investigate corrupt politicians and their sleazy friends. As a result, politicians like Zev Yaroslavsky twisted the LAPD’s remarkable achievement of restraint as a disaster and called for public hearings.

When Mayor Tom Bradley’s Police Commission and the courts threatened to take away the LAPD’s use of upper body control holds, LAPD physical training expert Ken Dionne correctly warned that the LAPD would have “no self-defense techniques available to adequately replace them” (Page 21). None of that mattered to the judges of the 9th Circuit, who eventually banned the use of upper body control holds by officers in 1983.

As a result, LAPD officers could no longer use the upper body control holds – which had reportedly caused zero injuries in 1974. Instead, officers were required to use the same applications of force that had caused the 166 recorded injuries that year. This decision made hardwood and metal batons the politician’s tool of choice for arresting violent suspects who, because of crack, PCP and alcohol, made black and brown men the most common recipient of injuries. And because the LAPD ranks were still comprised mostly of white men, we became the stereotypical deliverer of brutality to black men, and LA’s liberal Democrat politicians were only too happy to let us beat black men into submission.

Violent suspects who might’ve been safely rendered unconscious were now regularly beaten with the PR-24 (Monadnock) – modified metal pipes that were designed to break bones.

These devices are known as “pain-compliance devices,” which means that when an unintoxicated individual is struck, the pain will motivate him to stop resisting and cooperate with police officers. Unfortunately for those who are under the influence of general anesthetics like cocaine, PCP, and alcohol, batons and broken bones do little to dissuade violent suspects. As LA cops violently beat intoxicated suspects into submission, brutality lawsuits skyrocketed as multi-million dollar settlements were shared between the suspects and their lawyers, who often kicked back a portion of their receipts (through their trial lawyer associations) into the campaign coffers of the same liberal politicians who required cops to beat black men with metal pipes. In this way, LA politicians used the media and “community activists” to beat the LAPD into submission. Law firms like O’Melveny & Myers billed the city millions of dollars while kicking back profits to the politicians who hired them. Throughout the 1980s, politicians forced LA cops to routinely use excessive force, costing taxpayers $244 million in lawsuits in one year alone. Lawyers often kicked fees back to politicians who blamed the officers for being “out of control.”

The LAPD’s unconscionable “use of force” policy wasn’t the only challenge. As affirmative action gradually reduced the quality of patrol officers, training officers were often pressured to ignore incompetence and non-performance of some officers, based upon the existing racial quotas. LAPD’s background investigators were ordered to ignore minority candidates who maintained drug and gang affiliations. While some recruits lacked the finger-strength to fire their handguns, others struggled to read maps or write coherent reports.

But while the growing incompetence and declining morality challenged the mission and morale within the LAPD, LA’s politicians celebrated the LAPD’s “multicultural diversity,” profiting politically by the perception that the LAPD’s once professional ranks were being replaced by a fatter, lazier, and less professional cadre of security guards. Sloppy reports gave overworked prosecutors and the courts more excuses to dismiss good cases against LA’s most depraved predators, leaving Angelenos with more reasons to question the effectiveness of the LAPD.

Before 1991, LAPD recruiters managed long waiting lists from which to choose police candidates. But when the courts pressured LA politicians to change the hiring criteria, the waiting list was divided by lists of a) women, b) Latinos, c) blacks, and d) everyone else (e.g. white men). The City’s “Personnel Department” selected candidates from the top of each list. So while the top of the long male white and Latino lists comprised college graduates and experience military officers, the top of the shorter female and black lists were often comprised of candidates with lesser qualifications. The quotas also required that no one from the “White List” could enter the Academy unless the requisite number of blacks and females were also pushed through.

When the Academy washed out too many incompetent blacks and females, LA politicians finally relieved the Academy of its vetting responsibilities. Eventually, quotas required the LAPD to keep bad cops in favor of racial quotas, a reality that has been ignored even during the LAPD’s most sensational scandals.

Instead of improving race relations, affirmative action only perpetuated the perception of racial and gender inferiority. As the asymmetrical quotas pushed through larger numbers of marginal recruits, white cops were generally assumed to perform better because they had overcome the discriminatory obstacles that had been built against them, while less was expected from black and female candidates until proven otherwise – even when those black and female candidates would have qualified under competitive hiring practices.

Officers who voiced legitimate concerns faced counseling or worse for creating a “hostile work environment” while officers like Karen Tiffault shot and killed unarmed naked teens they could not physically control. Although politicians later claimed that Rampart was a multi-racial corruption problem, the accused white and Latino officers were later acquitted and received multi-million dollar judgments.

Throughout the 1980s, I expressed my growing concerns by writing a monthly column in the union monthly, Blue Line. In 1990, I transferred from patrol to motorcycle enforcement, where I was less likely to be assigned with lesser-qualified officers or be called to use force against LA’s intoxicated knuckleheads.

Despite my growing frustration with LA’s political forces, I had a great time putting career criminals away. As a regular subscriber to California’s case law (then called the Peace Officer’s Source Book), I often understood relevant changes in the law before my peers, supervisors, courts, prosecutors or defense attorneys. Because it took the LAPD a year or longer to update and distribute policy changes, I led roll call training segments so that my peers and supervisors also knew of the changes. After a few months, LAPD commanders stopped the practice because my training conflicted with the obsolete LAPD policies. Right or wrong, those policies stood until a new special order said otherwise.

From 1985-1989, I focused primarily on drug addicts – not because I liked to pick on the “non-violent victims of addiction” but because my quarry was responsible for a billion dollars in property crimes each year. Instead of driving around looking for a broken window or waiting for a shoplifter call, my partners and I hung around known drug dens where addicts regularly traded their loot for drugs and a place to rest. By staking out these dens, burglars and robbers came to me. And since these hard core addicts required constant doses of cocaine and heroin to avoid withdrawal, they were usually under the influence when I stopped them.

During those four years, my partners and I arrested more than 2700 addicts. Almost all of them boasted long criminal rap sheets, mostly for burglary, robbery, shoplift, and other assorted property crimes. Their subsequent incarceration effectively prevented nearly $300 million in crime, property loss, and productivity to LA residents and businesses.

Unfortunately for LA residents today, many courts and politicians (like LAPD Chief William Bratton) looked at those strategies as a waste of time and resources. What were originally three-page reports and a urine sample that took an hour to write eventually became a five hour investigation and almost twenty pages of redundant and wholly unnecessary paperwork. By complicating the investigations with unnecessary reports and tedious examinations, the courts and prosecutors succeeded in making arrests so difficult that officers could only arrest one or two felons at a time - as opposed to the 4-5 I routinely arrested each day during a shift.

These policy changes not only reduced the number of suspects that officers could arrest, but also reduced statistics in a way that could be interpreted as a reduction of crime - an invaluable talking point that is used by politically-savvy police chiefs to market someone like Antonio Villaraigosa for state or national office.

So instead of facilitating the way officers can effectively reduce crime, LA cops use their lights and sirens more often so that leaves Angelinos with the impression that dedicated professionals are doing their jobs. At the same time, Sheriff Lee Baca releases LA’s non-violent predators and addicts. Perception is everything.

Rodney King

On March 3, 1991, video technology caught up with LAPD policy and millions of people around the world saw what LA’s politicians required their cops to do. Having been assigned to LAPD’s Foothill Division until 1990, I knew almost everyone at the scene.

When I first saw the video, I sensed that the officers had used excessive force. But when I slowed the video and reexamined LAPD policy, I sensed that the officers involved had followed policy and had probably saved Rodney King’s life by relieving CHP rookie Melanie Singer of her responsibility to arrest him.

When politicians like Zev Yaroslavsky and Bradley demanded indictments, I noted the hypocrisy of politicians who, after mandating police brutality since 1983, now demanded LAPD heads to roll.

After sending a short letter to the editor, the Daily News asked me to prepare an op-ed. My wife was concerned but I replied, “What are they going to do, fire me for exercising my Constitutional rights?”

While I knew LA politicians were sleazy, it never occurred to me that they would openly retaliate – nor did I know that my old friend from El Salvador, Warren Christopher, was now Mayor Bradley’s attorney and personal friend.

Two weeks after Rodney King’s arrest, I wrote of police brutality in ways that contradicted the LAPD and Mayor Bradley’s official position. To Bradley and his handpicked police commissioners, the idea that policymakers could be named as co-defendants apparently went too far.

As Mayor Bradley’s personal friend and appointed investigator, Warren Christopher’s role was to blame a handful of the LAPD’s “problem officers” just as he had blamed the “problem officers” of Latin America’s military juntas during the 1970s.

I transferred to Valley Traffic Division in May 1991 and was almost immediately targeted by a sergeant I’d never met before. Known as a squirrel by officers and detectives alike, LAPD Sergeant Jerry Nicholson was quick to complain even about my meritorious work. For about six weeks, Nicholson showed up unexpectedly and it was apparent that he was trying to find dirt. After several audits and surveys he found nothing.

Jaywalker

That changed when a 22-year-old illegal alien jaywalked across the six lanes of Roscoe Blvd during rush hour. Several pedestrians had been killed and traffic officers had been requested to enforce pedestrian violations.

The stop was ordinary. While issuing the ticket, I conversed with Thomas Chavez in Spanish to ease his anxiety. When he identified El Salvador as his home, I shared some generic experiences there.

When I completed the citation, Chavez asked to read it. After blankly staring at the ticket, I translated the ticket line by line. After explaining that he had to sign or would go to jail, Olortegui began to walk away. I grabbed his wrist and, when he resisted, I wrestled him into custody using a minimal amount of force, leaving him uninjured.

During the scuffle, a motorist stopped and asked if I needed help. Chavez was handcuffed and, as physical arrests go, this was a comparatively insignificant incident. I called for a supervisor and Jerry Nicholson took the call.

When he arrived, Nicholson immediately treated me like a suspect and initiated a criminal complaint.

A few weeks later, the LAPD’s Internal Affairs Division closed the case due to a lack of evidence and injury. But when the Los Angeles Daily News published more of my politically-charged missives, the case was re-opened and Deputy City Attorney Alice Hand filed criminal charges.

Unknown to me at the time, Alice Hand routinely charged men with assault and domestic violence charges when no evidence existed. Hand used her position to threaten men with prison if they refused to complete psychological counseling, called “diversion.” When her victims completed the unnecessary counseling she would drop the charges and, without a single trial, take credit for a successful prosecution. In this way, corrupt prosecutors like Hand, David Sotelo, and Mike Nifong inflated their records to improve their political profile for elections by bragging about their “100% conviction rate.”

Taking down a “bad white male cop” along the way would improve her chances even more, especially after Rodney King. A few years later, the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office accused Hand of victimizing more than 100 innocent men by ordering them to "therapy." I was one of them, although I refused.

Nevertheless, I was arraigned in February 1992 during my shift. I rode my police motorcycle to the court on Beauchet Street. When my name was called, I approached the bench, armed and in uniform, with the eyes of the crowded courtroom on me. I promised the judge not to assault illegal aliens and returned to work. (That judge and I are now good friends).

The Riots

On April 29, 1992, the Rodney King defendants were acquitted not because they had not used excessive force, but because they had followed the LAPD’s brutal and misguided policies – just as I had suggested a year earlier.

An apoplectic Mayor Bradley, whose own lawyer headed up the independent blue-ribbon Christopher Commission that blamed 44 "problem officers" of brutality, told rioters that they “had a right to be angry and had a right to express (their) anger.” My motor squad watched his comments on live TV – someone eventually washed all record of that statement.

Despite my continued status as a criminal-defendant, I accompanied my motor squad to protect City Hall from rioters.

Standing in the glow of the sunset, I listened for the distant riot and surveyed the street. Except for a tipped kiosk, there was little evidence that they’d been there and I was a little disappointed. If they had known of my willingness to give them unrestricted access into City Hall, I might have escorted the rioters into the Mayor’s Office myself.

When a CNN cameraman panned me and my squad, I smiled at the irony of being dared to use force against rioters who the Mayor had earlier encouraged to riot. Going through the motions could not have been easier. I mentioned this to my squad leader, Al Zardeneta, and he smiled and said, "do the best you can."

After a few meaningless baton-rattling shows of force near 2nd and Broadway, we rode to 54th and Van Ness, passing fully engulfed gas stations and mini-malls along the way. We hung around the bus station while the LAPD allowed rioters sufficient time to express their outrage, as recommended by Bradley. (Politicians and the media blamed Chief Gates for being in Santa Barbara a day after refusing to fund preparations a day earlier).

When we were finally deployed along Western Avenue in the early morning hours, we warmed ourselves in the glow of the strip malls and liquor stores. The riots burned all night and through the next day. Except for a few nightly curfew sweeps, we snoozed through much of it.

Because Democrats had enjoyed exclusive control in LA since the 1950s, I wondered why any LA cop would get between the voters, rioters, and the politicians they elected. Most LA cops lived outside of the city in conservative neighborhoods uncorrupted by liberal politics. To most cops, riots are good for their economy.

The public should also know that when the LAPD and LAFD union representatives (and Chief Bratton) push Democrat candidates and their liberal policies, the endorsements are purely political. As the political wing of the Mayor’s Office, the union reps know better than to fight LA’s Democrat stranglehold. Any honest opposition risks the pay raises and funding that comes with lying about corrupt political candidates – and just like public school teachers whose kids attend private schools, LA cops enjoy the financial benefits far from the communities that our unions mislead and financially bludgeon.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that good public servants don’t exist or deserve a generous income. The problem is that the LAPD, as a law enforcement agency, is no longer in the business of protecting and serving. Except for individual officers who take their oath of office seriously, the LAPD exists to reflect LA’s demographics and to promote Democrat Party candidates and their misguided liberal ideas.

If one can imagine the Lakers, Dodgers, and LA Philharmonic hiring candidates based upon racial, gender, and sexual orientation quotas, you’ll get an idea of where your LAPD tax dollars have been going since 1991.

LAPD Trial Board

The riots eventually died down and, two months later, an LAPD trial board convened to hear the evidence against me. After a long day of sworn and recorded testimony, the Board acquitted me of all charges, attacking Sergeant Nicholson for his sloppy investigation and my alleged accuser of “being, at best, a liar.”

After being cleared, I filed a complaint against the Los Angeles City Attorney, who transferred the case to the DA’s Office. Deputy District Attorney David Sotelo was eager to take over.

After years as a marine and LA cop, it was easy to recognize the La Raza Anglophobe for what he was. Marked by what is known as “little man’s syndrome,” Sotelo graduated from one of America’s most leftist universities, and joined the DA’s Special Investigations Division specifically to target white LAPD officers. Since the LAPD had officially dismissed all charges against me, his actions as prosecutor were purely political. I remained on duty throughout the trial and, although I successfully impeached every witness against him, Sotelo essentially blamed me for the Rodney King beating during his closing argument.

Judge Veronica McBeth, a light-skinned black prosecutor known at the City Attorney’s Office as “The Princess” was only too pleased to ignore Sotelo’s attack. After agreeing with Sotelo to prevent any mention of the LAPD’s official hearing, McBeth was satisfied to hear Sotelo’s attack. Except for Sergeant Nicholson, I was the only white male in the downtown courtroom.

Convicted

I was dazed. After ordering the removal of my firearm in the courtroom, Sotelo gloated, telling reporters that the DA’s Office was serious about getting rid of "bad cops."

This is how the darkest and most rewarding period of my life began. By Christmas Eve, I was unemployed and struggling to find work. Despite my 13 years of experience, I was not surprised that no one wanted to hire an ex-cop who was convicted of assaulting a jaywalker. I sent more than 100 unanswered resumes and worked jobs as a studio extra (Diagnosis Murder $40/day).

The best job I found was working as an unarmed security guard for $10/hour, but that job ended a few weeks later when the Northridge earthquake damaged the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square.

When fellow motor officer Wayne Dean rode his police motorcycle off the collapsed Newhall Pass Interchange, I envied his tragic death. After all, he was worth more dead than I was alive. Had I been killed like Dean, at least my family and children would be financially secure.

When my unemployment claim was rejected (the LAPD argued that my conviction was misconduct) I was forced to appeal. My life was in turmoil, credit cards maxed, car falling apart, mortgage late, and my family life very stressed.

I finally found work by taking care of an adult autistic man. Loren lived with his mother and was completely out of control, physically dangerous and unpredictable. Loren lived on a three-month cycle that began with an erratic diet, interruption of meds, insomnia, anxiety and tantrums that eventually prompted his mother to call the white coats. For the next month, Loren was physically restrained and drugged until, about a month later, he returned home in a dazed stupor to begin the cycle again.

I told his mother that, for Loren’s $500/week disability payment, I would live with, train, manage, and habilitate Loren 24/7. She accepted and I was not only able to keep my family afloat but, within months, Loren was disciplined enough to manage his own affairs and live in an assisted living community. Not only that, Loren learned how to care for himself, lost much of his excess weight, ran 5 miles AND bicycled 10 miles each day.

My success with Loren generated excitement with other families who asked if I could create programs for their own autistic children. Without knowing, I had developed a successful model that could have helped thousands of autistic adults achieve independence and happier and healthier lives. My financial prospects improved and it soon appeared that my program would eventually generate more income than I had as an LA cop!

In May 1994, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court reversed my conviction, citing David Sotelo for prosecutorial misconduct and Judge Veronica McBeth for judicial misconduct. Another court cited the LAPD for wrongful termination and I was cleared of all charges. After McBeth, Hand and Sotelo were removed from the case, the courts and prosecutors refused to refile the charges.

Sergeant Jerry Nicholson and Deputy DA Sotelo were both promoted – Nicholson to lieutenant and, unlike Mike Nifong, Sotelo was appointed as a superior court judge. Judge Sotelo was later found guilty of permitting a prosecutor to intimidate defense witnesses, a felony. It's unclear how many of Sotelo's other victims have not appealed his behavior.

I returned to the LAPD in July (1994) and, during the next six years, led several innovative projects that included video enforcement and what became part of the LAPD’s first website. I worked as a “complaint officer” (similar to the LAPD’s “Senior Lead Officer”), acting as liaison between LA’s political offices and the LAPD. I also participated in several traffic safety reports about traffic enforcement, senior drivers, and school zones. Much credit goes to then-Captain Alan Kerstein, who took my recommendations serious and supported my ideas. Our combined efforts resulted in the LAPD's first dividion-wide Meritorious Unit Citation. I later ghost-wrote an article about innovative traffic ideas for Chief Bernard Parks.

Although I had arrested thousands of career criminals, junkies, felons, and drunks before 1994, I successfully avoided criminal suspects and arrested no one between 1992 until I retired in 2000. Warren Christopher would have been very proud of my spotless complaint record. I figured that if jurors, prosecutors, judges, politicians, and my police department refused to support my efforts that arresting predators was pointless. As far as I was concerned, LA’s residents would get the gangs, crime, and declining quality of life that they deserved.

So I went through the motions. My uniform and motorcycle were spotless. I kissed babies, smiled, waved, and became the model of the new LAPD – an all-American patriot who did everything except the job he was sworn to do. As an LA cop, I became little more than an attractive, well-paid lie.

Almost twenty years to the day after I joined the LAPD, I retired.

43 and Retired

On June 6, 1966, I was eight years old. While doing some homework I wrote the date 6-6-66. The numbers intrigued me and, within a few months, I calculated that on 7-7-77 I would be in the Marine Corps (I was in El Salvador); on 8-8-88 I’d be an LA cop (I worked a footbeat in Pacoima that day) and on 9-9-99 I’d be a year from retirement (I was). Although I had neatly mapped and achieved my timeline and objectives, I had no vision after 2000.

Although my marriage to Malati had collapsed in 1994, I met another woman who became the love of my life. She was smart, attractive, successful, and playful. I was still angry about my experience but she supported in ways that I can never repay.

Because of my experience with retaliation and corruption, I convinced her to protect her assets in a way that, if I was ever targeted by someone like Warren Christopher again, I would never again expose my loved ones to the liability I incurred. We never married and I signed away all future claims against her. In this way, I legally own nothing except my generous LAPD pension – which cannot be touched by courts or plaintiffs. I learned that there are worse things than death and that cash isn’t one of them. As a private investigator, such protection makes my job easier.

Coincidentally, I took my investigator test in 1997 on the same day that two suspects decided to commit one of the most notorious bank robberies in US history. At the time, I lived in Laurel Canyon and spent my days working on Laurel Canyon Blvd. If I hadn’t taken that test I would’ve been one of the first officers at the scene. As it turned out, many of my friends and partners were involved – some were injured. Although I was initially disappointed to have missed the excitement, I now figure that my response would have probably resulted in the day’s only LAPD fatality: and the last thing I would have wanted was to have LAPD Chief Parks and Mayor Hahn posturing as politicians who care for their dead cops. It simply wasn’t my time.

Although I enjoy retirement more than I can say, I have never been busier. I have enjoyed friends, family, travel, diving, flying, photography, protests, and parties. Most importantly, I enjoy preying on predators.

With advances in Internet technology, finding work as a PI was as easy as building a website and advertising on Google. When I want work, I simply modify my Google or Yahoo ad campaign to become the #1 search response and wait by the phone. Once I have a few cases and PayPal deposits, (many clients were from outside of the US) I would shut down the ad and do the work – usually from my computer at home.

When I must leave the house, I am sometimes accompanied by a few of my customer service reps.

Since May 2008, I have been engaged in the most important case of my career. As the investigation continues I am more and more convinced that this will be the last case of my career. I’m not sure where it will lead but I only know that doing nothing would make me miserable. I have no moral choice and, with support from my family and friends, I will focus on it as long as it takes.

In his book Happiness is a Serious Problem, Dennis Prager writes that if you seek happiness you will never find it – but if you do things that are spiritually fulfilling, lasting happiness is often the unavoidable result. Having attended as many funerals as I have, I also recognize that death is never as tragic as not ever having lived. If I have accomplished nothing else in my life, I have lived.

As I approach my 52nd birthday, I can say that I have never been more spiritually fulfilled or happier. I wish the same for my readers.

6 comments:

  1. From what I can gather you got an inside view of the corruption that existed in our Central American policies and agendas during the Carter years, but corruption and failed agendas are not exclusive to liberals. The current U.S. administration are a case in point. History will reveal the insidious hypocracy and and lies of the G.W. years. What about all the corruption and illegal antics in Nicaragua? Those were the Reagan years. Had you been a life long Republican (or Conservative) and found yourself in the same situation in Nicaragua and then today with Iraq, would you have become disillusioned with the Republican Party?

    Perhaps not. It seems Republicans these days have sold their soul to the devil for the power they have reaped. (I know, it's actually not the Devil, it's the Lord Saviour Jesus Christ's true desire). But seriously, it is astounding how moderate conservatives have succombed to far right. They seem to have compromised their principles. To hold the party line? To serve their president? Or to propogate their power?

    I digress.

    Fair enough. Your eyes were opened by two seperate ineffective, and failed liberal bureaucracies (the Carter administration and Bradley LA years), but what about the current ineffective, corrupt, and failed Bush administration?

    Surely we cannot call what is happening in America today progress...

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  2. Why the high percentage of lawsuits against female officers? Where can we
    confim that statistic?

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  3. Thanks for an eye opener. My own move from liberal to conservative is so much more boring.

    And don't concern yourself with the "yes, but" comments that always try to move the topic to their own hatred of Bush.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting story, Clark. I just read it for the first time. I congratulate you on your persistence and integrity. Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Came by.

    Read.

    Wanted to say thankyou.

    Thus-- Thankyou.

    The greatest gift, someone once said, is the inability to stay silent. And the greatest evil is still mediocrity.

    Here's saluting you rising above the mire.

    Best,

    The W of O.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You look entirely too young to have had such a full life! And grown kids! Your story could be a movie. You should write a screenplay. And of course I'm going to the Liberty Film Festival. All 3 days. I probably won't even eat. Hope to see you there!

    ReplyDelete

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