I was in high school when I watched the SLA shootout with LAPD officers. After the gunfire ended, a reporter asked a sergeant what the LAPD looked for in police applicants.
“Marines make good candidates,” he said. “Most of them possess the maturity, experience, and intelligence demanded by law enforcement.”
That was 1974.
LA politicians knew this as well. The problem for them was that good cops were harder to buy off. As long as the LAPD enjoyed a close relationship with the community it would be difficult, if not impossible, for corrupt politicians to move easily within City Hall. What then-Mayor Bradley had to do was make it difficult to hire good cops and easier to hire bad ones.
As a former marine who had traveled the world, flew helicopters, and spoke three languages, I barely qualified to enter the LAPD Academy in 1980. Since then, LA politicians deliberately forced the LAPD to accept drug dealers and gang members into our ranks, sidelining highly qualified military veterans because they were the wrong gender and race. Background investigators were forced to turn a blind eye to known criminal applicants.
Rampart, Biggie Smalls, and Deputy Chief Maurice Moore were problems not because LAPD was a corrupt organization, but because corrupt politicians forced drug dealers and gang members onto the LAPD and forced officers like me to ignore them on the job. After a decade of marginal hiring and brutal use-of-force policies, Mayor Bradley’s lawyer, Warren Christopher, convinced LA voters (with a complicit press) that the LAPD had organizational problems that could only be resolved by making the chief of police a mayoral lap dog.
Why is this relevant? Well, today’s LA Times story reports that the LAPD wants to make it easier for military veterans to join the LAPD. Well DUH.
Here are a few reasons for LAPD’s recruitment malaise:
- LAPD doesn’t hire anyone.
Either way the candidate gets in. When they graduate from the Academy, training officers are prevented from writing bad ratings to marginal recruits – unless, of course, they are white males.
- LAPD officers are reluctant to refer friends and family as candidates.
- The LAPD Chief of Police is the Mayor’s LAPDog.
LAPD command staff understands these issues but is forced to pretend that hiring good applicants is a novel idea. It wasn’t novel back in 1974 and it shouldn’t be novel today. It should be the standard.
Yes, the LAPD needs good people, but the LAPD is only as good as its Mayor. And I wouldn’t trust my friends in a police car with the mayor.