By LAPPL Board of Directors
Over the last 72 hours, there have been a number of attempted murders of police officers in Los Angeles County, yet there has been no community or media outrage. Two prime examples include an LAPD SWAT officer who was severely injured during a shootout with a suspected gunman following a pursuit in South Los Angeles. In another case, a sheriff’s deputy is facing a long recovery after undergoing surgery for life-changing injuries he suffered in an unprovoked attempted murder by an “unarmed” man already on probation for assaulting a peace officer.
Witnesses said the deputy was escorting a male suspect in a mall when the suspect unexpectedly turned on the deputy and hit him several times, knocking the deputy to the ground, and continuing his assault.
Crickets chirp as we wait for the LA Times Editorial Board to chime in with some suggestions on police tactics following these incidents.
City residents, law enforcement, community members and editorial writers should be alarmed when those whose job it is to fight crime on a daily basis are being targeted for murder. Why do otherwise reasoned individuals—despite evidence before them to the contrary—become reflexively critical of police? Why do these individuals jump to the twisted conclusion that police officers’ lives are any less endangered when encountering “unarmed” suspects than when they’re staring down the barrel of a gun? Why do these same individuals assume all officer-involved shootings—while always tragic—are always “bad” shootings? These individuals are cherry-picking the facts and doing a disservice to the communities they serve.
The disconnect between reality and the world in which newspaper editorial boards live in cannot not be more starkly contrasted than the LA Times editorial which pontificated about the Ezell Ford shooting with the following: “It is hard to believe that police cannot refine their encounters with unarmed citizens to avoid the use of deadly force.” In other words, according to the Times, “unarmed” residents pose no threat to officers.
The reality is that when somebody attacks a police officer, they should expect the reaction to their attack will be swift, sure and met with enough force to end the assault. As LAPPL President Tyler Izen told the Times, “While waiting for the facts to be determined, I feel the need to restate the obvious. When a person attempts to take an officer’s gun from them, no matter their physical or mental condition, we should expect an officer to respond accordingly to save their life—and that likely includes the use of deadly force.”
We also note with dismay that while compelled to devote numerous pages of coverage to the unfolding situation in Ferguson, Missouri, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board cannot be stirred to write even a murmur of protest over the violence directed against police officers there. Apparently, throwing Molotov cocktail bottles, rocks, and other debris at police officers is just not worthy of their commentary. Yet, you can be sure that if a police officer were the perpetrator of equivalent violence, entire forests would be decimated to print the hand-wringing editorials from the Los Angeles Times.
If a suspect takes or attempts to take an officer’s gun by force, he has sent a clear message that he intends to murder that officer and possibly others, and must be stopped for the safety of all. Whether that aggressive suspect is under the influence of a controlled substance, alcohol, or has a mental illness, the target of his attack will be in immediate danger nonetheless. When anyone grabs for the officer’s gun, they become an armed suspect, and in most cases, predetermined the tragic outcome of events.
Public safety requires a strong two-way partnership. We need to make it clear that Los Angeles is a city in which violence against the community or its police officers is never tolerated. The dedicated men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department, who serve to protect our communities, deserve all the tools and support the community can possibly provide. The LAPPL asks the public and our community leaders to continue to support our officers and make sure that criminals do not deter them from making Los Angeles the safest big city in America.
h/t Jasmyne Cannick