Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Top Cop Gets It

William Bratton, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, has had a successful tenure. His community policing theories have been put into practice, dramatically lessening the tensions between his officers and the public they have sworn to serve and to protect. His insistence on meticulous record keeping on a day-to-day basis has allowed the department to immediately spot crime sprees so that additional police can be assigned to the infested area. More often than not, the presence of the men and women of his department now inspires relief, rather than dread in neighborhoods of the city troubled by gangsters and drug dealers. That's a remarkable achievement for a police force that has too often been the subject of Justice Department investigations.

Chief Bratton is about to move on, and, quite frankly, I'm sorry he's leaving.

Before taking his leave, he took the time to pen an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times in which he gives his perspective on the use of local police departments as an extension of Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security. Here's the heart of his argument:

Keeping America's neighborhoods safe requires our police forces to have the trust and help of everyone in our communities. My nearly 40 years in law enforcement, and my experience as police commissioner in Boston and New York City and as chief in Los Angeles, have taught me this.

Yet every day our effectiveness is diminished because immigrants living and working in our communities are afraid to have any contact with the police. A person reporting a crime should never fear being deported, but such fears are real and palpable for many of our immigrant neighbors.

This fear is not unfounded. Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that 11 more locations across the United States have agreed to participate in a controversial law enforcement program known as 287(g). The program gives local law enforcement agencies the powers of federal immigration agents by entering into agreements with Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Although many local agencies have declined to participate in 287(g), 67 state and local law enforcement agencies are working with ICE, acting as immigration agents.

Some in Los Angeles have asked why the LAPD doesn't participate. My officers can't prevent or solve crimes if victims or witnesses are unwilling to talk to us because of the fear of being deported. That basic fact led to the implementation almost 30 years ago of the LAPD's policy on immigrants, which has come to be known as Special Order 40. The order prohibits LAPD officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine whether they are in the country legally. The philosophy that underlies that policy is simple: Criminals are the biggest benefactors when immigrants fear the police. We can't solve crimes that aren't reported because the victims are afraid to come forward to the police.
[Emphasis added]

That L.A.'s Chief of Police can see what has long been obvious (or should have been) should come as no surprise. What is remarkable (although it shouldn't be) is that the head of a department facing draconian budget cuts because of the disastrous financial state of the city and the state would rather not take the easy money from the feds to do their work, preferring instead to adhere to a policy that has proven to be effective in local police work. The city of Los Angeles has been the better for his decision in this regard as well as for his other efforts.

Like I said: I'm sorry he's leaving.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a few years since I have lived near LA, but the idea of a police chief in LA that was smart and effective is almost too much to believe. It was certainly something that the people would have hoped for. LA has had some of the most idiotic sheriffs and police chiefs. The ones that preferred to ignore the fact that there was a latin american contingent, an asian one, a european one, and how these included people from all over those regions of the world.
Darryl Gates, Peter Pitchess, to name two horrible examples from my day. The corruption that was inherent under Parker, Ed Davis. The disappearances of the unliked.
I feel bad for you LA. I hope that Bratton's replacement will be a progressive mind, for your sakes.

7:47 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home