LAPD at odds with Trump re­marks

Pres­i­dent’s urg­ing of­fi­cers not to ‘be too nice’ to ar­restees is called ‘out of pol­icy.’

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Kate Mather kate.mather@la­ Twit­ter: @katemather

With a his­tory marred by scan­dal, video­taped in­ci­dents and civil un­rest, the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment made a top pri­or­ity of shift­ing the cul­ture of an agency once known for mil­i­taris­tic, cow­boy polic­ing into a model of a more mod­ern, pro­gres­sive law en­force­ment agency.

It’s a process that con­tin­ues to­day, though even some of the LAPD’s harsh­est crit­ics say the depart­ment has made progress.

So when Pres­i­dent Trump on Fri­day en­cour­aged law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to be “rough” with peo­ple they ar­rest, Los An­ge­les of­fi­cials quickly re­jected his re­marks, say­ing the com­ments stood in stark con­trast to their ex­pec­ta­tions for po­lice here.

“What the pres­i­dent rec­om­mended would be out of pol­icy in the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment,” said Steve Sobo­roff, one of five civil­ian po­lice com­mis­sion­ers who over­see the LAPD.

“It’s not what polic­ing is about to­day.”

Trump’s com­ments came dur­ing a speech in New York that largely fo­cused on Mara Sal­va­trucha, a pri­mar­ily Sal­vado­ran gang bet­ter known as MS-13.

But a clip of his state­ment about how to han­dle ar­restees quickly re­ver­ber­ated across law en­force­ment cir­cles and so­cial me­dia, draw­ing crit­i­cism dur­ing a time when in­ter­ac­tions be­tween po­lice and the pub­lic have drawn in­tense scru­tiny.

“Please don’t be too nice,” Trump told a room full of po­lice re­cruits. “Like when you guys put some­body in the car and you’re pro­tect­ing their head, you know the way you put the hand … like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed some­body? … You can take the hand away.”

Mem­bers of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Com­mis­sion were quick to note that the pres­i­dent’s com­ments con­tra­dicted two ma­jor polic­ing con­cepts that the LAPD has wo­ven through its poli­cies and train­ing: con­sti­tu­tional polic­ing and de-es­ca­la­tion.

The lat­ter has be­come a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus of this com­mis­sion, which re­cently rewrote LAPD rules and train­ing to for­mally re­quire that of­fi­cers at­tempt to defuse sit­u­a­tions be­fore us­ing force.

“The ev­i­dence is clear that fair, re­spect­ful polic­ing builds trust and con­fi­dence in law en­force­ment,” said com­mis­sioner Shane Mur­phy Gold­smith. “That's what we need, and it's what we're go­ing to stay fo­cused on — th­ese re­marks don’t change that.”

Matt John­son, the board’s pres­i­dent, said the LAPD would con­tinue its ef­forts to build trust among res­i­dents and hold it­self to the “high­est stan­dards of ef­fec­tive, con­sti­tu­tional polic­ing.”

“Any­thing less is un­ac­cept­able and out of step with our val­ues,” he added.

Though com­mis­sion­ers voiced dis­plea­sure with Trump’s com­ments — one called the re­marks “dis­ap­point­ing,” an­other said they were “re­gret­table” — they also stressed that they did not be­lieve po­lice of­fi­cers in Los An­ge­les would change their be­hav­ior as a re­sult.

“I am con­fi­dent that they will have no im­pact on the con­tin­u­ing re­solve of this depart­ment, from its lead­er­ship to the men and women pa­trolling our streets, to con­duct them­selves at all times with in­tegrity and in a way that re­spects the rights and dig­nity of oth­ers, re­gard­less of their sta­tus or cir­cum­stances,” said Com­mis­sioner Cyn­thia McClainHill. The LAPD once had a rep­u­ta­tion as a rogue force, with re­peated al­le­ga­tions of po­lice mis­con­duct against the city’s black and Latino res­i­dents that height­ened ten­sions. The video­taped beat­ing of Rod­ney King in 1991 by LAPD of­fi­cers and the ri­ots the next year brought the depart­ment to a break­ing point, be­gin­ning two decades of re­forms.

The LAPD has won praise for tough­en­ing rules on how po­lice use force and are dis­ci­plined and im­prov­ing re­la­tions with mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. But some ten­sions re­main, as high­lighted by protests by Black Lives Mat­ter ac­tivists in re­cent years.

Both the LAPD and the union rep­re­sent­ing rankand-file of­fi­cers also ap­peared to dis­tance them­selves from the pres­i­dent’s re­marks.

In its state­ment, the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Pro­tec­tive League said it ap­pre­ci­ated Trump’s com­mit­ment to com­bat­ing gang vi­o­lence but noted that its of­fi­cers would “con­tinue our ef­forts to hold gang mem­bers ac­count­able in ac­cor­dance with the law and the depart­ment’s poli­cies.”

The LAPD also weighed in, not­ing the im­por­tance of “en­forc­ing the law with the ut­most in­tegrity and the high­est pro­fes­sional stan­dards.”

“If an of­fi­cer acts out­side the law, it serves only to un­der­mine the hard work and sac­ri­fice that of­fi­cers make every day to keep the com­mu­nity safe,” the depart­ment said in a state­ment. “Our of­fi­cers un­der­stand and em­body th­ese im­por­tant prin­ci­ples.”

Justin Lane Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

PRES­I­DENT TRUMP’S com­ments about how to han­dle in­di­vid­u­als in po­lice cus­tody quickly re­ver­ber­ated across law en­force­ment cir­cles and so­cial me­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.