Friday, January 17, 2014

Reflections on the Christopher Dorner affair

Many readers will recall the Christopher Dorner affair in February last year.  Briefly, the former policeman murdered four people and injured several others before being cornered in a mountain cabin and committing suicide after the cabin had been set alight.  (I wrote about it twice during that month, first reflecting on the incident as a whole and what it revealed about several aspects of our society, then reflecting on what it showed of the 'police mindset'.)

Last month the Los Angeles Times produced an excellent and very detailed essay titled 'The Manhunt for Christopher Dorner'.  It's by far the most in-depth account of the incident that I've seen to date.  I'm not going to post excerpts from it here, but I highly recommend to anyone who's interested in personal security, public safety, or self-defence that they click over there and read the whole thing.  There's a great deal to be learned about what to do - and what not to do - in response to such a threat.

My biggest concern remains the incredible ineptitude displayed by certain elements within the Los Angeles Police Department during the hunt for Christopher Dorner.  To fire upon innocent vehicles containing innocent civilians, twice, without provocation or excuse, is completely beyond the pale.  Why those responsible haven't been charged with criminal offenses is beyond me, and gives me cause to seriously doubt the professionalism and impartiality of the LAPD.  It continues to be a stain on that organization's reputation that may never be erased.



Capt. Schmoe said...

I live in Riverside, where officer Michael Crain was gunned down along with his partner who was severely injured.

As I was a newly retired captain with the Riverside Fire Dept, I had seen Crain on the streets prior to his murder.

My wife works for the D.A.s office. I know the medics who who responded to Crain and his partner.

My wife and I have lived here all of our lives. That period of time while Dorner was on the loose was absolutely the craziest that I have ever seen this city. People were more than rattled, they were scared.

The whole thing was a tragedy, many lives were ruined, five ended. Though I would have liked to have seen Dorner arrested and held to trial, I really don't lose sleep over his death. I have to think that he is quite well done by now, a fate he deserved. Screw him.

Shane W said...

I agree Dorner got what he deserved. He was a murderer plain and simple.

This though is complete bulls#!t!

Justified my ass!

Old NFO said...

My takeaway is he was ONE person, what if TEN people had done that... THAT is what scares me, imagine that over-reaction by any major police force!

Sherm said...

I remember High School outside Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The general belief then was it was better to be stopped by the LA Sheriff than the LA police because you had a greater chance of being shot by the LAPD. It's hard to change a culture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I'm 1/2 way thru the article and it has some really revealing points.

Automatic license plate recognition for REPO MEN? License plate lookup by a TOW TRUCK driver? Seriously?

Note the the officer's wife answered the door with "her labrador, and Pandora, her Rottweiler, were barking madly, ready to maul whoever was at the door" but the cops managed to NOT HAVE TO SHOOT THEM, just asked her to put them away.

The author's breathless panting about "Glocks" (I mentally edit to "pistol" evry time) and "armor piercing assault rifle" and "assault rifle" in general, is understandable given his audience, but is unfortunate editorializing.

There were many instances that triggered my "ok for US but not for YOU" awareness in descriptions of the police actions and beliefs.

Cops don't shoot particularly well, and ignore the rule about knowing what is behind your target. (and have terrible fire discipline and target identification skills)

Cops are more than willing to break rules and violate procedure ("just go, we'll straighten it out later.")

Despite $100's of thousands of dollars spent on upgrading first responder comms, LA still can't talk to their neighboring communities without a cell phone...

This comment "Though I would have liked to have seen Dorner arrested and held to trial, I really don't lose sleep over his death" while understandable from an individual HUMAN standpoint, simply underscores why it is vitally important to fight for rule of law under EVERY instance. THE COPS DO NOT GET TO DECIDE GUILT. Even if it happens right in front of them. And they ESPECIALLY don't get to enact punishment.

Shane and Cpt Schmoe, you comments could be easily flipped on their head and said of the dead cops-- there is plenty of evidence in the article that LAPD routinely treats their own differently from the rest of the citizens of LA, and I'm sure there are people who had exactly your reaction only aimed at the cops who are part of an organization that will shoot at unarmed civilians 'cause they were scared' (officer safety.)

Any time rule of law is violated, especially by a protected class, and especially in life and death cases, it breaks down the social contract, and leads us further down the path of totalitarianism.

OldNFO's comment is especially telling if it ever comes to asymmetrical warfare here. 13 attackers shut down air travel in the US for days, and burdened us with everything that followed (unlawful searches, sexual assaults, and thousands of non-productive TSA dragging on the economy). Just a couple of guys with fireworks and a pot shut down a major city. ONE guy with a facebook post and willingness to kill disrupted the 2nd biggest city in America and caused the LAPD to reveal their (true?) nature to the whole world.

Just what will happen when hundreds or thousands of people decide that it no longer makes any sense to pretend rule of law still exists? (on either side of the power divide)

Do we really want our cities to look like Russia? Columbia? Southern Mexico? Strong men with guns doing whatever they please? People with official power abusing it to help their friends? Masked men at checkpoints pulling people out of their cars at random? Kicking down doors in the middle of the night to steal (sorry, seize) property? Shooting homeowners in their beds? Sexually assaulting citizens at traffic stops?

Oh wait, we're already there.

If you don't want to fight them in the street, you better start fighting them in the culture, courts, and legislatures.


Will said...

" License plate lookup by a TOW TRUCK driver?"

Wonder when that changed? I drove a tow truck for the CHP (FSP) 'til '04. They wouldn't even respond with any data when I asked our CHP dispatcher about a very questionable car/plate combo abandoned on the shoulder of the freeway. Was told that info was only available for badge holders.

B5K said...

Re: license plate readers on tow trucks- they've been around since...2008?

Hell, I know two local shopping malls that have them installed in the entry driveways to the garages.