Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Los Angeles crime

Some good news, and some really bad news

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

Being a lifelong LA Laker fan, I was pondering the idea of attempting to talk my wife into taking in a game on our next trip to California, instead of landing at LAX, renting a car, and immediately driving north, as we usually do. Not having spent much time in LA since the ’90s, when I had some peripheral involvement with the Baywatch crew and did paparazzi gigs at a few star-studded events, I thought it best to do a little online research to see what risk factors I might need to be aware of in modern-day LA. Back then, despite gang violence and the general edginess that was eroding the famed West Coast “laid back” atmosphere, LA was crime kindergarten compared to what I saw in NYC in the ’70s and Miami in the ’80s.
    Doing a quick online search for “LA crime” revealed some good news, and some really bad news.

The good news: As of 2012 crime in LA had declined for 10 years in a row and “The City of Angels” was seemingly living up to its nickname by becoming the safest big city in the country (“Crime rate in Los Angeles falls for 10th straight year, making it the safest big city in America, but cell phone thefts are way up”).

The really bad news: One group had clearly distinguished itself as relying on overt violence to make its point, and was needlessly spraying bullets and assaulting people for no apparent reason. No, the culprit wasn’t a resurgent gang like the legendary Crips or Bloods from the ‘70s, or the notorious MS-13 from the ‘80s—and it wasn’t even Justin Bieber and his posse, or any other celebrity group that often thinks it is above the law. According to online search data, the group that grabs the most headlines for unnecessary shootings and beatings, is the law—the LA police department itself.

    Never mind that LA is safer than at any time since the ‘60s, the LAPD apparently acts as if it is defending a city under siege by the criminal element, and it seemingly never misses a reason to over react. The most amazing worst-case example of this is when LAPD officers fired 103 rounds at two women delivering newspapers because they mistook the sound of a thrown newspaper hitting the ground for a shot being fired ("LAPD Officers Who Shot 103 Rounds at Two Innocent Women Violated Policy"). This sounds like something that could only happen in a Will Ferrell movie, but it occurred in real life and the 71-year-old member of the innocent duo has two bullet wounds in her back to prove it. The other woman was injured only by flying glass, which means only two of those 103 bullets found their mark, and which says something else altogether about the ineptness of the LAPD. This may sound like a rare incident; not so according to this list of “Lapd Abuse” or this video:

    Since the Lakers suck again this year anyway, and most of the stars gracing games at The Forum look old and moldy compared to the venue’s glamour era, this might be a good trip to catch LA playing at the Sacramento Kings arena. The Lakers might actually beat the Kings, and we might actually survive the experience.
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

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  1. A couple of bits of background/context: The incident occurred during a manhunt for one of their own officers who had gone rogue; the truck the women were driving was neither the same make nor color as the one owned by the guy they sought. Also, if memory serves, he wasn't even in L.A. by this time, but hiding in a mountain lake cabin he owned- which is where he was finally killed by sheriff's deputies from another county. A sad, sorry, mess- which the L.A. Times is still milking for readership increases.

    1. Tom, you have the background correct. The LA cops were indeed on high alert for a shooter, and the two women and their truck had nothing in common with the suspect or his vehicle. They simply tossed a newspaper that made a "popping sound" when it landed, and that started the shooting. The scary part is that police overreaction seems the norm in LA, rather than the exception, and the only reason more innocent people aren't killed is the LA cops seem to be amazingly inaccurate with their weapons.

  2. Thanks, Paul, for bringing to our notice that though crime may be down among the LA populace, it seems to be up in another LA sector....

  3. I've never been a big fan of the police. I believe it goes back to the sixties, but I'm not a fan of gangs. There must be a middle ground somewhere, but I don't see it. I've only been to LA two times and can say I never had a problem. I believe it is like any large city---there are places a person should not go.

    I remember a story some time back about a man and his wife, visiting and got lost. They turned down the wrong street in the wrong part of town and a LA gang opened fire on them. I guess they are better shots than the cops, because they killed the two tourist.

    Glad to see you found time, to dream of a day you could load up 50lbs of baby stuff and hit the road again. [Big Smiley Face]

    1. Right now I only dream of the day I get to sleep more than three hours at a time. We hoped for a happy, healthy and energetic baby, and we very fortunately have one...with energy in abundance. "They" told me he would just eat and sleep the first six months. "They" lied. It is nothing for him to be awake and seeking "daddy time" six hours at a time, and sometimes as many as 16 hours in a day, and he just celebrated his one month birthday. Since I am known for usually sleeping less than four hours a night while on long trips - during a month in Africa, for example - my friends and family are suggesting I should have perhaps given him the middle name "Payback" instead of Alexander.

      You are correct about most cities having their dangerous areas. Years ago the city of Richmond, capital of my home state of Virginia, became tabloid fodder for its murder rate. What was overlooked in those accounts, however, was that if someone wasn't in a particular four block by four block area trying to buy drugs from strangers on the street well after midnight, they were very unlikely to be killed while in Richmond.

    2. I started to write a post and decided it would be better sent to Susan. The gust of the post is there are so many guns out there these days a shooting can take place anywhere, but 9 out of 10 times drugs are at the bottom of it.

  4. "stars gracing games at THE FORUM..." are you certain that you are correct in that ? :-)...I have no argument that the LAPD, in the dark of dawn, terrified of ex-cop Dornan (who threatened anyone connected to his firing, and to those related to them) were extremely over-zealous and incorrect and lousy at shooting the two newspaper delivery ladies...and they have been punished by our Police Chief..And their shooting....sigh unfortunately, brings us back to our Lakers. You are right about them.

    1. Actually, Susan:

      "When cop-killer Christopher Dorner went on the run, the LAPD went on the rampage. One of its victims was an elderly woman, hit twice when officers fired more than 100 shots at her (despite her truck looking nothing like Dorner's), and a friend in the same vehicle who was hit by flying glass. The officers will not be punished, and they remain anonymous, reports The Wire.

      The officers faced suspension or even firing, but police chief Charlie Beck elected instead to let them all return to duty once they undergo some additional training, according to a memo obtained by the AP. The officers have not been named, so you'll probably never know if the guy writing your speeding ticket once shot at an innocent senior citizen.

      All that's left to do, then, is hope that the "additional training" won't involve being trained to shoot straight."

      -From Boing Boing website

  5. Susan, ha! Great point comparing cops and Lakers shooting woes. Thanks to my grandmother, who lived in New York when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, I grew up as very possibly the only hardcore Dodgers fan in Virginia. In the Jerry West era I became a Lakers fan as well, and dreamed of someday living in California and going to the games of my two favorite teams, and especially of rubbing shoulders with the famous and glamorous at Lakers games. With the death of Dr. Jerry Buss and the resulting decline of the Lakers under the alleged leadership of his children, and the badly aging stars now sitting court side at The Forum, I may have missed the golden age I hoped to be part of. The Dodgers give a bit of hope, but it hangs over the abyss, suspended only by a couple of ligaments that could tear on the next pitch...