1408535806001-ferguson082014-002

I’m just so tired of this:

Predators roaming the neighborhood in their identifying colors and accouterments. Armed with oversized weapons. Sweeping the streets for unarmed victims. Targeting those they most despise. Shooting them whether they’re innocent or not. Thumbing their noses at the criminal-justice system when they’re caught. Walking away scot-free. Repeat.

Yes, it’s time to do something about cops in this country.

They’ve become a scourge. A stain on our culture. A national disgrace. How can we expect to press foreign leaders to improve their human-rights records when our society flaunts the very definition on a daily basis?

The only solution to this worsening crisis is to use the same tactics against them that they use against us. I have no illusions that any of these seven ideas will work, but wouldn’t it be nice if they did?

1. Cop sweeps. The police periodically launch gang sweeps to round up leaders and shut down criminal operations that have gotten out of control. It’s mostly for show (the last time I looked, the punks were still there), but the LAPD loves to crow about their conquests anyway. “See Angelenos, we’re fighting crime every day!” Fine, well so are we. So, c’mon Police Commission and Community-Police Advisory Board, get off your keisters and sweep out police chiefs, sheriffs, officers, and patrolmen whenever their corruption or abuses become excessive. (Speaking of which, will we see indictments for former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, or any of their thugs anytime before the close of this decade? Just saying.)

2. Cop Watch. Citizens can take an active part in preventing crime by setting up a Neighborhood Watch program in their community. Cops love this system and are heavily involved in it. Good, since we have them onboard, we’re going to tweak it just a bit. From now on we’re going to monitor them as well so we can prevent police crime, too. Something tells me they won’t want to be so heavily involved in this expansion, but hey, crime is crime. Or does their crime not stink?

3. P.A.R.E. In 1983, a revolutionary effort between the L.A. County School District and the LAPD was developed to teach young people techniques to prevent them from using drugs. D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) debuted with the catchy slogan “Just Say No.” I think it’s time we develop one for cops called P.A.R.E. (Police Abuse Resistance Education). They could even keep the same motto as in “Just say no whenever you have the urge to pull over somebody just because he’s black and wearing a hoodie and standing in his front yard and minding his own business.” The program could teach valuable lessons such as “The harmful effects of misusing police authority” as in when an officer decides to restrain a mentally disturbed woman for wandering too close to the freeway by pummeling her eight times in the face. Or “Refusal strategies to combat peer pressure” as in when a cop’s partner suggests, “C’mon, let’s hassle that hooker and see what she’ll do to make us leave.” Or “Racial abuse alternatives” as in calling out to a resident from one’s squad car, “Hey Jeffrey, how you doing today? Stay good, stay safe, and take care now” instead of, “Hey Buckwheat, what’s in your pocket?”

4. Candid Camera. Communities have long favored installing police car or body cameras so officers’ actions can be recorded. Such a shame that the LAPD, after more than twenty years of really, really trying, has installed them only in the South Bureau, and among those, officers have tampered with or removed the voice recording equipment in half of the estimated eighty cars. Gee, who saw that coming? It’s time to give up the ghost on this one. When will somebody important finally admit that it’s sheer lunacy to think that police officers or higher ups could ever monitor themselves?

5. Cop injunctions. When a gang’s public behavior becomes a nuisance, police issue a gang injunction to limit the group’s activity. So why not do the same to cops when complaints suddenly pour in about a particular officer, unit, or division? Hoodlums are hoodlums. Too bad we didn’t have cop injunctions in the 1990s. Remember Rampart Division? More than seventy LAPD police officers in its anti-gang unit were implicated for massive corruption. Guess how many went to jail?

6. Weapons raids. Cops love to hold press conferences to show off all the high-powered weaponry they scooped up in their latest gang raid. Well, LAPD, if you really want to wow us, I’ve got an idea – reveal your armory. You want to shock the populace with what the bad boyz are carrying? Then bring out your helicopters, armored vehicles, Humvees, assault weapons, sniper rifles, breaching shotguns, flash-bang grenades, body armor, riot-control agents, night-vision devices, and full combat gear. That’ll rile us up. On second thought, maybe just keep your toys under wraps. You scare us enough already.

7. Hands up, don’t shoot. Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are chanting this cry as you read this in protest of the latest in what has become an interminable series of white policemen shooting and killing unarmed black men. Their call has become a national shibboleth, a beseeching cry to all those who wield lawful authority. A plea to police officers everywhere to think – for heaven’s sake, stop and think – before you do what cannot be undone.

I have a suggestion. Mr. Lawman. The next time you take aim at a black or brown individual who raises his or her hands and cries, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” start your own national movement by being the first to lower your weapon and responding, “Gun down, won’t shoot!”

John Wood

Advertisements