“I was not surprised with the findings, because when you tell me you’re going to reopen an investigation, my position is who is going to conduct it? If you let someone in-house do the investigation, what’s going to change?”
That comment by James Edwards of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, a Black police officer organization connected to the Los Angeles Police Department, comes in response to the recent release of a review of the firing of Christopher Dorner by the LAPD.
Dorner was fired by the department and then went on a killing spree that resulted in the death of four people, the wounding of three others and a massive manhunt that involved various local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI
In a “manifesto” released shortly before the killing began, Dorner accused the LAPD of racism.
In response to that accusation, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck pledged to “transparently” review the officer’s firing.
The investigation was conducted by Gerald L. Chaleff, special assistant (to Beck) for constitutional policing and presented to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners this week.
Chaleff concluded: “the record is clear that Dorner fabricated allegations against his training officer, and later against his peers and superiors. The decisions to terminate Dorner was sound and just.”
Attorney Connie Rice, a longtime LAPD critic, said in a televised interview that she accepted the report.
“The firing was justified and his allegations are completely unfounded,” said Rice, who spent two weeks reviewing the findings. “This guy needed to go. And the question was, even if he needed to go, did the LAPD get rid of him in a way that was illegitimate? And the answer for me was no.”
But Edwards takes exception to Rice’s agreement with the findings and poses these questions about the department’s lack of racism: “If the department is so transparent, why is that there are only seven Blacks in the academy now?
“Why are there only 1,140 Blacks on the force, 322 of whom are supervisors slated to leave within the next five years…. Why are there three Black females sitting on the list for captain, but they have been picked all over? Why have they not promoted a Black female to the rank of captain?”
Edwards also questioned why the majority of Blacks in command positions are “hidden” in the Valley.
“There are six Black captains in the Valley … and only three people in command positions in the South end.”
Edwards, who has been with the LAPD for 40 years, also notes that Black police candidates don’t get hired for a variety of reasons, that he finds only African Americans are dinged for—lack of maturity, not paying bills on time, lack of insurance, bad driving records, etc.
“Nobody is saying anything about the disparities, and when I bring it up, the say ‘here you go again; you’re on your soap box.’”
Edwards also noted that the various constituent groups within the LAPD—women, Asians, Latinos, Gays, Blacks—also signed a letter that essentially said that contrary to the department’s assertion that there is a public “perception” of racism within the LAPD; racism truly does exist within the department.