The Dorner fallout: Policing the cops

The aftermath of a grotesque tragedy can often give an inkling of a bigger problem

Gregg Reese | 7/31/2014, midnight
As further investigations are revealing, that very well may be the case in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Christopher Dorner ...

As further investigations are revealing, that very well may be the case in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Christopher Dorner affair.

At first glance, it appeared to be cut and dried. A disgruntled former police officer “gone postal,” expresses his frustration in a rambling and often incoherent document, followed by the wanton slaying of an innocent young couple on the verge of matrimony. Dorner was apparently motivated by rage towards the young woman’s father, and his role in the assailant’s 2008 termination from the police department (it was upheld by a Superior Court judge in 2010). In the days that followed, a huge portion of the state stood on edge as they pondered the motive behind a “manifesto” posted online and leaked to media luminary Anderson Cooper.

The rambling of the so-called manifesto pointed fingers and specified names of dozens within the peace officer community who’d “wronged” the former naval officer/policeman; derailing his career and setting in motion a quest to clear his name and exact vengeance.

As Southern California and the rest of the country watched the drama unfold on prime-time television, a state-wide manhunt and dragnet involving multiple jurisdictions was put into operation across several counties, the state of Nevada, and parts of Mexico—while the LAPD beefed up security around the homes of police officials Dorner was believed to be harboring a grudge against. Before he was cornered in a remote mountain cabin in San Bernadino, Dorner eluded authorities long enough to shoot two San Bernardino sheriffs deputies and two Riverside police officers (resulting in the deaths of one from each department).

Curiously, in the midst of all the carnage while nearly 1,000 peace officers carried out a desperate search for the most-wanted man in California at the time, a “Christopher Dorner appreciation society” turned up on Facebook, declaring that its namesake’s “… life was ruined for fighting back against a racist culture.” Another, titled “We stand with Christopher Dorner,” claims some 26,000 “likes.”

“I feel your pains.”

—former policeman Joe Jones.

“The details differ, but the process is always the same. Someone in a position of leadership has sounded the alarm to destroy the worker; the accusations and investigations begin, the person’s entire work history and identity are revised until they are made out to be delusional and a danger. One by one the workforce joins in until the worker is so enraged and traumatized that some do—as Christopher Dorner did—eventually become the delusional and dangerous person they’ve been made out to be.”

—from “What Can We Learn From Christopher Dorner?” By Janice Harper in the March 13, 2013 issue of Psychology Today.

Janice Harper is an anthropologist who specializes in the workplace phenomenon of “mobbing,” the systemic bullying of an individual due to their “otherness” be it gender, race, or anything that sets them apart from the masses. One triggering device that generally sets these events in motion happens when the target becomes oppositional to the organizational agenda (in this case, Dorner taking exception to his training officer’s alleged mistreatment of a schizophrenic suspect).