On the rare occasion when it becomes difficult to defend the actions of one’s peers, what do does one do? The answer is simple.
Acknowledge the obvious.
In the case of former LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner, whose alleged murder spree includes three victims and has an entire region on pins and needles, admitting the obvious is like swallowing a bitter pill.
The former cop is a criminal. Worse, he has foresworn his oath to serve with his fellow officers and since declared open war on them. On us.
To be honest, it is still hard to believe. Last week Dorner, who was fired from LAPD four years ago, began implementing the twisted plan he outlined on Facebook. Now the national news (Trib 2/10) is labeling him a rogue cop, and he is the most hunted, most vilified criminal in the U.S. at the moment.
The irony of a cop going rogue in LA, where rogue cop movies such as Righteous Kill, Cop Land, Internal Affairs, Training Day and (I’m not making this up) Rogue Cop were made, has been pointed out. But it is a mere sidebar to this story, which has people from the Los Angeles basin and points east living under the threat of a lone terrorist.
This would be the point in the media show where the fugitive’s troubled past, his mental health issues and emotional instability would emerge. However, Dorner’s Facebook rant was a surprisingly lucid, if unconvincing, script for homicidal revenge. It may be that we are left to wonder how a former police officer could justify killing innocent people for the sake of a work-related grievance.
Now that the story is a national headline, it will undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable questions for the LAPD. How, for example, did Dorner make it through the background checks, polygraph exam and four years on the job without someone realizing his violent potential?
The answer? No clue. Then again, we have sufficient local examples of just how unstable the human factor can be. David Brame not only made it through the hiring process, but he climbed the ladder all the way to the top of TPD before implementing a homicidal endgame. To a much lesser degree, Skeeter Manos demonstrated that the Lakewood Police Department’s background check was a wide enough net for a thief, with the propensity for stealing from widows and orphans, to slip through unnoticed.
There are no answers here. There are no mea culpas, either. These police officers, including the former cop Dorner, must answer for themselves.
Though we lack enlightenment, at least we can acknowledge the the tragic circumstances surrounding Dorner’s violent betrayal, and muster our collective hope that Dorner is caught before he hurts anyone else.
And as for irony? When his former brethen, the police officers upon whom he has declared war, stop his rampage, that ironic end will be as bitter as the beginning.
Update 2/13: And so it was.
The end of the road for Dorner was a cabin in the snowy woods where, after killing another police officer, he is reported to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as the walls burned around him. It was the expected outcome, and it brings with it a return to normality for the people who live in the region.
Now our task is to make sure the only legacy of this criminal is anonymity.