Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Rogue cop should be a term reserved for movies

Post by Brian O'Neill on Feb. 11, 2013 at 10:07 am with 16 Comments »
February 13, 2013 7:52 pm

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.

Police hunt for Dorner in mountains east of LA/ courtesy
Police hunt for Dorner in mountains east of LA/ courtesy

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. moms4marijuana says:

    The new season of “Southland” begins on Wednesday night, a series about policemen in South Central LA. The message is that it’s not always black and white, no pun intended. Policemen are human, sometimes flawed, and sometimes the answer or the appropriate action to a situation lies in the gray area between right and wrong.

  2. elmerfudd says:

    Police work will always attract the best and the worst of society for obvious reasons. The same kinds of heroes that throw themselves on grenades to save their comrades or enter burning buildings to save others will also be drawn to a job where they can heroically serve the community. Along with them though will be bullies drawn to the allure of lording power over their fellow citizens.

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    elmerfudd- I agree with your premise. Police work as a career field attracts from both positive and negative poles. It has been my experience, however, that the industry’s filtering system wheens out the vast majority of those who are just in it for the power rush. Most of the individual instances of abuse are a result of lack of leadership. That was the main point in the Department of Justice’s scathing report of Seattle P.D.

  4. IMHO, a ‘rogue cop’ is one that is still employed as a peace officer. Dorner is no longer employed as such, he is just a twit on a self described mission. It is usually 10% of any organization that gives a bad name to all of it.

  5. smokey984 says:

    Not to downplay Brians article or opinion..however maybe we should rename it:

    “Rogue Cop’s should be a term reserved for third world countries!”

    The L.A. Times reports that “incendiary tear gas” was used by police to start the fire that killed Christopher Dorner, confirming our report.

    Police audio from the Christopher Dorner siege reveals a deliberate plan to burn down the cabin in which Dorner was trapped, with one officer heard to say, “fucking burn this motherfucker,” before police discussed their intention to, “go ahead with the plan with the burners.”

    Should this be up for debate, since police scanner audio clearly captures officers talking about letting the fire “burn through the basement,” having previously planned to “burn that fucking house down.”

    The deliberate attempt to blackout media coverage of the event in the hours leading up to the cabin being intentionally set on fire by police clearly suggests that authorities were keen to cover up the fact that they were carrying out the pre-planned execution of Christopher Dorner.

    No one is attempting to condone Dorner’s actions, but the fact that police officers carried out what clearly appears to be a pre-planned summary execution, on top of their frenzied random shooting sprees of innocent people over the last few days, is a frightening glimpse into a fast-approaching police state where authorities dish out instant Judge Dredd-style justice by killing Americans accused of crimes and denying them a fair trial, due process, etc etc…

    Here comes the Waco killers part 2?

  6. DavidAnderson says:

    Acknowledge the obvious.

    “The defenders of the police invariably take refuge in what Fyfe (James Fyfe, head of training for the NYPD) the split-second syndrome: An officer goes to the scene as quickly as possible. He sees the bad guy. There is no time for thought. He acts. The scenario requires that mistakes be accepted as unavoidable. (This) accepts as a given the fact that once any critical incident is in motion, there is nothing that can be done to stop or control it. But that assumption is wrong.” (“Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell, p.237).

    And now, according to the link provided, the police were wrong again.

  7. Hmmm, of the last 2 posters, how many have served as an officer or emergency personnel? While I do not, and can not condone the deliberate destruction of a building with a suspect inside. How would you armchair quarterbacks like to have spent several days trying to locate this lethal idiot?
    I do not always agree with the actions of our police, but 95% of the time, they get the job done correctly.
    Gregg M
    Seabeck, WA

  8. DavidAnderson says:

    To reply to you Gregg, the fellow quoted in the assessment of the police acting many times precipitously and ill-advisedly and likely their training reflecting their inadequacy is James Fyfe, head of training for the New York Police Department who has testified in many police brutality cases – many of which are cited, documented and analyzed in the book “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell wherein the reasons for wrongful death – and sometimes willful abuse by otherwise good cops – can be attributed to the high state of arousal: heart rate soaring, motor coordination deteriorating, with results often out of proportion to what otherwise might have been.

  9. David, thank you. I will look that book up

  10. More and more we cause the police to hide themselves behind
    communication technology so they can say what they will
    in the course of their jobs. When we drive them into the
    darkness of encryption we will have a KGB.

  11. Brian O'Neill says:

    Interesting sidebar. Having been in a few similar incidents during my career, I would agree that the role of adrenalin can have an impact in one’s response. In fact, with “fight or flight” coded into our DNA, it’s a given.

    However (of course there is a “however”), police training has always taken this factor into account. Repetitive training for critical situations can cancel out instinctual responses (Indexing, the term used for holding one’s trigger finger alongside the barrel until the decision to fire is made, is a good example).

    The human factor – which includes fear, anger and all the other emotions that can alter our behavior – is a part of our programming. So is the ability to train ourselves out of bad habits and into more professional ones.

    While the scanner audio may contain very unfortunate and unprofessional conversations, that absolutely does not mean the police action was carried out in that manner. Assuming that would be equally as unfair as prohibiting someone their right to a fair trial.

    If mistakes were made during Dorner’s standoff, either accidentally or purposefully, let’s air those out and deal with them at the appropriate time.

    First, we need to bury our dead.

  12. simonsjs says:

    Question is: Will you air it out at the appropriate time?

  13. Brian O'Neill says:

    You’ll need to talk to LAPD about that.

  14. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    What do you think Brian? Do you think there is any possible truth in Dorner’s Manifesto?

    As for Dorner being a “Rogue Cop”, I would have to say one would have to be a cop at the time, his actions were straight up criminal.

    If there was anything Rogue, I would have to say it was the cops, who were not identifying targets and shooting at people in their cars. Or maybe when they said it was tear gas or CS that started the fire. Then Smokey984 link appears to say otherwise.

  15. Brian O'Neill says:

    NPC- Here’s the thing.

    When you’re on the inside of a police incident (or for that matter, any type of significant incident), you see and hear the flow of communications first hand. Things usually progress from pre-established doctrine, and what happened in the mountains east of LA seems to be straight from the SWAT script. When the media sifts through commications after the fact, their excerpts might be from cops (or other emergency responders) far from the scene. That type of jocularity is unprofessional, of course, but while it does happen it is very uncommon. That would be my assumption in this case because SWAT frequencies often skip around, are purposefully scrambled or are extremely localized. Getting “inside the bubble” to find out what happened is often very difficult. Again, my experience tells me that it went according to plan.

    However, the cabin did burn down, so maybe the plan needs to be updated.

    As for the manifesto, I honestly don’t have time to read it in its entirety. Let’s face it, if you were to ask any cop if their chain of command is royally screwed up you will typically get the following answer: Hell yes. Anytime you throw a bunch of Type A personalities together, add in fractious work rules and some no-win enforcement scenarios, things are gonna get testy.

    So what. No workplace gripe exists that justifies violence, especially murder. For his alleged crimes, I hope Dorner allegdly rots.

  16. NotPoliticallyCorrect says:

    I have worked with the type of communications you mentioned above. I have also been involved in signigicant incidents. You say it went according to plan. My gut tells me plans usually do not survive first contact.

    Could it be possible that the recording is accurate? Yes. Can I make an informed opinion? No. I just say these things are possible. As you stated, admitting the obvious is like swallowing a bitter pill. Some will go ahead and swallow it, others will not.

    I do have to say, the manifesto is interesting. I recommend reading it, will give you his side of the story / motives. Seems to be a lot more than a gripe.

    I don’t think Dorner allegedly will rot, it appears he was burned to a crisp.

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