A Law Enforcement Double Standard by Max Hurlbut

A double standard exists in American law enforcement. It pits local police agencies against a liberal, federalist social agenda intent on creating a national police force. The feds, like the National Socialist Party of the 1930s, fear an armed populace. They intend to seize, incrementally, all firearms under the pretext of "crime control."

 Two Los Angeles Police Officers, Sgt. Stacy Koon and Officer Laurence Powell, lost their careers and are jailed for subduing a large, violent, intoxicated motorist (media term) and convicted armed robber (police description). Contrast this incident with the FBI/ATF raid on Waco.

The Rodney Problem

Part of the multi-faceted Rodney King problem was the LAPD's administrative ban on the so- called "choke hold" (arm around the neck to pinch off the cartiod artery and cause quick loss of consciousness). This technique could have quickly subdued King.

 Consent decrees and federal "affirmative action" programs have, for years, gutted local police hiring standards. Physical, psychological, and intelligence testing were dropped or severely reduced to permit otherwise unqualified women and minorities to be hired. In L.A., 40 percent of Academy classes must be female. Previously disqualifying criminal backgrounds are now ignored.

 Many "vertically disadvantaged" male and female officers' use of force capabilities go from verbal commands directly to deadly force, with little or nothing in between. (LAPD officers arrived at the Rodney King incident to find a trembling, terrified, female CHP officer holding a gun on a taunting and dancing King). Their "strategy" is to await sufficient reinforcements to surround a suspect and then fell him in a swarm of baton blows.

Civil Rights Prosecution

A State Court absolved the officers in the King case because the entire videotape shows that he was only struck when he disobeyed commands to stop resisting. The Feds, however, saw this as an opportunity to discredit a municipal police organization by making it into a racial issue.

 They filed "deprivation of civil rights" violations against the officers. No double jeopardy here. The same elements were present, but it was now federal instead of state law. The bad guy's crimes were ignored and he was awarded over $3 million for his discomfort. The bewildered officers were fired and jailed.

 If it's a "civil rights" violation to subdue a resisting Rodney King, then what is it to burn to death 85 innocent men, women, and children?

 Their collective "crime" was an alleged minor firearms violation. No attempt was ever made to serve a warrant by simply knocking on the door, as had been done before. The deaths of the ATF agents who bungled the raid are regrettable.

 But don't hold your breath awaiting the civil rights prosecutions of other involved FBI/ATF agents. Several were quietly disciplined internally. The standards that local officers are held to are ignored for federal agents under our Coward-In-Chief and Janet Reno.

Open Letter

An interesting aside is an open letter the New York City Policeman's Benevolent Association sent to Janet Reno (and municipal police newsletters throughout the country). Several New York City officers were murdered by suspects who were freed on technicalities. Their guilt was not an issue.

 The New York officers questioned why civil rights actions were not filed against these cop killers. The answer, of course, is obvious. The Justice Department has not been free of political control since J. Edgar Hoover.

 I recently retired after 34 years in law enforcement, 25 of them with LAPD. A large number of line officers I know are aghast that an incident like Waco could happen in this country. It affirms our conviction that the intent of the Second Amendment is to resist oppressive government.

 The Waco and Rodney King actions are attempts to disarm the American public and demoralize local police agencies. It is working in L.A. Morale is in the pits.

 Officers take their time responding to calls. Why risk your career subduing some dirtbag assaulting an ungrateful citizen who will not back you in court? The pay remains the same.

 During the Tom Bradley riots, the LAPD actually withdrew and left citizens "home alone" with violent armed rioters. It wouldn't have happened on my watch.

New Breed

Good officers are still signing on, but the long lines of potential recruits have disappeared. Civil service and personnel departments, not the police, do the hiring. Political correctness and minority/victim status long ago replaced character, honesty, and the traditional virtues of police candidates.

 Few recruits have military service. Most are city-bred and do not shoot, hunt, or know where their hamburger comes from. Many have difficulty qualifying with their issue weapons and dread monthly qualification. It's truly a "new breed."

 Most experienced officers know the police cannot respond to emergencies in time to help. We thus encourage an armed public as essential to the defense of the family.

 Contrast this with the anti-gun attitudes of some big-city chiefs. Many serve at the whim of liberal mayors and city managers. If the Chief is fired or forced to resign, it will be impossible for him to find another job. The pressure to conform is tremendous.

 The American public must actively back their local police officers in the performance of their lawful duties. They must demand the accountants and attorneys -- the FBI/ATF recruiting pool -- be restricted to the administrative investigations that they do so well.

 Let Waco stand as an example to those who naively believe the "new breed" of officer will protect their Second Amendment rights when their jobs are at stake. Back conservative candidates and join the NRA. More than your right to possess firearms is at stake.

The author has served as a lieutenant on the L.A.P.D. from 1960 to 1985 when Badge No. 1 retired with him. He then went on to serve as Chief of Police, Kodiak, Alaska; first City Marshall and Director of Public Safety, Whittier, Alaska as well as doing contract police work in Aleutian Chain and St. George. He was a mustang officer in the army, rising from private to Lt. Colonel, Military Intelligence and Special Forces branches. He is a life member of the NRA.

This article appeared in the September/October 1995 issue of American Handgunner and is reprinted by permission.