Opinion: Transparency absent before and after death of ex-cop
OPINION COLUMN BY JAMES GINGERICH —
When Chris Dorner was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for allegedly making false claims against an officer for kicking a handcuffed suspect, he refused to accept this adjudication. He sought an appeal in 2010 and maintained that his accusations were true. He lost his case and returned to civilian life. The next time Dorner would communicate with his colleagues would be as a criminal, through what has been dubbed his manifesto, in which he claimed responsibility for the shooting death of his ex-attorney three days earlier and threatened the lives of hundreds of officers he had worked with.
“I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system slandered and libeled me,” Dorner wrote. “You’re going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him, especially his name.”
In the early morning of Feb. 7, Dorner opened fire on two officers stopped at a light, killing one in an act of terror, to exact revenge on anyone in uniform. Dorner would later kill one more officer before dying from a fire (the origin is unknown) while surrounded by police. The same day Dorner killed his first man in uniform, the LAPD shot three people in their attempt to instill order. Both Dorner and the LAPD had motives and missing bullets, but only Dorner would see consequence for his actions.
When Chris Dorner died on Feb. 12, burned to death in a cabin in Big Bear, Calif., he did so both as an ex-LAPD officer and a murdering psychopath. Yet foremost he was a product, the end result of a reaction perpetuated by the culture and the politics of law enforcement. The media, the government and the courts continually fail to hold our police officers to the standards one would expect in a republic founded on principles of fairness and justice. If we prosecuted their crimes rather than accepting them as an inevitable byproduct of peace, we could all put more faith in our government and men like Dorner would have no pedestal from which to speak.
Police officers and politicians see it as their lot in the grand scheme of humanity to maintain a progressing world, and Dorner saw himself playing that role too — as the lone force of good — so he espoused and everyone who had wronged him or the system was going to pay. He was the authority in his eyes and the law and those it gives legitimacy to are the authority in ours. As a police officer, Dorner alleged abuse, racism and corruption in the LAPD, accusations he was fired for. He was a maniac, a sociopath and a very angry man. Of course you shouldn’t trust a man capable of murder, but do his complaints surprise you? Police brutality is a constant in our culture, from highly publicized incidents like Rodney King to those you hear about from friends or neighbors. Whether it is on the rise, as media outlets assert, those with the authority to take away your rights and life should be the last ones to abuse their position and the first ones held accountable.
There is an exasperating silence when it comes to addressing these issues in government. Yes, it is a difficult issue, because just passing laws simply will not suffice. For every law there must be an additional tier of enforcement, and the tree can only be so tall. You must reach the root of the issue, which requires one to think critically about how our system operates.
The origin of the incorrectness is the lack of honest culpability. To bestow the ability to discriminate between the accountable and the blameless to a few elites without any legal process or transparency inevitably breeds mistrust. This is why we need civilian oversight. We need those whose desire to see justice served overrides their responsibility to make law enforcement swift and efficient. Non-profit organizations have no investment in protecting their own and will treat police officers like any other citizen, as it should be.