The massive rollout to protect police from Dorner generated criticism that the department put fellow cops' safety first.
These folks put themselves at significantly more risk than the general public. They put on a uniform that screams "Target," that screams "I am the representation of authority." You have to protect people who do that; otherwise nobody will do it. So I make no apologies for that.
Every day, law enforcement put themselves at risk for people they don't know. When they become targets just because of what they do — you want to talk about prejudice? You want to talk about unfair? Imagine being targeted by Dorner regardless of whether you had any involvement [in his career]. You would think differently. This is no different on a certain level [than] being targeted because of your race.
Will Dorner cause you to be looking at the procedures for reintegrating veterans in the department?
We do a lot [already]. It's two to four weeks, longer if needed. It includes medical, physical and psychological [elements]. It includes retraining on new policies or laws. I recognize the vast difference between the military and the police. Sometimes people who aren't in the business say, "Well, they've both got guns and uniforms, so it's pretty much the same thing." It isn't even close. The rules of engagement are completely different. The methods are completely different. We really have to make sure people have the necessary tools to come back to policing from the military.
This was a big national story, so if Anderson Cooper called —
I knew that I had to do an interview right after it happened. And I didn't choose Anderson Cooper. I chose [KCAL anchor] Pat Harvey. She's local. I chose her because I respect her, she's covered me before, she's been fair, she's African American, she has a great African American audience that respects her. I could have done "60 Minutes." I don't care about that. I care about L.A.
What did you think when you read Dorner's manifesto?
I was reminded of other manifestoes . You can see the cracks in the logic, the non sequiturs. I did recognize how much time he'd spent writing it. I thought, wow, he's been working on this for months. It certainly made me believe we were dealing with someone who had a plan.
[In it] he constantly talks about clearing his name, and that strikes a chord with people, but not when you realize he's trying to clear his name through homicide. You can't clear your name through homicide. He knows that. So what does he really want to do? What is he really saying? He's really saying he wants to create a posterity in which he is more significant than other people.
And remember, he picked his fate. I'm not saying he picked being burned, but he knew when he was in that cabin that there were only two ways out: He could surrender, or if he kept doing what he was doing, he was going to die. And he chose the latter.
You would have preferred that he surrender?
Of course. We are not the executioners of society. That's not what the goal of policing is.
You're a second-generation cop; your kids are on the force. Has all of this made you do any soul searching about the profession?
I'm an introspective guy; I think about this all the time. You hear folks rail against authority, but what's the option? Are we not going to protect those who can't protect themselves? Are we not going to make sure the will of the strong doesn't oppress the rights of the weak? We have to. That's what society is about. That's why humankind banded together, so that the evilest, strongest, biggest person didn't rule.
We have great responsibility. I don't think any profession, any department, is as scrutinized as ours. That's legitimate, because we [are given] the right to take away personal freedom, even human life.
This interview was edited and excerpted from a taped transcript. An archive of Morrison's interviews can be found at latimes.com/pattasks.