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Skid row shooting: Risks of being a cop doesn't absolve the four officers

To the editor: Craig Lally, president of the L.A. Police Protective League, summarizes the real dangers we know the police face, but totally avoids the 800-pound gorilla in the room: When we have visual video evidence of police brutality or police misconduct, are we not supposed to believe what our eyes clearly see? ("Shooting of L.A. homeless man underscores risks, decisions police face," op-ed, March 4)

I have never seen or heard the Police Protective League condemn an illegal act by one of its officers. The group would have more credibility if just once in the right situation it would acknowledge what everyone can clearly see was wrong.

James Osborne, Los Angeles

The writer is an attorney.


To the editor: Yes, police confront a lot of unknown and possibly dangerous situations on a daily basis. I haven't read everything or seen everything about the homeless man's death on skid row last Sunday.

However, I do know this: For the most part, the homeless on skid row are not heavily armed. And in this case we're talking about four trained police officers confronting one homeless man, and the best outcome they could produce was to shoot and kill the man.

Four armed police officers and one unarmed homeless man, and this is the best they could do?

A lot of what Lally says is undoubtedly true in many instances, but I don't believe it applies here.

Larry Keffer, Chatsworth


To the editor: As a Los Angeles County social worker in the early 1970s, my caseload included people being released by the thousands from state mental institutions. My service area included MacArthur Park, downtown L.A. and skid row.

Although my clients would have benefited greatly from mental health centers that never materialized, they were for the most part able to maintain stable housing for months and years at a time, living on Social Security disability benefits in small rooms of residential hotels or in studio apartments that were still affordable. If a mental health crisis did occur, an involuntary commitment for psychiatric care would be facilitated, with most people returning to their homes after a short period of time or to board and care facilities for closer care.

If we truly want to help people living on the streets now, small rent subsidies, some light monitoring and involuntary commitments for those who are unable at the moment to help themselves would probably do it.

Tanya Tull, Los Angeles

The writer is president and chief executive of Partnering for Change.

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