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Letters to the Editor: LAPD killing of girl was ‘amateurish, incompetent and negligent,’ says retired cop

To the editor: From what I saw in the Los Angeles Police Department’s accidental killing of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta, I believe it was the most amateurish, incompetent and negligent police action I have seen in similar situations.

Fourteen of my 29 years in the New York Police Department were spent prosecuting officers charged with misconduct, and I rarely saw such “overkill” by officers confronting a violent person who wasn’t holding a gun. A 911 caller saying a man has a gun does not give officers the right to act like there was a live shooting situation, since we cops receive so many false calls about guns.

Upon seeing a suspect swinging a chain, any reasonable cop (even one working alone) would have approached the suspect, keeping a safe distance, and demanded the suspect drop the chain and freeze. Using guns from a distance, jeopardizing the lives of anyone behind the suspect, was grossly negligent in this case.

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Effective policing requires that officers take risks. If one doesn’t want to take risks, one should not become a police officer. Risks are part of the job, always a dangerous one.

Michael J. Gorman, New York

The writer is a retired NYPD lieutenant and an attorney.

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To the editor: I served two years as a draftee during the Vietnam War. Force of arms of any kind — particularly asymmetrical combat — is certain to be a bloody, chaotic affair.

To attempt to impose civilian control over the policing metric in such situations, while well-meaning, risks the lives of those sworn to protect us, likely resulting in even greater loss of life.

Jeff Denker, Malibu

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To the editor: The recent death of an 14-year-old innocent bystander at the Burlington department store in North Hollywood is heartbreaking and sickening. What is wrong with police training that so many apprehensions end in death?

When I was growing up in the United Kingdom, there was never any possibility of being shot by police. There, you can count on one hand the number of people killed every year by police; in the United States, the number is about 1,000.

I understand that the proliferation of guns in America is part of the problem. But surely police need to be trained to handle these situations differently. No one wants a shoot-out. No one wants deaths to occur. And yet they keep occurring with alarming regularity.

It’s got to stop. Hire specialists from countries that use deescalation effectively. I think we’d all feel much safer knowing the police were experts in defusing a tense situation.

David Tempest, Mar Vista


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