Letters to the Editor: The LAPD’s troubling unease with reporters asking questions

A destroyed LAPD bomb squad vehicle after officers detonated illegal fireworks on East 27th Street in Los Angeles.
A destroyed LAPD bomb squad vehicle after officers detonated a cache of illegal fireworks on East 27th Street in Los Angeles on July 4, 2021.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I previously worked as a crime reporter in Los Angeles, and for a time I staffed a 24-hour bureau at L.A. Police Department headquarters. Covering crime and mayhem is difficult work, and so is the job of policing and investigating those crimes. (“Outrage over Times’ journalism exposes LAPD’s ignorance of a free press, experts say,” July 14)

Too often those in law enforcement view journalists as the enemy, when in fact journalists are just performing their constitutionally protected duty to inform the citizenry about our world. Part of that role is gathering facts, verifying them, filtering out opinion and misinformation, and presenting that information to the reader in an unbiased way.

Knocking on doors to talk to victims or officials who are integral to the story — as Times reporters did with the LAPD officers involved in the botched 2021 detonation of seized illegal fireworks in South L.A. — is an essential part of the news-gathering process.


Police union representatives would never advocate for a detective to be constrained from interviewing people essential to a criminal investigation. Why would they want to constrain journalists from doing essentially the same thing in the name of transparency and accountability?

The 1st Amendment was first for a reason. It guarantees that all the other rights are protected by an informed citizenry that ultimately has the final say at the ballot box.

Russell Snyder, Davis


To the editor: The Times’ story on the LAPD failures detailed in the inspector general’s report on the fireworks blast and the department’s disciplinary actions toward individual officers involved was certainly important information needing to be published. It served the public interest.

But why was it necessary to publish the officers’ names? What did that accomplish?

The longstanding problems surrounding the police department’s management and disciplinary policies were really the crux of the issue, not the names of the officers.

James Hergenrather, Los Angeles



To the editor: The LAPD is manufacturing outrage that reporters knocked on an officer’s front door to ask her questions related to a news story. When she asked them to leave, they left.

People knock on my door almost every day, selling something, asking for donations, asking for my vote, evangelizing (which comes under selling something, I guess) or, as happened a couple of days ago, reminding me I needed to move my car for street-sweeping.

I have never been outraged by it. It’s up to me whether to answer the door, and if I’m not interested in what they’re offering, I tell them that and they move on.

Get over yourselves, LAPD.

Kerrin McMahan, Montebello


To the editor: It’s mind-boggling that the LAPD routinely estimates the amount of explosives rather than actually weighing them.

It’s also mind-boggling that the people who made this terrible decision haven’t been held sufficiently accountable for injuring both police and civilians and causing millions of dollars in damages. Would this have happened in the private sector?


Two old sayings apply here: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and, “Always err on the side of caution.”

Laura Sines, Los Angeles