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Opinion: Firing a gun is no way for an off-duty cop to stop kids from walking on his lawn

Several Anaheim police officers keep watch over the neighborhood while crime scene investigators collect evidence left behind by protesters at the home of an LAPD officer in Anaheim.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The incident in Anaheim — in which an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer fired his gun after a brief altercation with a few teenagers — and the public’s reaction to it reflect several serious problems facing our society. (“How an off-duty cop telling teens to stay out of his yard escalated to gunfire, protests and outrage,” Feb. 23)

Respect for personal property rights and the law notwithstanding, an off-duty police officer roughly handling a minor and firing a weapon in public violates multiple laws, regardless of whether the Los Angeles Police Commission decides that the officer has violated any department rules during the encounter.

The article also notes residents’ complaints about disrespectful teenagers and an uptick in crime after a skate park was built nearby. These types of blanket generalizations about misbehaving youths and the negative influence of a safe recreational facility for teens are just as harmful as generalizations about police officers acting out of prejudice against certain ethnic groups.

Lawrence A. Abel, San Diego

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To the editor: Disputes like this one erupt for a number of reasons, the two primary ones being that kids display a shocking lack of knowledge of the rights of property owners, and school hours in Southern California are insane.

Why are kids dumped onto the streets at 2:30 in the afternoon? Since parents don’t seem to know, much less respect, the rights of property owners, perhaps schools should teach that lesson. Just as important, schools need to adjust their hours so that kids get the sleep they need and get home when more adults are present.

Don’t blame the cop for the kids’ bad behavior.

Thomas Michael Kelley, Newbury Park

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