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Letters to the Editor: The LAPD knows which of its cops are dangerous. It should remove them now

An LAPD recruit officer class marches during graduation exercises outside the department headquarters in downtown L.A.
An LAPD recruit officer class marches in for inspection during graduation exercises outside the department headquarters building in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Apologists routinely contend that police violence is committed by just a few “bad apples.” According to press reports, George Floyd’s killer had a history of complaints of excessive force. How could anyone have known that Floyd’s killer was prone to violence? (“Defund the LAPD? It’s time to rethink public safety in Los Angeles,” editorial, June 8)

The Minneapolis Police Department knew.

I was one of the counsel to the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991 (commonly known as the Christopher Commission), which was formed after the Rodney King beating. I was tasked with working with the forensic accounting firm Freeman & Mills to analyze the LAPD databases on the use of force by officers.

We were able to track uses of force and complaints of excessive uses of force to individual police officers through the LAPD’s own records. Complaints of excessive force, though fairly widespread, were concentrated in a small percentage of police officers. Of the 1,931 police officers named in complaints of excessive force, 254 accounted for 30% of the complaints, and 47 officers had five or more complaints each.

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I have no doubt this type of information is readily available today to the LAPD and other departments across the country. Police departments know who the “bad apples” are, and there is no excuse for them to be allowed on the streets.

Jeffrey Dasteel, Los Angeles

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To the editor: To anyone of color or anyone with disabilities, the police can seem like a localized, state-sponsored terrorist group rather than a force for law and order.

They terrorize us. They harass us, arrest us and beat us more aggressively than they do with our more privileged counterparts. There are too many videos of police terrorizing peaceful protesters, and that’s excluding all other aspects of our lives.

They kill us. Think of all the killings of unarmed black, brown or disabled people we hear about, and then think how many of them we don’t hear about.

They get away with it. The systems protect them. They terrorize and kill us, with almost no repercussions.

Hold the police and their enablers accountable. End police brutality. Defund the police.

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Christian Salmeron, Los Angeles

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To the editor: In the name of social justice, shall we reduce LAPD efforts against human trafficking? Child pornography? Outreach alongside mental health workers to homeless people?

Which neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by crime and suffer most when understaffing slows police response time?

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In fact, public safety is a social justice issue.

Talk of reducing our police budget sounds like thinly disguised collective punishment, which wouldn’t touch the truly guilty but would most endanger the most vulnerable.

Fay Russell, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Isn’t the “police issue” not simply about the police department, but really about who seeks to become an officer?

Like it or not, the character of future police officers is shaped by the pool of candidates. I know we have some really decent officers, but I propose that we be more thoughtful in screening out those with racist predispositions and militaristic orientations.

Goetz Wolff, Los Angeles


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