February 11, 2013

The Conundrum of Chris Dorner and the LAPD

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Christopher Dorner was raised in Southern California and, coincidentally, grew up in the same city and attended the same high school as me. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 2005 and was fired in 2008 for making false statements against a fellow officer.

On February 3, 2013, he reportedly shot and killed the daughter and fiancé of a former LAPD captain. On February 7, he ambushed two LAPD officers, killing one. In a manifesto released on Facebook, he swore revenge against the LAPD until his name is cleared for his 2008 dismissal. As of February 11, Dorner continues to evade authorities as the state of California conducts a massive manhunt to apprehend him.

More likely than not, Christopher Dorner is a murderer, and if he truly believes he can elicit change through solitary violence, he is also delusional. However, the government’s response to Dorner’s crimes entails several actions that must be critically examined. In conducting their search, the LAPD has joined with the FBI, the US Marshall Service and several other police agencies throughout Southern California. Customs and Border Protections have shut down numerous lanes at the US-Mexico border and have severely heightened their security and detection efforts to assist in the search.

This joint investigative task force has carefully and thoroughly patrolled numerous airports, train stations, freeways and streets, swarming the cities surrounding Dorner’s house and childhood home with police helicopters, cruisers and armed officers. During their search they have also posted Dorner’s vehicle information on electronic freeway signs and broadcast emergency warnings on the radio and television. Over the weekend, more than 100 officers combed through Big Bear Lake Mountains, Dorner’s last confirmed location, searching through cars, cabins, houses, trashcans and any other crevice that Dorner could possibly hide in. The task force has also issued armed protection to almost 50 families who could be potential targets, and even called for greater security at the Grammys.

On Sunday, the joint task forces offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner’s arrest, which, according to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, is the largest local award ever offered. And according to an officially unconfirmed and contested report by the Express, the LAPD may have deployed drones to assist in locating Dorner. Thousands of officers and millions of dollars all deployed for one man.

Despite the massive effort being expended to find Dorner, the most eye-opening parts of this manhunt are the two separate police shootings of civilians on February 7. In two different incidents, LADP officers opened fire on trucks and their drivers that were reportedly similar to the truck Dorner was driving.

The first truck – a light blue Toyota Tacoma – held Maggie Carranza and Emma Hernandez, two Hispanic females. They were given no warning prior to being fired upon and were critically injured by the officers’ mistake. The second truck – a black Honda Ridgeline – was driven by David Perdue, a white male who was intentionally slammed by a Torrance police cruiser and then openly fired upon. Take careful note that Christopher Dorner is a heavy-set, African American male with a gray Nissan Titan. Neither he nor his car come close to resembling the victims of the police shootings or the vehicles they were driving.

So what can be said of the government’s reaction to Christopher Dorner? We know Dorner is a dangerous, trained individual whose actions deserve justice. However, do his crimes truly warrant such a great exertion of force? Does the rampant pursuit of a “cop-killer” justify the “mistakes” that nervous police officers made when they fired upon innocent civilians who bore no resemblance to Dorner?

Clearly, they do not.

When we peer into the chaos, we must ask ourselves, is this how far our local, state and federal governments will go to stop one man who threatens a government institution? There are millions of crimes committed by dangerous individuals every year, yet none have spawned such a dramatic and unhinged reaction from all levels of the government and law enforcement.

Sadly, what separates Dorner and other violent criminals is his vendetta against the Los Angeles Police Department. Under the veil of public safety, the government has demonstrated the extent to which it will expend resources and carelessly hurt civilians to find one man who has targeted a branch of government.

If Christopher Dorner was a disgruntled corporate employee who targeted civilian families instead of the Los Angeles Police Department, would there still be a $1 million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest? Would Southern California be on absolute high alert and locked down by thousands of heavily armed officers?

The answer is almost certainly no.

I do not support Dorner’s actions or motives, but I do believe that this manhunt reveals several problems in the relationship between the government, private citizens and law enforcement. We must ask ourselves: at what point does the government’s pursuit of “safety” no longer serve our best interests?

Original Author: Kyle Ezzedine