by Pat Raphael
No,no, no, no, NO! This will just not do in Venice. To come into our community and murder one of our young men, then spend the next few years successfully navigating sham courts in a tilted legal system, and totally escape punishment or meaningful consequence for that killing? No! We do not consent. After this pattern ran its course in the case of Shakespeare (Jascent Jamal Warren), who got killed at the Cadillac Hotel in 2015. There, witnesses describe Sris Sinnathamby, the owner of the Cadillac, coming out to the sidewalk of his hotel to stir up a confrontation, then order his armed guard to shoot Shakespeare. Sinnathamby then spent years jousting it in the sham courts only to walk away with charges dropped. This March, District Attorney for Los Angeles, Jackie Lacey, assured that the pattern continued uninterrupted in the case of The Dizzle (Brendon Glenn), who got killed by LAPD officer Clifford Proctor, yards from our landmark VENICE sign on Windward. Lacey unilaterally decided to not bring charges against Proctor.
The pattern is very consistent: in Louisiana for the police shooting of Alton Sterling, or Ferguson after Michael Brown, or Baltimore with Freddie Gray, or NYC when we see the life squeezed out of Eric Garner as he pleas, “I can’t breathe”. The same steps consistently play out — over here too, in Venice for The Dizzle. It started with the then LAPD Chief Charlie Beck making an unambiguous announcement that the video of the shooting he saw (which his department controlled), didn’t show any reason for the officer’s use of force. This was very consistent with the common pattern of sympathetic words and listening sessions directed at the community in the beginning. And often these become a prime opportunity for grandstanding officials (like Bonin) to talk of a future accountability, and to look good while calming the protests in the streets. After the protests die down, and an accountability investigation is launched, when the killer is a cop, they get the advantage of extra-legal protections negotiated into their employment contracts by the might of their powerful international union — The Police Officer’s Bill of Rights — which grant officers conditions that none of the accused they book on a daily can claim as cover. With time (and a salary) on the side of the killer cop, years can go by before finally it is quietly announced that after all of the reviews and much consideration, the killing was procedurally justified. By then it is not Alton in the news, or Garner, or the Dizzle, nor Shakespeare. By the time we find out that the justice system concludes that their lives didn’t matter, there’s already someone else for the grandstanding to center around. Already someone else senselessly gunned down, where we are being promised that this time it’ll be different.
In Venice this will not do. The Dizzle and Shakespeare belong to a community where their lives matter. If in this era of mass cameras, the media is being fed the sensational videos that have made it possible for society to generate a conversation about policing, when this conversation comes here to Venice, there are enough of us developing a broad, clear-eyed perspective of reality, that our conversations will generate more imaginative solutions aimed at delivering the balanced and forward-looking police department of the future. Our Venice perspective allows us to remove ourselves from any media distractions meant to sweep us up in a manufactured mass-hysteria. From here we can really drill down to the root causes of the failures we now experience in policing, and offer the positive solutions that can result in better outcomes.
The proposals here are a collaborative effort distilled from dialogue with many members of the Trans-National Alliance. Yes we are rolling many blunts and burning much herb during these conversations — but we are also thinking deeply. Members of the TNA agree that as we get a new police chief in L.A., we who have given significant thought to the policing solutions we want to see implemented in our community, must be part of this conversation. The Alliance agrees to make a public declaration of these proposals in the pages of the FREE VENICE BEACHHEAD so that the new police chief may have them available for policy considerations, and that these forward-thinking proposals may assure that no member of our Trans-Public are ever endangered by the police officers tasked to protect them.
yo man let’s get an understanding
I know that your job is demanding
but I only got me one life to live…
–Ice Cube – U Ain’t Gonna Take My Life
When we start the dialogue, and the anger seethes from the latest killing dominating the news cycle, it is easy to conclude, f*ck the police, and ask why even have this evil institution generating so many bad outcomes in our community. In the TNA, members of the trans-public are free to adopt any governing philosophy that suits coexistence. Yet even if we claimed an anarchist governance, it would still not be without policing — but instead, self-policing. So until we achieve a utopia where every member of community can self-police, we understand that this institution has a role in a civilized society.
Imagine the toll of having to do their job — dealing with the most indiscipline members of society — those who have taken the least care to coexist, always needing outside intervention to tell them to act right. Put yourselves in the shoes of the police and see them in a mundane daily dripping of confrontation after stressful confrontation, interrupted by the shock of the big events, when they have to deal with the worst that human beings are capable of doing to one another. The cumulative effect of all this stress is taking a taxing toll on our police officers, and is leaving them desensitized the more they see. Officers who lack empathy because the experience of their job has left them jaded make bad cops, and bad cops drive bad outcomes in our community. It is with this in mind that we’ve develop an interest to making sure that all of our officers have everything they need to be best equipped to handle all they have to deal with in doing their jobs — giving each officer the chance to aspire to the highest ideal of their profession as the heroes among us.
PTSD is real, and its cumulative effects needs immediate drastic intervention to relieve our police officers from the humanity-numbing daily drip of negative interactions, that their job requires of them. The Trans-National Alliance proposes that police officers be removed from their current year-long schedule of service and instead be placed, over the course of one year, on a nine-month tour of service, with 2 mandatory two-week vacations in each half of their tour. In essence each officer will work eight months out of the year, never getting to 4.5 months before mandatory time off, while collecting their salary over the course of the whole year. We prescribe this decompression time not as an expense to policing, but instead a necessary reprieve where officers gain enough distance from the job, so that they can experience policing as a member of the community. Being served by the PD as a member of the community will provide a much needed perspective when our officers return to work — a chance to know more intimately the role of their job in the lives of the people they serve.
————–Disarm The Cops————–
just wanna do your eight hours and then hit the showers
shoot a bother down and you don’t send flowers
goddamn sheriff / can’t wait to tear off / a chunk off a n*ggas ass…
–Ice Cube – U Ain’t Gonna Take My Life
Consider just how rare it is for officers to use their guns, and how much of their job involves officers playing the role of social worker, or mental health psychologist, or couple’s counselor, or truant officer. When we decided upon disarming the cops, it was in order to arm them with the resources of the community. As a re-imagination of law enforcement, this proposal may seem a bit out there to implement, given how deep gun culture is embedded in American society. And in addition, won’t the firepower imbalance put officers at a safety disadvantage? We solve this by making sure we are sending officers into the community who are well trained to handle themselves in a variety of common policing scenarios. But most importantly we will change the posture of policing to make it so that officers come in the community with as many resource options as needed to solve the root cause of policing issues and not just deal with the effects when they bubble over.
So if we arm the cops with resources like housing vouchers, cash assistance, rehab placement, access to vocational training, restaurant gift cards, tickets to the ball game or movie passes, etc… all of the sudden, when confronted with a chance to serve, officers will have more options available to them besides ticketing, or making an arrest, or pulling out a gun and shooting. That little change alone will make it so that the job becomes waaay safer — when people start to see officers as intervening to help solve problems, rather than make it worse by using arrest and imprisonment.
But Pat, I hear you say, ‘there are real crazies out there, who aren’t gonna go quietly just because there’s an Appleby’s dining voucher in it for him’. Yes I get it. The scenarios where someone is actively out to hurt others or intends harm on our police officers will continue to be a challenge that the department must equip themselves to deal with. In conversations with the community, we will still create rapid response forces within the department — like a beefed up s.w.a.t. unit — where once these guys get called out, you really done stepped in it, and they will use the might of their overwhelming force to assure the safety of the community. This unit will come on the scene dressed like roboCop, full of brave men and women using the latest armor and weaponry. While we can not be 100 percent with the certainty of their safety, we will pour enough resources into our s.w.a.t. force that the danger inherent to the position is minimized — giving officers more confidence to do their job bravely, knowing we got their backs… We just don’t want our department to be the place where sadistic killer-minded individuals end up, because they know they will have opportunities for unchecked violence. Leading us to the last point of our reform: choosing carefully to whom we give this awesome responsibility of policing.
————Heroes Without Capes not Bossy Hall Monitors—————-
You must respect my authoritah!
–Eric Cartman, Hall Monitor
When we implement the above measures — time off to counter ptsd, taking the gun out of the equation, arming officers with community resources, creating a dedicated rapid response s.w.a.t. force — we are still very far from where we want to end up, until we attract and hire the right people to do the job of policing. We all know people who wake up in the morning with a stiff one to go tell everybody what to do. We also know people too, who run towards the danger, because there might be someone who needs help. We need less bossy hall monitors in policing, and more heroes without capes.
When we remove from policing, the opportunity for unchecked violence, and add into the department real problem solving capabilities to effect and really serve the community, it won’t be long before those who want to come to the force simply as an outlet for their aggression will self remove (once that’s not a major feature of policing), and they who are stuck in places like St. Joseph’s or o.p.c.c. and feeling like they are not doing enough to help their community, will come to know that the place to more effectively serve is in the police department. This too, will go a long way from the community seeing the police as an enemy to a force of good, and in turn will add to the safety of officers.
In addition, as a goal of getting the best people to populate our police department, we are proposing that the selection process removes any explicit or implicit IQ cap built into the evaluation of candidates. The days of choosing officers BECAUSE they are a little bit dumb should give way to finding the smartest most qualified agents of our governance capable of making independently good decisions… Los Angeles is a world class city and deserves a police department fitting of that status. I look forward to seeing these measures implemented so that our police department can better fulfill the desires of our community.