LA Police Chief Charlie Beck has made a bad decision.
Life is a series of decisions. No one should understand this more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. For obvious reasons, in any situation, your ideal position is one of “win or break even.” Those who are in the public area, especially big city police chiefs, more often than not find themselves in the opposite position: “lose or break even”; but that’s part of the job.
Since the “lose or break even” dilemma is virtually unavoidable as a rule, voluntarily placing yourself in one is especially foolish. When the best you can do is not lose, you ought to not go there; but Chief Beck doesn’t seem to understand this simple logic.
Beck was in the unenviable position of overseeing the everyday functions of a big city police department AND supervising the most important manhunt in recent memory. But at the top of his “to do” list was finding Christopher Dorner, a hate-filled mongrel who wanted to kill cops because he was fired from the LAPD in 2007.
As a rookie, Dorner was judged to have falsely reported seeing his training officer kick a mentally ill man during an arrest. The evidence against Dorner was persuasive enough to get him fired.
So Dorner went on a killing spree aimed at getting even with those he believed responsible for his firing. He had already killed three people, including the daughter of the police captain who unsuccessfully represented him in his hearing and her companion. A few hours later, he ambushed two on-duty uniformed police officers, killing one and wounding the other.
Clearly, Beck had big problems; but he added to them by announcing he would review Dorner’s case. This was foolish beyond words! What could have happened as a result of that review? The firing could have been found to be unjust; but whether a correct conclusion or not, Beck would have looked like a sap and a weakling just at a time when his officers needed him to stand tall and strong.
If the review upheld Dorner’s firing, Beck would have gained nothing. But more importantly, while men under his command were being killed by a monster and psychopath, Beck would have clearly made himself appear more concerned with the political correctness of a 6 year old internal review than with the lives of his officers. But apparently, special allowances had to be made, what with Dorner being a black officer. After all, what if he were somehow justified in murdering those who had been “unfair” to him?
It’s bad enough that Beck voluntarily put himself and his department in a “lose or break even” box. Now every officer in the Department will wonder whether their Chief is more concerned with the safety of his men or the politics of the next life-and-death situation.
Beck might have caught Dorner, but he made his job one Hell of a lot tougher in the future.
Photo credit: Antonio Villaraigosa (Creative Commons)