Sheriff’s deputies caught one of the Bloods before he could vanish into the maze of two-story apartment blocks that make up Imperial Courts. Another suspect got away. Deputies spotted the third ducking into one of the apartment buildings. They were preparing to go in when Phil Tingirides, the Los Angeles Police Department captain responsible for Southeast Division, arrived on the scene. Tingirides didn’t like what he saw. Entering seemed an unwise tactic; in fact, LAPD guidelines called for the use of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. Tingirides was also disturbed by the atmosphere developing among the assembled group of roughly 15 spectators, including the suspect’s mother, sisters, and brothers. Almost as soon as she had arrived, upset and worried, the mother had gotten into it with one of the deputies, who began upbraiding her for raising a gangbanger. Meanwhile, Tingirides noticed, one of the brothers had started an argument with a group of PJs nearby.
Any cop who’d worked the public-housing developments of Watts during the 1980s and 1990s had seen it happen: the gang skirmish that escalates to a shooting; the crowd that turns on the cops. But not this time. Tingirides interrupted the deputy’s harangue, saying, “Hey, I got this.” Then he introduced himself to the mother and the sisters as a cop and a parent. “Your priority needs to be getting your son out of here safe,” he said. He explained what had happened. This was news to the mother, who had simply gotten a call from her son saying that the cops were chasing him for no reason. These things can happen, Tingirides said. Disgusted at the way Tingirides was talking about a hard-core gangbanger, the deputy left. Tingirides and the mother then went over to the brother, who was still arguing with the PJs. Mom and the highway patrol pulled him aside. “Once she understood what had happened and had someone talking to her as a person and a fellow parent, it totally changed her demeanor and dynamic,” says Tingirides.
The crowd was losing interest. So were the deputies. Tingirides told them that LAPD guidelines prohibited an attempt to make an entry. Fine, they said; in that case, we’re handing this off to you. The deputies pulled back. And then the suspect emerged. His brother had called him on his cell phone and explained the situation. South Gate police took him into custody. The crowd dispersed. “There was never any element of hostility toward our department at all,” Tingirides says.
For more than half a century, many African-American Angelenos and more than a few Latinos considered the LAPD an oppressor—“an occupation force,” in the words of former Urban League president John Mack. That is no longer the case. Over the past decade, the department has transformed itself radically, along with its relations with local minorities. Nor has the police department become popular by sacrificing public safety: violent crime in Los Angeles has been falling for years. How the LAPD’s reconciliation with L.A.’s minorities came about may be the most important untold story in the world of policing. What makes the reconciliation even more remarkable is that its architect was the same man who had already transformed the New York City Police Department: William Bratton.
via City Journal.
A lengthy and excellent piece about how Bill Bratton transformed the LAPD from a jack-booted thug operating under a federal consent decree to a modern crime fighting force that understands the needs of minorities.
Too bad that Gerry McCarthy’s ego is too big for him to do anything but continue to blame other people for his lack of leadership at CPD.