You got to feel for poor Charlie Beck — he was always going to get left holding the bag.
Bratton could do no wrong. He was bigger than City Hall, bigger than LA, and got whatever he wanted even when the treasury was bare because he could keep the crime statistics falling and falling to the point the mayor could boast we are safer than we were in 1956.
Bratton was no street cop. He was a police theorist who built highly-trained specialized units who attacked crime wherever there was a statistical blip.
But now “in the wake of New York City’s failed terrorist attack,” Beck is facing a lost of questioning about his own commitment to protect LA’s target-rich environment from Muslim extremists.
Much is being made of Beck’s decision to “dismantle” the massive anti-terrorist operations that Bratton put together. But what’s poor Beck to do other than repeat his lament that “we are robbing Peter to pay Paul” because of the budget crisis that has curtailed hiring and overtime and forced cops to work desk jobs of civilians whose jobs are being eliminated.
No less than the pseudonymous cop “JackDunphy” asks on Patterico’s Pontifications, “Times Square Car Bomb: Could Los AngelesBe Next?”
“It is reasonable to assume that some sites in Los Angeles are every bit as tempting to terrorists as Times Square, which would seem to call for added vigilance on the part of the Los Angeles Police Department. Incredibly, the very unit within the LAPD responsible for such vigilance was quietly disbanded not long ago, with its personnel reassigned to more mundane duties.
“Given this close brush with disaster in New York, perhaps some in the LAPD are having second thoughts about where those officers would be best utilized.”
The Police Protective League piped in with its own two cents, commenting “perhaps the LAPD needs to reconsider its decision to disband its anti-terrorism unit – and reassign those officers to do what they were specially trained to do.”
“With so many possible terrorist targets in our city, it’s foolish and irresponsible to ignore the possibility of a Times Square incident. In addition to watchful residents, we need sufficient numbers of officers and specialists to prevent and react to threats. We again call on the city leadership to reject any more cuts to the public safety budget.”
The LA Weekly found a “source with knowledge of department” who says “Counter-Terrorism, sometimes cited as a national beacon in high-tech terror policing, is now a shell with only Deputy Chief Michael Downing at the top and a few hands left over. The source says it has been quietly disbanded with cops taking other, more quotidian roles in policing L.A.’s neighborhoods.”
The Times gets to Downing himself to report that only the elimination was the Protective Security Task Force, a unit of “about two dozen plainclothes cops who could be dispatched to provide a ‘cloak’ of high-level security at a building or event that had been
threatened with attack or was otherwise believed to be at risk.”
force) was a valued asset, and I would have liked to keep it,” Downing said,
“but every part of the department has to make sacrifices right now, and
this made the most sense.”
Even Bratton cannot help but note that “across the country, cash-strapped cities are cutting funds for police
counter-terrorism” and that our system is full of holes and poor communication between the various federal and local agencies who are supposed to protect us.
“The Times Square plot, much like the Christmas Day
airplane plot, was not on our radar.
Those plots failed not because we did everything right; they failed
because the terrorists made technical errors in bomb-making,” Bratton wrote in the New York Daily News, which identified him only as a former NYC Police Commissioner.
So no less an authority than Bratton tells us our anti-terror efforts have a long way to go. Downing, good cop that he is, grits his teeth about cutting off “a valued asset” in the effort to protect us from terrorists but points us to what is really going on in the LAPD that goes far beyond the Protective Security Task Force.
“Every part of the department has to make sacrifices right now” — that’s what is really going on.
What Downing has lost is 10 percent of his total counter-terror staff of more than 250, which leaves him in better shape than a lot of LAPD special units.
The crack team of 50 officers Bratton dispatched wherever crime seemed to be getting out of hand is gone. The elite Metro team has lost officers. Dozens of officers with special training are on routine patrol or even staffing desk jobs in the absence of civilian workers who have been furloughed or whose jobs were cut. Beck is even laying off police dogs, retiring them to save money..
The mayor’s “10,000″ cops mantra was meaningless, a typical political slogan. What mattered was giving the LAPD the tools to fight our home-grown terrorists in gangs as well as Al Qaeda.
Beck is caught in a box. He doesn’t have the clout to get whatever he wants like Bratton. He is forced to choose between specialized units and street patrol and staffing desk jobs.
He has been lucky so far. Major crime is down more than seven percent this year under his watch and nobody has tried to blow up one of LA’s many prime terrorist targets.
Luck can only get you so far. The numbers can turn quickly and a tragedy can occur any moment. Fair or not, Beck will be the fall guy.
The real issue is what we are doing to our city in this budget crisis, or more accurately, what the mayor and City Council are doing to our city.
It isn’t just the cops or the firefighters. It’s the parks and libraries and other core services. It’s planning healthy communities and enforcing building codes.
Our leaders are papering over the budget problems they created with gimmicks and one-time savings. They are counting on job creation and revenue generation to save them no matter how much they harm the quality of our lives or even put our lives at risk.
This is no way to run a city.
We need a new deal, a new deal with city unions that protects jobs long-term and services today, a new deal for the residents and businesses that restores credibility and trust in our government.