Unless you have gone through the grueling training and taken the oath to
uphold the law, you can never know what it’s like to carry a gun and be
licensed to shoot to kill.
That’s why cops are different from
the rest us — men and women who are part of a cult of law enforcement
where there are unspoken rules of conduct that sometimes become a code
It is a very thin blue line that separates civilized
people from the barbarians among us. Inevitably, a few cops cross that
line; sometimes whole departments become infected in a way that makes
officers blind to the abuses going on around them — patterns of conduct
that are supported, even honored, by the community as a whole.
what happened to the Burbank Police Department, just as it did to the
Los Angeles Police Department, which took three decades of revelations
of police spying on prominent people, the videotaped Rodney King beating
and the pattern of tolerance of excessive use of force it exposed, the
Rampart scandal and finally a federal court consent to decree to reshape
Burbank is only at the start of dealing with a
police culture gone awry. It is costing the city millions of dollars,
led to a long string of lawsuits and could still lead to federal civil
rights violation charges.
“We’re as far forward as we could be at
this time … all in all, we’ve come a long way,” says Scott LaChasse,
the retired LAPD commander who took over as interim Burbank chief of
police 14 months ago and faces the daunting challenge of reshaping the
culture of the department, a task that requires a delicate touch of
pushing for dramatic changes without breaking the morale of the force.
“This is a good department, a good city. It’s going to be better.”
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