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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Racial tensions in Los Angeles are boiling again following the beating of a black teenager by a white cop. Ten years on from the riots the LAPD is also in crisis. Joshua Dugdale followed the LAPD elite gang unit.
Congrats on an extremely interesting Correspondent. I was annoyed when it ended and Josh Dugdale gave an insightful view on LA street life. You should all be applauded!
The punishment meted out to a criminal must be commensurate with his/her crime. No decent human being, black or white, wants to live in a society where gang-members and drug-peddlers dominate. Neither do I want to see Inglewood Police unleash terror on a sixteen-year-old in handcuffs.
Joshua Dugdale did a good job of presenting a very biased program, where he showed only the point of view of white cops who are obviously resisting reforms from their black chief. Could Joshua not find one black cop to interview?
Unfortunate that Joshua Dugdale's report should be crippled by the very political correctness that is undermining policing in LA (and London for that matter). Until the black community faces up to its own deficiencies instead of looking for scapegoats (aided and abetted by right-on whites) nothing will change.
After watching your excellent programme I felt compelled to send an e-mail. It must be very difficult for the elected Chief of Police, being the first African American to be elected to this post, to tread the fine line between cow towing to those who expected him to denigrate any member of his police service who allegedly carried out a racist arrest and upholding the law. Unfortunately, it would appear that his attempts failed, but it became apparent during the programme that his attempts at reform were being used by the very people it was set to help.
In recent years this very same attitude has become prevalent in British society, whereby the system is becoming hamstrung by its overt political correctness. Having been in the police service for 19 years, I have never found any difficulty in dealing with the public - irrespective of colour, race, creed or gender - unless the problem is introduced by the possibility of compensation or an easy escape route from punishment on the grounds of race.
I am very saddened by the attitudes expressed towards the LAPD and the police in general by the media - although this programme was very balanced - whilst not condoning in any way unfair treatment of ANY individual when they have contact with the police.
The police force should be hauled over for the assault NOT because it was against a black person. We now see this on TV because it was a black person wrongly being beaten up. If it was a white person we would not have seen this. Once again it was wrong but this attitude of lets look into this because they are black is creating more racial tension. Black people are my EQUAL and should be treated accordingly.
The programme was interesting overall and I was glad I saw it, particularly as I visit the city fairly often. However, it was sometimes rather superficial. Thus we had the repeated theme of Police Chief Parks promoting better treatment of suspects. Fine but there was no objection from anyone whatsoever to that, so why did it feature so strongly? Wasn't it obvious?
What was of more interest was his responsibility, if he had any, in the mounting crime figures? The ordinary policemen complained that they felt they were wasting their time. But we wanted to know why. Alright, some reasons were suggested but who was responsible for these? Parks' name wasn't associated with any of them, just with the above laudable aim.
What about the role of the Police Commission? What about the crucial role of the intermediate and higher levels in the police service or of local politicians? Even I in casual conversation with those with connections in the police service hear that these are often thought of as weak links!
So is this another case of a reporting team being flown in and out with little interest in the complexity of the situation? I agree that we were given a quick glimpse of the history but this was a dumbed-down history. Couldn't we have an analysis aimed at the likely viewership of this series of programmes? I should imagine that the average viewer of Correspondent already knows something about the subject and would like to be updated - this the programme more or less did - and provided with further insights, not simply to structure a programme around the usual pictures of night-time LA.
I watched all of this loose programme. But it should have been better.
The young man shown at the end of the programme was portrayed as a victim but in reality he may have been ready to perpetrate a crime. I feel that the police have been made scapegoats.
Your programme is biased towards making ethnic people look like the underlying problem within LA. LA is a massive city and you made it look as though LA is full of gangs who are of black or Mexican origin, oppressing whiter than white police officers who have their hands tied by a bad, black man in charge. The message you're sending out made it look as though the police officer who man-handled the black youth in the news lately was right to do so, because all blacks are gangs members or involved in some sort of crime, and they need to be oppressed.
I watched your documentary regarding the increase in violence in Los Angeles. I left the Los Angeles area 6 years ago, after my son was shot and paralyzed. I brought my young daughter to England in order to keep her safe.
Having worked with The Centre to Prevent Handgun Violence and Handgun Control for 6 years I believe that I am able to speak about the issue addressed in your programme.
One of the major differences between the area of South Central Los Angeles and other cities of similar socio-economic conditions is the availability of guns. Your programme pointed to the increase in homicides within Los Angeles. The vast majority of homicides in Los Angeles result from gun violence. You cannot address the "reason" behind the violence within Los Angeles without addressing the question of the availability of guns on the streets.
Handguns are manufactured in Los Angeles. There are 10 major companies known as the "ring of fire". The number one choice of weapon for a street crime can be purchased for under £20. Without handguns the homicides within Los Angles would decrease for certain. The proliferation of guns continues within the United States and the possibility of banning cheap handguns seems further away every year.
The gun manufacturers of California have found a new market here in the United Kingdom. This fact is not what your programme was about, but it is impossible to discuss violence on the streets of LA without discussing the gun manufacturers.
I would be saddened to see the cities of England plagued by the violence depicted on tonight's programme but it can happen. It begins slowly and is noticed by the public only when enough people are shot and killed.
Thank you for the programme. I would like to see your "team" go further with the information that you are relating to the public. I would like to see a programme that covers the problem of guns on the streets of Los Angeles, where they come from and why they are still being manufactured today at the rate of over 2,000 per day.
An interesting piece of footage, but it focused only on one specific area in LA and on that area's specific problems. Fifteen and a half million people live in Greater Los Angeles, it's a pity your programme did not take its cameras to Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Pasadena, even Venice Beach etc. It is impossible to make a programme about Los Angeles based only in one neighbourhood. I have been involved with LA for over 12 years, and lived there for four. And the "race issue" is not just about white v black, as portrayed this evening. In 1992 it was about black v Korean and other Asians. Anyway, it was good to see a programme on LA and one facet of its reality. How about one on the proposed demerger of the Valley from the rest of the City?
I thought that this programme was very sickening. Nobody should be treated like that by the police, no matter what colour you are and I think people should do more to prevent this. Personally, I think racist police are weak because they know the victim can't do anything back.
Good programme. I'd start preparing for the same sort of show on the Met if I were you.
LAPD blues was an excellent film but didn't go into any detail about how the rising crime problem could be reduced. Some emphasis on how the black youngsters turning to crime could be helped by better education, job prospects, improved housing etc could have illustrated a "third way" other than beating the hell out of them by white cops. The film was, I agree, about the LAPD, but a small part of it should have addressed black social problems as the cause of the crime.
This episode of Correspondent only scratches the surface of a story that is explored much more detailed and less cowardly in the book LAbyrinth by Randal Sullivan, Atlantic Monthly Press New York 2002.
LAPD blues, a foretaste of what we have to come. A land in which political correctness and racial equality equals putting an unqualified and incompetent man in charge simply because he is black. The force became disillusioned; they were unable to do their job for fear of upsetting the criminals. Its coming here next, Blair and Co will see to that. Political correctness and racial equality already insists upon unqualified individuals being promoted into positions which are normally out of their reach. Quotas are set, whereby you must, regardless of ability, promote a certain amount of this minority or that minority, I hear no such rules in the case of the oppressed white European. Wake up world, before it's too late.
I saw the programme about the LAPD and watched at the end when the voice over announced that the charges against the two men had been thrown out, with two LAPD officers going on to say that there was insufficient evidence even though they were caught with rock cocaine and a gun, on camera.
Are you sure that the case wasn't that the officers had no probable cause to stop their vehicle, and any information that flowed from the stop could not be used as the stop and search was itself unlawful?
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