This World's LAPD: To Protect and Serve? programme was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two at 2100 BST on Thursday, 3 June, 2004.
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The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published are reflective of the balance of opinion received.
One of the things that struck me about this disturbing film was the seemingly few black police officers serving with the LAPD. Apart from the deputy chief, I can't recall seeing any black or Hispanic officers. The first battle the LAPD needs to win is that for the hearts and minds of the people they are trying to "protect and serve". If the force is not representative of these communities this battle will be lost and their job will be made harder.
Garry Fisher, UK
When watching I was struck that the method of policing was similar in some ways to the failed tactics in Vietnam, the police moved into the area, carried out their actions (not always welcomed by the inhabitants) and then pulled out again, leaving other elements to fill the void.
No attempt at combatting the root causes or winning "hearts and minds". All in all quite a draconian and oppressive method of attempting to maintain law and order, and as such bound to fail.
I found it quite sad watching the programme, knowing that LA police have to face issues of such nature, going to work and not knowing if you are going to go back home alive to your family.
I'd very much like to congratulate all working in the LAPD for choosing to work in such a harsh environment and you are, I am sure, very appreciated by your government. It takes brave people to do the kind of job you are doing especially in such a depressing environment.
I just find it hard to believe that the LAPD are not able to get the necessary resources to perform effectively and this goes to show that the work they are doing are is probably not a priority to the government.
Hilda Elegba, UK
I thought the programme on the problems in LA was extremely hard-hitting, and very well balanced. There are a lot of sensitive and complex issues at the core, built upon mistrust between the LAPD and the poorer communities, and within these communities themselves.
John James, UK
The programme was absolutely superb and without doubt one of the finest BBC documentaries to date. You only have to look at the headlines in most papers to read about the shocking and brutal reality of gun culture and violent crime on our own streets.
Marcus DeVilliers, UK
I'm sorry but I disagree with those who think that more social programmes are the answer to the problems that not only LA faces, but other Californian cities as well. The problems are created by people who lack parenting skills, thus creating unstable families and so kids join gangs. If people were to do a better job as parents, the crime problem, and the gang problem in particular, would be greatly reduced.
Yet again we see the downside of life in a country presided over by a man who lavishes colossal sums of money on his gun-toting activity in other parts of the world, and plainly ignores the immediate needs of his own people whose lives are wrecked by marginalised groups.
Patricia Taylor, UK
This whole situation is a "Catch-22" - you need jobs in order to lower the crime, but before any companies will invest the crime must be lowered. I can't see any quick fixes. The police have been tackling these problems in south central LA for 40 years.
Chief Bratton should be congratulated for bringing a fresh approach with his enthusiasm and dedication and I sincerely hope the LAPD gets this thing under control. The people of south central LA are mostly good and deserve to live in peace, it's just the minority who spoil it for everyone else.
This was a sad reflection on American society, where only people in the higher classes seem to count. What was even worse is that you can see shades of this attitude creeping in to British society where there is an increasing gun culture and a distinct lack of good policing in the tougher inner city areas. This show should be studied to see what our police force can learn from American mistakes. This was a very good programme.
Hazel Cowan, England
Excellent documentary and very frustrating to watch. In a city that probably houses some of the wealthiest people in the world, I find it difficult to believe that $4m cannot be raised to support the extra resources needed to combat the gang problem. I got the impression that people in high places are quite happy for the problem to be contained.
What will it take for them to realise that it needs to change... the murder of a rich white person caught in the crossfire?
Amanda Wood, Great Britain
The apathetic attitude towards the residents of south central LA is ridiculous. It shouldn't take a six-year-old to be shot for people to care. So much more can be done, including more police, rehabilitation for gang members and activities for the children by more funding. It is not as if the federal government couldn't spare it, especially before the war.
Jonny Allen, England
Children in these neighbourhoods need after school activities to keep them occupied and stop them from getting immersed in these bloody wars which are constantly going on in many parts of south central LA.
Chris Jones, Wales
Superb documentaries, in a class of their own - insightful, informative and well produced - this is what I pay my licence fee for, with no grumbles. Thank you
Conor Gorman, Northern Ireland
I am appalled at the way crime is getting the better of the police and the community in LA. I was extremely disturbed by those horrific images that I saw and scenes that I witnessed on the BBC programme tonight, and feel so ashamed of the way the US government treats this problem. It is fair to suggest that what we have here is a major disaster occurring, and getting worse, and I only hope and pray for the young people and their communities to not give up hope.
Majid Mohammed, England
As an expat who grew up in and around LA, I thought that tonight's programme on the LAPD and the gang problems in LA was very well presented. It signified the very real fear that one can face and feel when being confronted with this type of culture.
The only criticism that I have is that besides one comment made regarding the middle class areas of Beverly and Rowland Hills, the programme presented a very sweeping picture of the whole of the LA area as a hub of gang activity, death and mayhem. There are in fact some very 'normal', and nice areas of LA.
Stacie Hulm, Kent
Your programme tonight could have related to any number of "ghettoes" in the UK. The UK police treat "black on black crime" with the same degree of priority as the US police.
I was born in south-central LA and grew up in East LA gangland. LA, like America, will never rid itself of such horrors until the American people force/accept the abolition of guns.
Scott Myers, Cambridgeshire
Los Angeles is really two different worlds. On one hand, you have the wealthy of the Hills and the sights of Downtown LA. Then you have south central and south east LA where families are forced to live in poor housing, there are no jobs, and much of the money seems to come from crime. Young men join these gangs not only as a way to fit in, but as a way to come out on top and stay there. If the city of LA starts developing the area, bring employment and hope and self-respect to an area which for more than 20 years has been the epicenter of street crime, then maybe people wouldn't be so eager to join a life of crime.
I think the leaders of this country should be doing their utmost to get somebody like William J Bratton as head of the Met. He seems genuinely enthusiastic about policing and determined to get results. More than I can say for the police in this country.
Michael Vaughton, England
Great programme but very scary. I am a serving police officer on a murder investigation team and cannot believe the amount of murders in one area of LA. The people who live in that area have been let down badly by the politicians. It is probably not a great voting area. New York only did it because the politicians wanted it.
I found the programme hard hitting and very shocking. It has made me see how lucky I really am and how I take the safety of my city and home for granted.
Thanks for an extraordinary piece of documentary television. I was born in southern California and have lived now in the UK for 20 years. People so often ask me why I would choose the UK over southern California. I'm sure programmes like this make that clear.
The continued desire in the US to spend money on everything EXCEPT education and decent social welfare programmes has utterly failed communities like south central LA. It may never change - but at least your programming will have brought the hell of this particular corner of LA to the attention of many. Harrowing viewing... but thanks.
With California being the centre of the entertainment industry in America, one would assume that the wealth located in Los Angeles would be substantial. From viewing the programme tonight it was clear that the resources to fight the problems in the poorer areas are not being provided by the city council. Perhaps they are not willing to anger the wealthy residents by raising the taxes in order to pay for the extra police officers.
This is another example of the rich in America keeping the wealth and power for themselves, because they can afford to live in neighbourhoods where these socio-economic problems do not exist. How can these officers do their job, or have any positive effect, when their own bosses won't even support them with funds? The wealthier people in LA should be ashamed of themselves.
Conor Heffernan, Ireland
I thought the programme was fantastic, a real eye-opener to those who live in a bubble of their own making. Not only did it show the danger that police find themselves in but it also showed how an abandoned community has been forgotten by its own government. This should be a wake up call for Britain as certain communities in this country are not too many steps behind what we saw on the programme.
Lisa Norris, GB
America would reduce murder and violent crime in general by a large degree if they would ban guns, or at least put limits on their availability.
Aidan McGill, England
I find it disgusting that countries such as the UK and US can spend so much money on policing the world without making the budgets available to police their own patches. Both countries are fighting a war on domestic terrorism but don't realise this yet! Young people do not look up to people with careers. They look up to gangsters and the fast buck.
Lee Pearce, UK