There are decades of work still to be done, but the culture of the LAPD is changing.
I am talking about the department’s former tradition of systematically mistreating black officers. For more than 20 years I have represented dozens of black LAPD officers, interviewed hundreds of officers of all races, and know the history of the old LAPD’s — the Blue Grip’s — deep-seated hostility to black officers. Up until the 1968 riots, LAPD officers called the white head of South Bureau “The Nigger Inspector.” And it was the early 1960s before Chief William Parker ended the mandatory segregation of squad cars in which black and white officers were forbidden to ride together to ensure that no white officer would have to follow the orders of a black man.
I remember like it was yesterday when Deputy Chief Jesse Brewer, the wise and classy African American who became the first black president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, came to my law office in 1990. He described to me his own ordeals on the force, in which white officers illegally blocked his entrance to the Police Academy, tried to plant false evidence on him, blocked all of his promotions and set him up for ambush in the field. He also described how viciously the department retaliated against him and other officers who tried to stand up for fellow officers or civilians who suffered abuse from cops. The LAPD never did allow whistle-blowers of any kind to survive, no matter how righteous they were.
Brewer explained that black officers just had to take the abuse and outsmart the white officers trying to deep-six them. “If you let them get to you, you’ll become homicidal,” he said.
I have no idea whether, as Dorner alleges, the LAPD falsely accused Dorner and retaliated against him for reporting the abuse of a civilian. But I know many black officers who received nothing but vicious retaliation for trying to report the same kind of abuse. And I know what my clients, Myrna Lewis, Terry Tipton and others suffered for reporting their racially abusive mistreatment and the sabotage they endured for demanding the end of the LAPD’s hostile mistreatment of minority women. I don’t know whether Dorner was wrongfully terminated, but I do know that my clients were unfairly forced out of