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In an editorial published by the LA Times on Thursday, Los Angeles Chief of Police Charlie Beck promises the LAPD will never fail the city again, and that he believes the department was largely responsible for the 1992 riots in the city.
Beck's issue lies with the aggressive and confrontational style of the department in the early 90s, and not the leadership failures that Gates has blamed the riots on in the past.
As a patrol, gang and field sergeant, Beck was in the middle of Operation Hammer which was the LAPD's name for the War on Gangs and the War on Drugs. At the time, Beck writes, they truly believed that the solution to the violence they saw sweeping through communities was more arrests and tougher policing.
But the price of 'declaring war' on things, Beck warns, is collateral damage that erodes the moral high ground the police and the department are supposed to represent.
Unfortunately, when we declare war, several things happen. We cause collateral damage, which erodes whatever moral high ground led to the declaration. Our “opponents” — now unified — possess their own moral mandate for counterattacks. This is what we did when we declared war on our own communities during the 1980s and 1990s. That is what we risk doing today, when we declare war on our own immigrant communities.
Beck vowed in the op-ed to never let the LAPD take that kind of tone again.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the six-day riots that ultimately left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 more injured and billions of dollars in damage.