Wednesday, April 2, 2008
"The last true meritocracy in the Los Angeles Police Department, perhaps one of the last to be found anywhere in America, outside the military, is about to pass into memory. The LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, which since its inception in 1971 has confronted and captured thousands of murderers, robbers, kidnappers, and every other type of crazed thug imaginable, will soon be crushed under the accumulating weight of a foe it is ill-equipped to oppose and can but hope to vanquish: misguided but nonetheless inexorably advancing notions of political correctness and social engineering. ... It appears that [William] Bratton, who at every opportunity has proclaimed his commitment to opennesss and 'transparency' within the department, has been caught in his own web of duplicity. ... The changes were based on a report by a panel convened by Bratton himself and charged with, we're told all the time, investigating a 2005 incident in which a 19-month-old girl, Suzie Pena, was killed by police gunfire. The girl's father was using her as a shield as he fired at the officers who were trying to rescue her, and she was tragically shot and killed when the officers returned fire. Remarkably, this was the only incident in the unit's history that resulted in the death of a hostage. ... It is now clear that Suzie Pena's death was merely a pretext, one that supposedly provided cover for Bratton to institute changes to the SWAT team based on the report of a supposedly objective panel of experts. ... Moreover, it is now clear that many of the board's members were selected neither for their objectivity nor their expertise, but rather for their willingness to produce a report that supported the changes that Bratton already sought to implement. ... As I've observed over my long career with the department, it often takes little in the way of intelligence or skills to rise to the very highest levels in the LAPD, but you have to be special to get into SWAT. Until recently, that is. ... Two female officers are among the current applicants, and at least one of them will surely make it through to the SWAT team, even if only because Chief Bratton wishes it so. ... But such worries [SWAT team members who can't perform properly] are inconvenient to utopians such as Chief Bratton, who is more concerned with breaking down perceived societal barriers--even barriers grounded in reality--than in breaking down actual doors behind which are waiting armed criminals. It is telling that Bratton and the department brass made these changes in secret, and that even now, after being confronted with the evidence, they refuse to admit their involvement or discuss the change. ... Indeed, the whole affair casts an unfavorable light on how the LAPD's upper management operates, one that Bratton and others are scrambling to deflect. Asked by reporters to comment on the new SWAT criteria, Police Commission member John Mack was characteristically obtuse in reply. 'It's important for us to understand,' he said, 'that one can modify standards without lowering standards.' Once can, but in this case, didn't. ... In conducting his secret campaign to put a woman on the SWAT team, [Bratton] seeks to burnish his reputation as a champion of 'diversity', thereby aiding him in his quest for a position in the Democratic administration he hopes to see installed in January 2009", Jack Dunphy, a pseudonym for an LAPD officer, at http://www.nationalreview.com/, 24 March 2008.
I love "experts". From the Boskin Commission, my 5 October 2007 post, to Lazard's Bear Stearns fairness opinion writers to Bratton's. We should never trust experts. Who knows what agenda they have? In selecting experts, one should always be careful to ascertain in advance what they are likely to say.