The Bonus Book of the Week is “L.A. Justice, Lessons from the Firestorm” by Robert Vernon, published in 1993.
In 1954, the author joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Through the decades of his career, he watched the LAPD become corrupted by the worst aspects of human nature. By the early 1990’s, the department had scrapped the civil service system in favor of using patronage in awarding promotions. This necessitated pleasing local politicians. Always a bad idea.
So at the tail end of April 1992, when the verdict was announced in the Rodney King legal case, law enforcement was unprepared for the rioting that broke out in South-Central Los Angeles.
The author, lately named assistant chief of police of Los Angeles, bragged about helping start a community program in 1990– successful at the book’s writing. It was called “Operation Cul-de-Sac” and involved transforming a high-crime neighborhood into a gated community. It was implemented in about seven hundred households in South Central Los Angeles. The author wrote, “… changing behavior must begin by influencing a belief system.”
The program must have done so, as it created support networks of families and friends, significantly reduced crime, and significantly increased school attendance.
Unfortunately, despite its success, the program was not to last much longer. The reason? It was funded by the LAPD– not special-interest political groups in the community. So local politicians were left out of the loop– unable to hand out patronage jobs.
Read the book to learn of all kinds of other frustrations suffered by the author in his experiences with the LAPD.