Are we fooled again? We were fooled when we took sides in a false debate over whether or not to resurrect the defunct Compton Police Department. As usual, residents were pitted against one another and became emotional, and often irrational, to the point that the main and most important question was never asked: Who could police and serve the needs of Compton resident’s best? The question was never who could jail, maim, or kill the most people, which is what happened. A felony arrest pretty much defines a young person’s future and if for drugs, worse. They become locked out of society and where do they go? Home to Compton.
From the start community members were excluded from the conversation, in 2000 when the Omar Bradley regime brought in the sheriff and years later when Eric Perrodin’s group made millions and attempted to bring back CPD. In both instances games were played to give the appearance either that a) leadership knew what was best for Compton or b) residents had some semblance of involvement in the decision process. In other words, lies.
Have we had enough of being lied too? Not. The gunshot detection experiment done by the sheriff in Compton apparently was a failure. If in doubt, try to find information on it now. And then there was Measure B, sponsored by sheriff deputy unions that pretty much legislates that the city contract with the sheriff’s department. Again, there was the emotional side-taking response that placed brother against brother, sister against sister, and everybody against someone else. It seems so easy to rile the residents up against their own interest in Compton and have us fight each other like Bloods and Crips gangs. This is acute during election season like the one we are in now. Misinformation and disinformation comes along with strangers and others looking to see how they can benefit personally from Compton’s troubles. But there is never a Moses, never anyone that walks the line of our common concern with poor municipal service, questionable police practices (the Cessna drone is only the latest incident), and schools that don’t teach civic engagement and entrepreneurship which might help to build a sense of community.
Here we go again with the sheriff election. All of a sudden people with not one meaningful contribution to improving Compton, ever, are telling us how to vote and, as usual, the strategy is to divide, give misinformation, disinformation, and steal the city while we argue among ourselves over some shit selfish people threw in for us to feed on. They know we will because they know us better than we know ourselves.
And what about the L.A. Times Editorial Board endorsement of Jim McDonnell, current Long Beach Police Chief and former LAPD officer and Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence member? “The Times strongly recommends a vote for McDonnell for sheriff.”
You can count on one hand where can you even find a copy of the L.A. Times in Compton and it does not now, never have, and no doubt never will speak to the needs and concerns of Compton residents. They’d have to spend time in the city when someone’s not bleeding to do that. If they did, the conversation might turn toward community-oriented in addition to constitutional policing and jails. The Times editorial board is too focused on crime rates to do that. McDonnell was where when Rodney King’s ass was whipped by LAPD? Or when Stanley Miller was chased and beat in Compton by LAPD? We know where he was from 2008 to 2013 when 13,911 Black teenagers were arrested and cited in Long Beach.
That number included the number of arrests and misdemeanor citations issued to boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Black youths accounted for 35 percent of the arrests and citations, and Whites represented 8 percent of the arrests and citations. Black students are 16 percent and Whites 15 percent of the LBUSD respectively. Inexplicably, some Latinos were lumped into the White group which actually makes things look worse since they too have police relationship issues. The stated reasons for the disparity are attributed to population density, more violent crime, and more frequent patrols dependent on who you ask. The L. B. Press-Telegram pointed to the sometimes “uneasy relationship with the black community,” that the LBPD has.
Compton had nothing to do with the Citizen’s Commission on Jails other than the jails being filled with many of its residents. Compton was not and has not been part of the law enforcement or policing conversation in Los Angeles County even though the city has an inordinate amount of contact the entire criminal justice system. Therefore policy, direction, and so-called reform are left to attorneys, not to residents on the receiving end of police discretion.
I had two questions after I listened to McDonnell and his supporters speak in his behalf for about two hours at a one-sided Concerned Citizens of Compton “business meeting” May 10th. First to the 50-60 audience members, mostly law abiding voting seniors, and a few cops and opportunists: “Raise your hand if you trust police.” One hand went up, not even the cops raised their hands. The second question was to McDonnell: “What will you do to increase that number to 99 percent?” He spoke to what he will do if elected but could not speak to what he has done. Realistically, I’d settle if he’d get less than half of the room to raise their hands next time in Compton.
My point is that the L.A. Times endorsement is not intended or targeted to Compton but to a wider populous in which the needs of Compton get drowned out. Don’t assume that the concerns of Compton are the same as Rolling Hills, Lakewood, Calabasas, or West Hollywood. Those areas might not start the conversation with a question of trust of police. The L.A. Times rarely speaks to the needs of Compton because they don’t know it and probably don’t care. If no one in Compton ever bought a paper would it make a difference? Hell-to-the-No.
The L.A. Times acknowledges my candidate preference, Todd Rogers, “[he] deserves notice for his commitment to community policing, and the integrity and professionalism he brings are badly needed in the department. But like other candidates, he need not hold the top spot to be part of the solution.” In other words he could be undersheriff, maybe. The assumption is that a new face, even one from the LAPD whose members have sparked the last riots (1965 and 1991) and have had a checkered relationship with communities such as Compton, Watts, and Willowbrook, is the solution. What if Rogers as sheriff brought McDonnell in as undersheriff instead? Hmmm.
Compton is on an island pretty much alone. It’s time for us to recognize our commonality, stop arguing, fussing and fighting among ourselves and rally around each other since there is plenty of work for everyone and more. The one-upmanship and high school, child-like put downs need to cease. We needn’t look for another leader, mayor, council person, or city manager if we all take the lead. Besides, the work must continue when appointed leaders fall for the okie-doke and end up in county jail.
Everyone has a contribution to make to improve life in Compton. What is yours?
Let’s not be fooled again.