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How Two LAPD Cops Were Ambushed at the Gate of their Police Station

The law of unintended consequences: keypad system makes cops at gate easy marks for shooter.

by
Jack Dunphy

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July 3, 2013 - 12:07 am
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The law of unintended consequences spares no one, not even people in law enforcement.

Until a few years ago, the only things preventing the random passerby from walking or driving into the parking lots behind Los Angeles Police Department stations were signs that read, “Police personnel only beyond this point.”  For people involved in security, our facilities weren’t very secure.

Slowly but surely, security gates were installed at all of the 21 stations scattered across the city’s 469 square miles, and now officers and other employees presenting themselves at the entrance to a police parking lot must swipe their ID cards or enter a code on a keypad to gain admittance. Until the other day, no one gave this arrangement much thought.

And then someone tried to kill two detectives who were driving into a station parking lot, and suddenly people were saying, “Well, we made it easy for him, didn’t we?”

Here’s how it unfolded: At about 4:30 a.m. last Tuesday, two detectives arrived at the LAPD’s Wilshire Division station, near the intersection of Venice Blvd. and La Brea Ave., in the Mid-City area. As they sat in their car waiting for the security gate to open, a lone gunman ran up and fired several rounds into the car. Fortunately, the man’s marksmanship was poor; neither detective was seriously injured.

But the incident left many of us in the LAPD wondering when it might happen again.

The Christopher Dorner case understandably put police officers on edge all over Southern California. Here was a guy, a former cop himself, who had already killed and promised to kill again. In looking back on it, it’s a wonder he didn’t take advantage of the vulnerability displayed last week. Consider: Dorner was equipped with all manner of weaponry, including a sniper rifle. At virtually every police station in the city, and at the LAPD’s headquarters building downtown, he had the opportunity to sight in his rifle on the exact spot where every cop who wanted to drive into the lot would be sitting as he swiped his ID card or punched in the code. Seated in a car, back to the aggressor, most likely with a seat belt on making it difficult to draw a weapon — one couldn’t ask for a more convenient target.

Which must have been the thought of the man who shot at the two detectives last week, the man who, as of this writing, has been neither arrested nor identified. And he just might be weighing when and where to try again.

Whenever I write a column here that touches, however tangentially, on the dangers of police work, there inevitably appears in the comments some rebuttal pointing out that other occupations, like commercial fishing, farming, and roofing, are more hazardous. Which is true, as far as the raw numbers go, but statistics don’t tell the whole story. In all those other trades, most of the injuries and deaths occur when people fail to observe customary precautions. But in police work, when you adjust the numbers to distinguish cops working the street from their counterparts in administrative jobs, my guess is that police work — real police work — truly is among the most dangerous occupations. Furthermore, it’s one in which you can take every precaution conceivably allowed to you and still get injured or killed. No one kills a fisherman just for being a fisherman.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
The problem is that Mr Dunphy ignores the bigger picture. Scenes like these are repeated almost daily across America:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9fCK6Y0bu4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUkFqGbt3Jw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSt0UBTHCmc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd_OJmTL3jk

As a result, even normal middle-class law-abiding people now view cops as 'The Enemy'.

Mr Dunphy, until police departments and individual 'good' officers start aggressively weeding out the bad actors in your midst this problem will only get worse.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rather than looking at more and better ways to secure the police stations, maybe they should look at why so many people are starting to look at cops like targets.

I'm reminded of a shirt I've seen for sale to cops: "I'm a member of the biggest street gang in America: The Police."

Orion
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm certainly no expert in this stuff, but couldn't the LAPD use something similar to EZPASS for toll roads, where a coded transmitter in the car opens the gate?
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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Until the lazy, clueless, uneducated local media start reporting the positive and so many good things police officers are doing every day in every part of LA the public will continue to have a negative response to Officers. Gov Brown is signing to have 9,000 criminals released from jails and into communities. People will complain about police until they become a victim. The criminals the ones committing all the property crime, hit and runs, home invasions, homicides going up
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hell people this is simple to fix! Simply declare a gun free zone within one mile of the entrance of the Police station as well as the parking lot and the station itself.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
As an aside, I'd like to know the ethnicity of the man who shot the officers. We can't have any honest discussions about anything unless we talk about race and its implications. Would we have to turn LA into a war zone and the LAPD into a mindless. violent street-gang if it weren't for the thousands of Hispanic infiltrators. How many whites are members of street gangs in LA? How many homicides are committed by whites? These discussions are pointless unless someone has the guts to talk about race.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd like to know the average IQ of the LAPD. I'd like to get information on their training, and continuing education and training. Also, I'd like to know how often LAPD "officers" are required to report for full physicals, target practice, and other DANGEROUS things that our HEROES in blue are constantly doing.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
LAPD is a contemptible force comprised of Mexican sympathizers, socipaths and cowards. They devote most of their time to ticketing middle class persons while allowing the Mexican underclass maximum latitude. Their cowardice was on full display during the Dorner drama as they went underground and shot anything that moved. They're just another gang. By the end of the decade, LA will be like Mexico City and we'll have to drive with a $100.00 in our wallets if we don't want to spend the night in jail on trumped up charges.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Jack, People don't kill fishermen for being fishermen...the sea does. I suppose in your mind the "elementary precaution" would be to avoid boats.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
As usual, the PJM readers nail the problems. If the cops insist on seeing the citizens as the enemy, it will be reciprocated. As long as the cops continue to be more worried about the risk to the cops, rather than being concerned about the risk to the citizen whom they are supposed to protect, this will continue. As long as they belong to unions which render them immune to consequences for all but the most egregious of abuses, this will continue.

And as long as they have bureaucrats coming up with solutions like this, instead of asking the community for ideas, or asking infantry officers and noncoms who have served in the sandbox, you will have chokepoints, and officers will be sitting ducks in a shooting gallery.

So, where was the police union, when this idiotic security idea was proposed? Oh, right, they are just as stupid.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just imagine how bad the threat of assassination would be if killing a cop were the easiest way a criminal could obtain an illegal handgun. Fortunately, there are still far easier ways for criminals to feed the black market in guns that don't involve killing cops.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have stayed with friends who lived in a gated community.
Their cars were equipped with a transponder that signaled the gate mechanism as they drove up to open - you never had to stop. It mounted quite simply on the inside of the windshield at the side of the dashboard.
Equipping all of LAPD's cars will cost a lot less than replacing a couple of trained officers.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I find the recent explosion of wild hysteria about the NSA and its collection of "megadata" interesting. I wonder what rock the people worried about such a thing have been hiding under.

The local police are many many magnitudes WORSE than the NSA ever dreamed of being. At least the NSA went to the trouble of getting a warrant: Probably 99.99 percent of all searches and seizures done by local police are warrantless. Just in our small local area, a mentally ill janitor was beaten to death by an amped up gorilla local cop (it took the feds to put that cop in prison where he belongs); a preacher was shot and killed in cold blood on his own property (the county settled the case for $2 million. The nazi thug that shot him got no discipline whatsoever). Local male cops have been left undisciplined for performing warrantless body cavity searches on female suspects. And before the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the procedure, I counted four traffic stops of cars filled with young people being searched in a small stretch of highway near here, the searches being performed presumably for "officer safety." The kids were seething with hatred at this treatment, and the cops have earned yet more permanent enemies.

And yet, the police profess to have no idea why they are so hated.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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