'Major Hasan Syndrome' at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department?
Back in 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported that Maurice Moore, a black LAPD deputy chief, was for at least seven years laundering money for his drug trafficker son, who orchestrated the scheme from inside federal prison. Just as disturbing, the FBI informed then-LAPD Chief Bernard Parks about their suspicions as to Moore’s involvement in the criminal enterprise. Parks, who is also black, declined to take any action against his subordinate. Moore was allowed to retire without facing any departmental charges, and the statute of limitations precluded prosecution on most of the allegations against him.
Mr. Parks was denied a second term as police chief in 2002. But today, he serves on the L.A. city council.
“I don't understand why this [investigation] was managed the way it was,” wrote Thomas Lorenzen, at the time an LAPD commander who wrote the department’s report on the Moore case. “If it would have been your average police officer, it would have been utterly different.”
Indeed it would have, as can be said of any number of incidents involving high-ranking officers whose ability to check this or that box on the diversity paperwork has saved them from demotion, termination, or prosecution.
Sometimes Major Hasan Syndrome serves to obscure not criminality, but the much, much more commonly observed incompetence. Off the top of my head, I can think of four LAPD captains, all of whom owe their current positions to belonging to one or more “under-represented classes,” and all of whom have performed poorly in every position and at every rank since the day they were hired. Nonetheless, they have continued to earn promotions even after demonstrating monumental malfeasance.
One was the key figure in a lawsuit in which officers were awarded millions of dollars in damages, mostly owing to her mismanagement of the division she commanded. She’s been promoted twice since then. Another, the subject of laudatory news stories chronicling her rise in the LAPD, has so poorly run her current command that crime in that part of town is up almost 20 percent from last year’s levels, by far the largest increase in the city. We can expect her to be promoted to commander any time now.
So we await to hear what will become of Capt. Bernice Abram. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has declined to prosecute her on the grounds that there is insufficient proof that she knew Dion Grim was involved in any crime when she tipped him off to the investigation in his neighborhood. And maybe there isn’t, but the L.A. Times reports that the FBI continues to investigate her, even as she continues to draw her captain’s salary for doing nothing.
Perhaps, like former LAPD Deputy Chief Maurice Moore, she’ll be able to ride out the investigation until the statute of limitations expires, and then quietly retire.