I have been following the Christopher Dorner situation since the story broke on Los Angeles radio station KFI640 Wednesday night. I rarely care about such stories, but like so many Southern California residents, I have stayed glued to radio and television reports via the internet to keep abreast of the latest in the massive manhunt.
My interest is sparked mostly by Dorner’s claims of whistleblower retaliation and wrongdoing within the Los Angeles Police Department. You see, I am the administrator of iePolitics.com, a blog dedicated to corruption in San Bernardino County that has become known for exposing wrongdoing within the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Dorner’s claims echo what we have been discussing for the past seven years in our own county. As a matter of fact, many of us find his accusations eerily familiar.
So my excuse for wanting to see Dorner taken alive is that I want LAPD to be forced to give the public straight answers about Dorner’s claims and take appropriate action if any of those claims turn out to be valid. But that does not explain Dorner’s almost cult following that has developed in only three days.
It has been very interesting watching LAPD Chief Charlie Beck squirm these past few days. His righteous indignation does not appear genuine. Rather, it seems he knows he has a nightmare on his hands—a nightmare that potentially could change the face of policing in Southern California more so than the Rampart Scandal, the OJ case and the Rodney King case all combined.
What sets Dorner’s situation apart from these other three cases is that today, unlike 20 years ago, we have an alternative media and social networking via the internet—a media and network the cops cannot control. Mainstream media, such as KFI, has dutifully done as requested by law enforcement officials. Alternative media and social networking answer to no one and are control by us, the citizens.
For example, the facts that Dorner’s truck was found in Big Bear and law enforcement was converging on the area were reported on the internet hours before mainstream media reported them. KFI talk show hosts openly admit they held the information because they were asked to do so. All the while, Big Bear residents and visitors may have been in harm’s way but had no idea unless they found out on the internet or through personal sources.
But this is only a small way in which alternative media and social networking have influenced feelings and the information flow about Dorner. For centuries dirty little secrets about bullying, workplace violence and police corruption were contained through control of the media. A “real man” would never write a missive such a Dorner’s and expose his weaknesses. Today, we know such behavior in the workplace and the police station are commonplace and we can research it from the comfort of our homes. We feel safer discussing it because we know we are not alone.
More importantly, many of us, perhaps most of us, have experienced injustice in the workplace or in the court system—injustice that may very well have changed our lives forever. We don’t agree with murder, but at some level we can relate to Dorner.
Add to this group of people those who find the police response to the two women in Torrance to be beyond outrageous; those who have experience with police brutality; those who have experience with law enforcement’s reaction to the mentally ill; those that have been harassed by out-of-control government workers; and those who look at Dorner's photo and see a happy, handsome man with a big smile rather than an evil killer, and you have a long list of people who in some way sympathize with him or, at very least, want to hear his story.
While I was listening to KFI today, the host was ridiculing those who sympathize with Dorner. She said something to the effect that we all have had hurt feelings and unjust situations in the work place. "Get over it."
Well, no, you do not just "get over it." Until you experience what happens in government and some private sector employment when you threaten the power of the wrong person, you does not know what living hell is. These despots are not interested in simply firing the offending employee; they are out to destroy them forever. They poke, poke at you some more, and for good measure, poke even more. Clearly, justified or not, that is how Dorner feels.
That despotic mentality could be seen in Charlie Beck in his news conferences and it could be seen in William Bratton, former chief of LAPD, when interviewed. Beck was defiant. Bratton taunted Dorner by saying that if Dorner gives up he will have to do a perp walk with LAPD, the department he hates so much and the ultimate humiliation for Dorner. They don't want to take Dorner alive because they do not want the scrutiny it will bring to their department. A dead Dorner is a more quickly forgotten Dorner.
A day later we had a change of heart by Beck. On Saturday he agreed to re-open the investigation into Dorner’s 2007 complaint that led to his termination. Do you think Beck realizes his unequivocal support of the earlier findings was turning public sentiment towards Dorner and away from LAPD? Maybe. Likely his words are simply lip service in hopes of swaying opinion and appearing more reasonable.
There are only two things I know for sure. Murder is wrong no matter the situation. Lying and cheating by those who wear a badge and carry a gun are also wrong no matter whether it is done by a rookie officer, the chief of police or cops of any rank in between. Whatever the rank, a lying cop should be fired. The media owes it to us to report it.
Mainstream media needs to stop its love fest with law enforcement and provide us with the truth. We don’t have that in San Bernardino County and I doubt citizens in Los Angeles County have it either.