As Manhunt Seeks Ex-LA Cop, Public Perception of Police At Stake


Law enforcement from all over the Southern California region has mobilized to find former Los Angeles police officer Chris Dorner, 33, who is accused of killing three people, including an officer, says the Christian Science Monitor. Dorner, who was dismissed in 2008 for making false statements, is thought to be armed with an assault rifle and other weapons. His apparent motive for the killings, says a manifesto he posted online, are perceived wrongs done to him by the Los Angeles Police Department. Among those killed is the daughter of a police captain who represented him in disciplinary hearings at the time.

More than catching a criminal is at stake, say experts. The morale of an entire department hangs in the balance, as does a vital link in effective law enforcement: the public perception of police. “The police need the public to trust and respect them,” says former police officer Frank Rodriguez, a patrolman in Texas in the 1990s and is now an assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa. The manhunt takes on a special importance for officers tracking one of their own, says Frank Scafidi, a former Los Angeles deputy sheriff and FBI agent, “because cops take an oath to make sure that they live their lives – personally and professionally – at a level above ordinary civilians.”

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