In an essay, Jim Newton of the Los Angeles Times ruminates over the “warrior cop” mentality of the city’s police department. “If Los Angeles can be defined by a psychological trait, it would be willfulness,” he writes. “The force of will, sprinkled with greed, brought water to the city in the early 20th century and allowed it to grow. Willful civic leaders gave Los Angeles its port in 1907, cleaned out its corrupt leadership in favor of Progressive reforms and even supplied it with some of its cultural gems, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and, more recently, Disney Hall.
“But…no such exercise of will has been able to dislodge a powerful subculture within the Los Angeles Police Department, one that has done much to harm the city in recent generations. Colorfully dubbed ‘warrior cops,’ an evolving clique of aggressive LAPD officers who rely on force and intimidation has resisted 40 years of attempts to manage crime in the city differently. The warrior cop…was the invention of Police Chief William H. Parker, who headed the LAPD from 1950 to 1966. That style of policing and the officers who embrace it have done much to protect Los Angeles in the years since. In many ways, they are symbolic of the city’s police – think ‘Dragnet,’ ‘The New Centurions.’ But officers who take it too far, who cross the line from command presence to unlawful force, have also been responsible for devastation.”