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Police in Action

March 20, 1993

The "Cops" TV program March 1 showed (before I switched to something else) clips of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department with:

* A nightstick training session with deputies being given "endurance" training on striking, prodding and beating a body bag while being cheered on by other deputies to hit hard, to hit faster. The deputies struck, speared and beat the bag with alarming force while being cheered on for more and more by other deputies.

* A deputy pulling and pointing his gun at a kneeling citizen who was not threatening nor attacking. The suspect admittedly was acting strange and allegedly was armed with a knife, still . . . . Fortunately, one of the other deputies, a corporal, properly told the deputy to holster the gun.

* Then, a deputy handcuffing the same suspect, obviously distraught and angry with other nearby citizens who have complained about him. Still angry, he was thrown face first into a chain link fence. He was then hogtied and carried out to the police car.

It was just crazy! Why does the sheriff train deputies (while being filmed for TV) to club and beat more viciously even as the Rodney G. King trial is under way and then have it on TV? And how would the deputies handle the suspect were a TV camera not running? Finally, why would the sheriff want any of this on TV?

As a retired peace officer, I just don't understand.

JOE PHELAN

Carmichael

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