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Wambaugh on L.A. Police Scandal

March 12, 2000

Re "A Few--Only a Few--CRASH Cowboys Took an Outlaw Path," Commentary, March 8: I don't know where Joseph Wambaugh has been all his life, but I do know my 53 years in Los Angeles as a member of a minority group attests that Rampart is not the whole iceberg, it is only the tip. Rampart is standard policing for the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD has coerced, beaten, planted "evidence" on and lied about citizens all of my life. An adequate investigation focused on every station in minority communities will reveal the insidious truth.

DONNA J. WARREN

Hawthorne

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Wambaugh suggests that the massacre at My Lai in Vietnam was the only massacre, "an aberration." He is severely mistaken. He and anyone else holding this view should watch the documentary "Winter Soldier," in which numerous American soldiers testified to the war crimes they committed. And this is only part of the documentation that exists regarding the killing and mutilating of civilians by American soldiers in Vietnam.

Wambaugh's equating the crimes at Rampart to the singular massacre at My Lai, calling each "the whole iceberg, not the tip" is a slippery slope. My Lai wasn't the only crime committed by American soldiers on civilians during that war; whether Rampart is singular or just the tip of the iceberg remains to be seen.

GARY GORDON

Venice

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What is it that makes the LAPD and other law enforcement agencies think they are better equipped to police the police? LAPD's Internal Affairs Group and supervisors seem to have failed in monitoring the Rampart Division. As Sheriff Lee Baca is considering with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department (March 4), a civilian section would be much better.

Civilians hired to police the police will probably know more about the law than would a police officer. A retired judge, for example, has years of experience, while a police officer probably brings his or her elitist beliefs when reviewing another officer. What we need to feel safe from the police is a neutral referee.

ROY DIAZ

Baldwin Park

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