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Another view of L.A. police work

November 18, 2009

Re "As the LAPD evolved, so did he," Nov. 15

Charlie Beck is an outstanding and honorable man who will make a fine chief of police. I wish him nothing but the best.

However, I am sad he has fallen victim to a revisionist view of history, denigrating previous chiefs and policing policies.

I policed South-Central Los Angeles, albeit in a different uniform, from the 1970s through 2009. I witnessed the perfect storm of social, economic, cultural and political circumstances that resulted in an unprecedented level of violence in the Los Angeles area.

Just as there are numerous and contradictory theories on why the crime rate has dropped in recent years, there are different thoughts on what caused the shocking level of violence in the mid-1980s. Severely understaffed police agencies were forced to react with aggressive enforcement tactics. I shudder to think of the bloodshed if law enforcement had met that violent era with a less proactive model.

I do not believe any suspect ever felt compelled to perpetrate criminal acts on his or her community because of the presence of police officers.

Joseph E. Purcell


The writer is a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department homicide sergeant (retired).

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