"Jack Dunphy" is the pseudonym of a politically conservative LAPD veteran who contributes to National Review Online. His most recent piece rails about the "carnival of racial pandering" he says followed the Devin Brown shooting. Dunphy writes this Sunday's "Outside the Tent" in the Times' Opinion section, complaining that the paper's politics have moved away from his and reporting that he recently dropped his subscription after thirty years. His immediate objection is coverage of the latest shooting to inflame tensions between the police and the African American community:
As an LAPD officer, I'm certainly aware that, when incidents such as the Devin Brown shooting occur, there is a great demand for large-scale coverage from the city's only major newspaper. But too often that coverage is misguided, muddying the truth and causing much more societal harm than good. Like its reportage on the Rodney King trial, the Margaret Mitchell shooting and other police-related controversies over the years, The Times' coverage of the Brown shooting seems designed to raise expectations that the involved officer, Steve Garcia, will be punished or even imprisoned for his actions that morning.
The first sentence of The Times' first story on the shooting, described Brown as "unarmed." This is true in the sense that Brown did not have a gun, but if he was in fact attempting to run Garcia down, as Garcia has reportedly offered as his rationale for firing, then Brown was armed with quite a weapon indeed. And not until the final paragraph does the story mention that Brown's car collided with the police car. The extensive damage to the police car was not described.
He makes some good points about the coverage. But it's liberal bias to describe a person who is not carrying a gun or knife as unarmed? That's being a mite touchy. Dunphy has taken a pretty hard line toward the media in the past, as well as a provocative tone toward the community he serves. He wrote that it was only "the anti-cop crowd" that thought Inglewood officer Jeremy Morse went over the line when he roughed up a handcuffed juvenile on videotape in 2003. (I guess that includes the cop's own department, which fired him, and the prosecutors who charged him.) Dunphy predicted riots if Morse was acquitted:
All that furniture heisted in the '92 Rodney King riots is bound to be a bit threadbare by now, so some people may be looking forward to a shopping spree, one for which the bill never comes. The jury may get the case as soon as next week. Look for me at Florence and Normandie.
That us-against-them attitude has always made me question that Dunphy is among L.A.'s finest or brightest. But after the Stanley Miller-flashlight episode, Dunphy wrote that, based on the video, it appeared at first glance to be a questionable use of force. The Times' Tim Rutten devoted a column to Dunphy, giving him credit for "some of the most interesting and artful writing about the LAPD and American policing in general." Chief Bratton praised Dunphy too, saying he "reflects in a more articulate and thoughtful way the sentiments of the average L.A. cop." So there you go.