LAPD

LAPD Honors Officers Who Didn't Use Deadly Force, Much to the Police Union's Dismay

"Preservation of Life" award valorizes officers who successfully de-escalated dangerous situations.

|

The motto may piss off the union.
Skyfox11/Wikimedia Commons

The LAPD bestowed its newly created "Preservation of Life Award" — recognizing officers who take exceptional care to successfully de-escalate dangerous situations and avoid using deadly force — on 25 officers at its annual "Above and Beyond" gala last Thursday night. The new honor is considered to be at the same level of prestige as the department's highest honor — the Medal of Valor.

One of the honorees, Officer Danielle Lopez, confronted a man who she believed was pointing an assault rifle at passing cars. Lopez and her partner were able to convince the man to drop his gun and arrest him without violence. It turns out the gun was fake.

Another recipient of the Preservation of Life medal, Officer Ericandrew Avendano, encountered an ax-wielding man he suspected was suffering from mental illness or was high on drugs. Avendano spoke with the man and contained the situation peacefully before backup arrived to assist in subduing the man without shooting him.

Police departments in Camden (N.J.) and Philadelphia each have their own version of the award, according to the Los Angeles Times, but the LAPD's union — the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) — thinks the award is a "terrible idea" which will "will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer's training."

In a blog post reacting to the award's creation last November, the LAPPL Board of Directors wrote:

We recognize the Chief's intentions, however, the reality is the "Preservation of Life" award announced Tuesday by Chief Beck is ill-conceived and in actuality has dangerous implications. Incentivizing officers for "preservation of life" suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do. It suggests that officers must go above and beyond their normal activities to avoid harm; or put another way, that officers will be penalized for resorting to an appropriate, lawful use of force. That is ludicrous. The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect.

It's not just the honoring of the successful deployment of de-escalation techniques that the union has a problem with, it's the training of such techniques at all. Earlier this year, I wrote about the LAPPL's opposition to the LAPD Police Commission's recommendation for new "use-of-force policies that emphasize de-escalation and the use of minimal force in encounters with the public."

Union Director James McBride addressed the Commission at the time, warning that if an officer were to die because the new use-of-force policies caused him/her to hesitate, "there will be blood on your hands." I also noted:

Union President Craig Lally, once named a "problem officer" in a blue-ribbon panel's report on "the problem of excessive force in the LAPD" following the 1991 beating of Rodney King, said the new policies create a "no-win situation for the officer."

Lally added that if faced with a potentially violent situation, "The best way to de-escalate is to run away."

NEXT: If the US Is Serious About Pot Prohibition, We Will Bar Justin Trudeau From Entry

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There was more than one?

    1. Of course, Unions have more fuckups than usual, even when assisted by government.

  2. Union Director James McBride addressed the Commission at the time, warning that if an officer were to die because the new use-of-force policies caused him/her to hesitate, “there will be blood on your hands.”

    Uh, doesn’t he mean “more blood”?

    1. Blue Lives Matter More

    2. *Important* blood.

    3. Some blood is more equal than others.

    4. “Better that 1,000 innocent civilians get plugged with lead, than 1 pant-shitting cop not go home that night.”

      1. That is exactly what I interpreted when I read that quote.

    5. And this is why police unions should be forbidden. Current ones should be RICOed.

  3. I think they’re starting to train them to stop choking after the tenth “I can’t breathe.”

  4. You can’t seriously expect cops to put themselves at risk when it’s so much easier and safer to just drygulch the perps from a safe distance.

  5. but the LAPD’s union ? the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) ? thinks the award is a “terrible idea” which will “will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.”

    I imagine that core foundation is to empty your magazine and your bowels at the first sign of resistance?

  6. “will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.”

    It’s not a zero-sum game you fucks. And besides, as officers, you’re supposed to take increased tactical risk in order to avoid wrongly shooting someone.

    If that’s not being trained at the academy, we need to fire 100% of America’s police forces, and start all over.

    1. I stopped by to say exactly this. Um, why the fuck AREN’T you prioritizing the lives of suspected criminals citizens you’re sworn to protect who haven’t been found guilty of any crime yet.

      1. Totality of the circs, brah!

        1. smooches

          hth

      2. Because most of LAPD mastubate to Judge Dredd comix.

    2. Wrong.

      We need to fire 100% and NOT start over.

  7. “terrible idea” which will “will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.”

    The lives of citizens should be prioritized over the safety of government enforcers, and they shouldn’t be trained otherwise. If they are not willing to actually put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, in accordance with all the cop-sucking propaganda, then they should find some other line of work.

    1. I was rather mindlessly driving through a parking lot this morning and there were two cops, one outside of his squad car leaning against the other car talking about whatever it is cops talk about. I was driving slowly (safely!) and just kind of mindlessly watching them as I passed, and the one outside his car noticed me and reached for his gun. All I could think is holy shit, these people are literally crazy. Somebody “looks at them funny” and they reach for their gun.

  8. Incentivizing officers for “preservation of life” suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do.

    YA THINK

  9. … and let me guess, when a kid who is playing with a toy gun is gunned down by a panicky cop taught in the police academy that he should terminate people with extreme prejudice in the name of officer safety, James McBride will of course sleep soundly because there is no blood on his hands, right?

    When a cop who accidently shoots a citizen in a dark stairwell calls his union rep and delays calling an ambulance to the point where the victim bleeds out before he can be stabilized, the union has no blood on its hands right?

    I hope James McBride never wears a uniform with an american flag on it, seeing as the vile filth he spews out of his mouth essentially is the symbolic equivalent of wiping his pin-worm infested incontinent ass on the ideas flag is supposed to represent.

    1. Come on, man. No self-respecting pinworm would be caught dead visiting James McBride’s mealy anus.

    2. James McBride seems to know a lot about blood and where it lands.

    1. Every time I see an article like this I think “what’s the point?”

      Everyone has already made up their minds about it, those who agree will agree and those who don’t won’t. People are proud of the impenetrablility of their lead-lined hats of ignorance.

      1. There must be some subset of people who have never thought about it before.

        1. Woman?

          (hides in bunker)

  10. the core foundation of an officer’s training.

    The rotten, rotten core.

  11. One of the honorees, Officer Danielle Lopez, confronted a man who she believed was pointing an assault rifle at passing cars. Lopez and her partner were able to convince the man to drop his gun and arrest him without violence. It turns out the gun was fake.

    Another recipient of the Preservation of Life medal, Officer Ericandrew Avendano, encountered an ax-wielding man he suspected was suffering from mental illness or was high on drugs. Avendano spoke with the man and contained the situation peacefully before backup arrived to assist in subduing the man without shooting him.

    When I was but a yute, an Air Force cop talked to me and some of my peers about the concept of “verbal judo,” where one coerces a noncooperative belligerent to accede to the demands of authority by convincing them almost unconsciously that it is in their best interest to abandon their violent criminal schemes. He spoke about it like it was something all cops learned and practiced daily. Like going for your gun was a final resort. It impressed on me the idea of what good policing ought to be, and I was shocked and dismayed to learn, years later, how far from the mark modern law enforcement seemed to be.

    Good on officers Lopez and Avendano for doing the right thing. We need more men and women like them.

    1. On of my extended family members is a retired cop. The dude has some ridiculous conflict deescalation skills. I’ve seen him break up fights in parking lots, positively end arguments in checkout lines, etc. It is skill he was taught early in his career and, clearly, used and reused throughout it. To him the beginning of the end for such skill was body armor and reliable, portable communications. Before the cops were armored-up there was significantly greater risk if you got into a fight or shot at (not that getting shot in armor is a walk in the park). You needed to be able to avoid starting the fight in the first place. And without being able to immediately call for assistance meant you needed to keep control of the situation longer.

      He said cops nowadays are far too quick to get physical with a suspect because the officer knows they are almost certainly safer than the suspect in such a fight.

      1. I think he has identified a by-product, not a cause.

        I know retired and current cops. They both know it’s the compensation that drives the police’s actions. A cop breaking up a domestic incident peacefully and with 1 arrest – with mild charges – doesn’t get the same compensation as a cop who quickly gets physical with a jerk who has a joint in his pocket.

        Sure, the kevlar and the radio have something to do with a cop’s willingness to get physical, but they aren’t the driver.

    2. He spoke about it like it was something all cops learned and practiced daily. Like going for your gun was a final resort.

      When I was in first or second grade (mid 80s) I took a tour of the local police station (larger Midwestern city) and we had a QA type thing with a cop. One of the kids asked if he had ever shot anybody. He said something along the line of “I have been a police officer for 25 years and have never once had to draw my gun, and almost every police officer in this building could tell you the same thing.” It was basically a point of pride for the guy, like guns were for pussies or something. Maybe if cops could be filled with such legitimate bravado these days I would have some sort of minimal respect for the profession?

    3. Then there was the WV cop who did this and got fired for it.

      See Radley Balko for that nut punch.

  12. At the risk of being called ‘slaver’, I actually think this is a good thing. Though even better would be not to escalate the situation in the first place. Then you don’t have to de-escalate. (How cool would that be?)

    1. Deescalate wouldn’t apply only to a situation the cop caused. Breaking up a couple dudes fighting and getting them to calm the fuck down is deescalating. A mentally ill or high-on-drugs dude wielding an ax is an inherently dangerous situation. Getting him to ratchet down is a good thing.

    2. A situation may be pre-escalated.

  13. “The best way to deescalate is to run away.”

    And be honest, that’s what you want to do anyway. I mean, if everyone is gonna jump on your back for killing someone…

  14. Reword and check:

    We recognize the Chief’s intentions, however, the reality is the “Medal of Valor” award is ill-conceived and in actuality has dangerous implications. Incentivizing officers for “Valor” suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do.

    If you won’t also say this, sir, then you are a bald-faced liar.

  15. The LAPD Medal of Valor is a form of canonization. If you look here:

    http://www.lapdonline.org/insi…..view/56952

    You’ll see that 2014 recipients span seven decades. Most involve being under fire and wounded but still acting. Here’s an action from 1964:

    “While Endler walked into the room and stood the suspect up to pat him down, the suspect turned towards the officers and asked, “Are you the police?” When advised that they were the police, the suspect pulled out a revolver from his waistband and began shooting. Endler was struck in the face, and Monaghan was also hit. The suspect jumped up and escaped from the security office. Just then, a Sears employee came to investigate the sounds of gunfire coming from the office. Monaghan shouted out, “He’s got a gun!” and pushed the Sears employee to the floor and out of the line of fire.” Two officers died, the suspect fled the scene successfully.

    So, would they get a Preservation of Life Award, too?

    How about “My spouse was Cop of the Week at ______ CPS” bumper stickers?

  16. I’m surprised the union is against this. It’ll serve them well when one of the cops presented with the award kills somebody. “The officer would not have emptied his gun on an unarmed suspect! I mean, he once won an award for NOT using deadly force!”

  17. Hey here’s a better question: Why the hell does a police department have “medals”? This once again plays into these losers’ aspirations to be an occupying military. They are civilians, people. They have no authority over what we choose to give them, and from what I’ve seen, that should be very very little.

  18. “Incentivizing officers for “preservation of life” suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do.”

    So, they’re trained hard to preserve life, and when, under considerable pressure and in a volatile situation, they actually succeed in doing this, they shouldn’t be recognized? I don’t get the logic here.

    “The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect.”

    No, it’s the second-to-last thing. The last thing is to call their union rep.

  19. “Incentivizing officers for ‘preservation of life’ suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do.”

    Well it’s not, and that’s exactly the problem, so get over it.

  20. “..and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.”

    And there’s the problem.

    Here’s cop who got fired for NOT killing a man with a gun.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/lo…..1609090080

  21. So the Police Union publicly States they are not interested in try to NOT KILL ANYBODY. They train hard to just KILL ANYONE THAT OPPOSES THEIR PERCEIVED POWER. It is time for the people to take over the Police department and all the training and remove the power of the union to make their own special view of murder instead of trying to save lives of civilians and the lives of officers lost to suicide due to their on the job experiences……

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.