Thursday, December 25, 2014

Memories of South Los Angeles- relating to current conflicts

As a new CHP Officer, I was assigned to the South L A CHP Office, as, One, I had lived in San Pedro, and two, out of 53 graduating officers, 49 were assigned to Los Angeles. I reported in on June 28, 1971

Most of the area in South L A was County, which meant that the CHP had jurisdiction for traffic.

Like the little city strip-known as Watts-- that connects downtown Los Angeles with the harbor and San Pedro, the population was predominately Black. An additional aspect was that most were at the poverty level, living in "Public Housing" , and attending what the CHP motorcycle squad called "The Temple to Welfare".

You soon learned that these people had zero self-respect (That comes with having a job and paying your own way) and zero respect for law enforcement.

The situation then was like current day Ferguson , Missouri and New York City.

As CHP officer that drove cars, you never got out of sight of your car. Why?
The 60's were still around. There were several groups that still thought a good method of rebelling was to put a bomb on a cop car.

You parked one car either at the CHP Office or the Firestone Jail  and rode two officers to a car at sundown.
In other CHP Offices, you pair up only if you are going to work past 2200 hours (10 PM)

What the populace thought of you was revealed one night as I was paired with a senior officer, who was driving. We came to a stop light and had to stop. On the sidewalk, just outside my window were three black youngsters-- A girl about 14, a boy about 10, and a girl about 5.
The 14 year old say, "Good evenin', Officuh". The boy says. "God evenin. mistah po lice man"
The five year old  says "mothuh   f--ing pig".

As CHP Officers we were expected to be courteous and professional at all times.  Four citizen complaints in a year gets you fired.

You had two experiences that demonstrated what it took to keep order in that area:

One, you would be driving down a street, and a black male. usually age 16-25, would just turn from walking on the sidewalk, and walk  in front of you. We-the CHP --would stop as the person sauntered in front of you sneering at you as they walked.

BUT , L A County Sheriffs had Plymouth Furys that looked like our Dodge Polaras
Most of these people were illiterate and could not tell the difference between the Sheriff's Star decal on the door

IF that young man stepped out in front of a sheriff's Deputy, you would hear the engine rev up, the rear go down, and the car increase speed at the offender . You could have seen some Olympic speed on foot .

Often we would stop black males (AS that was all that was there) for a traffic violation. There would be an incessant protest that the man had done nothing wrong. These people usually had no ID, no registration for the car. You could NOT run a check on the person unless you got permission from a Sergeant.
Ninety per cent of them had warrants, and a glove box full of unsatisfied tickets . If you ran him, then you had to take him to jail, it would burn up two to four hours of your shift.

When you finished to ticket, you would ask for a signature. Mostly, you would get a blast oof "I ain't signin' no M--F--ing ticket". (If you don't get a signature he has to be booked into jail)
So, you would calmly fold the citation book, lay it on the hood, and say to him,"You know--I thought I was dealing with a reasonable person. I made a mistake. What I am going to do is call the sheriff over here and let him write the ticket".
Invariably , he would blurt out, "Oh NO..Don't get Sheriff John here--I will sign it"
He knew that the sheriff's deputies would dribble him off the asphalt, then take him to jail.

Conclusion--These types only fear an ass kicking or being subjected to very uncomfortable pain. You do not negotiate with them. Trying to treat them kindly indicates to them that you are weak--and that they can subdue you .

Don't think that all the people were like this. There were many hard-working decent people, that respected officers and saw them as allies and protectors. You quickly developed a "Street sense" to tell which ones you were dealing with.

The BIG turn around was after Rodney King. LAPD Officers were accused of "Assault under color of Authority" . They were tried in State Court and found NOT GUILTY.
However, GHW Bush came to town to start his campaign for term II. Black Ministers from South Central cornered him and threatened to convince all the residents to vote Democrat if
he did not take action.  Bush sent the FBI after them,(If you are a police officer, County Deputy or State Trooper, you quickly find that the FBI is NOT your friend)  and convicted them of "Civil Rights Violations".

1 comment:

  1. Exactly Correct. I was a CHP (64-69) in Newhall when the Watts Riots started. I then moved to San Jose when the Berkely Free Speech Riots started. I then moved to a safe resident post and after 5 years with the CHiP's decided to leave. Out in the sticks we had the Hell's Angels to deal with. That was enough! I have finished 43 years in Law Enforcement of various kinds, working in combat zones, rural counties and even as a Tax collector, but nothing and I mean nothing compares in sheer terror to confronting the absolutely unreasonable black barbarians from the urban gettos when they take a notion to burn their town down..