Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).

 

Before the Los Angeles Police Department decided to intrude on the lives (and sleeping habits) of the good people of South L.A. by using their airship to aid and abet them in predicting crime – they should have given the residents being used as guinea pigs a heads up and the opportunity to weigh in.

The LAPD has long been in the business of attempting to tell the future by way of predictive policing and hunches. But now they are using their helicopters to help them stop crimes before they even occur. Pilots from the department’s Air Support division with downtime are now flying over certain Los Angeles “hot spots” in the hopes that criminals in the area will either see or hear the airship and rethink committing the crime that they haven’t yet committed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, during the week of Sep. 13, the LAPD flew a helicopter unit over South L.A.’s Newton division 65 times and recorded 90 crimes. The same article goes on to say that a week later the department scaled back the flights to 40 and the number of crimes rose to 136.

Now granted, it is the LAPD reporting these crime stats. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that these numbers are in fact true and accurate—who the hell wants to live under the constant noise pollution of having a helicopter hovering over their neighborhood at all hours of the day and night?

I don’t doubt for one minute that there are folks in South L.A. who want see a reduction in the number of burglaries, car thefts, thefts from vehicles, murders, and attempted murders that occur near and around them. But at what cost—their sanity, the feeling of living even more in war zone, loss of sleep?

Like with the issue of the body cameras the LAPD and Police Commission should have held community meetings (plural) in the areas that were going to subject to this massive experimental disturbance. But unlike with the body cameras, they should have held these meeting when this was first someone’s bright idea and not after the ink was dried on the paperwork authorizing it.

Crime happens in every part of the 469 square miles known as the City of Angels. Is a crime more likely to happen in South L.A. than West L.A.? Maybe, it depends on the type of crime we’re talking about. What I do know is that the folks on the Westside would never allow the LAPD to keep little Becky and Adam up all night in the hopes of deterring a crime from occurring.

While the folks on the 10th floor continue to talk about wanting to and needing to repair fractured relationships and rebuild community trust that has been lost, there is little more disrespectful than using South L.A. residents as guineas pigs without having the courtesy to even let them know or ask them how they feel about it.  Maybe they don’t want to hear that damn helicopter all night long.  On the flip side, maybe they don’t care if it curbs crime.   Either way, that’s a conversation that should have happened before the the first one of those airship trips commenced and certainly before they told the Times.