COPS GONE WILD
By Ray Gaviota, Originally Published in 1968
America’s police forces are much more uptight than they used to be. Six short years ago, Jack Ruby walked right up to a crowd of 75 cops in the basement of the Dallas PD, pulled out a gun and fired into their midst, killing the man they were supposedly guarding. Anyone who tried that today would be shot dead in his tracks, unless it was part of the script.
In Los Angeles and elsewhere, police have organized themselves into an effective political force to fight off police review boards and all threats to department autonomy. Attempts to return police control to the community have proven feeble compared to police counter attacks. Swinish propaganda defeated New York’s police review board in a 1965 election and, since then, the Bircher slogan “support your local police” has become part of normal political rhetoric.
The first police brutality indictment in recent years was returned against officer J. R. Salyer of foothill division by the County Grand Jury. Salyer has already served a 30-day suspension for assault with a deadly weapon on a prisoner in his custody. His victim is suing the city for $100,000.
The mother of Donald Lee Oughten, the handicapped youth, who was caught in a crossfire between two triggerhappy cops, has filed suit for $1 million. The coroner’s finding of “justifiable homicide” cast new doubts upon administrative juggling of the coroner’s office. Such a verdict makes people question the meaning of “law enforcement” and raises the question that should have been asked as soon as the first Kennedy was shot: just who is doing the crime in the streets?