Officer Safety Uber Alles: Christopher Dorner and the 'Rickoverian Paradox'by William Norman Grigg
Feb. 12, 2013
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The intrepid Captain Phillip Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department has come down with a sudden case of "Blue Flu." This is an oddly selective malady, one that only afflicts police officers. "Sick-outs" are a common police union tactic in contract disputes with municipal governments. In this case, the epidemic appears to be contained in the Tigirides household, where the bold and valiant captain is cowering in fear of his former comrade, Christopher Dorner.
"This month, it will be 33 years on the Los Angeles Police Department," Tingirides told the Orange County Register. "I have had a number of threats and very rarely do I take them seriously. In this case… I’m taking it very seriously…. I recognize I am susceptible to his violence."
Little in Tingirides’s official bio would suggest that danger has been his constant companion. Early in his career he patrolled such grim and forbidding territories as Wilshire and Hollywood before being promoted to such assignments as Prostitution Enforcement Detail, Community Relations, and the Vice Unit.
His career has been devoid of measurable peril, even by the standards of law enforcement – which is one of the least risk-laden occupations in contemporary life. This helps explain why Tingirides has been hiding out in his home, surrounded by a phalanx of timid and trigger-happy police bodyguards who are entirely willing to open fire on innocent people if they come within eyeshot.
"I haven’t been able for the last few days to go outside my house," whined Tingirides to the Register. "Am I afraid? Well, I hesitate to use that word – but I saw what he did to his attorney." The attorney to whom he referred was Randy Quan, who represented Dorner during the 2008 disciplinary hearings that resulted in Dorner’s dismissal from the LAPD for supposedly lying about abusive conduct by another officer. Lying about a Mundane is part of a police officer’s job description; lying about a fellow officer is simply impermissible.
Dorner is believed to be the assailant who shot Quan’s 28-year-old daughter, Monica. That young woman was apparently killed for the same reason the Obama Regime murdered 16-year-old Abdel al-Awalki: Someone habituated to criminal violence decided that the child was guilty of having an irresponsible parent.
Tingirides was chairman of the three-officer "board of rights" that upheld the decision to terminate Dorner’s employment, and the stalwart captain was mentioned by name in the vengeful ex-cop’s online "manifesto."
Back in August 2011, Captain Tingirides was interviewed on the beach near Torrance to promote a youth "Surf Camp" program. Despite the fact that he had grown up within easy distance of the shore, that interview represented the first time he had ever attempted to surf.
The time devoted by Captain Tingirides to producing that PR spot for the LAPD constituted the most danger-intensive hour of his career. Surfing is a far riskier activity than working as a law enforcement officer. The risks are particularly acute for surfers who have the misfortune of encountering police, as David Perdue can testify.
Last Thursday, as the LAPD’s institutional panic escalated, Perdue visited a beach near the site of Tingirides’s 2011 press stunt to enjoy some early morning surfing. He happened to be driving a pickup truck that resembled the vehicle being driven by Dorner. Two officers flagged Perdue down, determined that he wasn’t the suspect, and then let him go. Scant seconds later, two other officers rammed their vehicle into Perdue’s truck and opened fire.
It was Perdue’s immense good fortune that the assailants were police officers – which means that their marksmanship was poor enough to make the typical Imperial Stormtrooper from Star Wars look like William Tell. Although he wasn’t shot, Perdue suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury.
Robert Sheahen, Perdue’s attorney, described the episode as one of "unbridled police lawlessness." The Department offered Perdue the same perfunctory apology it had issued to two women who were shot at by another security detail guarding the home of another LAPD luminary. The LAPD has thus established itself as a greater threat to public safety than the "rogue" cop they are pursuing: While Dorner’s alleged crime spree targeted a narrow cohort – police officials and their families – the police have engaged in indiscriminate violence against innocent citizens.
The manhunt for Dorner has involved the deployment of thousands of police personnel and the use of unmanned aerial drones. It will cost tax victims in Los Angeles and elsewhere millions of dollars in overtime. This means that the police involved in the pursuit – who are already trained to be risk-aversive – will have a financial incentive to prolong the exercise as long as possible. So it shouldn’t surprise us that the police, who are preoccupied with the sacred imperative of "officer safety," have turned to the public for help in solving the crime.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has offered a $1 million reward – provided by private interests; all the available public money will probably be devoured by police overtime – for information leading to the arrest and capture of Dorner.
"We will not tolerate anyone undermining the security of this community," mewled Villaraigosa. "We will not tolerate this reign of terror." LAPD Chief Charlie Beck also characterized Dorner’s shooting rampage, as "domestic terrorism."
Who, exactly, is being "terrorized"? The productive public at large has been going about its business without facing any discernible risks from Dorner, whose only identified would-be victims are either police officers or their families (who have done nothing to injure anybody, of course).
The only way that private citizens could collect the reward for Dorner’s capture would be for them to take risks that police aren’t willing to run. For example: A citizen or privately employed security guard wouldn’t be able to ram an unidentified truck and open fire on its driver, or spray gunfire in a residential neighborhood, without facing criminal charges.
In the official reaction to Dorner’s rampage, we see an unusually candid manifestation of the "Officer Safety Uber Alles" mentality that defines police work. From their perspective, the population exists to protect and serve the police, rather than the reverse. This brings to mind the concept of Rickover’s Paradox, which I encountered in a science fiction novel decades ago. According to author Vonda McIntyre, was used to test the moral attitudes of officer candidates at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The most famous version of this conundrum is the following:
Two individuals, the only survivors of a tragic shipwreck, are adrift in a small, damaged lifeboat. The water is pitilessly cold and infested with ravenous sharks. The boat itself is irreparably damaged in such a way that it will only be able to carry one of its occupants. If nothing is done, both occupants will perish. But whichever is cast into the sea will die very quickly.The only morally sound answer to this predicament – assuming that the military is actually the institution it pretends to be – would be for the officer to sacrifice himself on behalf of the civilian. This isn’t because there is a natural duty on the part of any individual to sacrifice himself for another, but rather because the officer had freely chosen that duty, and refusing to carry it out would invalidate the entire stated purpose of having a military establishment in the first place. Any other course of action would be based on the assumption that the civilian population exists to defend the military, rather than the reverse.
Although this parable is supposed to instill an attitude of chivalry on the part of military officers, it actually underscores the uselessness of the state as a protective institution, because human beings are not wired to sacrifice themselves on behalf of strangers – and the state is structured in such a way that those who work on its behalf always place individual and institutional self-preservation above every other consideration.
This is why tax-subsidized cowards like Phillip Tingirides are cowering behind both their tax-funded bodyguards and the public the police supposedly serves, while someone who was once a part of the state’s punitive priesthood carries out a mission of revenge against his erstwhile comrades in officially sanctioned violence and plunder
If the police are reduced to puddles of panic at the thought of dealing with one of their own, why should the public trust them – or countenance their institutional existence at all?
William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.