LAPD: To Protect and Serve Some People
The National Review Online published a story by a current Los Angeles Police Department attacking the U.S. Appeals Court decision striking down the Los Angeles attempt to make it a crime to be homeless. We posted a summary of the decision that prevents the Police from arresting people for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping or standing when every shelter is full in Los Angeles. Josh Kanary has his own comments about the LAPD.
Jack Dunphy, columnist for the National Review Online and LAPD Officer, does not have a good grasp of the law as shown in his article The Constitutional Right to Be a Bum. The article refers to the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that a Los Angeles ordinance making it a misdemeanor to "sit, lie or sleep upon any street, sidewalk, or other public way" is unconstitutional. Opinions on the item of legislation aside, Dunphy's rationale is most unlearned for one who claims to be an officer of the law. The article shows that the officer is not smart and has nothing of worth to add to the heated debate over anti-homeless legislation.
Dunphy describes the scene of a group of homeless people sleeping on the streets as, "men (and a few women)...drinking, smoking crack, shooting heroin, fighting with (and occasionally murdering) each other." When describing what the police can do about "those besotted bums down the street," he says, "There's not much we can do...They are enjoying the blessings of freedom guaranteed them by the Constitution, as interpreted by the ACLU and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit."
Although, it is true, the police can no longer arrest homeless people for just being out on the streets, there is something the police can do about people engaged in what he describes as a "frothing maelstrom of depravity." Laws are in place to outlaw the smoking of crack, shooting of heroin, and the fighting (and occasionally murdering) of each other. All the police would need to do is arrest them for the crimes they are seeing them commit. To see the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as the immunization of homeless persons is at the least a poor understanding of the interpretation.
The above occurs in the first three paragraphs of a three page article and contains all the arguments LAPD Officer Jack Dunphy offers against the court decision. He spends the rest of his article questioning the credibility of the plaintiffs and of the judges of the majority opinion, offering little but hearsay, rumor, and good old-fashioned instinct to substantiate his perspective.
Dunphy quotes Judge Kim Wardlaw as saying plaintiff Robert Lee Purrie "has lived in the Skid Row area for four decades." This rare fact in his rant worthy of a poorly Xeroxed 'zine is quickly followed by his statement, "The inescapable conclusion is that he lives there...because he likes it." Conclusions such as mental illness, physical disability, racism, and classism show that the conclusion "because he likes it" is, in fact, very escapable.
Jack Dunphy concludes his article about the Ninth Circuit Court of AppealsÂ decision with random facts and assumptions about Judge Wardlaw's life, such as, "The Wardlaws were among the Clintons' guests who enjoyed a stay in the White House's Lincoln Bedroom," and, "I'm confident there are two commas in the price tag of her home." Although these facts may have their place elsewhere, they make for a disjointed conclusion to an article about a court's decision.
The fact of the matter is, given only this article as a window into his life, Jack Dunphy is a stupid man who is both ill-informed and wrong. Taken together, those adjectives add up to one frightening police officer. Further explorations of Officer Dunphy's lack of intelligence can be made in the poor grammatical structure of his online article, beginning with his sentence, "How, then, to explain the life of, to cite one example, plaintiff Robert Lee Purrie, who, according to Wardlaw's opinion, 'has lived in the Skid Row area for four decades.'"Josh Kanary
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.