LAPD Boss Charlie Beck: Fearmonger in Chief

By Dan Cadman, March 27, 2017

The Associated Press is reporting that Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has tied a statistical drop for the first quarter of this year in reports of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes by Latinos to fears of deportation. He's quoted as saying: "Imagine your sister, your mother, not reporting a sexual assault for fear that their family will be torn apart."

There are, of course, any number of reasons why such a drop might have taken place, and we don't know yet whether it's a statistical anomaly — or even whether the anomaly is the result of book-cooking. If the Obama administration cooked the books at the federal level, and it did, is there any reason to think it might not happen at the local level to advance a political agenda? Certainly Beck has repeatedly demonstrated his sensitivity to the pro-sanctuary vibe of his political bosses in city hall.

Then there is the question of why only that small subset of crimes was affected? To posit true cause-and-effect, wouldn't this fear of removals, allegedly resulting in refusal to report crimes, extend to the whole range of offenses? What about physical, non-sexual assaults and batteries? How about burglary, or breaking-and-entering, or vehicle theft crimes? Has reporting of all of those gone down, too, among Latinos? We don't know. Presumably not, or I imagine Beck would have been delighted to lump them into his screed.

There is also the weighty question of what constitutes "Latino" crime reporting: Is it Hispanics generally? If so, then doesn't that include many hundreds of thousands of Hispanic citizens and lawful resident aliens living in metropolitan Los Angeles? Why exactly would they fear deportation? Doesn't make sense to me.

Really, Beck's remarks look like fearmongering of the worst sort, and in making them, Beck actually does his police department and the community a serious disservice. Is he a fool not to realize this? (You can answer that for yourself in the privacy of your own mind.)

Finally, let me note that Beck, and the police department, and city elected leaders collectively, are not doing their jobs if they permit the community at large, or any portion of it, to believe that federal authorities have an interest in taking custody of victims and witnesses.

In all of the years, that I served with the federal government, I can say unambiguously that the only exception to the "hands off" policy was in those instances where the witness was testifying under compulsion because he or she (usually he) was also a participant and conspirator to the offense, and was looking to cut a deal with prosecutors through his cooperation and evidence.

In fact, there are a plethora of ways in which federal immigration authorities can be extremely helpful to state and local police and prosecutors in ensuring that victims and witnesses are provided legal status and authorization to work so that they can cooperate in identifying, arresting, and charging offenders. There are a slew of different visas available for just that purpose: see, for instance, S Visas, T Visas and U Visas.

And outside of those official visa categories, the federal government also has latitude in appropriate cases to grant immigration parole to victims or witnesses, which is much more consistent with the congressional and statutory intent of the provision than was ever practiced during the Obama administration, since such grants would clearly be for humanitarian reasons, after an individual review of the request (presumably with support from police and prosecutors).

So if these avenues of official federal help aren't being made known to the illegal alien community, then shame, Chief Beck, shame! Isn't effective community outreach a part of your job? How about doing that instead of stoking irrational fear?