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Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2000/ 19 Adar I, 5760

Larry Elder

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O.J.'s revenge? -- O. J. Simpson, the only man in America more accessible to the press than John McCain, claims vindication.

Simpson told Newsweek, "I feel vindicated. It is now loud and clear that these guys are capable of planting evidence and framing people. This is not something new. It's been going on for a long time ... "

Simpson exonerated? That's sort of like Al Capone claiming vindication because some dude won a tax refund. Give me a break!

The Los Angeles Police Department faces its biggest crisis in history. Nearly 70 officers are under investigation for corruption. Officers face accusations of planting evidence, lying under oath, and cover-ups. The controversy revolves around the so-called CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) unit, a team established to combat gang-related violence.

Never mind that L.A. County contains 250,000 gang members, and nearly 1,200 gangs. Experts attribute half of the murders in L.A. County to gangs, with a growing number of these murders unresolved. Gang members intimidate witnesses who refuse to testify, resulting in numerous cases being dismissed.

Never mind that, so far, the LAPD scandal implicates some 70 officers, or less than 1 percent of the nearly 9,500 sworn officers. Or that, in Los Angeles, nearly 50 percent of the street cops -- those with whom a person in the street is likely to interact -- are women and/or minorities. Or that the LAPD's current chief, Bernard Parks, is the city's second consecutive black chief, and that a Hispanic runs the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

Simpson blames the media, whom he accuses of failing to properly oversee the police. He's right. But not the way he thinks. On television, we see cops firing their revolvers all the time. In reality, well over 95 percent of officers never fire their guns.

But according to Simpson, the ACLU is right. The organization accuses cops of routinely engaging in racial profiling, a.k.a. Driving While Black. This makes flame-throwing activist Al Sharpton right. Sharpton once announced that he wouldn't rest until he sees all blacks free from "an awkward and unjust" criminal justice system.

The government compiles surveys on victims of crime. About 40 percent of the time, victims claim that blacks committed the crimes against them. This tracks the roughly 40 percent of blacks arrested for these crimes.

Furthermore, for all but the least serious categories of major crimes, black defendants find their cases resulting in dismissals or acquittals more often than whites!

No one condones police brutality or corrupt and illegal police tactics. Bad cops must go. But anti-police hysteria does not go without consequences. Nationwide, all felony criminal trials result in a 15 percent acquittal rate. Not so with communities where minority juries predominate. For example, in the Bronx, juries acquit mostly minority criminal defendants at a rate of nearly 50 percent, or over three times the national average! And, in Washington, D.C., and Detroit, juries acquit predominantly black defendants at a rate of twice the national average. This leaves a lot of guys walking around with bad intentions.

But, given the alleged unfair criminal justice system, surely the police falsely arrested blacks, justifying the high acquittal rates. Not according to famed, liberal criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.

In Dershowitz's 1983 book, "The Best Defense," he spoke bluntly about the alleged innocence of most criminal defendants, as well as the motives of their defense attorneys.

Dershowitz said:

"Almost all criminal defendants are, in fact, guilty.

"Any criminal defense lawyer who tells you that most of his clients are innocent is bluffing.

"In representing guilty defendants, it is often necessary to put the government on trial for its misconduct.

"Criminal defendants and their lawyers certainly do not want justice. They want acquittals, or, at least, short sentences.

"It is the job of the defense attorney to prevent the whole truth from coming out.

"Once I decide to take a case, I have only one agenda: I want to win. I will try to get my client off without regard to the consequences.

"I don't apologize (or feel guilty about) helping to let a murderer go free -- even though I realize that someday he may go out and kill again." Assuming Dershowitz is right, this means the overwhelming majority of men and women in blue -- those willing to take a bullet for someone they don't even know -- try their best to adhere to the slogan "To protect and serve."

In the end, officers come out of the application pool known as the general public. To encourage honorable men and women to join, our goal should be to improve, rather than to vilify the police. They, after all, form the thin blue line protecting the majority of the law-abiding from the criminals.

After all, when we call 911, we expect the cops to show up. The way Nicole did.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate