Big Canoe resident Lou Reiter, a former deputy chief, served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 20 years. Since retiring he audited the N.Y.P.D., served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice, and testified as a police practices expert in over 1,100 civil lawsuits. His “Broken Badges” and “Shattered Badges” are marked by verisimilitude—believability and authenticity only years of hands-on experience and top-level knowledge can bring to writing.
'The state of police misconduct' topic of Reiter’s talk
By Judy Harvey, program manager, Rotary Club of Jasper
Reprinted with permission from Rotary Club Bulletin
Lou Reiter, a retired Rotarian of 40 years and a resident of Big Canoe, joined us at our meeting on January 30 to share his thoughts about the state of police misconduct in America, his philosophy of law enforcement, and his sense of the impact of aging on how law enforcement in America is being delivered.
Lou has intimate knowledge of these subjects, having been involved in police work for 58 years. The first 20 years of his career, he was with the Los Angeles Police Department and retired as a Deputy Chief. For the past 38 years he’s been a police consultant. In that role, he deals with what he described as the “1 to 2% ‘malignancy in law enforcement” the most significant of which he described as unnecessary use of force.
The second most widespread issue is sexual misconduct, with the most despicable behavior involving vulnerable victims of domestic violence, most often women. Other misconduct involves theft of prescription drugs, wrongful arrests, inept and lazy supervision, and corruption.
And there’s hardly any community that is fully immune from this cancer (though he did make the point that Pickens County law enforcement performs quite well, for which we are all thankful). It’s happening in small and large cities, urban and rural places, and local and state police agencies. The good news from Lou’s perspective is that the courts are taking action and are now holding law enforcement agencies to the highest standards of care.
Lou continued with his philosophy on law enforcement by reflecting on the question “are we guardians of the peace or are we warriors?”, a question which came into sharper focus as a result of the recent incident in Ferguson, Missouri. He observed that 98% of the time, law enforcement is effectively guarding the peace.
The 2% as warriors is a critical and necessary function of the job, and when not performed properly, it is what naturally gets all the attention in the media. Expanded training is critical, and needs to be more directed to how to effectively deal with people face-to-face in order to diffuse potentially explosive situations.
Finally, Lou described that law enforcement today is suffering from the impact of aging as more and more officers are retiring. One of the negative consequences is the diminishing of the experience level in many departments, creating an environment where many lessons of the past are being forgotten, thereby leading to increased potential for some of the worst mistakes of the past to be repeated.
“I still have a passion for policing. It’s a noble profession.”
Reiter is an accomplished author. You can find his two most recent books “Broken Badges: Cases from Police Internal Affairs Files” and “Shattered Badges: More Cases from Police Internal Affairs Files” on Amazon.com.