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Placing Blame Where it Belongs * on the Perpetrator

Los Angeles Police Protective League
July 14, 2005

The following is the complete text of the op-ed by Bob Baker that ran
in an abridged version in today's Los Angeles Times.  

Placing Blame Where it Belongs * on the Perpetrator By Bob Baker

Some lawyers will say or do anything to make money.  Some self-designated
"community leaders" will say or do anything to get their faces on TV. 

The tragic death of 19-month-old Suzie Marie Peņa as her father used her as
a shield while indiscriminately spraying bullets in an urban neighborhood,
has provided a forum for these lawyers and "leaders" and their vile and
ill-informed accusations against the police, including their allegations
that these tragic deaths were the fault of the police.

Sorry, but that just isn't going to be accepted anymore.  It is high time
that the blame for these situations, and their deadly outcomes, be placed
squarely on those responsible for them. 

Jose Raul Peņa is responsible for this tragedy.  It was Jose Peņa who family
members said was abusing alcohol and cocaine, making him irrational.  It was
Jose Peņa who began waving a handgun and firing at passersby, prompting
calls to the police by the public for protection.
It was Jose Peņa who fired without warning, indiscriminately, at arriving
police officers. It was Jose Peņa who shot and wounded an LAPD Officer.

Police officers did not threaten to kill Peņa's wife, 17-year-old
step-daughter, and his infant daughter - Jose Peņa did.  Police officers did
not fire first in this confrontation - Jose Peņa did.

If someone begins shooting up a neighborhood, the police will respond.
If they put others in danger, the police are not going to walk away.
When someone shoots 40 rounds indiscriminately out of a building, it is the
job of the Los Angeles Police Department to disarm the shooter quickly and
at the least risk to all of those who are in harm's way*including passersby,
neighbors and police officers themselves.

The citizens of Los Angeles are extremely fortunate in that the LAPD has one
of the best and most lauded SWAT teams in the nation to respond to hostage
situations.  Our SWAT team is so effective that it has been
25 years since a hostage has been lost.

Today, our officers are devastated.  They did everything by the book,
everything according to their training, and made their best efforts.
Many of our SWAT officers are parents themselves, and they can tell you that
there is nothing more devastating than the futile loss of a child.
Was this death their fault?  No.  When a father puts his child in the line
of fire and continues to shoot at police officers, the blame for the tragedy
is his alone. 

And it is a tragedy for everyone involved*little Susie Marie, the Peņa
families, and the police officers who did their best in a terrible
situation, but were unable to save the child. 

It is sad that before the ink is even dry on the newspaper stories, the
family has hired a lawyer and hidden behind "community leaders" in an
attempt to rewrite the events which played out in front of the media.
 But all the blabbering by these front men can't change the facts, the
reality and the tragedy.

Bob Baker is President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which
represents more than 9,000 LAPD officers