The Los Angeles Police Department of the 1970s and '80s acted as a hard-charging, occupying force that raided poor neighborhoods and rounded up anyone in sight. Police stormed suspected crack houses, tearing down walls with a tank-like battering ram.
Officers of that era were trained to think of themselves as soldiers in a never-ending war on crime, says the Los Angeles Times.
Now, the department is using that notorious history as a crucial lesson for its officers. "We were warriors," Deputy Chief Bill Scott told a room filled with rank-and-file officers, a group of fresh-faced rookies watching from the front. Now, he said, officers need to think of themselves as guardians watching over communities, not warriors cracking down on them.
"That means if we've got to take somebody to jail, we'll take them to jail," Scott said. "But when we need to be empathetic and we need to be human, we've got to do that too."
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