The hunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner came close to home this weekend. I returned to my Glendale house Saturday evening after a night out to find a pair of plain-clothed LAPD officers hunkering down on my front patio.
The two bulky men in baseball caps and sweatshirts had pistols strapped to their thighs and shotguns in hand. They were standing in the dark on our patio when my wife and son made their way up the front steps. Trailing behind, I saw my family suddenly stop – fear and disbelief on their faces. By the time I caught up, one of the men was talking in a calm voice. He said they were police officers, and not to be alarmed.
He produced an LAPD detective’s badge and explained what they were doing in our yard in the middle of the night. As it happens, one of the police officers Dorner called out by name in his online manifesto lives just a few doors down. The detective and officer on my patio were part of a larger contingent of police dispersed around the neighborhood to guard his house. They decided to use my patio as a lookout point because it offers a clear vantage of three streets leading to the officer’s home. They agreed to talk to me, but they didn’t want their names to be used.
“Basically that’s why we are here, to provide cover in case Dorner happens to come out here and attempt to do something on a person in the family,” one of them told me, adding that there was no indication that Dorner was actually headed our way.
Although they entered our property without our permission, the officers were apologetic and polite. We told them they could stay, offering coffee and use of our bathroom. By Sunday morning the original pair was gone, replaced by another officer-detective team. By the time the second team was relieved last night, they had been on my patio for more than 10 hours: watching the cars, staring through binoculars, eating sandwiches and sipping from Super Big Gulps. It seemed to be a mind-numbing assignment, but they did their best to stay alert. They stressed this wasn’t just another stakeout.
“Well we know that threats against us come with the territory because of the nature of the job we have,” said one of the officers. Dorner allegedly murdered the daughter of an officer who represented him in his dismissal hearing. “It definitely hits home because you know you try to keep your family a safe distance away – and in this situation it didn’t matter.”
Wanting to make sure my family was safe I asked what would happen if Dorner showed up on our street. The officers said they had a plan, but couldn’t detail it. “We have backup in place and we would go for a safe, tactical resolution,” the officer said, assuring me that there wouldn’t be a gunfight in front of my house.
And apparently, until Dorner is found, the cops will likely be patrolling my neighborhood. “As long as he’s out there, regardless of where you think he is or isn’t, you still have to be on your toes,” one of the officers concluded.
It appears that we will have to live for the time being at least with the unease of knowing that Dorner could make an appearance in our neighborhood. I suppose we are safer with armed officers outside our door, but it doesn’t really feel that way. And I’m not happy with the prospect of armed cops on our patio for an undetermined amount of time. But they are here. And I’m thinking about cleaning up a bit so at least they have a nicer place to sit.
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