The LAPD, in particular, is not the police agency it was. The riots after Rodney King’s arrest and beating reoriented the city government. Critics were brought in to the department as civilian overseers. Imperious police chiefs and their deputies found themselves term-limited. The Rampart scandal, in 2000, reoriented the entire department. Many, many, many bad police officers were forced out. Less than half of the LAPD is now white; the ranks of minority supervisors are growing.

It is hard to find a major community group in L.A. that does not concede that the basic, street-level interaction between police officers and citizens of all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations has gotten much warmer, friendlier, and effective, even as they understandably point out exceptions. The federal government, which had a hand in running the department after the Rampart scandal, kept a close watch on the department. William Bratton imported new police techniques from New York City and did more than any other chief to improve policing skills and human factor skills.

The community activists who made this happen are the ones who are done the most disservice by Dorner’s sympathizers.