Officer Gannon concured.
“A killer’s conscience tells him it’s okay to murder,” he said. “What happens to your majority of one then?”
Sgt. Friday added, “without laws and the people to enforce them you’ve got anarchy... the law of the jungle. Now an awful lot of people have bled and died for an idea called democracy, and idea that people are better than animals and that a civilized nation is better than a jungle. A lot of people are still fighting and dying for that belief. A lot of them wear badges because they believe in those American ideals.”
Cops Beating Up Blacks
The only black questioner was a crude caricature named Mambo Mabanda. “I’m the president of the Black Widow Party and I’m here to tell you honkies where you can put all that bull about democracy,” he said. “Y’all are a bunch of Nazis only you don’t dress as sharp. Not near as sharp, man. You boys drive through Watts and all you want to do is catch one of us alone so you can work it over or blow our heads off. You tell us about that, Mr. Charley, and tell us good, ‘cuz I been there man, I been there.”
Here Sgt. Friday channels the white moderate that so disappointed Martin Luther King. “I’m not here to say that race relations have always been perfect on either side,” he said. “But things are improving. The chief of police is seeing to that and that’s our number one priority.” He didn’t mention what, exactly, the chief was doing.
As for police brutality, he continued, “that’s another story. We try to prevent it in the first place by not hiring brutal men. Only one of twenty-five who applies for a job in the department ever makes it. We have three man panels composed of one sergeant and two civilians who pass on every man who wants to go to the academy. One black ball and that man is out.” He acknowledged that the system is not perfect. “Occasionally a bad apple slips through or a good apple turns bad,” he granted.
“Well, my friend, you don’t want him on the job and the department doesn’t either. One trigger happy cop making headlines is all it takes to give all police officers a black eye.”
Personally, he said, “I’ve been on the job 12 years. In that time I’ve drawn my gun eight times and I’ve fired it twice. And that’s about average. There are a great many officers who’ve never fired their revolver.” And there was a shooting board for those that did. “If any police officer fires his gun, even if he misses, he has to make a report to that board. If he doesn’t have a good reason… he’s in big trouble.”
Officer Shoots Kid
Here’s how Dragnet addressed the issue:
Mr Mabanda: What about that 15-year-old boy who was shot down last week by one of you brave boys in blue. Tell us about him, will you do that, man?
Officer Gannon: That 15-year-old was sniping at passersby from a rooftop. He wounded six people, one of them seriously, before the officer got there. The officer was a better shot.
Sgt. Friday: You can be shot just as dead by a 15-year-old as by his grandfather.
A subsequent exchange addressed cop killers and community policing:
Mr Mabanda: Oh yeah? Answer me this. Let one of you blue cats catch it and you all get excited. You really drop everything to go after a cop killer, don’t you?
Sgt. Friday: You bet we do, but not just because he killed a friend of ours. Now you figure it. If a man shoots down an armed officer, do you think he’d hesitate to shoot down an unarmed citizen?
Mr Mabanda: Okay, answer me this. Why is it that you guys is always in patrol cars sitting on cycles? Why don’t you boys walk a beat like the fuzz back east? you don’t mind protecting us, you just don’t want to have to mingle with us, is that the idea?
Officer Gannon: This is a city on wheels so we have a police department on wheels. We have to cover 54 square miles and we’ve got only 5,700 men to cover them. 5,700. New York has 28,000 policemen. Chicago has 12,000.
Then a Latino man came to the microphone. He said that he applied for a job with the LAPD and was denied. He demanded to know why the LAPD was prejudiced against Mexicans.