One-Eyed Jack is Wild

Pair of one-eyed jacksI’m confused by an article at FFFF, but I’ve learned that that’s not the best place to go for cogent explanations of what they’re saying.  (It’s a great place to go to be abused for using phrases like “cogent explanations” in one’s writing, but that’s not what I’m looking for today.)  It deals with Pat McKinley’s hiring of Jay Cicinelli:

Jay Cicinelli was put on a disability pension by Bernard Parks, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department following a horrific shooting of the six-week rookie cop. Smart move. Among other injuries, Cicinelli lost his left eye.

But Cicinelli’s dream of being a policeman was not to end so quickly. For he had an ally in the figure of Mike Hillman, a gung-ho cop’s cop – the type whose worldview divides people into two groups: cops and everybody else;  and Hillman was determined to put the one-eyed cop back on the streets somewhere – anywhere.

Hillman’s thoughts turned to little Fullerton, California where his one-time boss in the LAPD, Pat McKinley, had been appointed police chief. And what followed was a decision so incompetent and self-serving that it eclipses all of McKinley’s other disastrous personnel decisions – and that’s saying a helluva lot.

McKinley hired Cicinelli, gave him a badge, fire arms, and the keys to a patrol car, a decision so reckless and with such blatant disregard for the safety of the public and his own policemen, that he should have been immediately fired.

(My emphasis added.)  I think that Pat McKinley should be recalled because of his role in hiring and supervising officers who have been shown to be overly aggressive and unwilling to honor the public’s constitutional rights.  Given the Kelly Thomas tragedy, I don’t think that he should be left to lead the city.  It adds insult to the city’s injury.  But that doesn’t mean that the analysis above makes any sense.

I think that Jay Cicinelli went beyond reasonable police actions and committed manslaughter on Kelly Thomas at least.  I think that he should go to jail.  But this too doesn’t mean that the above analysis makes the least bit of sense.  So, I’m asking our readers here to make sense of it.

Clear away all of the inflammatory dry brush, and the above four paragraphs are reduced to this:

(1) Cicinelli was shot, lost an eye, and went on LAPD disability pension.

(2) Cicinelli had a friend, a cop who valued cops over non-cops, who wanted to get him a job.

(3) This friend knew Pat McKinley, the Police Chief of Fullerton.

(4) McKinley hired Cicinelli and gave him the tools of the trade.

(5) His doing so was reckless with the safety of the public and his own policemen.

(6) McKinley should have been immediately fired for hiring Cicinelli.

I not only don’t see how the author gets from statements (1)-(4) to the conclusions in (5)-(6); I don’t see how one can get there.

Now, I can believe that hiring Cicinelli was reckless.  Reckless (or more often negligent) hiring is one of the things that I address in my practice.  What I can’t believe is that the paragraphs above give us any reason to think it was negligent, let alone reckless, hiring — except for one reason that I really dislike.

Here’s what we actually know about Cicinelli from these paragraphs: he was missing an eye and he had a patron who had an “us against them” attitude towards civilians.

Let’s take the second one first: how many cops do you think have an “us against them” attitude towards civilians?  I think that it’s a common view, maybe even prevalent.  So is the rule that the FFFFsters have in mind that you shouldn’t hire anyone on the recommendation of a cop with an “us against them” attitude, which in practice may mean that you’re not going to hire any cops at all.

(Note that “not hiring any cops” may be fine with Tony Bushala and his FFFFollowers, who as I understand it would like to dismantle the FPD and outsource operations to the OC Sheriff’s Department.  That would seem to make sense only if the OCSD is really different than the FPD.  Maybe it is; but I see no reason to presume so.  Are they gentler towards the homeless?  Most of what I know comes from my dealings with the homeless through the Occupy movement — and what information I’ve had about the OCSD doesn’t lead me to think that they have any less of a “cop’s mindset” or are any gentler than anyone else.  If they are the same, then how is giving the reins to them any sort of “reform”)?

So, I don’t see how you get to the conclusion that hiring Jay Cicinelli should have been an immediate firing offense based on his recommendation.

That leaves us with two possible reasons why this hire should have been a firing offense.  One of them is something that McKinley would not necessarily have been expected to know at the time: that Cicinelli was the sort of cop who would do a Barney Fife freak-out and beat someone’s face in during the middle of a protracted, but still probably still not otherwise destined to be fatal, arrest.  Unless that was part of the recommendation he received from his friend, I can’t hang that around McKinley’s neck.  He’s not a time-traveler or a prophet.  I would never expect to win a negligent hiring case like this without more facts about what he should have known at the time of the hire.

The other possibility is that the criticism is that McKinley was endangering the public because had had only one-eye.  The damned intro to the story that it is “a reminder of how a one-eyed cop was hired by the City of Fullerton to patrol our streets with badge, gun, taser and who knows what else.”  That is — hired to patrol our streets with all of the equipment that cops normally have.

“A one-eyed cop.”  They’re calling Cicinelli and McKinley knaves — a synonym for “jack,” like in your pack of cards — because Cicinelli had one eye?

Can this really be the FFFF argument against Pat McKinley, because he hired a one-eyed cop?  Despite this story and the slavering response to it, I don’t think it is; I think that the real case against McKinley probably has a lot more to do with negligence in training and supervision.  But that’s not what the FFFF article says: it says that McKinley was endangering everyone because he hired a one-eyed cop.  Not a crazy tinderbox-brained cop, but a one-eyed cop.

FFFF writers (and commenters) seem willing just to make any assertion at all, logical or not, about the perfidy of everyone associated with the FPD, secure that 50 differently named commenters (or five commenters with 10 different names apiecce) will show up to scream “amen” at every charge hurled.  This is the main thing that gives me concerns about the recall — or, rather, that the three candidates that come out of this anti-critical-thinking environment might think about the world of governance in the same way.  Who thinks like this?

Now there’s one thing which would convince me that McKinley truly was negligent in this hire: if it is generally accepted that there’s no way that a one-eyed person can be a cop.  (That’s how it works, for example, for airline pilots.  No binocular vision, no job.)  I just really doubt that this is true.  I know enough people with one eye — one of them a cousin here in OC — who seem to get through the world really well.  And I know that some of them are good aims with guns.  (You know how you sometimes shut one eye while you’re aiming?  They don’t have to.)

So, if anyone from FFFF can point me to research saying that one-eyed people should be discriminated against in hiring, I’m open to hearing about it.  Until I do — until we find out that binocular vision really should be a job requirement of being a cop — I will consider charges that Pat McKinley made some sort of horrible error because he hired a one-eyed copy to be stupid and vile calls for disability discrimination.

Critics of the FPD ought to have enough good material to work with by now that they should not be grasping at strawd.  So — why are they grasping at straws?  (Are the polls showing something they don’t like?)

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)