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Police union issues strong rebuttal to state Sen. Romero's remarks on Jamines shooting

September 20, 2010 |  5:19 pm

The union representing Los Angeles police officers lashed out Monday with an unusually personal, strongly worded retort to comments by state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) regarding a recent fatal shooting by an LAPD officer.

In an interview over the weekend with KFI-AM 640, Romero questioned the officer’s decision to fire on an immigrant day-laborer, who was apparently drunk and threatening passersby on a busy street with a knife. The man, Manuel Jamines, advanced toward the officer after ignoring repeated orders to surrender, according to police.

Romero indicated that she believes the LAPD needs to change its policy regarding the use of deadly force, saying, “We want sensible policies. There are ways in which we can disarm suspects, disarm suspects that are not lethal … that are sensible.”

The words left officials from the Los Angeles Police Protective League seething.

“Sen. Romero seems to have forgotten the adage ‘Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt,’ ” Paul M. Weber, president of the union, said in a lengthy press release.

Although the union is expected to defend officers as a matter of course, Weber’s words went beyond the typical rhetoric. He went to on to lash out at Romero for what he said was her “embarrassing public display of her ignorance of law enforcement” and accused her of making her comments as part of “an empty publicity stunt.”

Romero could not be reached for a response to Weber’s comments.

The bad blood between the union and Romero goes back a few years. In 2007 and 2008, she led unsuccessful efforts to pass legislation that would have relaxed confidentiality rules surrounding police disciplinary records.

The league and other police unions around the state rallied strongly against the proposals and targeted Romero in nasty ad campaigns. In one radio spot, the league told voters to call Romero to “tell her to stop protecting criminals and start protecting our police officers.”

The shooting of Jamines triggered several days of sometimes violent protests in the Westlake neighborhood where it occurred. Romero stood out among elected officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who have come out in support of the officer.

-- Joel Rubin