How could one of the largest police departments in the United States step back and do nothing as an ex-con from the Aryan Brotherhood came after one of its own officers?
In L.A.’s Last Street Cop: Surviving Hollywood’s Freaks, The Aryan Brotherhood, and the L.A.P.D.’s Homicidal Vendetta Against Me (Highpoint Lit; May 4, 2020) author Al Moreno paints a chilling picture of official retribution for his whistleblowing on Los Angeles Police Department corruption. He lived to tell this tale but learned that even a life-saving cop doesn’t have a shield big enough to protect him from a few bad guys in the Department wearing the same uniform.
Moreno’s story not only takes us behind the wall of what really happens behind the scenes at the LAPD – and of what happens when cops turn on cops -- but he gives us a gritty look at the dangers law enforcement confronted in the 1970s and 80s, seeking to contain drug rings, gang wars, and rampant crime. His narrated stories and insightful reflections have the feel of a Hollywood film. It’s the story of how a true underdog (born in Tijuana, Mexico, growing up a dyslexic with a physical disability, living in poverty in a war zone with an absent father and 11 siblings) rose against the odds to become a high school dropout-turned-Vietnam War patriot and one of the LAPD’s most effective street cops at the age of 29
Moreno tells us:
· How he overcame so many obstacles growing up to become a highly commended officer.
· Insights on the phenomenon of gang violence – and how to stop it.
· Gripping stories of how he was able to often avoid use of lethal force, despite confronting life-death situations.
· How he closed the door on unsolved crimes in his private security work of the past 34 years.
· Why his name deserves to be cleared after getting fired from a corrupt police department.
· The challenges and opportunities for law enforcement in the Black Lives Matter era.
“Al Moreno's commitment and dedication to the citizens of Los Angeles were always at the forefront of his service. It’s all there in his book” says Frank R. Flores, retired L.A.P.D. Sergeant.
For the past 34 years Moreno’s firm, Global Investigations and Global VIP Security Services, has conducted high-level private investigations and security services for multiple VIP clients in the entertainment industry and Corporate America. Moreno is a client of the PR firm that I work for. For more information, please consult: www.laststreetcop.com.
Below is a Q & A with Moreno:
1. Al, what inspired you to tell your story now, nearly 40 years after you fell victim to police corruption? From the time of my tragic termination in 1982 to the present I must have written hundreds of letters to news agencies, Hollywood directors, producers, T.V. talk shows, authors, and politicians to tell my story. However, no one seemed to give a damn. I continued my crusade for justice and approximately four years ago, Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, answered a letter I wrote to him in the hope that he would write this unbelievable story. He advised me no one would take my story because they all have their own projects. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and write L. A’s Last Street Cop.
2. You had dozens of commendations and received some amazing job performance reviews. Does it shock you that your own police department, after nearly seven years on the force, would go after you for being a whistleblower? Yes, it was a totally unexpected shock. I was so immersed in my work as an officer in our anti-gang CRASH unit and so confident in my outstanding police record that it never, ever occurred to me that the department I so loved would turn on me for exposing the corruption in our unit. Our unit’s boss, Lt. Bill Lynch, had been cooking the books for years to lower the real gang crime stats to placate his superiors, City Hall, the Mayor’s office, and LAPD staff management.
3. Corruption in any police department seems possible. How do we stop it? Someone from the inside must be willing to throw their life into a meatgrinder and lose everything! Unfortunately, few are willing to step into that irreversible vortex of despair and misery, as illustrated by one scandal after another, year after year in all sectors of our society. Mirroring society at large, corruption from one degree to another occurs at all levels of policing, from small towns to big cities, as well as throughout state and federal law enforcement agencies. This will continue to be a fact of life until our society changes its moral compass for good. However, from my personal experience I can assure the public that the great majority of our men and woman in uniform will forever do what is necessary to maintain justice and security in this great country.
4. Do you feel like Serpico, the famous NYC whistle-blowing cop? Yes, there are undeniable similarities in my story to Serpico’s crucifixion. I foolishly thought I would be commended for stepping up to expose the corruption that everyone in the L.A.P.D.’s Central Bureau knew was occurring. It was blatant and had reached a level beyond what I could morally accept. So, I reported the corruption to our new bureau commander, Mark Kroeker. At that time, two of the units’ sergeants stepped up and confirmed my information, and heads were going to roll. However, higher-ups in the department decided to discredit and dispose of me instead. They found their vehicle for doing that by embracing two murderous gang members – one an ex-con member of the Aryan Brotherhood – who had attacked my friends and me during an off-duty weekend trip.
5. You seem to have three amazing stories in one. Let’s start with how you overcame the odds to become a police officer at age 29. How did you, one of 12 growing up in Watts and the barrio, overcome three juvenile arrests, dropping out of high school, dyslexia, and a physical disability to become a cop? It wasn’t easy. I dropped out of high school in my senior year and was subsequently arrested three separate times – for burglary, armed robbery and felony assault, but was found not guilty for all three arrests. In 1968 I joined the Marine Corp at the height of the Vietnam war, and from that point on I worked hard to make the best of myself. After my return I attended Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, and finally learning how to address my learning disabilities, I graduated with an Associate of Arts in Administration of Justice in a year-and-a-half as opposed to the standard two years and made the honor roll. In September of 1971, I applied for the L.A.P.D., but was barraged with one erroneous disqualification after another. In August of 1975, after successfully fighting a total of nine disqualifications. I was hired onto the Department. I excelled in all my assignments and was awarded an unprecedented 71 commendations at the five-and-a-half-year mark. Nobody should ever give up on their dreams.
6. Next, you were a warrior as a cop, especially when you worked on L.A.’s first gang-wars taskforce. You had a penchant for avoiding lethal force and taking down some very dangerous criminals. Why were your fellow officers so surprised that you often avoided “the kill shot”? I first heard whispers of disbelief from inexperienced officers’ bravado that officer Moreno, didn’t have what it took to make the kill shot when I shot one axe-swinging suspect in the legs instead of taking lethal action. I’ve seen more violent death than most people, but not as much as some. Taking a single human life is like killing all of humanity. It is an irrevocable act that will forever live with a decent man or woman 24/7. I was blessed with a unique gift of walking the razor’s edge in confronting armed suspects and taking them into custody without firing a kill shot, although, they would have killed me and my partner in a heartbeat.
7. The third part of your story is how you became a whistle-blower and paid a huge price for it. Tell us what you exposed. From the jump, the department had it wrong in fighting the ubiquitous gangs. Los Angeles is recognized as the Gang Capitol of the United States with over 450 active gangs and 75 to 100,000 gang members. The department picked 40 of its elite officers to dispatch the criminal gangs that in some cases were formed as far back as the late 1880s. Within a short time, our unit commander, Lt. Lynch, recognized the math didn’t work! 40 super cops vs. 100,000 gang-members! Like any clever crook, he continually rewrote what constituted a gang-related crime, thereby on paper showing many more gang-related arrests and “success” in reducing those types of crimes in the city. Simply, he was cooking the books. L. A. County Sheriff Sherman Block confirmed my disclosures on several occasions to public officials. I have copies of said disclosures.
8. Why wasn’t anything done about it? For the past 40 years, I have petitioned every L.A.P..D Chief of Police, from Daryl Gates to Charlie Beck, including the 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council, Mayor Antonio Villaragosa, and Eric Garcetti, with a formal “Request for Rehearing,” via the City Charter section 202 subsection 16. Not one of them ever responded to my cry for justice. Hopefully, the unbelievable revelations I uncovered in the L.A.P.D. Internal Affairs investigations and corrupt Board of Rights will disgrace the City of Los Angeles to address this historical corruption and my unwarranted termination.
9. How did they eventually get you kicked off the force? I was fired after a corrupt Internal Affairs investigation and corrupt Board of Rights. I was charged with two separates complaints of misconduct. One for grabbing and pushing a gang member while interviewing him for the sawed-off shotgun killing of an innocent 16-year-old kid. The other complaint was for being involved in an off-duty altercation while on a skiing trip to the Colorado River. At one point in our mini-vacation, our group of five went to a bar for drinks and dinner and unbeknownst to us the bar was a hang-out for the Aryan Brotherhood. Within minutes, we were attacked by the ex-cons and defended ourselves. At the conclusion of the bar fight, one of the ex-cons came at us with a shotgun. The department tailored the two complaints against me to their advantage and fired me for misconduct.
10. What happened after you heard the guilty verdict? There are no words in the English dictionary to express my shock and disbelief after going through five hellish years of successfully fighting nine erroneous medical disqualifications and realizing my childhood dream of becoming a member of Los Angeles Police, only to be fired by the Department I so loved. The LAPD management is no different from any other major corporation that will stop at nothing to protect their criminal misbehaver. I pray that L. A.’s Last Street Cop will warn my brothers and sisters in uniform to watch their six. Do what is dutifully mandatory on the street, but they should recognize the big picture, for they too could end up like me. Everyone else should read this book to understand the mischief, great and small, that has and is happening throughout law enforcement and get an insider’s view on how upper police management can sometimes deceive the public about what is really happening on our street.
11. What, if anything, will make you feel vindicated? I fear that no one in authority in L A.’s city government or the L.A.P.D. will ever acknowledge this historical injustice. It’s predictable how they are going to respond once they are confronted with this story. They are going to close ranks an attempt to distance themselves from any culpability. However, that will prove their undoing. I submitted the evidence of my innocence for the last four decades and they have all turned their back to the irrefutable truth. It’s their own internal documents that prove my innocence. Yes, this disgraceful and criminal action did not happen on their watch. But once they received the exculpatory documents, they have both a fiduciary and moral mandate to right this shameful wrong!
I’ll be damned about that Blue-Wall (BW) phenomenon! I’ve heard about it since before I became a Los Angeles police officer. Is it a “Blue Wall” thing when law enforcement turns its eyes away from blatant dishonesty within the ranks of our street cops? I’m here to tell you that that BW accusation is a tsunami of bullshit! If I (or the men and women I worked with) ever saw some cop doing something that would dishonor our reputation, we would get medieval on their ass and roll them over in a heartbeat! Obviously, I’m not saying that some police officers never do dreadful things in the past, today or in the future, but from my personal experience the overwhelming number of coppers that I worked with are the best souls our Lord has ever created. And I strongly feel that if any evil seed in law enforcement has violated the public trust, he or she must receive the harshest punishment possible!
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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