On January 19, a police officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District reported being shot by a man he had confronted near a high school in Woodland Hills, a section of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. Officer Jeff Stenroos said he had been shot in the chest when he came upon a man who, he claimed, was breaking into a car outside the campus of El Camino High School. The shooting prompted police to throw up a massive perimeter in the area as they searched for the suspect, and to lock down several area schools until well into the evening. The incident caused massive traffic jams over a wide area as hundreds of police officers made a fruitless house-to-house search.
A few days later I was discussing the incident with a colleague (neither of us was involved in the operation), and we agreed that the officer’s story didn’t ring true. Sure enough, last night LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that Stenroos, for reasons yet to be revealed, had perpetrated a hoax. Stenroos has been arrested on a felony charge of filing a false police report.
If the allegation against Stenroos is proven true, there will be many, many people who will want to see him suffer, among whom are the many students forced to remain for hours in their classrooms without access to food, water, or restrooms.
Yes, the incident could have been handled better, but it shouldn’t have had to be handled at all. It’s a sad, sad day for law enforcement.
— Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is a nom de cyber.