Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In case you missed it, HECTOR MARROQUIN, the founder of a gang intervention program called NO GUNS, was arrested last week for being in possession of a firearm. As a convicted felon, he isn't allowed to have a gun. And even if he was allowed to own a gun, as head of an organization that calls itself NO GUNS, it would have looked hypocritical anyway. According to some law enforcement sources, Marroquin and his organization have long been suspected of working both sides of the street. In the interest of being fair and balanced, Hector's defenders claim that he's the victim of some kind of law enforcement vendetta to discredit him. Just prior to his arrest, Hector was tapped as an unpaid consultant to a panel of gang experts to revamp the county's largely failing gang intervention programs. The LAT ran a profile of Marroquin and his program in July of 2005. So far, the Times hasn't run anything that we could find on his arrest. Maybe we missed it.

While on the subject of guns, Sheriff Lee Baca is in the spotlight for handing out badges and concealed carry permits to a group of civilian Homeland Security "consultants" that also contributes money to the department. While no one has come right out and said this is an exchange of favors for money, it sure sounds bogus. There's been a long tradition in this state, and others, of rewarding law enforcement "supporters" with honorary titles, badges and carry permits. Rank and file coppers consider handing out "near legal looking" badges to non-sworn personnel as a slap in the face. These supporters have little or no training and they've never put in the time and sweat to become bona fide reserves. It's also a source of anger for law-abiding civilians who can't get permits because they don't have the money that grants them access to people like Baca and other top cops in a position of granting permits. As we've seen with people like Sean Penn, Robert Blake, James Caan, Howard Stern and even anti-gun Senator Dianne Feinstein, if you've got the money and the access, you too can legally defend yourself in a life-threatening situation. The rest of us, well, our skins somehow aren't as precious as those of politicians or actors.