LASD: The Insidious Nature of Administrative Betrayal

 “Each betrayal begins with trust.” –  Martin Luther 

The concept of administrative betrayal, or “moral injury” is not a new one.  Frankly, I would prefer to use the term administrative cowardness to describe the actions or inactions leaders take when dealing with their personnel.  In 2023, the publication Police1 conducted a survey of 4100 officers “to explore the biggest issues for recruitment and retention in law enforcement.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the officers identified administrative betrayal as being the main driver of cops making the decision to leave their respective organizations.  In short, the on the street traumas experienced by the cops on a daily basis paled in comparison to the way they were being treated by their leadership.

During my research of this topic, I came to understand that we are all innately hard-wired to seek out what is “right.”  Think of it as our internal moral compass. A moral injury is one that violates our deeply held beliefs.  A betrayal of what is right.  This betrayal can manifest itself in a number of ways.

We only need to look back at events over the past couple of years to find instances of the precursors for moral injury.  The “Defund the Police” movement and subsequent negative media coverage of law enforcement nationwide was, and is, a huge factor, as were the riots, burning of cities, and physical attacks on the police.

Unique to law enforcement is the reality that when a cop is getting hammered in the press, they are unable to defend themselves like any other non-officer would be able to.  Department policies and the requirements of internal criminal/administrative investigations generally preclude an officer from standing up to defend himself/herself in the court of public opinion. This leaves any possibility of defending the officer up to his or her chain of command. Good luck with that one.

What we have seen lately, particularly from the current Sheriff and his administration, is the exact opposite of what should be done. Instead of defending his personnel, this sheriff has either chosen curry the favor of the press or align himself with groups opposed to law enforcement, or worst of all, remain absolutely silent. Any of these reactions by department executives are betrayals of the relationship between himself and his personnel.

Sheriff Robert Luna hugging DA George Gascon in a video released by the District Attorney’s office where Luna reveals Gascon has been his mentor for over two decades.

I have taken this sheriff to task on a couple of occasions which serve to highlight the issue.  Take for example the widely publicized incident at a WinCo store in the Antelope Valley, wherein a deputy was seen on video, forcing someone to the ground.  Before any inquiry or any investigative efforts, this sheriff chose to stand with anti-law enforcement advocates and note “how horrible” it all had looked.  This understandably left the deputies involved feeling like that had been left hanging out to dry. They had.

A smarter and better approach would have been for the sheriff to avoid hanging out with the anti-cop crowd in the first place, and simply making a statement that while he strongly supports his personnel, this incident, like any other, would be investigated and evaluated in a thorough and professional manner.  Period.

This incident also serves to drive home my previous position that until an investigation has been completed and all the facts become known, the sheriff should keep his mouth shut until he has the information in hand.  Make the preliminary statement of support for his personnel and the process, and then butt out.

Sheriff Robert Luna stand by silently as his “mentor” George Gascon announces he will not pursue the death penalty in the murder of LASD Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer. The family was never briefed on Gascon’s intentions and found out on live tv during the press conference.

Let’s not forget the absolute betrayal of every deputy on the department last year, when the sheriff stood shoulder to shoulder with DA Gascon after the senseless murder of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer, a man whose name he couldn’t even pronounce properly, as Gascon publicly refused to file a death penalty case against his murderer. This was after Gascon had vowed to file the case “to the fullest extent of the law.”

As the case was presented, the family of the slain deputy was caught completely off guard and had difficulty maintaining their composure as the reality began to sink in.  The sheriff, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber. He didn’t react, he didn’t blink, he didn’t seem concerned at all.  A pretty good indication that he had foreknowledge of what Gascon was about to pull on the family on live television.  Also a good indication that he agreed with the DA’s politically driven decision.

Based on these and other recent events, I’m not sure the sheriff will be able to adjust. He seems more inclined to hang out with his BFF Gascon and hobnob with those on the political left than to lead a law enforcement agency the size and complexity of the LASD.  All cops should be able to trust that their leaders will protect them from undue hardship and unfair attacks.  While this seems a such a simple thing to do, it does not appear to be the norm any longer.



Michael Bornman, Captain (ret) LA County Sheriff’s Department, 36 years of service. Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Bachelor’s Degree in English, Associate’s Degree in Police Science. Bornman co-hosts “Undercover LA” on You Tube every Thursday night at 7 p.m. discussing the latest events in LA County Public Safety.







Mike Bornman

Michael Bornman, Captain (ret) LA County Sheriff’s Department, 36 years of service. Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Bachelor’s Degree in English, Associate’s Degree in Police Science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.