O'Reilly misrepresented Los Angeles families and police policy


Discussing the causes of the February 6 fatal shooting by Los Angeles police of a 13-year-old boy who backed the car he was driving into the arresting officers' patrol car, FOX News host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Los Angeles has "single-parent homes through the roof. ... Much, much, worse than New York City." In fact, the percentage of single-parent families in New York exceeds that of Los Angeles. O'Reilly also misrepresented a new policy governing use of force by police, which was enacted by the Los Angeles Police Commission in response to the shooting.

From the February 21 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

There are so many problems with gangs and out-of-control, um, school system. I mean, social fabric has broken down perhaps more than any other city in the country. You know, single parent homes through the roof. It's -- almost unmanageable, this city. Much much worse than New York City, which is -- they've got that under control. Here it's not.

In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York City has more single-parent households than the city of Los Angeles, both in total and as a percentage of total families. In fact, Los Angeles ranks fourth in percentage of single-parent households among the nation's five largest cities:

City (five largest in U.S. by population) Male Householder, no wife present Female Householder, no husband present Total Total Families Percent
New York City 76,624 376,295 452,919 1,814,363 25.0%
Los Angeles 36,010 141,673 177,683 787,563 22.6%
Chicago 18,741 124,175 142,916 591,380 24.2%
Houston 20,019 82,364 102,383 459,922 22.3%
Philadelphia 16,573 91,862 108,435 340,315 31.9%
National 2,688,193 9,530,683 12,218,876 73,057,960 16.8%

Source: 2003 American Community Survey: Table P029, "Family Type By Presence And Age Of Related Children;" Table P023, "Families."

O'Reilly also claimed that misdirected community outrage had provoked the enactment of a new policy that endangered officers' lives by prohibiting them from shooting at vehicles "no matter what the vehicle's doing." In fact, the policy, enacted by the Los Angeles Police Commission, says no such thing. O'Reilly purported to explain:

O'REILLY: And then number three -- you have a community that folded completely and then passed an ordinance that says police can't shoot at vehicles no matter what the vehicle's doing. Now, how insane is this? So, if you're a cop and you're involved in a pursuit and you're outta your car for some reason and the driver of the car decides to run you over and kill you -- you can't fire your weapon. That's crazy! That's what the law is now in Los Angeles, California, the nation's second largest city.

In fact, the new policy says only that "an officer who fires at a moving vehicle must be able to clearly articulate why," according to a February 17 Associated Press article, adding: "Factors that could be considered include whether there were any apparent means of escape."

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties
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