Police. are we asking too much…?

By all accounts, Dallas Police Chief David Brown seems like a good man.

His life has been touched by turmoil and violence and he’s overcome all of that to become the Chief of Police of the Dallas Police Department.

I don’t know the man, and I don’t know what’s going on internally in the Dallas Police Department, so I have to stop short of saying he’s doing a great job there.

Maybe he is, but maybe he isn’t. I don’t know if the residents or officers he serves like him or not.

What I do know is that right now, he’s a media darling, and with the way things are right now nationally, we as law enforcement need somebody to be that for us. We need him to strike while his iron is hot so to speak.

As a black man, he can say things that white officers can only think.

That’s fact right there.

Many black people don’t want to hear what a white man has to say, and that’s understandable.

You think any white chief of police, even if he just had five officers on his force killed, could get away with talking about God’s tender mercy or saying that 70% of the African American community is being raised by single mothers without being dragged through the mud on social media?

No way.

What does it matter that single women are raising 70% of the African American community anyway?

I asked my recruits about the struggle of blacks in this country, and was surprised that I couldn’t get a lively debate going.

I just couldn’t.

The potential debate was squashed by the African Americans in the class. They bashed my attempt by pointing out that they, many of them, are from the very ghettos we’re talking about, and that they will someday serve.

Some were raised by single mothers and they are trying to make a difference. They’ve earned their place in the police academy. It’s where they want to be, and they don’t want to hear excuses from others. Wow.

I was impressed, but I shouldn’t be.

For the most part, in major urban cities, that’s who’s patrolling these black neighborhoods.

BLACK POLICE OFFICERS!

These are men and women who are from these cities.

They were pulled over by police when they were younger.

They were either treated well and drawn to police work, or maybe treated like crap and drawn to police work.

They have wives and husbands and sons and daughters. They worry about their family members just like any other black person does.

They’re also good police officers.

Now granted, the Dallas Chief hasn’t said anything new.

Remember Paul Harvey?

Police officers have always had to act as ministers and doctors and counselors, etc.

We’ve always shrugged it off as a part of the job, but should it be?

Isn’t Chief Brown right?

When you call the police for a person with mental problems, aren’t you asking for trouble, especially when there’s nowhere to take that person?

Many of the mental hospitals that used to serve these folks are closed.

When a person with mental problems sees a police uniform, they sometimes overreact and the whole ordeal turns into a clusterfuck that could have been avoided by leaving the police out of the picture altogether.

Why do we send the police when a family member calls and says that their loved one hasn’t taken their medicine and needs to go to the hospital?

Why? I’m not a psychologist, and if there’s no crime, why am I there?

It happens every single day.

It’s a recipe for disaster, and the results are often ugly.

When there are vicious dogs running loose in the city as Chief Brown says, and you call the police, what the fuck do you think is going to happen?

We do a great job with many strays. Most police officers love animals, but I don’t have a net and I’m not a dog whisperer. I have a taser and a pistol, but please, do expect me to peacefully wrangle your town’s pack of vicious dogs, John Q. Public.

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We do try and have a lot of success with many strays…

Drugs?

Pfffft! That’s another issue altogether.

We are not drug counselors, we are members of the Executive branch of the government.

Remember history class?

The Executive branch of government enforces the laws. We don’t make these laws that everybody hates.

We put people into the criminal justice system. It should be people who make more money than cops like the judges and the probation officers and prosecutors who figure out the best course of action to take with people thereafter, but those folks are always let off the hook when the shit hits the fan.

Always!

It’s the police officer who bears the brunt of the public’s anger.

If probation is best, great. Do that.

If prison is best, great. Do that.

I don’t get paid any more if an arrestee goes to jail than I do if his charges are dropped, so I don’t give a fuck either way.

That isn’t a decision that police officers should have to make on the streets, when people are at their worst, but we’re forced to do so all the time.

I have to worry that if I arrest somebody I think shouldn’t go to prison for a minor drug infraction, the prosecutor will aggressively seek to put him or her there anyway. I also have to worry that if I don’t arrest somebody, they will victimize somebody else or hurt or maybe kill themselves because jail is maybe their best treatment option.

Those are hard choices to make on the streets, where there’s always another call waiting to be addressed, so time is of the essence.

The point isn’t that it’s an issue to deal with animal control, mental health, drug addiction, juvenile, family and other issues, PLUS criminal matters, the point is that at some point, it adds up.

It adds up mentally.

It becomes draining.

To become a police officer, one mustn’t be a rocket scientist. In fact, far from it.

You simply have to graduate high school or, barring that, to have achieved a GED.

Think about that.

We let people who struggled to get out of high school decide when they can use deadly force and then we lament when it goes horribly wrong.

Granted, intelligence isn’t a great gauge for one’s ability to discern when deadly force is a good idea or not, but there’s allegedly some difference in social consciousness between a high school drop out and a college graduate.

If society believes, rightly or wrongly, that race is the determining factor in whether or not the police are aggressively using deadly force, then maybe a higher standard for hiring and pay is in order. Theoretically, the public would get a more “enlightened” police officer, right?

Good luck with that though.

Who is drawn to law enforcement?

I was.

I was drawn to it because my dad and some of his pals did it.

That is the ONLY reason that I dared try this job, and when I signed up, even though eighteen years ago I told my then girlfriend and now wife, that I wanted to help people, I only wanted to do it for a couple of years.

I was too smart for policing.

My academy instructors told me as much.

“Why are you here,” they asked. “You left a job at Anheuser-Busch?”

Yes, I did. I tried the business world and hated it, so I went to the police academy.

Long story short, I fell in love with the stupid ass job. Lots of people do.

I meet new people every day, whether they be white or black or gay or Asian or whatever.

It’s been a great almost eighteen years.

Still, when this shit happens, I feel sad. When a police officer I have nothing to do with in some other part of the country does something that people judge to be wrong, I feel shame.

Maybe even when I shouldn’t, but I oftentimes do.

So many of the police citizen encounters that cause us such chaos can be avoided. They can be avoided by the bad guy complying, yes, but they can also be avoided by officers using better tactics, and that’s where we as the police need to look at ourselves and ask how we can fix things.

We are the ones who say we hold ourselves to a higher standard, so we need to do that by taking blame when we DO fuck up. It happens.

How can we train officers so that they’re not pulling alongside a large teenager they think may have robbed a store allowing him the ability to lean in and grab the officer?

How do we keep officers from pulling alongside a twelve year old boy alleged to have a firearm so that the only option in the officer’s mind upon seeing the gun from two feet away is to shoot?

How do we train officers so they don’t actively try to tackle an over 200 pound man they believe has a gun?

These aren’t murders in my mind, but they are terrible tactical mistakes that led to the deaths of people that law enforcement officers swore to protect. I know that every one of these officers regrets that they felt as though they had to pull the trigger of their gun.

I feel their pain and their hurt, I really do.

Maybe more of us need to be able to feel the pain and the hurt of the suspect’s family too.

Empathy.

We’re trying.

Your police departments really are trying.

Deescalation is being taught across the country. Officers will hopefully see that standing down may be the better course of action. It’s not being a pussy, as some officers insist.

It’s being smart.

At the end of the day, an officer’s highest oath is to preserve life.

All life, even that of the bad guy, the shitbag, if you will.

If that means doing something crazy like pulling over a block from a suspect instead of two feet away from him, then so be it.

Killing is never the the best outcome, justified or not. Nobody wins when a police officer has to kill a citizen, even if it’s right or just or whatever.

If it can be avoided, it must be. I won’t argue this point with any of my fellow officers. If the option is either a person gets away or a crime is solved by taking a person’s life, the answer is always the person gets away. Always, unless there’s probable cause to believe escape means other lives are endangered, which is another story altogether.

We’re doing our best to train officers to avoid those situations. Maybe my opinion on this is bunk, especially with my coworkers.

Either way, maybe Chief David Brown is right.

Maybe we’re asking too much of our men and women in blue.

Posted in Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Social media killed five cops…

Many, but not most, of my Facebook friends are police officers, both here in St. Louis and from around the world.

This morning, for obvious reasons, most of their posts are melancholy and many include words to the effect of, “I have so much to say, but…”

Fuck that but.

I have much to say as well, and I’m going to go ahead and say some of it now.

Yesterday was an exhausting day for me, mentally. While I didn’t get involved in any online squabbling, I saw that many of my friends were engaged in such battles.

It was tough to read many of the posts, even from people I consider friends, about how the police are out of control in their our treatment of “people of color.”

I went to bed knowing that there was a “situation” in Dallas last night and woke up to find out that it had morphed into a massacre.

What happened in Dallas is the culmination of 48 hours or so of frustration and bickering, much of which was fueled by online banter.

When a police officer is killed, it’s a sad day for all of law enforcement.

It’s a sad day for the city where the officer worked as well.

When we see that multiple officers were killed around the country on the same day, it’s a tragedy, but we sort of shrug our shoulders, remind ourselves that it’s a risk we’ve assumed when we took this job, and vow to be extra vigilant as we continue to go about our duties.

We accept that violence is a part of this job, and that violence goes both ways.

Even so, to see five officers hunted down and killed in cold blood, and six more injured in the same incident, by multiple people even, is insanity.

We didn’t sign up for that.

Five officers lost from even a large department like Dallas is devastating. Morale in the Dallas PD was already low, and this will only push many officers who were on the fence about leaving, right out that door.

This is where the line must be drawn.

When the peacemakers are not at peace, there will be no peace for anybody.

How can there be?

When law enforcement officers are not safe, you can bet that you, wherever you are, are not safe as well.

The rules of engagement have changed.

There are no more “rules” out on the streets. Even the worst mobsters and thugs years ago had some tact and chivalry. They played by some rules.

Today, it is not uncommon to see women and children killed, sometimes purposely, and sometimes simply as collateral damage, in a war that values no life but one’s own.

I have quickly become tired to no end of seeing posts from people about what they perceive to be unjustified recent police shootings.

I’ll say this up front. Your postings and rush to judgement is partly to blame for the unrest and the bloodshed in Dallas.

It sure is.

When soccer moms and fast food workers and accountants can discern from a thirty second video that the shooting in Baton Rouge was unjustified, then what do we need a justice system for anymore?

You had a verdict in mind when you saw the video one time. Maybe you watched it twice, but you figured it out, the police officers were in the wrong.

To say that you don’t have to have ever been a police officer to recognize police brutality or “murder”, as many of you called it, is inaccurate.

It is insulting, and quite frankly, it is bullshit.

Police officers go through many months of training before they earn a badge, and even then, none of them graduates the police academy and goes straight to being a homicide detective.

Investigative skills take time to learn and to hone. Not everything, even what we see through the eye of a video recorder, is what is seems.

The “simplest” things we do in the eyes of the public are not so simple as they may seem.

To many people, writing a traffic ticket is a job we could give to any idiot or chimpanzee willing to do it. Many have no clue that the fifteen or twenty yard walk from the door of a patrol car to the window of a traffic violator are some of the scariest steps officers take, day or night.

I’ve walked that walk countless times, and it’s no less harrowing today than it was seventeen years ago. To see the driver’s eye’s following you in the rear view mirror, and then in the side mirror can be chilling.

Is it really just a traffic violation? Does the driver have warrants? Has the driver just robbed a bank or killed his family? Did I kiss my wife and kids before work today?

All thoughts police officers have on many “simple” car stops.

Only the driver knows what’s going on in his head.

There’s more to writing a “simple” ticket than stopping a car and tossing somebody a piece of paper.

Unfortunately, police officers have to be hyper-vigilant now about their safety and assume the worst from everybody.

As much that goes through the mind of a cop on a traffic stop, there is even more involved in answering radio assignments at 12:45 AM for a person alleged to have a gun. Exactly zero of the people on my feed I see voicing their opinions, many of whom have found the Baton Rouge cops guilty already, have ever answered that call, but they’re experts in police brutality.

In many of these posts, the person is bemoaning what they see as officers acting as judge, jury and executioner, while they are, ironically, doing the exact same thing to their defendant police officers.

You judged and did the work of a jury, and left the execution to somebody else.

The execution was taken care of for all of you in Dallas.

These murders, and, unlike the two videos being shared online in LA and MN, I’m comfortable calling these murders already, were committed in no small part based on your outrage and adamance that the police had wrongfully killed two black men in cities that these Dallas Officers have nothing to do with.

It doesn’t matter though. “The police” had it coming.

If you kill any cop, you’ve killed the correct one.

It didn’t have to be Dallas, it could have been Portland or New York or even me, here in St. Louis. Any officer would have made a good enough sacrifice in spite of our individual body of work.

All of the original posts I read yesterday were anti-police with respect to these shootings because those of us who recognize that there are two sides to every story, were busy waiting for more facts to surface.

People hate to hear those words. “Wait for the facts to come out,” sets them off as though we have all the proof we need in videos that catch only a portion of an overall incident.

Funny enough, President Obama said, “We don’t know all the facts,” when discussing the five police officers murdered last night. He’s right though, we do need to wait for all the facts to surface before we can know what really happened and why.

I still don’t have an opinion on either of the shootings that have set off this violence. I know that both incidents could have been handled differently, but it’s not my place to say what’s the most right way for each officer to handle a call and it’s nobody’s place to call a cop a murderer until you hear the other side.

Fuck, maybe they are murderers, but that’s not for us to decide via social media.

We’ve lost it as a society when social media opinion trumps Constitutionally guaranteed traditions.

It aggravates me that I’m off work today. While it’s great that I get to spend it with my kids, today is the sort of day that is a perfect teaching opportunity for the new recruits, many of whom I’m sure, are wondering what they’re getting themselves into.

They’ll hear outrage from both sides and have to sift through the bullshit to decide if this career is right for them after all. I wish I could be there to initiate that discussion.

Hell, it won’t be just the recruits either.

There are probably thousands of officers across the country, many at the urging of their spouse or family, considering a change of jobs as we speak.

I’ve already been texted by my wife and mom to remind me that I’m loved and that I need to wear my vest to work. They know it can happen here today, just as easily as it did last night in Dallas.

Were  I not so close to a pension, I would be having the same thoughts, and that makes me sad.

The thought that I’ve given over 40% of my existence on earth to a job that has no doubt taken some years off of my life from stress and aggravation, for nothing, is upsetting.

Social media can be a great thing. Hell, it’s given me this platform to rant and rave and share stories with people from the comfort of my bed. At the same time though, it can be overwhelming and infuriating.

People are persuaded by what they read online, even if it’s from a soccer mom or fast food worker or accountant.

When enough of you call an uninvestigated killing a murder, then it will be a murder, instantly, in the eyes of many.

They don’t care about the justice system or the investigative process one bit.

Some of those many people will have rifles.

Your words in quantity were as good as any judge’s or jury’s, and since you ruled the officers were guilty, the executions they carried out on your behalf, in their minds at least, are justified.

Posted in Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

See beyond “the police” for change…

It is absolutely the worst kept secret that police officers are our own worst enemies.

For whatever the reasons are, we not only look a gift horse in the mouth, but we question it, frisk it, shake it down, and run it for warrants just in case.

Damn.

Another black man is dead, and what I’ve been reading all day is that he was killed at the hands of “the police.” This time, it happened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It seems we can’t take two or three baby steps forward with rebuilding public trust before we take a giant, grown man step backwards.

All I’ve seen all day online line is that we, “the police,” are awful.

“The police” are racist.

“The police” are blood thirsty.

“The police” are violent.

“The police” are vengeful.

“The police” are acting as judge, jury and executioner on the streets of America.

“The police” killed this unarmed, well, I guess armed man, but not armed in the sense that he was a threat, no. He just had a firearm in his pocket while he sold music illegally at 12:45 in the morning.

Killed for selling music? That seems harsh.

Wasn’t there a call that this man had threatened another man with a gun? Whether that’s true or not, wasn’t that how the call came out? Is that what responding officers heard?

I’m not making apologies for the officers involved in this shooting. I’m not saying they’re right by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m also not going to sit idly by and let people, most of whom have never in their lives answered a 12:45 AM radio call for a man with a gun, denigrate the reputation of “the police” without being taken to task for their overly broad assertions.

You see, as most of my regular readers know, I am who you are talking about.

I am “the police.”

On Wednesday morning at 12:45 AM Baton rouge time, however, I was sitting on my couch in Missouri, hundreds of miles away, drinking chocolate milk with my dog while deciding whether or not to write a blog post or just go to bed. I was completely oblivious to this shooting.

I’d just gotten home from working secondary at the Cardinal’s baseball game and must have missed the meeting where it was agreed that we, “the police,” were to be in Baton Rouge to kill another black man.

I clearly suck at being “the police,” because I’ve missed every other such meeting and have killed or criminally assaulted exactly zero other black guys in my nearly eighteen years of urban policing.

I was going to write a blog post about the bloody holiday weekend here in my fair city. Six or seven people were killed over the course of about twenty-four hours, none by “the police,” but now I see that there is more interest and outrage locally at this killing hundreds of miles away than there is about any of these or the dozens of other non-police related killings in St. Louis this year.

“The police” are working in trying times, for many reasons, some of which are admittedly our own fault.

Below are still shots from video provided by our police department to the media from just one of the killings in St. Louis on July 4th.

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This is one of multiple suspects, in the middle of the day – a holiday mind you, who is literally hunting down his victims in the middle of an urban neighborhood with an assault rifle.

He looks very carefree and confident.

He looks to me to also be wearing a bullet resistant vest.

People don’t wear bullet resistent vests unless they’re expecting to be shot at. I have to wear one when I go to work, because I have to expect that I can be shot at whenever I’m on duty.

The man in this picture could have very easily been wearing the vest because he also expected to be shot during the course of his work. Perhaps he considered that he would have an encounter with the police during his attempt to murder his victims. Maybe that was even his hope.

Fortunately for him, and potentially any police officer who may have crossed his path, it didn’t happen, probably because many of the would be police officers in this neighborhood were working a 4th of July detail on their days off.

The funny thing is, or sad thing maybe, depending on your point of view, is that had he been stopped by police prior to murdering anybody, this man would have been in more trouble had he had bottle rockets in his possession, than he would have been for carrying around this firearm in plain view.

That’s not even a little bit of sarcasm, that’s the truth.

That’s Missouri and the current state of gun culture here for you.

Griping aside, I do get the frustration.

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The little yellow markings above are just some of the many shell casings found at this singular murder scene. The lack of human decency for each other and the violence is completely out of control, and “the police” aren’t any more immune to it than the rest of the world.

I get that we want to have faith in our sworn protectors. We want to believe that “the police” aren’t unfairly targeting minorities, and we especially want to believe that “the police” aren’t killing minorities disproportionately, for reasons outside of anything but the defense of their lives, or the lives of others.

Are minorities killed disproportionately by police officers? I think the answer to that is pretty obviously yes.

Don’t confuse disproportionate with unfair necessarily though.

Do minorities commit more of the violent crime in areas where these confrontations occur? Again, based on where I work, I’d say that’s a yes too.

How do we fix that?

I teach Constitutional Law to new police recruits. I don’t teach them how to use deadly force, I try to teach them when they can use it. When are they okay to feel like they won’t be killed because they waited too long to protect themselves, or be sued because they used too much force prematurely? Those are difficult scenarios to teach in a classroom setting, but they’re even more difficult lessons to learn on the streets for the first time.

I’m trying to teach new police recruits that the use of deadly force is a last resort. I show them that the provision in our police manual regarding the value for human life is the first thing they’ll read after the table of contents. It’s there because it’s important for two reasons.

It’s important that they understand that they are vested with the right to proactively take another person’s life, if they have to. Not many other people possess that power. If they’re put into a situation where deadly force has to be used, they must be able to use it, or they or another person will be killed, or suffer serious bodily injury. It’s also front and center as a reminder that, with that power, comes great responsibility. We are tasked with protecting life, above all other things. That includes everybody’s life, even criminals.

We, “the police,” aren’t in the business of killing people for no reason.

I’ve taught my classes that it’s okay to walk away from certain scenes, if your uniform is only making it worse. Can you imagine that? Police officers leaving scenes they’re called to by the public?

There are times when it may be the better option, especially if it means a deadly force encounter is avoided.

Deadly force.

It HAS to be THE LAST resort. It should be the exception that a person die at the hands of police, and the ugly truth of the matter is that people dying because of the police IS the exception. When the number of police and citizen encounters is taken into account, the number of deaths, particularly wrongful or criminal deaths, is negligible.

While we’d like to never see a person die via a police shooting, that’s a pipe dream at this point.

There are violent people out there waiting to hurt you and your loved ones, and, if they could, they’d hurt the police.

Police officers are targeted like never before. I don’t need stats to know that I’m less comfortable now than I’ve ever been at work.

Just pay attention in your daily to commute to other people who drive straight through red lights or speed or change lanes without signaling or flip other drivers’ off. There is a general air of disregard for other people and the law nowadays, especially laws people perceive as trivial. Along with that disregard comes greater disrespect and animosity towards those who are sworn to enforce those laws, namely,”the police.”

I’m glad there’s video that exists with more and more of these shootings nowadays, both police shootings and otherwise. It’s easy to read about people being shot everyday, especially when it happens mostly in areas you don’t visit much, but it’s much less easy to watch it happen live. My hope is that the violence put in front of all of our faces will cause us to collectively gasp at some point and say, “What the fuck? It’s gotten to be too much!”

Maybe then, when we’ve finally had our fair share of real life violence splashed in our faces from all over television and social media, we can start to seriously consider how to fix what’s wrong with society, especially with respect to violence.

Until then, things will move along as they always have. There will be more conflicts and police shootings and finger pointing and people making a whole lot of noise to distract everyone from the real truth, which is that these noise makers are doing nothing with their actions to cause a change for the better.

They’re just being windbags.

Blocking highways and looting and yelling and screaming has proven ineffective, as has placating people with firings and policies and training for police that don’t address the true underlying issues, issues that are the giant elephant in the room that people with all the power can afford to ignore, and will continue to ignore, because it’s not their lives that are affected.

 

My hope is us little people, both black and white, police and non-police, can come together to figure out what to do to fix what so clearly ails us.

The cure will be found in the grass roots of what has become a decaying society. When citizens understand that “the police” shouldn’t bear the brunt of the actions of some bad police officers just as “black people” shouldn’t bear the brunt of the actions of some black individuals.

If we’re all unable to see the forest for the trees, with respect to each other, nothing will ever change. Ever.

Posted in Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 43 Comments

Toyotas…

The internet is a wonderful place or thing or whatever it is, because there are millions of people always standing by, just waiting to share ideas and opinions, but the internet can also be an awful place or thing or whatever it is, because there are millions of people always standing by, just waiting to share ideas and opinions.

The Internet brings like minded people together, which can be a good thing.

Folks who think Ford makes the best pickup truck can easily find other people online who share this opinion. There is nothing wrong with loving one’s Ford truck, and being able to talk about it with others, mostly strangers even, who feel the same way, is great.

Ford truck owners might discuss where the best places to buy a Ford truck in their area is, or what sort of accessories are available to make their truck owning experience the best it can be.

All good things for sure.

Inevitably though, online talk can turn from why we love Ford trucks so much to why don’t other people love Ford trucks like we do? Why would somebody choose to drive a GMC or a Chevy truck when there are Ford trucks out there?

Interspersed with pr0- Ford truck comments will be memes or Tweets or posts about why Ford trucks are better than Chevy trucks. The memes or Tweets or posts are meant to be funny, of course, but posting such anti-Chevy content in a pro-Ford online forum is also a way for the poster to feel validated by the likes and shares that he or she will get on their anti-Chevy offering.

It’s a way for the original poster, and those who enjoy the post, to solidify their opinion that Ford trucks are the best, and anything that isn’t a Ford truck is inferior. Talk in the online group has shifted somewhat from how to get the most out of being a Ford truck owner to why we’re all right to be Ford truck owners compared to other truck owners.

This line of reinforcement isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, when talking trucks. Ford makes nice pickup trucks for sure, and not liking Chevy trucks doesn’t make one a bad person, assuming one isn’t judging the owner of the Chevy truck. The risk is that there might be a better truck out there for these Ford owners, but they’ll never hear of it now.

It’s also possible though, that the creator of the anti-Chevy meme doesn’t even own a Ford truck. Maybe he can’t afford one, but hopes to one day be a Ford truck owner. Maybe his ex-girlfriend drove a Chevy truck, or maybe he doesn’t even like Ford trucks himself, perhaps he’s a Nissan Truck guy. Nothing in the Internet rule book says that a Nissan truck guy can’t post his funny anti-Chevy memes to get a few laughs and stir the pot between the Ford and Chevy people.

Anti-Chevy memes will be countered by pro-Chevy truck owners with anti-Ford memes, and it will go back and forth between the two groups for all the world to see.

Chevy owners will post facts and stats about Chevy trucks to reinforce their stance, while Ford owners will do the same thing to put their beloved Fords in a better light. 

Both sides are so passionate about their love for their own trucks, that they’ll not listen to reason from the other side. It’s very rare that a pro-Ford guy will post pro-Chevy content in order to have a discussion with his pro-Ford buddies about the validity of the pro-Chevy information.

No way. Instead, both sides will limit their posts to either entirely favorable to their side content, or damning content about the other side.

“I heard that Chevy trucks are known to blow up in rear end collisions,” a Ford owner might post, not knowing whether or not this is true.

Ford owners will like and share the unresearched post thousands or even millions of times, until it doesn’t even matter whether there’s truth to the statement that Chevy trucks blow up in rear end collisions.

It’s out there and in the minds of millions of viewers, many of whom are potential future truck buyers.

Chevy owners will counter with memes and stats of their own, but their protestations will fall on deaf ears from the other side. Ford owners want only to hear good things about Ford, and nothing about other trucks, unless it’s negative information that makes Fords better by implication.

Meanwhile, between the two truck owning groups, are those in the middle of the argument.

The people in the middle can be swayed to one side or the other. Some who think that Chevy trucks could blow up in a rear end collision will side with Ford owners, while others, who at one time or another thought they wanted to be truck owners, will mentally shut themselves down anytime Chevy or Ford trucks are brought up in conversation because they’ve lost interest in truck ownership entirely.

All of the bickering is just too much for them at some point, so they’ll just continue to drive a sedan.

Those who are still interested in truck ownership though, and who are rational in spite of all the protestations from both sides, might be able to make use of all the rhetoric from both sides to make a more informed decision.

Perhaps a potential truck owner never considered that a truck could blow up if rear ended hard enough, but now has online information to at least use to research the veracity of that claim.

The rational middle ground crowd will sift through the piles of information on both sides and attempt to sort fact from fiction. 

Unlike pro-Ford or pro-Chevy people, the middle grounders will post information that is both positive and negative about both truck groups. In doing so, conversation can be had on their posts with people from both sides of the debate, as well as with people who still haven’t made up their minds. Some of those people who are on neither side of the debate, but who do enjoy pickup trucks, might share relevant information about other trucks, like Toyotas.

Toyota truck owners will then come out of the woodworks to share their reasons for loving the Toyota brand. While Ford and Chevy owners continue to battle back and  forth, rational middle grounders will now research other options, like Toyotas, to make a more informed decision.

While their research might lead them to buy a Toyota truck, it’s also possible that they’ll be persuaded by their research to go with a Ford truck. Maybe they will join an online Ford discussion group based on their purchase decision and bring some rational thought to the group now based on their research.

When these online talks aren’t about trucks, but are rather about rights or race or sex or bathrooms or kids or breast feeding or circumcision, etc., the middle grounders are trying to be heard over the yelling from both sides.

In my own online world, I have friends who are very much either Chevy or Ford owners, and will be until the bitter end.

I read posts from my friends about race and sex and guns and the end of civilization being near, and it makes me roll my eyes sometimes. 

I can admit that.

But it also makes me smarter.

Many of my online friends are thoughtful and bright, and can have an argument about something with the understanding that a disagreement over a particular topic doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends. A person can be either pro or anti gun legislation and still be a Cardinal’s fan.

We can agree to disagree about gun legislation and agree as well that the Cardinals need help to win the wild card and that we both hate the Cubs.

I’ve never been gay or a young black man or an immigrant or a rich white guy, so I have to learn perspectives about these people, who all want my support, from these very people, before making a decision. 

That’s why the Internet can be so cool. I have friends of all these different types and I listen when each of them says something.

I will be swayed with facts and logic and my own sense of what is morally correct.

Shouting and anger and finger pointing won’t win my vote.

Also, talk to me about the side that you don’t support and why I shouldn’t support them. A person able to make the argument from both sides is a person I want to listen to. If you’re pro-gun rights, but can’t even understand the arguments being made by those who want to limit those rights, then you haven’t really done your homework.

Many of my police friends are completely against the Black Lives Matter movement and refuse to try to understand where the discontentment comes from. Learning where the anger is truly coming from will only help in our discussions moving forward, about how to deal with the issues, many of which are probably not even police related.

I want to hear what both sides have to say, but I want both sides to hear and understand what the others have to say about their opposite views.

I want more information to be a better citizen.

Talk to me about the Toyotas.

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Devil’s advocate for “20 minutes of action…”

The internet is awash in rage today, well, it seems to be awash in rage everyday, but the focus of that rage has shifted from Presidential candidates, unisex bathrooms and shitty zoo related parenting to a letter written by the father of convicted Stanford University rapist Brock Turner.

For those not familiar with this story, Brock Turner is the Stanford University swimmer who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman while she was passed out cold.

The attack happened outside a college party, behind a dumpster, and was thankfully interrupted by two Swedish grad students who chased and detained the also drunk Brock Turner before he could make good his escape.

I say thankfully, because the attack was already brutal enough for the victim as it was. Who knows what would have happened had the rapist not been interrupted.

Here’s one of the many articles chronicling the story of what the rapist’s dad wrote to the court. In it is a link to the victim’s statement to the court, which is an amazing piece that should be required reading for every person entering college, man and woman alike.

Most of my readers know that I teach law at the police academy.

I like to have a sex crimes detective come and talk to my recruit classes and they always bring a victim of a sex crime attack to talk to the class with them. The victim’s story is always intense, and the negative aftermath for the victim is still evident, sometimes even decades later. The police recruits can’t help but face the ugly reality of the effects of a rape.

I have said many times that rape is the most disgusting crime to commit against another person, because the degradation goes beyond the physical pain and cuts so deeply into the victim’s spirit and soul that they’re often never the same person again. Even the victim of a homicide has the luxury of never having to relive the attack in their minds again.

I imagine that Brock Turner is an entitled douchebag, and his father is probably a person I would also label a douchebag, but is it necessarily fair to attack him so vehemently for trying to support his son?

What the man said in his letter to the court was completely ridiculous, sure. 20 minutes of action? That’s a disgusting line right there. Action? What does that imply? I’ll let you summon your own unflattering conclusions, but I get the vision of dad slapping his son on the back like he done good.

Still, the letter was meant to sway the court to be lenient on his son, and who among us wouldn’t have written a similar letter to keep our 20 year old lily-white son from going to prison?

“Oh hell no, Don! Not me, or anybody with any decency, that’s who wouldn’t!” I can hear many of you screaming.

Bullshit.

Prison is rough, and they’re not sending out the same people they take in. Rarely is the end product better than the original.

That’s your son, and you’d do what you could to protect him, even though your son was, at least for one night, a monster.

It’s not only entitled, wealthy, white folk either.

At any time during most weeks, there are courtrooms all over the country holding sentencing hearings for suspects of all races and income levels, (though if we’re being honest, it’s mostly lower income minorities), for all sorts of heinous crimes. Behind many of these defendants in these various courtrooms are family, sometimes friends, parents and kids and sisters and brothers and others, all there to support their guilty loved ones.

They will speak or write letters on behalf of their beloved defendant, who has assaulted or murdered or yes, even raped another human being, because they are incredulous to the notion that their loved one could do such a thing.

It’s everyone else’s fault, really.

The victim shouldn’t have been where he was or did what she did. It’s the police too. The police are so often to blame for the guilt of their loved ones. Little Johnny shot at a police officer, yes, but they didn’t have to beat him up for it, no matter that he wasn’t going to go to jail nicely. They cling to something, anything really, that mitigates what they would otherwise have to face as truth, that their loved one is a criminal and has nobody to blame but themselves.

I’ve seen it dozens of times and I never know how to feel for the family of the defendant, because I’ve never been there.

I don’t know how I would be expected to feel about having a loved one who’s a convicted rapist, especially my own son.

The sins of the son are almost an indictment of the father, and that failure stings.

Do we wash our hands of them completely? Change the locks on the doors or even better, move while he’s in jail so he can’t find us when he gets out? Do I unfriend him on Facebook?

What’s the etiquette here?

Maybe behind closed doors, Brock Turner’s dad is a good dad. Maybe the guy who presumably put his own plans aside and paid shitloads of money for swim lessons and camps and trips, and who sat through swim meets and encouraged his son to be the best he could be talks to his boy about why he fucked up that night.

Maybe he tells him that gentlemen don’t pursue drunk women at  parties for sex. Maybe he’s said, “What the hell were you thinking, Brock? You assaulted a woman who was passed out? Unconscious?! Who fucking does that!? You’re a pathetic human being, and you committed a terrible crime! You’re throwing all that you…. no, we, worked so hard for! You need to come to grips with how much pain you’ve caused her, the victim, as well as to your mom and me! We gave you every opportunity in life that we could afford and you’ve ruined it. You have nobody to blame but yourself! I feel like you’ve ruined this whole family forever!”

Probably not, but maybe.

Either way, what is said between father and son in private may never be our business, but what is said in a letter to a judge trying to keep one’s son from going to prison is exactly what this letter sounded like to me. It was all about “my boy” and how he’ll never be the same boy he’s known for twenty years again.

There’s probably truth in that, and if you think about that in another context, it’s sad.

Even if it’s completely the son’s fault, can we not have even a little bit of empathy for his mom and dad? It’s mostly a rhetorical question, but I say yes.

Sure, the letter is self-serving and extremely tackily written. You bought your son huge ribeye steaks? That’s something that wealthy people say and don’t even realize that they’re being douchey for saying it. Did he say that the consequences of binge drinking are “unfortunate results?”

Ouch, he sure did.

To suggest sexual assault is an unfortunate result of binge drinking is horrendous, and extremely degrading to the victim of not only this crime, but every single sexual assault victim before her.

But, this is the father of the rapist. His son is now a rapist. The boy they used to dress up as a cowboy or Mario for Halloween will now have to register as a sex offender. The consequences of that are far reaching, and probably the main reason they’re appealing this conviction.

My son the sex offender.

He has to come to grips with that, and I imagine that’s not easy, especially in the hoity-toity circle of friends I’m sure these people run with.

I’m not suggesting that we should all call Dan Turner and apologize for calling him out as an asshat, because the chances are good that he really is an asshat.

All I’m suggesting is that we try to understand that, at the end of the day, this man’s son has altered not only the son’s own life and the life of the victim, but that of his whole family’s too. They no doubt planned to travel to watch him compete as a collegiate athlete, and maybe one day they hoped to be in RIO or Tokyo and watch their son compete for the good old, U.S. of A.

Instead, they had to sit in a courtroom and listen to what a fuckup their son had become. It probably cost them a lot of money in the process.

He’s a rapist, not an Olympian or even a collegiate swimmer anymore, and I’m sure that’s a bitter pill for him to swallow.

That he completely disregarded the effect of his words on the victim, or even failed to acknowledge her pain or his own son’s culpability is not shocking, or even mildly startling in this age of instant gratification.

This whole ordeal reminded me of a sexual assault alleged here on a college campus in St. Louis that I don’t believe ever went anywhere. I vaguely recall the dad of this young lady insisting that the police look into this further, and maybe we did, but probably we didn’t because athletes. That the woman in this Stanford case got a conviction speaks volumes to me about what a warrior she must be and my hat is off to her.

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Bashing police for political gain…pathetic.

 

I loathe election time.

It’s a time for everybody to witness America at its worst, and this year’s offering is no exception, in fact, it’s the most perfect example ever of what’s wrong in this country.

The bottom line is this: with about 300 million people in this country, how in the world are the people offered up to vote for this year the best available options?

The Democratic front runners are life long politicians with no clue about what it takes to raise a family in middle or lower class society, and the Republican choices are just, well, wow.

Surely, there are rational human beings out there who would love a crack at running this country, but can’t because they aren’t wealthy enough to be considered.

It’s ridiculous, but I digress.

I’m mad at the Democrats right now.

Bernie Sanders is sick and tired of seeing unarmed black men being shot by police. One of the few things that he and Hillary can agree upon is that local police departments are unfair to black communities.

I didn’t watch any of the debate because I was working a night shift to supplement my already worked day shift, in order to be able to afford a decent, middle class existence for my family. I only saw snippets and read some recaps in the papers.

Maybe I missed mention of the six police officers who’ve died in the line of duty in just the last few days alone. Were these deaths mentioned at all?

It should be really interesting to see how low these two stoop in their bashing of the police to garner minority votes. The same police officers who are there to protect them and their families or shut down roads so that they can get to their engagements or debates or whatever safely have to stand in these auditoriums and listen to such drivel without snapping.

Police officers don’t make the laws. We enforce the laws made by people who are supposed to have the interests of the people on their minds when they do make them.

If the laws are so unfair to the black community, then talk to the legislators, local and state especially. If the sentencing of black people is so out of proportion, then talk to the judiciary about that. I don’t control who can afford a good lawyer and who has to use an over-burdened public defender.

All we do is arrest the criminals, black and white and every shade in between. If the number of arrests of blacks is so disproportionate to the number of arrests of others, then maybe the reason for that lies somewhere outside of the responsibility of law enforcement?

I know that where I patrol, most of the suspects described to us police officers by victims are black males.

That’s not racism; that’s a fact.

Many of the victims are also black, perhaps even most. I can certainly attest to my experience being that most of the victims of VIOLENT crimes in my area are black, homicides especially.

You gonna blame the police for that?

No. I don’t accept that.

Police officers are most concerned with violent crimes. Those are the ones we want to solve more than any other crime, so that the most violent offenders are removed from society. That’s who we spend a great deal of our time looking for. Of course encounters with those suspects are  more fraught with potential danger and violence.

I was given a gun the day of my graduation. I was taught how and when to use it in the months preceding that graduation for a reason. It happens.

I don’t have experience in patrolling rural America, so I can’t speak as to what goes on out there, but in urban policing, and I don’t suspect St. Louis is any different from other large cities, I am more hyper-vigilant about my safety in certain areas and around certain people. Any police officer who doesn’t develop that sense won’t last long.

It’s not racist for me to be more concerned about my safety when I patrol in North St. Louis than when I work a secondary job in the suburbs. There is more violence in one than the other.

A LOT more violence.

That’s not the fault of the police either.

Citizens of all colors want to be able to raise their families in relative peace and safety. I think a lot of people who’ve never lived in a violent neighborhood would be shocked to learn what lengths people go to because they fear being shot simply while sitting in their living rooms. I’ve been in homes where all the activities of the family, like watching TV, etc. are done on a second floor because of the fear that a stray bullet from the street might come through a first floor window or wall. There is often, literally, no furniture on the first floor.

That’s sad, but again, that’s not the fault of the police.

Violent offenders don’t normally just appear and then vanish after committing a single crime.  Run the record of people committing violent robberies or shootings, etc. and I guarantee you that most of the suspects have considerable arrest histories.

The system lets them back out onto the streets to rob and steal until they finally manage to kill somebody, where I work, that’ll probably be a young black man, until they finally get thrown in jail for life.

Again, that’s not the fault of the street officer. You think we enjoy having to arrest the same clowns over and over again?

No. And they’ll tell us to our faces that they’ll be out again. It’s frustrating, and they’re right, but we’ll keep arresting them.

That’s what police officers do. We arrest people who violate the laws that Bernie and Hillary and the Bush’s and people like them make.

Well, that’s not ALL we do. We’re also supposed to keep the roads safe and man large events in your town like ball games and street fairs and what not. All those events your cities and towns have that are so much fun? Yeah, most of your local cops can’t attend them with their families, because they have to work them. Nothing happens in a big city without the police having to be involved.

We’re also expected to psychoanalyze criminals and victims on the spot. Can you recognize mental illness in a stranger versus an LSD induced episode? Should it matter? If the person is dangerous, should I care that he’s bipolar or whacked out on drugs?

I sure don’t care initially. I care about going home safely after my shift ends, and I’ll not make any apologies for that. If a mentally ill person is allowed to get to the point where he’s on the street causing a disturbance and “in need of help,” whose fault is that? We don’t blame his family or his doctor or pharmacist for not checking in on him, nope. We wait until the person is out of control and then we call the police and demand they deal with the violent outburst without anybody getting hurt.

And that happens almost every single time, except for when it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you hear about it and then you take sides. On the left are the police bashers demanding reform and criminal charges. On the right are the police apologists who support us blindly. Neither side is 100% right, and most of either side has never had to deal with the mentally ill while they’re having a dangerous episode in public. While in a police uniform.

Yeah, the uniform makes a difference. Almost always, it makes it more challenging.

The very legislators who bash the police are to blame for allowing mentally ill people to roam the streets of our communities because it’s too costly to address their needs in a proper facility. Many law enforcement officers around the country barely have a high school degree, let alone a Masters in Psychology. Many are paid under $15 an hour. Guess what sort of people are going to take a job with that much responsibility for such little pay?

Yikes is right. That’s a lot of responsibility AND power given to a person working for not so much reward. The end result of that isn’t always pretty.

The drug war belongs to the legislators as well. Make marijuana legal and guess what? Law enforcement officers will stop making marijuana arrests.

I’m not a police homer by any stretch of the imagination, but there has to be a stand made by the people who understand that the system is fucked up FAR beyond the police.

The police officer on the street is just an easy scapegoat for a system that fails to educate inner city kids or grant job interviews to people named LaQuita or Tyrone because of their names alone. That sort of racism is where society is really hurting the underprivileged.

Do you know who does give jobs to Tyrones and LaQuitas?

Large urban cities and police departments. This is why it pisses me off to no end that the implication is that it’s the black community versus the white police.

The law enforcement community absolutely includes blacks, and there are plenty of white criminals and their ilk who also hate the police.

I would challenge any private company in the St.Louis area to compare their minority hiring to the St. Louis Police Department’s. I work with great officers of every race, sexual orientation and ethnic background.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. Urban kids don’t want to listen to a 40 year old white dude, no matter how cool I totally am. A black officer from their neighborhood though? Yeah, that’s a person they can look up to and emulate and strive to be like, or even better, strive to be better than.

We have those men and women and they go into the worst communities every day and make a difference just by being who they are.

Do police officers fuck up sometimes? Absolutely, but it’s the exception and not the norm.

Black children getting second rate educations and limited opportunities at employment is the norm. Those norms are not police related, and I would argue that they are way more detrimental to the growth of minority communities than any threat of being shot by a white police officer will be in most of their lives.

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Floods and shootings and happiness galore…

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I like to sit down and just write whatever comes to me. If that’s nothing, then so be it, but if something does come to me, then I like to get it all out in one sitting. I don’t like to stop and then finish a post on another day. It’s why I have over 150 drafts of posts that were started, but never finished.

It’s just my way.

I mention that as an introduction to my apology for those of you expecting the part 2 of 2 from this post a few weeks ago.

I think I inadvertenly mislead you into believing that there was a subsequent encounter with the same kid mentioned in that post, but that wasn’t the case at all. That I’m aware, I never saw that kid again and I have no idea what he is doing with his life right now, if he’s even still alive.

My part two was going to be about how we police communities and why I think we could do a better job of it by getting police officers to take responsibility for certain neighborhoods, like we used to do. Somewhere in that point, the story about the kid in part one tied into it by showing how a responding officer who didn’t know that kid may have been quicker to think the worst than an officer who did know this kid and his issues and would be more apt to find a better outcome.

I still believe in this, but that post can wait for another day.

Shortly after that post, when I swear I was going to write the follow-up, we got stranded in our neighborhood by a pissed off Mother Nature.

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The river belongs at the bottom of that hill with the house on it, not on the road where this woman is standing.

We were stuck.

For over two days.

We almost ran out of beer.

Almost.

But at least we were dry, unlike much of the rest of our town.

Our main street through town was underwater, and the small businesses are mostly still closed, though they’re working hard to reopen.

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lloyd Photography

In our very own hood, of course somebody had a medical emergency and paramedics had to try to get her from dry land through what would have been nearly a mile on the water to more dry land.

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It wasn’t working out, so she ended up being air lifted to a hospital.

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It felt a little weird being one of the people stranded instead of being one of the people waiting to get the call to help somebody.

I wasn’t complaining, because again, we never did run out of beer, but it was close.

Sometime on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, we were able to get to the store to replenish for the NYE party.

See? The road is back.

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Even Gman was happy to get out of the house to the grocery store.

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He’s standing in front of the donuts, so that may have had something to do with his “enthusiasm.”

Anyway, we survived the floods, but it distracted me from posting like I wanted to for sure.

In the meantime, I was contacted by a reporter from a local paper called The Riverfront Times.

He wanted to write a story about this blog, so I sat down and talked with him for a couple of hours. Once I get to talking, I go on and on, so I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I said. That makes me nervous. I’m sure I said some derivation of fuck at least ten times. Let’s hope that gets edited out.

We’ll see though. It comes out on Wednesday. If it’s not too embarrassing or damning, I’ll post a link to the Donofalltrades Facebook page. Otherwise, pretend I never brought it up.

I’ll wrap this post up with a shake of my head at the community I live in again, and of course, it centers around violence.

People waking up to the paper on this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day were treated to the usual Monday full of news, including the shooting of a fourteen year old girl under suspicious circumstances, and the shooting of an armed robber by a police officer.

Ironically, the fourteen year old girl was shot (and killed) just a few blocks from Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., and the robber was shot during an MLK march in South City.

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Of course the police related shooting is the one that’s front and center, because it’s more “newsworthy.” I know this because there are nearly 300 comments on the police shooting and fourteen on the article written about the little girl.

Again, a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD girl has been shot in the back and killed, but we’re going to have to hear about the seemingly justified shooting of a grown ass man caught in the middle of his attempted armed robbery of an occupied fast food restaurant.

The officer was flagged down by a witness who told him the restaurant was being robbed, and because he’s a police officer, he went immediately there instead of ignoring the person or driving somewhere else, and sure enough, there was a robbery in progress.

I can’t get into details, because I don’t know anything beyond what I’ve read in the paper about this incident. Maybe there will be video that shows what happened, I hope there is, and I hope it shows the officer did exactly what he was trained to do.

What’s he trained to do?

If he feels as though his life is threatened and in danger, or the lives of others are in danger, then he is trained to put a stop to that threat.

An armed person is a threat.

End of story.

Have a gun and an officer is in the same room with you?

You best be dropping it before the officer even has to order you to do so, and if you don’t do it immediately upon our telling you to then we’re going to go ahead and assume that you are plotting bad things in your head and will shoot you.

That’s just the way it is.

If you think I’m going to wait until you start to raise your arms while holding the gun, or get a shot off first, then you’re fucking crazy.

Absolutely FUCKING CRAZY!

You see, we have sons and daughters and moms and dads and grandmas and dogs and cats, and all these folks like to see us come home safely at the end of our shift, even if some of you out there don’t.

I’ll wait to see what comes out of this shooting with respect to evidence and community reaction before I judge too harshly, but it’s frustrating that there’s a rush to judgment by people with no clue, when a police officer does what he thinks/hopes is the right thing, but the death of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL to gun violence is just another secondary article in a paper constantly generating articles about guns and violence and kids caught in the middle of both.

I pray we as a society can get our heads out of our asses pretty soon with respect to guns and violence and what we expect of our police officers, because the status quo just isn’t working for me.

 

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Simple policing, (Part 1 of 2)

I was reminded of this call last week as I was talking to the new recruits about my opinions on policing. I’ll wrap it up with a point in a part 2 later this week.


 

At only fifteen years old, he was a good sized kid already, maybe six three or four and built solidly.

Most people would never guess the boy to be anything but a man, certainly eighteen at least, but that wasn’t the case.

We first met when his mother called about him trashing the front room of their quaint two bedroom duplex one day.

Trashed may have been an understatement.

He destroyed it, really.

I walked into the house to find the coffee table turned over onto its side, one leg was broken off completely and magazines and books had fanned out onto the floor. They were covered in red juice and unswallowed pills that were also victims of the overturning table.

A lamp in the corner still shone brightly, though it lay horizontally on the ground, its shade nowhere to be found.

Family and friends smiled happily from broken glass and busted picture frames scattered about the floor.

They were speechless witnesses to a man child’s tantrum.

The woman had summoned me into her home before I’d even reached the screen door. I’d heard the sound of crashing and breaking and yelling all the way from the street, but it was quiet now.

“Come on in, officer. He’s in the middle room. Please don’t hurt him,” she said as she wiped tears from a face that had clearly neared its breaking point.

She was staring at my night stick. It was over two feet long, thick and heavy wood with brass tips at both ends. It was an intimidating tool. A hole at the fatter end of the stick allowed for a leather rope to pass through. The rope allowed for twirling of the stick in times of boredom, and kept it from flying out of an officer’s hand in times of the opposite of boredom.

In the days before Tazers, night sticks or, “batons,” were the go to instrument to use where mace and hand to hand maneuvers weren’t going to do the job but deadly force was too much.

“Nobody is going to get hurt, ma’am,” I said with some trepidation while noticing an upside down recliner partially impaling some drywall.

I certainly  hoped that would be the case.

I peered around the wall into the middle room and saw the man sitting in a chair at a dining room table. His forehead was resting on his forearms and his eyes were closed. He was sweating and breathing hard.

Jesus, I thought to myself. Why are the craziest ones always so big?

By this time, another officer had arrived.

“This place is a goddam mess,” she exclaimed before she even said hello. I wanted to club her with my stick and tell her to shut the fuck up. She had more time on than I did, but she was, quite frankly, dumb as a bag of hammers and much less useful. I hated answering calls with her, but it was marginally better than dealing with disturbances alone.

I gave her a nasty glare that must’ve made its point because her smile disappeared instantly and she appeared more focused on the matter at hand.

I tucked my stick into its metal loop on the back of my belt, so it wasn’t the first thing the man would see when he finally looked up.

“What’s going on?” I asked the woman.

Even though I was relatively new, I’d handled enough calls in the busy Third District to know what was coming next.

“He hasn’t been taking his medicine,” the woman answered.

“AND I AIN’T GONNA!”

The man was paying attention now.

“Who is he to you?” The other officer asked. “Is he your boyfriend?”

The woman chuckled for a second before taking a deep breath and telling us that he was her son.

“He’s my middle boy. He’s fifteen.”

I peered around the corner at the man again. He wasn’t quite a man after all. He was a man child.

“He’s fifteen?” I said, probably sounding incredulous.

“He’s a big one,” the woman continued. “Like his daddy and brothers.”

We talked about his history and which hospital he normally went to when he lost control.

The woman mentioned that the boy liked football, so that’s what I talked to him about to earn a little bit of trust and keep him from flying off the handle. The Greatest Show on Turf was still a pretty great conversation starter for football fans back then, so we shared tales of our favorite memories of Warner, Faulk, Bruce and Holt. I really enjoyed that time talking to him.

With some persuasion from his mom and my two cents every now and then, the boy agreed to go to the children’s hospital for treatment.

EMS came inside and they went through much of the same conversation with the woman and her son again.

When the man child finally stood up to go to the ambulance, I noticed the paramedics look at each other with what I wouldn’t quite describe as amazement on their faces, but it was close. Disbelief was maybe a better word.

One of them looked at his chart and as he was flipping pages said, “I thought you said he was fifteen?”

“He is. He’s a big one,” the woman said.

Like his dad and brothers, I thought to myself.

I wondered where they were and why mom was dealing with this alone.

The kid was carted off to the hospital that day and I had several uneventful run-ins with him again during my time on that beat. I stopped and talked to him from time to time, and found him to be quite affable and pleasant when he was taking his medicine. He was always calm and easy going after that initial meeting.

And then one day he wasn’t.

This time it was a similar call as before, but a knife was involved. The dispatcher said that man child was waving a butcher knife around and threatening his family members.

I was the second officer on the scene this time, and sure enough, the man child had a knife.

He was on the front porch alone, ranting and raving about nothing to nobody in particular.

The first officer on the scene had his hand on his gun, but it was still holstered. He was standing in the street, with the car between him and man child for cover.

After a few moments, I noticed mom hustling up the sidewalk. Winded, and with the same defeated look as before, she said she’d gone out the back to the alley and came up to meet us in front.

“I’m glad I got here before you shot him,” she said. “Please don’t hurt him.”

I winced at those words.

“He needs his medicine, doesn’t he?” I asked knowing the answer. “You want us to get him to Children’s Hospital again?”

“Oh, I remember you!” The woman said as she caught her breath and looked at me. She seemed relieved a little bit. “You was here with that little black girl police officer last time he went off his meds.”

“I AIN’T GOING TO NO HOSPITAL!”

Man child had chimed in from the porch.

Without missing a beat, momma yelled back at him,”You put down that knife or you might go to the hospital with a bullet in yo ass! These boys ain’t here to fuck around wit you!”

I laughed a little bit. Momma’s tenacity was a thing to behold. I could tell she was a good woman. She was a good mom trying her best.

“He’ll be death of me that boy,” she said to us.

Man child put his knife down and cooler heads prevailed. We all talked about him playing high school football and he agreed to go to the hospital again.

“That kid was fifteen?” The other officer asked as we walked back to our cars.

“Yup.”

“Jesus,” he said. “I really thought I was going to have to shoot him.”

We parted ways in our separate patrol cars without speaking another word.

 

 

 

Posted in Police, Police Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Amazon customer support…

 

What is going on with Amazon Prime? We had a Prime account and were able to share it with people we liked and not just our family. When the Wife accidentally revoked her dad’s shared account, she tried to reinstate him and couldn’t. Come to find out that Amazon dicked around with their Prime and now we couldn’t do what we were doing even though Amazon never said anything about changing the policy.

When she chatted online with them to get it taken care of, she told the chat guy to cancel the account altogether and he did! We were bluffing in the hopes that he would fix the problem, but instead, he showed us.

Anyway, I went online after that to fix the mess and the following (copied and pasted from the chat) happened between me and my new friend from the Philippines, Macy or Andrea or whoever:

——————–

You are now connected to Andrea from Amazon.com

Me: You cancelled our Prime Membership! I would like to speak with a manager.

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

You are now connected to Amazon from Amazon.com

Amazon: Hi, this is Macy and i’ll be more than happy to assist you.

Hi, this is Macy, I’m one of the supervisor here on Amazon customer service.

Me: My wife and i had prime and she accidentally deleted her dads shared membership.

Amazon: I’m sorry to hear that your Prime membership was cancelled.

Me: Then they wouldn’t reinstate it for some reason.

It sounds like some shady trickery to me. What’s up with the shady trickery?

Amazon: No worries, let me just check what would be the best thing that i can do for you.

Me: thank you.

Amazon: Your very much welcome. Hold on just a minute.

Me: My wife is very much sad about this. She was wishing to purchase some jean shorts and pink flamingo yard decor, but now, without the 2 days free shipping, she can’t.

Amazon: Here’s what she can place the order and i will remove the shipping charge for the order.

Me: But what about the membership that we had? She wants it back and is mad at me that it got cancelled. She blames me for the cancellation even though I am innocent.

She misses her Prime.

Amazon: I’m still checking what would be the best thing that we can do.

Me: Are you able to see our old Prime Membership?

Amazon: Can i have her email address.

Me: [email address given]

Amazon: Thank you. Let me verify it.

Can i have the name followed by her billing address on her account.

Me: Her name is Wife – [address given here]

Amazon: Great. Thank you.

Since it was deactivated on her account and the refund has already been processed. Would you like me to reactivate her Prime Membership?

Me: Would it be reactivated to the way it was this morning? with the same shared people?

Please help us. If we don’t have Prime tonight then we won’t have anything to watch on television. If we can’t watch television then she’ll drink and want to fornicate. She’s a large woman, so that is very unpleasant for me, and I’m no looker, so she’s not a fan of it either.

It’s Friday here where I live in the St. Louis, MO area. Are you in the United States too? Making small talk while we wait for you to fix my mistake. Is it your Friday as well?

Amazon: I don’t have any information right now if you shared again your prime to your Family Members.

Me: We were able to share our Prime with 4 people before.

Amazon: Can you subscribe again instead of reactivating it on our account.

Me: We shared it with our elderly parents because they enjoyed the free shipping.

Amazon: I understand. Can you subscribe again and lets see if you can share it with other benefits.

Me: Are we able to share a new benefit with other people?

Amazon: Only with Family members only.

Me: They won’t pay to have their senility pills and erectile dysfunction pills shipped. Good Lord, if we screwed this up they’ll be calling us all the time! Do you have parents too? So awful on the phone!

That’s not how it used to be. That’s what I’m telling you is trickery!

You tricked us!

Amazon: This is not a trick.

Me: It was. You changed the Amazon Prime sharing benefits and didn’t tell anybody about it. That’s trickery.

And right before Christmas too. Shame on your employer. Amazon used to be customer friendly.

Amazon: Give me just one moment to check it.

Me: Maybe not you personally, but somebody who makes a paycheck with a bunch of zeros in it made that decision.

Were you not told about this new policy?

Amazon: We can only share our Prime Membership for adults and children.

In the family members.

Me: Well, that’s how it used to be as well. We could share it with any adult or children, and that was a good policy because we shared it with our dog, Carly, and she kept ordering biscuits without asking. But now, you will only let us share with family members and that’s not fair. that’s not what the policy was!!! We don’t get to pick our family members, because we’re born or they’re born to us and it’s not our choice. Family can be the worst. That’s why the old way of getting to share with anybody was great. We don’t have a lot going for us, so sharing our Amazon Prime was a great way to make friends with people at the mall or the couple across the street who we think are swingers. YOU CHANGED THE POLICY AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE! THAT’S TRICKY!

If you can’t help me or just don’t want to because you don’t like me or think I’m ugly, then can I please speak to YOUR supervisor? Who’s running the show there tonight?

Amazon: I’m sorry but we cannot control our policy.

Me: But who can?

If you can’t control it, who can?

Somebody changed it. Let me talk to him or her. I bet it’s a guy named Luke or a woman named Carla because Luke and Carlas are always the worst.

Except for my godson, Luke. He’s okay people.

Let me speak to Luke or Carla.

Amazon: I understand that you wanted to share the benefits with other people. But no one can control of it.

Me: But just this morning we were able to do that! What changed in the past 12 hours?

LET ME SPEAK TO ANOTHER! I can’t believe that there’s NOBODY there who can help me resolve this.

This is resolvable, Macy.

Crap sorry. I mean Andrea! Let’s fix this!

Amazon: How i wish i do have the option to break our policy or manipulate our system so that i could help you.

Me: When did this new policy take affect? Do you know?

Do you remember when I was able to share with non family members, Andrea? Do you remember yesterday when I could do that?

Amazon: When was the last time?

Me: When we woke up this morning my mom and my mother in law had the benefit of our shared account.

Then my wife accidentally revoked her dad because she’s jittery with a mouse because it reminds her of my penis. Don’t ask. Anyway, she accidentally revoked her dad and when she went to reinstate him, Amazon told her that she couldn’t because of a new policy. A new WTF policy?

So when she couldn’t reinstate her dad, she told some guy named Nomar or something to just cancel the whole thing and he did! He called her bluff real good and cancelled it.

Well, somehow, that was my fault and now we’re here.

Having this conversation in the hopes that you will make things right for Christmas.

Do you believe in Christmas, Andrea?

Or any other of the nearby dated holidays like Kwanza or the Jewish one I can’t spell? Chanukah? Whatever.

Amazon: That is why , if you want to continue your prime sharing. you could just subscribe again and try it if you could share it with your family members.

Me: But can my mom, for example, use her own account to order stuff? Or is she going to have to be under our account to do that?

She doesn’t live in the same house with us.

Not yet anyway, and we’re hoping that never happens, if I’m being honest.

Amazon: Who is exactly the owner of the Prime?

Me: It’s my wife and i. We are the Prime owners.

Under her email that I gave you before.

Amazon: Your mom can use her account to order her stuff.

Me: and get the 2 day shipping for free under the Prime whatever?

Amazon: Yes it is.

Me: Why did they tell us we had to be under the same account and share credit card numbers?

It sounded very cultish.

Are you currently in the United States, Andrea? I feel like you avoided that question for some reason. It’s just small talk while we wait for this to be resolved.

Amazon: What i mean is, right now. she could use her account to buy stuff that she wanted.

I’m from the Philippines.

Me: She can’t use Prime right now though because it was cancelled!

Is the Philippines nice? I’ve heard it was.

Amazon: Yes it is. It is very nice.

Me: Do you know what’s sad though? It would take me a while to find it on a map because Americans are really dumb.

Do you guys think Americans are imbeciles over there?

We really are, and i’m not even talking about Trump and his people.

Amazon: If the order is eligible for free shipping then she will not be paying for the shipping charge.

Me: But we don’t have prime right now. My account says so. My wife shared her Prime with me but now it’s gone.

Your name isn’t really Andrea either, is it!?

Amazon: That is why , you ca subscribe again so that you can share it.

My name is Macy.

I am advising you to subscribe again with your Prime so that you can share it.

Me: Okay, Macy, I’m going to trust you when you say that I can share my account with people who don’t live in my house but are my relatives. Are we on the same page?

Amazon: It was refunded back into full amount anayways.

Me: So I can subscribe again and share with people who don’t live with me and have their own accounts like before?

I’m going to trust you because I just read that the Philippines is the 7th most populous country in Asia. Is that true as well?

Amazon: Let me just check if could transfer you to the right department.

I think i’ll be needing to transfer you over to kindle support so that they could discuss this better for you.

Me: Kindle!??

No no no!!

This is a prime issue, not a Kindle issue.

Optimus Prime! Let me speak to Optimus!

Amazon: But they do handle Prime Household issues.

Me: Oh, okay. Are you married?

Amazon: Are you going to create again a Prime Household?

Me: I was waiting for my questions to be answered first. You know that $99 is a lot of money, right? A LOT!

Amazon: If that’s the case then i will be transferring you over to Kindle Department.

Me: Will they be able to activate our account?

Amazon: We’ve process refund of your prime. you need to subscribe so that you could create Amazon Household.

Me: Right, see there? Amazon Household sounds like something different. I just told you that my mother and mother in law don’t live in my household.

But you said that they could use our Prime under their accounts using their credit cards, right?

I think you said that before, when you weren’t answering my question about whether or not you were married.

Amazon: I am not a married person.

Me: Well you should be. You’re obviously very patient and sound like an intelligent and wonderful woman!

You are a woman, right?

Amazon: Are you going to create again Amazon Household?

Me: I didn’t have Amazon Household before, I had Amazon Prime and was able to share that. Is it the same thing?

Amazon: Thanks for that compliment.

Me: Do you get a commission if I do sign up?

Amazon: You can share your prime membership by creating amazon household.

Me: See, you avoided the question again.

Amazon: What commission are talking about here?

Me: Do you get some extra pay, if I sign up with you?

Amazon: No.

Me: Oh, well that stinks.

Amazon: Do you want to create Amazon Household to share your Prime benefits?

Me: Is it morning where you are?

Do you live near Manila?

Amazon: Yes it is.

Me: Oh, it’s night here.

Amazon: Is there anything else that i can assist you with today?

Me: Are you enjoying some coffee and banter with your coworkers, or is Amazon a bunch of hard asses?

Well, there is this whole thing with our Prime account.

Are you in charge of the whole building there?

Amazon: I’m sorry i’m not comfortable with this kind of conversation.

Me: Lol. Wink wink. Ok. I get that. Hard asses it is.

Amazon: Would there be anything else that i can assist you with?

Me: Okay, well i guess reinstate our crap and if it doesn’t work like you said the we can cancel again, right?

Amazon: As it was mentioned. you have been refunded back back and all you have to do is subscribe again.

Me: So we should do that under the same email account?

or does that matter?

Amazon: You can subscribe again your Prime. And create Amazon Household to share your prime membership.

There is only one who will own the prime membership so that you can share it.

Me: Okay, well clearly this isn’t going to go as I hoped, but I do appreciate your time and attempt to satisfy me. I know a guy who is a ninja. We will get into Amazon HQ and speak with the bastard in charge. Me and ninja will get this done. Thanks!

Amazon: I’m going to ask again, Would you like to create an Amazon household so that you can share it.

Okay/

Me: Sure.

Amazon: Thanks for contacting.

Me: Are you going to do it for me?

It sounded like i had to go do it myself.

Amazon: I’ll be transferring you to Kindle Department so that they could better assist you.

Kindly stay for a moment.

Me: Ok. Thank you again, Macy!

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: One moment please

Me: It’s been two moments now, wtf?

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: As musch as i would love you to transfer to the right department. Can you contact us again through phone so that we could transfer you over.

Me: Amazon is a billion dollar internet/technology related company. You can’t transfer me online?

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: Can you contact us through phone?

They will be able yo transfer you over.

Me: We don’t have a phone at home because we’re very poor for Americans, but if you give us your phone number, I can try to call you from work on Monday, as long as it’s local.

Amazon: This is out hotline number.

Me: Hotline? Is that like emergency?

I don’t want to busy the emergency number.

Amazon: I’m sorry. Phone number.

Me: Oh, thank you. Well, it’s been a pleasure. I’ll talk to you on Monday, I guess.

Amazon: Thanks for ocntactin.

Have a great day.

Im going now ti disconnect the chat.

Amazon from Amazon.com has left the conversation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Murder and deadly force are different

I’ve seen murder.

I’ve seen dead bodies in cars, hanging out of cars, holding phones and other items in their hands even though they were dead, inside homes, on the street, in yards, some alone, some with loved ones nearby, murder just everywhere.

Dozens of dead bodies, all strangers, over the course of almost two decades of policing one of the most violent cities in America will forever haunt my thoughts and dreams until the day that I breathe my last breath.

I don’t recall every person who met their demise during one of my shifts, but many I do, and their last resting place before being zipped into a body bag remain vivid in my mind.

Murder.

Murder is heinous and cold and brutal and unnecessary. Murder is unforgivable.

When we charge somebody with murder, we are, for all intents and purposes, ending their lives as they’ve known it, because conviction will mean a good chunk of their life behind bars, if not the rest of it completely.

Police officers are charged with protecting people and property, and in doing so, we’re allowed leeway to use force, even deadly force.

Let’s repeat that.

Police officers can use deadly force, if necessary, to do our jobs. I was given a gun by the police department to wear on my belt. I HAVE to wear it to work. It’s expected, in fact. If an officer can’t be trusted to pull the trigger on a person who threatens their own life or the life of another officer or civilian, then that person should find other work.

They will get somebody hurt or killed.

Yup, police officers can and sometimes must use deadly force. That’s just a fact. A reality of policing in America.

But we can’t murder.

It’s rare that an officer’s use of deadly force is deemed murder, so I was curious about what happened in Chicago. I wanted to see what that “murder” looked like, so against my normal habits, I watched a police related video.

I normally dislike watching police videos.

I never liked watching COPS, and I don’t enjoy police related videos on YouTube, though I’ve felt more inclined to watch them for use in my classroom. They can sometimes be useful training tools.

I watched a video of the Chicago incident.

I watched for several minutes as a police officer traveled in his car to the scene of a call with his lights and sirens on, indicating there was some sort of urgency to the call.

I’ve been there before, lots of times.

Lights and sirens on a police car mean something is going down.

I don’t know what the call was for, but the young man was clearly doing something disruptive, because at one point, when the officer gets near the scene, a resident points him towards where the problem was. People don’t normally do that, unless they’re aware of a serious problem.

The officer and others arrived at the scene where an agitated, armed man is clearly not following directions, and then he is shot, many times.

He was “murdered.”

That’s what the state of Illinois says, anyway.

That’s also what thousands of people online say.

Thousands of people who have never put on a uniform and badge or carried the weight of a bullet resistant vest on their body for the duration of an eight or ten hour shift get to spew their opinions without knowing all the facts.

They will say that the police murdered this kid. They don’t have all the facts, outside of a seven minute video, but they will get on their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds and say, “Chicago police murdered an innocent boy,” and they will be wrong.

A human being who worked as a Chicago police officer used deadly force to end a person’s life.

That is what we know right now.

Chicago probably employs roughly ten thousand police officers. If that department is anything like mine, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then many of those officers are black and Latino and many are gay and then of course, many are white. Police departments are probably most large, urban cities’ best employer of minorities.

Ten thousand police officers from so many different walks of life didn’t murder that boy. The hundreds of thousands of officers in the United States not on that scene that night didn’t murder that boy.

No. Stop saying that.

One Chicago police officer used deadly force on that boy that night. And while we’re at it, let’s not pretend that he’s an angel. Be fair and admit that he was breaking the law.

He was armed, not with a firearm, but he was armed and on a dangerous drug, so he wasn’t an innocent boy shot on his way home from school or work or whatever. He was messed up on that night.

Did he deserve to die?

That is the question of the day for not only Chicago, but every city and every police department across the country.

It looks like a bad shooting to me, but I’ve not heard what the other side has to say about it. What was the officer’s reasoning?

If he says he was in fear of his life, who are you to say that he wasn’t?

Have you ever answered a call for a person high on PCP and armed with a knife? How did you handle it, if yes?

I’ve answered calls for people high on drugs or otherwise mentally out of it. They’re scary calls.

Maybe he knows this kid from prior encounters. Maybe this officer just took a training class and learned how fast a person with a knife can close a gap and put a blade into another person’s neck before the other person can react.

I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but the truth is, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Same on the other side of the argument as well. Well intentioned people who support the police are doing the same thing, spouting off that the kid had a knife and was on PCP, etcetera etcetera. They’ll say he deserved to die because he didn’t listen to the police. It’s not that simple either folks.

Hell, I’m doing it with this blog post. I don’t know what happened to a full enough extent that I should be taking sides, but I guess I am.

I’m on the side of justice. I’m on the side of the law.

It’s my hope that we don’t start seeing police officers prosecuted to assuage the masses, because that’s bullshit.

Murder in the First Degree is pretty harsh.

There is a difference between grabbing a gun and intentionally finding a target to kill and then killing him and being thrust into a tense situation because it’s your job and using deadly force because you thought you had to.

This man will have to answer for what he did, and I’m okay with that. I am glad that there was video, the police department’s video I might add. He will have to go through what he was thinking and convince a judge or jury that he didn’t murder that kid, and honestly, he might be able to, because it’s a tough case to convince a jury that a police officer murdered an armed person.

It’s not impossible, but don’t be surprised if there’s a hung jury or acquittal.

I don’t want any of this to sound like I’m justifying what the officer did either, I’m sort of thinking out loud and hopefully, giving you something different to think about as well.

At the end of the day though, I don’t want to read that police killed this person, because I am police, and I didn’t kill this person, nor have I ever killed any person.

Remember that the next time you read or hear that the police are murderers. That’s a pretty insulting comment, and I’d appreciate your support in correcting that person’s train of thought.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments