An ugly job, but it’s a living

Author Archive

A policeman’s Christmas

In 1974 when I first joined the police department, I new there would be special occasions my family would spend without me. Knowing that fact didn’t make the task any easier. The celebrations I missed those first year’s depressed me and sometimes made me feel bitter. Working on Christmas Eve was always the worst.

On Christmas Eve in 1977, I learned that a blessing can come disguised as misfortune, and honor is more than just a word.

I was riding a one man patrol on the 4×12 shift. The night was cold. Everywhere I looked I saw reminders of the holiday: families packing their cars with presents,beautifully decorated trees in living room windows and roofs adorned with tiny sleighs. It all added to my holiday funk. The evening had been relatively quiet; there were calls for barking dogs and a residential false burglar alarm. There was nothing to make the night pass any quicker.I thought of my own family and sunk further into depression.

Shortly after 2200 hours I got a radio call to the home of an elderly, terminally ill man. I parked my patrol car in front of a simple cape cod style home. First aid kit in hand, I walked up the short path to the front door.As I approached, a woman who seemed to be about 80 years old opened the door. He’s in here she said, leading me to a back bedroom.

We passed through a living room that was furnished in a style I had come to associate with older people. The sofa has an afghan blanket draped over it’s back and a dark, solid queen Anne chair say next to a unused fireplace. The mantle was cluttered with an eccentric mix of several photos, some ceramic figurines and an antique clock. A floor lamp provided soft lighting.

We entered a small bedroom where a frail looking man lay in bed with a blanket pulled up to his chin. He wore a blank stare on his ashen, skeletal face. His breathing was shallow and labored. He was barely alive.
The trappings of illness all around his bed. The nightstand was littered with a large number of pill vials. An oxygen bottle stood nearby. Its plastic hose, with face mask attached rested on the blanket.

I asked the old woman why she called the police.

She simply shrugged and nodded sadly toward her husband,indicating it was his request. I looked at him and he stared intently into my eyes. He seemed relaxed now. I didn’t understand the suddenly calm expression on his face.

I looked around the room again. A dresser stood along the wall to the left of the bed. On it was the usual memorabilia: ornate perfume bottles,a white porcelain pin case, and a wooden jewelry case. There were also several photos in simple frames. One caught my eye and I walked closer to the dresser for a closer look. The picture showed a young man dressed in a police uniform. It was unmistakably a photo of the man in bed. I knew then why I was there.

I looked at the old man and he motioned with his hand toward the side of the bed. I walked over and stood beside him. He slid a thin arm from under the covers and took my hand. Soon,I felt his hand go limp, I looked at his face. There was no fear there. I saw only peace. He knew he was dying; he was aware his time was very near. I know now that he was afraid of what was about to happen and he wanted the protection of a fellow cop on his journey. A caring God had seen to it that his child would be delivered safely to him. The honor of being his escort fell to me.

When I left at the end of my tour that night, the temperature had seemed to have risen considerably, and all the holiday displays I saw on the way home made me smile.

I no longer feel sorry for myself for having to work on Christmas Eve. I have chosen an honorable profession. I pray that when it’s my turn to leave this world there will be a cop there to hold my hand and remind me that I have nothing to fear

Author unknown


Thank you, Oh Pharaoh, for the gifts you have bestowed upon us.

So, I’m car shopping for more than one vehicle.  With the kids mostly grown and driving themselves places, we no longer need the SUV that was the Princess’ Mom-Taxi.  That’s one car.

And for the same reason I need to buy another vehicle for one of the kids so he can drive himself to school and all his extracurricular stuff (plus off to college next year I hope).   That’s two cars.

While I was working I always had a city car, and so I never even owned a car until the last few years of work when I bought a pickup to take to the ranch.  But driving a F-150 everywhere around town is a pain just on parking issues alone.  I would love to have something small and fuel efficient that’s easy to park.  That’s three cars.

Even though I grew up in and around the car business, and I know the ins and outs of buying and selling cars, I still hate the process.  Mostly because I hate spending money to buy a big hunk of metal and plastic that is a liability rather than an asset.  So it brought a smile to my face when I read how poor August car sales were going.  Sucks to be a dealer or salesman, but I can get behind a buyer’s market when I am a buyer.  Especially when I am a triple buyer and only plan on selling one of the current vehicles.

Except there are some twists and turns to this that are making it a sucky process.

First, I am in the market for three cars, but two of them will be well used cars.

And a bad market for new car sales is not turning into a bad market for used car sales.  All thanks to cash-for-clunkers, or the Car Allowance Rebate System, as the government called it.

Anybody with half a brain knew that cash-for-clunkers was economic idiocy in the making. It didn’t save any jobs, cost the taxpayers billions, was so poorly designed and administered that dealers were dodging participation left and right, and now has raised the cost of used cars thanks to all the good used cars that were destroyed. From the Boston Globe Clunkers a Classic Government Folly.

According to Edmunds.com, a website for car buyers, a three-year-old automobile today will set you back, on average, close to $20,000 — a spike of more than 10 percent since last summer. For some popular models, the increase has been much steeper. In July, a used Cadillac Escalade was going for around $35,000, or nearly 36 percent over last July’s price.

Part of the increased prices for used cars is that the economy sucks so much that people who would normally be buying a new car are now buying used cars because they are afraid they will be the next one to lose their job.

But an even bigger part of the answer is that the supply of used cars is artificially low, because your Uncle Sam decided last year to destroy hundreds of thousands of perfectly good automobiles as part of its hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System — or, as most of us called it, Cash for Clunkers. That was the program under which the government paid consumers up to $4,500 when they traded in an old car and bought a new one with better gas mileage. The traded-in cars — which had to be in drivable condition to qualify for the rebate — were then demolished: Dealers were required to chemically wreck each car’s engine, and send the car to be crushed or shredded.

This explains why there are almost no decent late model used cars for sale by private owners, and most of what I’m finding on car lots are old lease vehicles that have been dogged to death and have outrageous prices.   I can make a hell of a deal on a new car, if I want to hose off 20% of it in depreciation the second I drive the car off the lot.

It’s time to face reality – the government we have today is comprised of people who don’t have a clue how business works.  This successful program took money from hardworking taxpayers on a budget and pissed it away so the foolish could get a new car at a discount price and government workers could get paid to process the paperwork.

I’m ready for the Great Half White Father Who Camps By The Potomac to stop helping me out so much.  I don’t think I can afford it any more.


Bizarro Chicago

Maybe the times have changed, or maybe Chicago is really located in Bizarro World.   But there is definitely some serious weirdness going on when the Chief of Police has a summit with the leaders of the city’s gangs.

CHICAGO — The idea seemed simple though bold: Call reputed gang leaders to a meeting with top police and federal prosecutors and deliver an ultimatum to end killings in the nation’s third-largest city.

My college professors will be offended when I say that I really don’t think that members of a criminal gang are legitimate stakeholders when it comes to public safety.  If we have to stick labels on people, let’s call them, the enemy.  That might just be my insensitivity shining through, or perhaps I really am a dinosaur.

“What are we doing negotiating or having a sit-down with urban terrorists who are killing with guns and drugs on the streets?” Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti said. “Gangs are not to be coddled.”

Hey Bob, you and me are on the same wavelength.

The only thing you negotiate with an enemy are the conditions of surrender.


Nerves of steel

Here in the U.S. a SWAT guy or gal would have taken a shot from a distance.  In China, we does it differently.

I’m not going to comment on her technique, but I admire the guts it took to pull this one off.


Schooling from the boys down at the Bum Squad

(First appeared in August 2005)

122 degrees is what my truck’s thermostat registered this afternoon when I got done with training.  As you can guess, I’m a just a tad tired and not in much of a mood for writing.  However, I will give you a few gems from my day, one of them a funny quote from an instructor.

I’m Officer Ray Smith from the Bomb Unit and I will be your instructor for this block.  Our motto in the unit is “we may not be the best, but hey, who else are you going to call?”   I have just a little over twenty-two years on the department, minus a little penalty box time, if you know what I mean.

He was a little jaded from his past dealings with management, but still an informative instructor who knew his stuff.    And I would think that anyone who volunteers to screw around with unexploded explosive devices made by nut-jobs ought to be at least a half bubble off level to start with.

He brought lots of cool stuff to play with and a few interesting facts.  Like the amount of explosive used in the United States each year; 8 Billion (yes, with a “B”) pounds.  As you might imagine, a lot of explosives get “lost” and wind up in the wrong hands.

There are many explosives that are impractical in Some City because of our hot and humid climate.  One cool little toy is an explosive that has the consistency of caulk, it even comes in a tube like caulk and can be used in a caulk gun.  Unfortunately it melts almost instantly.   The idea was that it would be great to quickly apply around door locks for forced breaches, but in the amount of time it took to apply it to the door, stick a detonator on it and haul ass around the corner; it had already lost consistency and run in long streaks down the doors face.  It’s a shame; it was cool stuff and only cost a $100 a tube.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has recently endorsed a “shoot to kill” model policy for dealing with suicide/homicide bombers.  Of course Some City, being the liberally governed city it is, will only adopt such a policy after we have our first human bomb take out a dozen innocent victims.  The instructor had just had a meeting that morning with a counterpart from the London Metropolitan Police and we discussed their policy on shooting suspected bombers.

Also, we learned all about the three-man team tactic that the Israelis use on suspected bombers.  That was very impressive.  It takes a cool head (especially for the main guy who has two very critical tasks to perform if there is actually a bomb) and a lot of coordination between the team members.  We won’t go into details (no sense in giving out the info just in case some bad guys doesn’t already know about it), but I was convinced of its effectiveness.

We saw tons of gory footage of people blowing up, like the Pizza Box Bomber, and since everybody there was a cop we got to see it three or four times, in slow motion even.  A ton of photos showing blown up idiots and bombers (is that redundant) who screwed up with explosives.  Like the guy in West Virginia who stuck a blasting cap in his mouth.  In the photo we saw, he was still alive, but the effect was beyond phenomenally traumatic.  The only thing recognizable was one eyeball.

There’s a lesson for you kids – don’t play with stuff that blows up.


Whoops!

Skimming through the blog stats to see what search brings people here can be a trip to…strangeness.

From yesterday’s visitors this little gem popped up as a search term:

attorney for exposing yourself

The internets, helping people since whenever Al Gore invented it.


Cat – the other white meat?

The day I started the police academy was filled with speeches.  It was a media event  which lured the Mayor, half the City Council, the Chief, and a number of other self-aggrandizing community organizers leaders.   There were many, many speeches, the freaking mother-lode of speeches.

In my life I’ve suffered through a lot of speeches, most of which I forgot before they were over.  But from all the speechifying on that day I remember two quotes.   Both are ingrained in my memory because they turned out to be extremely accurate predictions about my police career.

The first, from our class Sergeant – in a speech that he gave after all the politicians had left.

If you don’t like the way we do things here, don’t let the door slap you in the ass on the way out.

I think he shocked a few people with those words, but they needed to be said on the very first day.  Just because you’ve been chosen to help feed the chow to the big criminal justice machine doesn’t make you immune from getting hurt if you get caught up in the moving parts.  Of the 75 cadets that started that class, only 36 made it off probation a year later.  Several more fell over the years, some in spectacular front-page news stories, others just fired and moved on.  The blue machine is a harsh mistress and she demands much.

But the other quote – that came from the Chief.   Well over six feet tall, he had grown up in the SCPD of old when it was a law unto itself and answerable to nobody.  A former-Marine with the vocabulary of a thesaurus, he could match verbal wits with just about anyone.   A political insider, he had stabbed more than a few adversaries in the back on the  way up the ladder.    The media hated interviewing him because he embarrassed them when they couldn’t understand the words he tossed out in his answers.    He was hated by many from within and without the department, but few people dared to get in his way.

Anyway, I remember him standing at the lectern and saying these words:

You’ve just bought yourself a ticket to the greatest show on earth.

Getting that badge is like getting a tour behind the scenery at Disney World – except this tour is backstage of the real world.   Everybody hides something behind a mask, or locked away in a trunk.   Everybody – you, me, your spouse, your kids, and even your mom – has some little secret that they don’t want the world to see.   When the shit goes bad and the cops are called, that’s when the masks are pulled away and the hidden trunks are drug out and opened wide.

To a baby police officer this is some heady stuff, but we soon learn that everybody is a little twisted.  We also learn that there is not a lot of new stuff under the sun – that freakiness you’ve been fervently hiding all of these years is duplicated millions of times over in the secret lives of others just like you.  We’ve probably already seen your special weirdness ten times this week.

Yet every now and then we do get surprised.  A real show-stopper comes along once in a while that makes even the most jaded cop want to reach for the blue ribbon to award the “Craziest Bastard of the Year”.

When Ferry-Fillmore District officers pulled over a car driven by Gary L. Korkuc on Sunday night during a traffic stop, they said they heard a cat crying from inside the trunk and investigated.

What they found has left animal lovers at the SPCA Serving Erie County in shock.

The cat, according to police, was in a cage “marinating” in a mixture of crushed red peppers, chili pepper, salt and oil.

If you look under Gary Korkuc’s furniture you will probably find those marbles he’s been looking far.  I mean, the man is most likely regular crazy as opposed to Anton Chigurh force-of-nature evil.  Whether he’s evil, crazy or both; Gary is not all that unusual.  And that’s why the nice police officer looks at you that way after stopping you for being a few miles over the limit.  You feel all nice and comfortable hiding whatever behind your mask, but we’ve seen too many masks pulled away to reveal the truth.

When a cop pulls you over, he might see the $50,000 car and the $1,000 suit, but in his mind’s eye he’s wondering what your freak flag looks like underneath all of those pinstripes…or if you have a calico marinating in the trunk.


They need to be told?

Texas lawyers are going to vote to decide if it’s wrong to have sex with a client.

The committee decided that lawyers are not immune from the effects of sexual attraction on human judgment.

“It’s pretty sordid,” Eads said. “We had a hearing. A number of women said we needed an absolute prohibition. Lawyers will say, I want to have sex with your daughter or your son. Sometimes on the eve of trial they’ll say, you owe me $10,000, but if you have sex with me I’ll reduce it to $5,000.”

Doctors and psychologists have long understood the conflict of interest in this kind of relationship, but lawyers are still working on it.

And they wonder why people hate them so.


This just in from an unexpected place

Here’s something you will rarely read here.   I found a thought-provoking article at the Daily Kos.

No, seriously.

Just read for yourself:

Liberals can quote legal precedent, news reports, and exhaustive studies. They can talk about the intentions of the Founders. They can argue at length against the tyranny of the government. And they will, almost without exception, conclude the necessity of respecting, and not restricting, civil liberties.

Except for one: the right to keep and bear arms.

When it comes to discussing the Second Amendment, liberals check rational thought at the door. They dismiss 40% of American households that own one or more guns, and those who fight to protect the Second Amendment, as “gun nuts.”  They argue for greater restrictions.

I’ve never been a gun nut, but I’ve always thought that the 2nd Amendment was at least a little more important than some of its brothers.  Like Judge Kozinski said,

The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

The strong opposition to the 2nd Amendment has always made me very suspicious of the left in  this country.  The only reason someone would be so interested in taking away a free people’s arms is so they can’t protect themselves.    If you look at the written debates (Federalist Papers and their opponents) it’s obvious that they all understood that an armed people would remain a free people in the face of governmental tyranny.  Couple the left’s stance on arms with its historic interest in expanding government’s role in our lives, and it tends to make people nervous that they might wake up one morning living under a government run amok and no way to fix it.

And then Kaili Joy Gray comes along and writes something like this, in the Daily Kos.

This is an appeal to liberals, not merely to tolerate the Second Amendment, but to embrace it. To love it and defend it and guard it as carefully as you do all the others.

Because we are liberals. And fighting for our rights — for all of our rights, for all people — is what we do.

I wasn’t brave enough to read any of the 1500 comments attached to Gray’s article –  I’m trying to keep my blood pressure down – but you can check it all out for yourself here at this link: Why liberals should love the Second Amendment.


JFK reads the Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1957, then Senator John F. Kennedy reads the Declaration of Independence on the radio.


She Lied?

So, I’ve been working my way through the Supremes’ most recent 2nd Amendment case, McDonald vs. City of Chicago, and I find Sonia Sotomayor was on the losing team.  No big thing, I think we all know she was going to be to the left, and her votes would follow.  But the interesting part is that she joined, with Ginsberg, in Breyer’s dissent.  The dissent that says, the court got Heller wrong, and now that,

“In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.”

Wait a second.  Is this the same Sonia Sotomayor who swore to the Senate that Heller was valid law, settled law?

I’m still working on McDonald, but it seems to be quite similar to Heller in one important respect.  It opens the door for all kinds of new cases as to what restrictions can be put on gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment.  Fat Tony really left the back door wide open in some respects when he wrote Heller.

So, does anyone believe Elena Kagan is a friend of the 2nd Amendment?


Does your watch say it’s time to go to jail?

(Saved from the old blog – this was posted July 25, 2004 with the above title.)

At 4:30 Saturday morning I was knee deep in one of my collateral duties. It was one and a half hours into the operational phase, and we were in the process of arresting 75 drunks, drug dealers, prostitutes and other miscellaneous criminals at a Salvadoran bar. The street was full of police cars, as was the parking lot, in addition to a bus with “Some City Police” emblazoned across the sides. There were half a dozen cops in the parking lot and more coming from the club with handcuffed prisoners for the bus ride to jail.

Through the middle of this came Mr. Genius strolling down the sidewalk heading straight to the club. Six foot 2, and most definitely not a Salvadoran. I was talking with a couple of officers who their had their backs turned to him, but they saw the curious look on my face and turned around to see the dude.  Mr. Genius was called over and asked where he was going.

”In the club, man”

I was incredulous. Pointing to all of the police, police cars and the bus full of people going to jail, I asked him if he thought that his course was really all that wise.

“Man, I ain’t worried about that cause I’m not no criminal. I’m a good person.”

Sigh.

“No, you’re not. It’s 4:30 in the morning and the only people on the street at this time are paperboys, criminals and cops.  I don’t see any newspapers or a badge.

His criminal record and the judge who had signed a warrant for his arrest seemed to agree with me.

I would have liked to have seen the puzzled looks on the faces of the jail booking officers, who were expecting  the big load of prisoners that Vice was bringing in from a raid on an Hispanic club, only to see 75 Salvadorans got off the bus with Mr. Genius standing in the middle of them.


Exposing yourself

Get your mind out of the gutter please, we’re talking about cops who blog and the risks they assume when they do.  Or in this case, when they post on Facebook and somebody doesn’t like what they see.

Deyna Carabajal is a police officer in Houston and she’s riding a desk rather than working the streets while IAD investigates her work-related Facebook postings.   Another Facebook user complained that Carabajal’s page contained postings that were inappropriate.  Apparently she doesn’t like Hondurans, or more accurately she doesn’t like Hondurans who are illegal immigrants and otherwise find ways to break the law.

The postings on Facebook were discovered by a Honduran woman who was connected as a “friend” with the officer on the popular social networking site, allowing her to read the officer’s posts on the World Wide Web.”At first, they were offensive to me and I just thought she wasn’t doing her job,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”I just feel uncomfortable and, to be honest, she’s in law enforcement and they should protect and guide us to the right path,” said the woman, who has never met the officer in person.

Numerous postings by Officer Deyna Carabajal, 32, spelled out her dislike for Hondurans, including numerous posts where she suggested she would arrest them for various reasons.”Zero tolerance 4 yall today,” she wrote in one of her posts. “Y’all look at me wrong at all today — y’all riding,” she wrote. “Riding” is police lingo for taking a trip to jail.

I’ve seen this before too many times, and I’ve discussed it in detail before: Staying Low And I’ve outlined my research on the legal issues as well as laying out my rules for cops who want to blog and stay out of trouble: Freedom of Speech and Internet Publishing for Da Pohleece. If you don’t want to read all of that – what you need to know is, don’t post work stuff where the general public can see it. Yes, you do have 1st Amendment rights like everyone else, but when it comes to publishing work related information your rights get limited. And, if you are going to post work stuff on the internet, you have to balance the public’s interest to be informed against your agency’s interest to run without being embarrassed by its employees.

If you’re wondering if Officer Carabajal is going to get zapped – the answer is almost certainly that she will.  If she’s lucky she gets to keep her job, but at the very least she’s going to get some form of discipline.

The first problem is that she publicly said that there is a nationality, Hondurans, that get no slack from her.  That is the sort of thing that makes police administrators’ jaws start clenching.

Chief McClelland said, “This is not the first time an individual, if that’s true …what you’re saying, have been disciplined for this type of behavior. It happens from time to time and we certainly have policies on the books to deal with that.”

That’s chief-speak for, “I already know what policy violations we’re going to cite her for”.

And to be fair you have to concede the man’s point here. While real cops are rolling around in the street wrestling crooks, guys like the chief spend their days talking with politicians and their uglier cousins, “community activists”. (I’ve played the police game both of those ways and I would rather ‘rassle a thief than swim in the shit with a politician any day of the week – the street cooks are more honest.) But chiefs of police have to listen to shit from the politicians, and they listen to the community activists. Plus, for every drunk, law-breaking Honduran that Officer Carabajal ever met, the chief has met Hondurans who are titled “Professor”, “Doctor”, or “His Excellency the Ambassador of Honduras”. When one of his officers publishes something that says all Hondurans are all crazy and have no regard for the law, it makes the chief’s life considerably less pleasant when dealing with Hondurans who aren’t crooks.

The other issue is a more practical one.  She has damaged her professional credibility.  Every criminal defense attorney in town will have this story in hand if they ever find themselves working a case in which Officer Carabajal is a witness.  The shysters love to twist things, but it just makes sense to attack the credibility of a witness who leaves themselves exposed like this.  If the defendant is a Honduran then the defense attorney is going to smell blood in the water.  And it won’t be limited to Hondurans, a good attorney will just throw this thing out there to see what damage he/she can do.   “Well, we know you hate Hondurans and discriminate against them.  How do we know what hatreds you harbor towards Pakistanis like my client?   The practical problem here is pretty easy to see – what good is a cop who can’t testify on the stand and be believed?

Watch your asses folks.

Original KPRC story here


Homecoming

1stSgt Humphrey

1stSgt Humphrey

Readers of the old blog may remember when Jack and I rode off toward New Orleans in September 2005 to help out during Katrina. It was an interesting time, worth a couple of lengthy posts, but mostly anti-climactic. But there was a moment on the last shift we worked when I thought I was about to get my ticket punched.  In a traffic accident of all things.

It was an in-progress call on the other side of the Mississippi and we were running hot across the bridge at the same time an Army convoy was crossing.   The guy I was riding with was a good cop, but I had only known him for a few days and I didn’t know how much about him – like how good a driver he might be.

At about 110 MPH we topped the crest of the bridge and started picking up speed as we came down toward the T-intersection – where the convoy was blocking us as its trucks were turning left in front of us.  And my partner was not slacking off on the accelerator as I tried to come to an understanding of exactly how he was going to maneuver through the clot of trucks blocking the intersection while maintaining Warp 9.

We made it, obviously, but I had a moment in which I thought “this dude is going to get us killed”.  Which was followed immediately by the thought, “How is my family going to deal with this?”  And, finally, “How long before they know what’s happened to me, and how are they going to get my body back home to bury it?”    (I think I also asked myself, “Hey, is that the 82nd Airborne?”)

I guess it is that “been there done that” feeling that made the story of 1stSgt George H. Humphrey’s homecoming particularly poignant for me.

1stSgt Humphrey died thousands of miles from home and family, and his body lay in an unmarked battlefield grave for almost 92 years.  But two days ago his family was able to lay him to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s a good story.

0300 – 12 September 1918 South of Thiacourt, France:

The 6th Marines moved into old trenches as they prepared to step off after the artillery barrage.  The war was years old, but it was almost over.  The armistice would be signed in a matter of weeks and by 17 November the 6th Marines would be marching on the Rhine River to occupy Germany.  But at 0500, as the artillery barrage rolled forward, the 6th Marines moved forward into battle once again.

This was the Old Corps, the stuff that Marine legends are made of.  The 6th Marines was commanded by LtCol Albertus Catlin – on board the Maine when it sank in Havana Harbor, awarded the Medal of Honor for the expedition at Veracruz.  Among the 6th Marines was Capt Clifton B. Yates, one of the few officers of any service who would command a platoon, a company, a battalion, a regiment and a division under fire, he went on to become the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Yates is well remembered by Marines for his situation report during the battle of Belleau Wood two months earlier:

I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company.  We need support, but it is almost suicide to try and get here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us.  I have no one on my left side and only a few on my right.  I will hold.

Compared to the battle of Belleau Wood the previous June, where in one day in those bloody wheat fields the Marine Brigade suffered 1,056 casualties (more than the Marine Corps had lost in its 143 years of existent up to that point), the fighting at Thiacourt (Battle of St. Mihiel) was relatively light.  Still, of the 2883 men of the 6th Marines who entered the battle on 12 September, there were 706 casualties (more than 100 would be KIA).  Most of the casualties for the 6th came on 15 September as they held their position on the line of resistance somewhere between Thiacourt-Regnieville and St. Mihiel.

Originally reported among the dead was 29-year-old 1stSgt George H. Humphrey.  Under fire from enemy machine guns, Humphrey fell from rounds that pierced his helmet.  His troops were unable to evacuate the body and were forced to bury it in the field. After the war, fellow Marine Frank A. Cleland of California, wrote to George’s brother Oliver.  After the battle, attempts were made to try and find where they had buried 1stSgt Humphrey, but they were not successful and his status was changed from KIA to MIA.

I know my parents would be equally as anxious as you are if the circumstances were reversed.  During the day, we buried your brother on the crest of that hill about 150 yards from that trail.  Whatever personal effects your brother had were buried with him as they were shelling the hill all the time and we didn’t have time to search him, and there was no one to send them in with anyway.

For more than nine decades the grave of George Humphrey was unknown.  On visits to Arlington National Cemetery his family would speculate if cousin George was there, in the Tomb of the Unknowns.  But 1stSgt Humphrey lay in a forest in the hills of Northern France in an unmarked grave waiting to be brought home.

He lay there until last October, when some French relic hunters with a metal detector began to dig in a forest near Rembercourt-sur-Mad.  What they found was the body of 1stSgt Humphrey, still wearing his boots and bullet-riddled helmet. His uniform appears to have disintegrated, but some more durable items survived such as his canteen, razor, toothbrush, fountain pen, a pipe and a marksman badge with “GH Humphrey” engraved on its back.   The Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) was able to positively identify the remains this past March using dental records.

This last Wednesday, on a sunny Summer day in Northern Virginia, 1stSgt George H. Humphrey was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery. His family was able to attend and received the American Flag from BrigGen Walter Miller.

Humphrey’s cousin, 90-year-old retired farmer John Humphrey was quoted as saying “You’d think after 92 years he’d never be found. It tells people don’t give up. There’s always hope for families.”

There are hallmarks, values and traditions that differentiate Marines from anyone else. From the first day of Boot Camp all recruits learn that every Marine is a rifleman, and throughout his/her career, whether it is as a clerk, aircraft mechanic, or computer programmer, there lives inside that Marine a trigger-pulling grunt. It is a great strength in the Marine Corps, this spirit of oneness, this brotherhood.   As Army Colonel Daniel Bolger wrote in his 2009 DEATH GROUND: TODAY’S AMERICAN INFANTRY IN BATTLE:

The entire Corps, all 170,000 or so on the active rolls, plus the reserves, are all infantry.  All speak the language of the rifle and bayonet, of muddy boots and long, hot marches. It’s never us and them, only us. That is the secret of the Corps.  It explains why Marine commanders routinely, even casually, combine widely disparate kinds of capabilities into small units…. Marines send junior officers and NCOs out from their line rifle companies and expect results. They get them, too.

Among the traditions that make us Marines is our sacred vow to never leave our dead and wounded behind to the enemy.  Gunnery Sergeant William J. Dixon, who oversees official funerals at the Marine Barracks Washington, DC., said it very well when referring to the funeral arrangements for 1stSgt Humphrey:

There is no greater honor to me than to direct this funeral in honor of such a fallen warrior who laid down his life in defense of the world.   His remains were lost to time, but only for a moment to the Marines.

Colonel Bolger’s assessment of the Marine Corps and Marines does get to the heart of what makes us different.   But in in his last sentence, GySgt Dixon illuminates how it is all possible.  We are not just brothers while we are under arms together, we are Marines for life, and that connects us in an unbroken chain of faithful brotherhood to every Marine who ever served in nearly 235 years.  And it is what will connect us to every future Marine in the years to come.  In that shared sense of honor, values and purpose we are strong.

1stSgt Humphrey had to wait a while, but his brothers in arms brought him home, laid him to rest with honor, and made sure his family knew what happened to him.  No future Marine can expect any less from the brotherhood.


Trust, but verify

That was a Ronald Reagan signature line, from the Russian proverb (“doveryai, no proveryai”). I found it interesting to learn that Reagan learned how to say it in Russian so he could repeat it to Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the old Evil Empire, whenever they met. That amused Gorby to no end.

“You repeat this phrase every time we meet.”

It reminds me of something I heard a small businessman say about the keys to success for sole proprietors. At the end of a short list of things to do, he emphasized his final point, “…and keep your eye on the register!” The way he said it, and the fact that this is the only part of his message I remember, seems to emphasize that everything before that final bit was not that important if you did not keep an eye on the money.

The message he wanted us to hear was, “…nobody will safeguard your economic interests as well as you.

One employee with his hands in the till can rob a business blind. And, if that employee runs the books as well, it can go way beyond theft and take one to financial ruin and serious legal issues.

I remember a case involving a very successful family run business that hired a comptroller that they came to trust too much. There was a production manager who ran one side of the business and the comptroller handled all the money issues. The family, survivors of the founder of the business, let these two men run everything and just collected their profits in the form of regular checks.

Their world went to shit one morning when they got a call from the office saying that there was something strange going on. The Internal Revenue Service wanted to know why the company had not paid payroll taxes in years, and why they had ignored their repeated written demands for payment and an explanation.

The business manager was responsible for making those payments, and he also was the only employee trusted with a key to the company’s post office box – the same box where the IRS had been mailing their demands.

I can’t remember how much the guy actually stole from the company, but when you added in what the IRS said was owed, and all of the fines and interest charges, the company found itself more than $5 million in the hole.

One guy, working alone, brought a company to financial ruin. He was not the first, nor will he be the last. And, apparently, when it comes to the record for the dollar amount stolen, he is not even on the list of “also rans“.

French prosecutors on Sunday ordered trader Jerome Kerviel to be held in police custody for another 24 hours as a probe continued into multi-billion-dollar losses at the Societe Generale bank.

Kerviel, 31, turned himself in to police on Saturday, two days after Societe Generale — one of Europe’s biggest banks — revealed it had lost a staggering 4.9 billion euros (7.15 billion dollars) at the hands of a rogue trader.

Say that number out loud and then try to see that much cash piled up in one place. Here’s a visual aid to help you, click to get a good view of a million dollars in twenty dollar bills.

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Imagine a stack one thousand times as large and that’s a billion. It takes a little work to wrap your mind around that picture, doesn’t it?

Now, imagine a stack 7,150 times as large as the one in the picture. Then imagine Jerome Kerviel with a can of gasoline and a book of matches.

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The 7.15 billion figure is just what Jerome lost. According to the most recent reports, he had $73 billion in real money on the line when he got caught.

Le Societe General claims that Jerome was some kind of mad computer genius who was able to hack through three levels of security to pull this off, all by his lonesome. Through his lawyer Jerome is claiming that Le Societe is blaming him in order to cover up losses that the bank took without his help. There are more shoes to drop before this story is done.

As you consider the case of Jerome Kerviel baisez le chien*, you might want to wonder, “what happened to all that money?” Jerome was playing with real money – who foots the bill? Do you think le Societe General just writes a check to cover Jerome’s fuck up?

More importantly, what happened to the $73 billion in trades that Jerome had on the felt when somebody at Le Societe unraveled what was going on? What role did the unwinding of those trades have on the hundreds of billions that disappeared from the markets last week?

There is more to this story.

You have to wonder how someone like Kerviel was able to make all of these moves without someone stopping him, or at least catching him before he had a king’s ransom laid out on the craps table of the hedge fund world.  He was in a position where his job was to make investment decisions based on his analysis and read of the markets, but there has to be some administrative oversight  Trust is important, but somebody should have been verifying the transactions in Kerviel’s accounts.

* screwing the pooch


Sheep get sheered; Pigs get fat; Hogs get slaughtered

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Confidence games rely on one important factor – the greed of the “victim”. The Jamaican Switch, Pigeon Drop, Pyramid Schemes, Nigerian Email Scams, etc., all rely on a willing and greedy idiot who believes that he is getting something for nothing. Among my favorites: The “white van guys” who con marks into buying crappy stereo speakers by claiming that they are delivery men who find themselves with too many speakers due to a warehouse error; or the “warehouse” worker who is selling a brand new television – still in the box – that he lifted out of the warehouse.

Someone’s misfortune could mean a heck of a bargain for you, until you plug in the speakers to hear static or open the box and find some heavy junk and no TV.

When I was a detective and someone called to report being “victimized” by one of the something for nothing schemes, I refused to take a report.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. You thought you were buying stolen merchandise so you didn’t check it out too closely. And now that you’ve discovered that you were ripped off by a smarter crook, you want the police to get involved and look out for your interests? I think the better question here is why shouldn’t I arrest you for attempted theft by receiving.

Hello, are you still there?

So, the US stock markets just opened and all the indexes, and almost all of the stocks, are deep in the red. The Asian and European markets got the hell slugged out of them yesterday and earlier today, and the Fed just announced a 75 basis-point (.75%) cut in the fed funds rate. Billions of dollars in unrealized capital gains have evaporated, and it’s shaping up to be one of those days when either you cowboy up or you run for the hills. This is where the suckers get cleaned out and even the steel nerved veterans find themselves hanging on with white knuckles.

The stock markets are not a scam in themselves, but there are flim-flam men selling cons by the dozen. People get in the market because they want to make a profit, and there are always predators there who will try and take advantage of anyone whose desire for profit outweighs their common sense. What we’re experiencing now is the fallout from the latest con game played in the markets.

The subprime mortgage mess is just the aftermath of a scam in which someone created a new investment vehicle and announced that “this time is different and the old rules don’t apply.” Yeah, right. Everybody saw money to be made and they jumped in the water without checking for the sharks. And they were all lying to each other, and themselves.

As defaults and foreclosures rise, the various players in the housing market are all pointing fingers at each other. State prosecutors like Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general of New York, are investigating whether investment banks that packaged mortgages into securities disclosed the risks to investors and credit-rating agencies. Investment banks, in turn, are accusing lenders and mortgage brokers of shoddy business practices.”What strikes me here is that this a tainted system from A to Z,” said Tamar Frankel, a law professor at Boston University. “Everybody blames everybody else. If you look at what is being said, there isn’t one who doesn’t blame another and there is half-truth in everything.”

Anybody who didn’t see this one coming is an idiot because they didn’t understand what they were investing in. There is a reason why some people are identified as being poor credit risks – loaning them money is a risky proposition. Creating a whole industry to extend billions of dollars of credit to such people might not be a bad idea, provided that everyone involved understands the degree of risk, and that there is adequate compensation for that risk. Even then, a wise investor finds a way to hedge the bet.

Greedy people ignored common sense and extended that credit and then passed the risk on to someone else – after they took as much as 20% of the loan value in “origination fees”. Some genius came up with the idea of bundling these risky mortgages together as a kind of bond and they were sold to investors all over the world – with some nice fees and commissions attached. It didn’t hurt the sales of those bundled mortgages that credit rating and insurance companies stamped AAA ratings on paper of questionable value – after they got their commissions. And the final greedy suckers to line up were all the fools that are now stuck holding this garbage – all of whom were willing to believe that the so called “collateralized debt obligations” and “structured investment vehicles” were really sound investments – and “Oh, look at the interest rate we’re getting!”

Once again, we are learning that anybody who says “this time is different” is a lying thief or a moron. We are also learning that the new global economy and markets are not quite as decoupled from the US markets as everyone wanted to believe. Yes Virginia, when the US sneezes the rest of the world really does catch a cold.

And now, an hour after the market open, the indices have recovered a lot of ground – but the real test will be where everyone is when the market closes at the end of the trading day.


Look what I found on the door of the refrigerator

The Blond Chick has a rare “Why yes, it is all about me” moment.

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Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

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One day, while I was in the police academy, we had to attend a speech by the Comandante del Policia of Mexico City. He was in town on some official visit and part of the giant dog and pony show was his speech to the cadets. He spoke about law enforcement being an honorable form of service.

A year later he was in prison after they discovered that he was one of the biggest crooks in Mexico.

It is a recurring theme:

McALLEN, Texas — A former Mexican police commander accused of playing an active role in guiding drug shipments served as a tax collector for the Gulf cartel, a witness testified Thursday in a federal drug smuggling case.Carlos “El Puma” Landin Martinez collected pisos, or tolls, from smaller drug gangs crossing through the cartel’s turf in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, said Daniel Zamorano Marchant, a Chilean restaurant manager who once smuggled marijuana and methamphetamine for the cartel.

Anyone wanting to run drugs or transport illegal immigrants between the Mexican cities of Diaz Ordaz, south of Sullivan City, and Rio Bravo, had to pay tolls to Landin, Zamorano said. Landin is accused of running a drug smuggling operation for the Gulf drug cartel while also working as the state police commander in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

There may be honest cops in Mexico, but I never actually met one.   The odds against an honest man making it to a position of authority in Mexican law enforcement are simply astronomical.


I want to thank my chemistry professors

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My youngest son asked for help preparing for the semester final exam in chemistry. It’s an honors class, so the information is somewhat advanced, and more than a little beyond what my liberal arts education prepared me for. My week has been spent deciphering babble of this sort:

The more electronegative species gains a full negative charge while the other gains a full positive charge. The bond is purely coulombic, and as our theme of opposite charges predicts, the plus-minus is low energy and the attraction holds the two toms together.

When I first read that, my eyes crossed and I wondered why it wasn’t written in English.

I have discovered that chemists, while incredibly smart at all things chemical, are ignorant of how to explain such things to the chemically challenged. I’ve overcome the obstacles by reading two books, reading websites, and watching/listening to several informative podcasts. Not only do I actually understand this stuff, but I can teach it. After a fashion.

The boy’s textbook was simply horrible, and given the tax dollars expended it is criminal. It covers a scads of material, but it does a rotten job of explaining many concepts. This seems to be a recurring theme in academia. The oldest son is a freshman in college and he waits a week or more after a class has started to see which required books he needs to buy, because, as is the case with the high school kid, many instructors find it much more effective to teach from lectures and handout materials from other sources.

So, the textbook was little help, and I was able to counter some of its weaknesses with a copy of Chemistry for Dummies. Yeah, I know – how appropriate. But still, there were some concepts that weren’t explained very well and I was finding myself in the weeds too often. I started searching the internet and found thousands of websites, many of them for schools and colleges.

What I was looking for was something comprehensive, that didn’t assume I already knew a lot about chemistry but explained the material in depth from A to Z.

What I found were sites that were either too elementary – A, B and C were explained and it stopped there – or too complicated – X, Y and Z were detailed and it was expected that the reader knew everything that came before “X”. It was taking, on average, 8 – 10 websites and both books to understand a single concept.

I began to harbor a deep hatred for a number of college and high school chemistry instructors. At one point I realized that you didn’t need to know chemistry to blow things up, and I fantasized about being the next Unabomber. Chemistry profs and teachers across the country would run in fear at the sight of their friendly postman.

But foolish fantasies, while briefly enjoyable, were not solving my problem.

At one point I placed my hopes in the audio podcasts from some community college chemistry classes. After all, what were once known as Junior Colleges are for all the people who weren’t quite ready for real college – right?

I teach a community college and I can say unequivocally that I teach at a more basic level, even though our credits transfer to “big name” colleges and universities. I know someone that almost lost her job because students bitched and moaned that she “taught like it was Yale.” She had to dumb down and break down her courses to meet the needs of her less skilled students.

That’s a quote from Rate Your Students, a site for professors to bitch about rate the simpletons darlings that are their students. There is a debate there at the moment on the quality of community college students and professors.

If I didn’t instruct community college students on a more basic level than university students, my community college students would drop out at an even more alarming rate than they already do (I sometimes lose half a class over the course of a semester–this is standard in our neck of the woods). I do have some intelligent students who would do better with more focused and higher level instruction. I am grateful for them every day, and I try to push them to excel in their work–many of them have thanked me for doing that.

Unfortunately, all of the profs who are dumbing their lectures down are evidently too busy to make a podcast or a website that doesn’t suck suffer from being babble that only chemistry geeks understand.

Nearly at the point of losing all hope, I ran across some podcasts for chemistry class lectures at UC Berkley, which has a phenomenal reputation for its college of chemistry. At least four elements on the periodic table were first isolated by Berkley researchers. I downloaded a few on to a flash drive and popped it into my truck’s stereo so I could listen while I was driving. Honestly, I have to say that I had little hope, and I was sure that it would be wasted time because I believed that the material would start out over my head and get more complex. In fact, what I found was that I started to understand the material. The only thing missing was being able to see the visual aids being used in the class.

I was so close.

Then I found MIT’s Open Course Ware website.

MIT was an early adopter of providing an open university of sorts on the internet. The same lectures (as video/audio podcasts), lecture notes, test materials, and related links, as on campus students receive, are all available for a variety of courses. The only thing missing in most cases are the textbooks. You can check it out by clicking here to go to the MIT Open Course Ware site.

Ultimately I watched all of the lectures for about half of a semester of two different chemistry classes (actually, one was a engineering materials class for solid state chemistry)

Professors Sylvia Ceyer and Donald Sadoway’s lectures were phenomenal and my comprehension of chemistry skyrocketed. If you consider MIT’s reputation, the caliber of the students and instructors, and the complexity of the course, it’s amazing that I understood anything. Not that I understood everything, there was always a point at which it became very complicated and my eyes glazed over – “So, the attractive energy is simply Q1 times Q2 over 4 times Pi Epsilon zero R…” – but, up to that point I was in the groove. And besides, I didn’t really need to know how to measure the energy, I just wanted to understand the basic behavior of electron energy in chemical bonding. Unlike the 9th grade textbook, my Chemistry for Dummies book, or a dozen tutorials on different websites, at MIT I found the material I needed to know and understood it.

Youngest son has been complaining about not being able to understand his chemistry teacher. So have a number of other students, and the drop rate in the class has been pretty high. I’ve talked to the man several times and he does speak with an accent, and since English is not his first language he does occasionally use some awkward wording. It’s not that big of an impediment, but I think that when it’s coupled with some difficult material presented at a rapid pace that communication problems do account for some of the kids’ lack of understanding. Or, you could choose to believe what my son believes is the problem – “He’s not that good of a teacher, Dad. All of the kids in class agree that nobody understands half of what he is teaching.”

After my recent experience with chemistry teachers I can sympathize with the little darlings.

But when I was having difficulty translating a point, I resorted to sharing part of an MIT video with him. It was short, just a two minute segments of an hour lecture, but he got the point I was trying to make – and he had a sudden epiphany on another point I didn’t know he was having problems with.

That’s how you calculate those! I tried to get Mr. (Teacher) to explain that to me three times, he talked about it for thirty minutes in class, and I still didn’t understand it.

Junior is taking physics next semester, a subject that I enjoy and know a few things about, and I am looking forward to helping him. But if I stumble, I know where to go to fill in the blank spaces in my knowledge.


What kind of job did you think you were applying for?

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My search for a decent blog written by a chief of police continues. Richard “The Most Idiotic Police Chief in Britain” Brunstrom was briefly in the running until the Cerberus Inc. crack research time found indications of severe stupidity, or blatant prevaricating, in one of his posts. I’m looking for one that is written with some style, appears to be the genuine words of the chief rather than one of his house cats, and exhibits more than a passing familiarity with common sense.

It’s proving to be a tall order.

On one of the candidate’s blog I found a post about something his recruiting staff brought to his attention. They received a number of email requests for information about the hiring process, and from that they had amassed a list of the return email addresses of potential applicants that seemed to cast doubt on their character, intelligence and/or common sense:

metallicaboner17@
pleasurephantom@
copenhagenmam69@
spacydream@
cootiecakes@
spoilme5948@
poodonkey18@
tk_paddywacker@
squishycheerfish@
strokin_100@
babypies1@
thumperhard69@

and the one that really confused me…mytieisbroken@

According to the chief, the recruiters also have a collection of humorous voice mails.

My guess is that a lot of people have email addresses that express something that they want to convey to others. It doesn’t take too much guesswork as to what messages “thumperhard69” or “metallicaboner” are trying to send. But I think I’m also right in believing that most people also have an email address that presents a more refined, and less profane, public image. Common sense would seem to be conspicuously absent from those who choose their “fun” email address, as opposed to their “business” email, to send a job inquiry.

Unless I’m hiring clerks for the night shift at an adult bookstore, there is little chance that “tk_paddywhacker” or “strokin_100” are going to get a job offer from me. To be honest, I’m not sure I would hire them for that job either.

While it’s interesting to note what people inadvertently give away in their job seeking, it is absolutely astounding what can be learned about folks when you’re given a lot of leeway in the interview and hiring process.

I had one brief fling at a non-policing job in my career. A nine month stint in recruiting as a sergeant (it was an effort to gain some investigative experience, as tenuous as it was) which was ended by budget crisis that brought on a hiring freeze.

We saw, on average, roughly 1000 applicants each month. A small percentage of them would voluntarily withdraw their application at some point, but most would have their application suspended or rejected for cause, either permanently or temporarily, and a very small percentage would be favorable applicants who were offered a position in the academy as a cadet. We rejected at least 95% of all applicants for cause, and after a small percentage declined the offer by withdrawing their application, we were able to field a class of 70 every 2 months. Those figures are consistent with what most other police departments report.

My domain was over the preliminary processing unit, which handled the initial background interview of the 1000 folks that wandered in off the street each month. A huge chunk of that 95% rejection rate came from one of 15 people working for me who were doing those interviews based on a 30 page questionnaire. If the applicant answered the questions truthfully, the questionnaire would give us an accurate assessment of the applicant’s ability to meet most of the SCPD selection criteria. Those that lied were usually caught by a polygraph exam or a background investigation that sent investigators to physically verify the truth of everything they had said.

1,000 interviews a month, 30 pages of very detailed questions that hit a wide variety of details ranging from the mundane to the very personal – equals a regular supply of very bizarre responses by applicants.

About half of the interviewers were civilian HR professionals, and the rest were cops who were experienced background investigators. The latter took most of what they heard during interviews in stride, and would tell some of the funnier stories over a cup of coffee. But my civilians were a different story.

Police work is one of those occupations that give employees a degree of access to information, people, places and things that few other occupations approach. SCPD hiring practices reflect the degree of concern about who is hired that matches the degree of trust expected of the office holder. IBM won’t, and can’t, send a background investigator to every place you ever lived, worked or went to school to ask questions like: “Is he trustworthy?”, “would you say he is stable?”, or “how much does he drink?” Microsoft may ask a challenging question like “how would you weigh the moon?”, but SCPD will ask you to describe every drug you ever took, how much you drink and what criminal acts you committed – even if you were never caught, much less convicted. The questions and checks are all backed by a very expensive and exhaustive study to identify the bona-fide job qualifications for a beginning SCPD officer, but they are far beyond what most employers could legally pursue.

All of the civilian personnel officers had bachelor degrees, many had their masters, and a few were working on their doctorates. With the exception of one woman who was married to an officer, none of them had ever spent much time around cops or worked in a HR setting in which they were legally allowed to ask the kinds of questions we had them ask. Never did more than a couple of days pass when one of them didn’t come into my office, close the door, and say…

Sergeant Cerberus, you would not believe what this applicant just told me.

Actually, I would believe, because I had conducted a number of those same interviews, and I reviewed every completed questionnaire.

Some of the things people said were nonsensical. There was a young woman we rejected because of criminal activity and unfavorable employment history. She had been fired, that morning, after her boss at a greeting card store had found her stealing cash from the till. The card store was on the ground level of the office building where our offices were located. She must have walked straight out of her past employer’s place of business and jumped on the elevator to come visit us. I nicknamed her the “I need a job chick.”

Why is my application being rejected?

The fact that you were fired, today, for stealing from your employer puts you outside of our guidelines on criminal activity and employment history. If you can stay away from committing crimes and not get fired from a job, we will be glad to see you back here in 5 years to try again.

Yeah, but I need a job.

I understand that. But you can understand why we wouldn’t hire you to be a police officer, can’t you?

No, because I need a job and you’all are hiring, so why can’t we do this?

Let’s look at it this way. Being a police officer is not just a job. It’s a position of trust in the community. As an officer you could find yourself alone with other people’s property, or with other valuable items that are evidence at crime scenes. Given the fact that you were just fired from a position of your employer’s trust for stealing from her, wouldn’t it look pretty foolish for us to hire you for a position of even greater trust with less direct supervision?

Yeah, but I need a job.

That’s not going to happen here for you today. Maybe I can direct you to someplace else that might take a chance on you. Most of our applicants are interested in public service as a career, why did you apply with us?

I got fired this morning and I need a job.

Our questionnaire included a section on illegal and prescription drug use. When I first read “What type of medication are you currently taking, and why?”, I thought it was poorly worded. But the responses we got to the “why” part often generated some enlightening responses, and those included a smattering of goodies that were guaranteed to make you laugh. Almost weekly we got something along the lines of…

What type of medication are you taking, and why?: Birth Control Pills – I like to fuck.

On rarer occasions we got some scary responses to that question…

What type of medication are you taking, and why?: Haldol – My doctor prescribed this to keep me from hearing voices that tell me to do things I don’t want to do.

The questions on illegal sex acts caught a few really whacked out people. One of my folks, who was finishing his dissertation for a PhD., came in to my office one morning with a queasy look on his face. While I’m sure there are all sorts of young people who grow up on farms and ranches who never succumb to barnyard bestiality, there are some of them who find the temptation too great. About once a month there would be one who came in and answered the question about bestiality with forthright honesty.

The applicant in question was a regular expert in animal husbandry, and had described a number of critters around Old MacDonald’s farm with which he had carnal knowledge.

Yee-Eye-Yee-Eye-Oh – indeed!

The personnel officer said he was handling the interview well, until the applicant had mentioned a certain species of animal and a specific sex act.

As soon as he said that I thought he was just pulling some kind of joke. I imagined it was a like one of those radio show pranks when they wire a guy with a microphone and have him go into a business and do something stupid to see how people will react. So I called bullshit and told him that what he was talking about was impossible, and I swear to God, until just a few minutes ago, I really did think it was impossible.

So, what happened to change your mind?

He just gave me a ten minute explanation on how to get head from a cow. An extremely detailed explanation. Including how to select the right cow, what “lure” to use, how to keep from getting stomped on, or kicked, or bitten, and so on, to the point where I was ready to throw up. I’m telling you sergeant, I don’t think I can ever enjoy a cheeseburger again, and I know I will never drink another milkshake.

It’s not that more crazies, weirdos or criminals try to get jobs in law enforcement, we do get our fair share, it’s just that we get to ask the kind of questions that are supposed to identify them.

All of those people rejected get jobs somewhere. What do you really know about the people working with you?


If you’re following a link from CNN…

here is the story you were looking for.  Whoever created the link misformed it and sent traffic to the graphic that was on the header of the story.  Congratulations to you who persevered and found your way.  Damn, I could have had 12 trillion hits.

And why is it that they always pick the trash posts to link to?  This is the third or fourth time some major media whatever has linked to something I wrote, and each and every time it was something I wrote when I had little inspiration.


Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

On the morning of this past November 16th, Robert Jones set about as he does each morning to open his business, Perk Central Coffee, in Tacoma, Washington. He discovered that during the night someone had tried to break into the store.

Perk Central is outfitted with several video cameras that record the goings on in and around the store, and the previous night’s recordings from the camera revealed the events.

I say “tried to break into the store” because the inept buffoon that was intent on stealing some sweet goodies from display cases at Perk Central found the store too tough of a nut to crack.

I can’t believe it! They’ve locked the doors to the building!

The video shows the bandanna-wearing doofus kicking at the back door, repeatedly. A slow motion replay of the final kick shows the guy’s leg bending in a direction that nature did not intend.

After contacting the police, Jones edited the video and posted it on YouTube along with an offer of a reward for information leading to the incompetent burglar’s identity.

He also provided a voice over narration of the crime. Noticing a certain similarity in dress to that of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow gave Jones the theme for his blow by blow description.

The video was noticed by media outlets and was broadcast in the Tacoma area. At least one friend of Captain Jack told him about the video, and that lead him to turn himself in to the Tacoma Police this past Tuesday.

I’m turning myself in ’cause I’m the guy in that coffee shop video.

Oh, you’re the guy they call Jack Sparrow, right?

Yeah, I guess so.

You have to be the worst burglar I’ve ever seen.

Ah, but you have heard of me then, haven’t you?

At the time of his arrest, it was learned that his knee was dislocated. I wonder how that happened.


I’m Alycia and I’ll be your Emmy Award winning waitress

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I‘m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that not only did Alycia Lane win an Emmy for reading the news from a teleprompter, but that she was being paid an estimated $700,000 a year to do that. Wow America, let’s try to get our priorities straight.

Anyway, Alycia may be coming soon to a Denny’s near you…

A TV station fired a local anchorwoman who has been off the air since she was charged with striking a New York City police officer, only the latest dust-up for the telegenic brunette.Alycia Lane “has been released from her contract effective immediately,” KYW-TV said in a statement Monday, the day she had been due back on air…KYW, a CBS affiliate, had Lane start a previously scheduled vacation a week early and pulled her from station promotions during her absence.

“After assessing the overall impact of a series of incidents resulting from judgments she has made, we have concluded that it would be impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she, herself, has become the focus of so many news stories,” station president and general manager Michael Colleran said in the statement.

See ya girlfriend…wouldn’t want to be ya!

The other thing that bothers me about this story, is that this low class broad who seems to have problems keeping her paws off other womens’ husbands, was probably fired not because she made an ass out of herself and assaulted a police officer, but because she called the female officer a “dyke”. Being a complete tool and flagrant lawbreaker is not a problem, but violating the mandates of political correctness is a felony.


On contempt for authority – Or, “they were giving out time like it was lunch!”

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One night I stopped a guy who was thinking about running. In fact, he was making the right moves but traffic was so heavy that he gave up before it ever became a true chase. The intent was there, but the opportunity was squelched. He deserved to go to jail, but I knew that the Assistant DA would see the case as weak and take an easy plea bargain, so I wrote him five moving citations. The potential fines were heftier than what a probation would have cost him, but there was no jail time involved so I figured justice would be satisfied.

A month later I went to my regular traffic court docket and saw him in the gallery. He had entered not guilty pleas on all five counts. It used to be that if you showed up for the court setting on the ticket, and the officer who wrote the tickets did not appear, a not guilty plea trumped the prosecution’s failure to be ready for trial because the only witness was not present. A common tactic was to show up, plead not guilty, and then see if the cop made it to court. If he made it to court you could always change your plea to guilty, pay the fines and be done with it.

I think that was what was going on that night, but somebody had neglected to explain to the idiot that he was supposed to change his plea if I was there, or else he was going to trial.

And, so we had us a trial. A couple of them actually. One of them was fast, and the other was over before it ever really started.

The guy was displaying major attitude from the second we started. Besides being guilty as hell, he was working with a defective game plan, and he was way out of his league. The prosecutor was sharp, it was an easy case for me to testify about, and the judge was a law and order type who socked it to liars and people with bad attitudes. She was the only judge I ever gave flowers to on her birthday – we had lovingly nicknamed her Becky the Butt Reamer.

One look at Mr. Attitude sending out his body language of “this is bullshit”, and I knew it was not going to be a good night for Mudville when Casey came up to the plate.

So there we were, ready for a trial before the bench: Attitude boy with his arms folded and a sneer on his face, me looking quite dashing and debonair in my blue attire, her honor Judge Becky looking “hanging judgish” in her black robes and a new blond frost job, and the prosecutor was…well he was sort of standing out. The man was color blind to half the palette, and while his mom came by on weekends to arrange the next week’s work clothes by color, on most Fridays he had run through the arrangements and was working on his own. It was Friday night and he was looking – colorful – wearing a green jacket, pale yellow shirt with a bright blue tie all over a pair of maroon pants.

The trial lasted five minutes. Mr. Colorful Prosecutor zoomed through his list of questions to prove the elements of the offense and I gave him short and concise answers. Her honor turned it over to Casey at the plate, and he whiffed a few lame questions that clearly expressed his contempt for the entire process. Judge Becky found him guilty and slammed him for the maximum fine plus costs.

“Strike One” cried the umpire.

And then it happened. The prosecutor immediately started the second trial by reciting the charge and asking Casey “How do you plead to the second count of the offense of running a stop sign?”

The reply was a piece of brilliant legal maneuvering by young Casey. He stood at the plate and swung mightily for the fences.

“Hell, I might as well plead guilty to everything. I ain’t gonna get no fair trial in this fucking kangaroo court.”

There was a moment of silence. I moved a hand back to my handcuffs because I figured home slice was about to spend some time in the can on a contempt charge. The rotund beach ball that was a bailiff struggled to raise his mass from his overworked chair. Judge Becky looked at the man as if he had just crapped his tuxedo at an elegant cocktail party. But the prosecutor, that colorful little man, quickly leaned in and looked up at the judge with a smile on his face…

“The prosecution has no objection to the pleas proffered by the defense.”

Judge Becky didn’t miss a beat and chimed quickly chimed in with her reply…

“I accept your four pleas of guilty on the remaining charges and find you guilty on each. You are sentenced to the maximum fine plus court costs. See the clerk to pay your fines. Mr. Prosecutor, call your next case, please.”

The sneer has fled from Casey’s lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

“Strike Two, Three, Four and Five. You are out of here!” bellowed the umpire. Casey, who was just beginning to realize that he was suddenly in debt to the Some City Municipal Court for nearly three thousand bucks, slumped at the plate.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,
but there is no joy in Mudville –
mighty Casey has struck out.

People show up in court and represent themselves, and judges and prosecutors always give them leeway to make up for it. But when somebody shows up and displays utter contempt for everyone and everything in the courtroom, well, it comes down to a case of play ball or get smacked with the bat. Judges have little tolerance for games and disrespect.

Here is one of the funnier trial transcripts I have ever seen involving a contempt charge:

Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of distributing cocaine base and one count of using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. At Murphy’s sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced him to 130 months imprisonment-seven months less than the guidelines maximum-on Count Nine and a consecutive term of 60 months on Count Ten. At the conclusion of the hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other damn seven-the other seven months is what you should have did, stinky mother fucker.

THE COURT: Mr. Benya-Mr. Murphy, you are summarily found in contempt of this court-

MURPHY: Just give me the other seven months.

THE COURT: You’re summarily found to be in contempt of this court. I sentence you to six months to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other seven months is what you should have done.

THE COURT: Mr. Murphy, I find you again in contempt of this court and you’re now summarily found in contempt for a second time and you’ll serve an additional six months consecutive to any sentence-

MURPHY: What about that? What about that? Serve that, mother fucker. . . .

THE COURT: Mr. Stone, just a minute. Mr. Murphy-

MURPHY: Bye.

THE COURT: You just gave the finger to the court. That will be a third contempt of court and that’s six-

MURPHY: Add another one to it.

THE COURT: -six more months at the end of your sentence. Well, that’s a quick year and a half.

They hand that time out quick down at the courthouse, but you serve it the old fashioned way in the big house. A day at a time.