An ugly job, but it’s a living

Posts tagged “law enforcement

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.

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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?


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.


Dumbass or Liar?

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There is a huge zillion-page biography of Teddy Roosevelt on the night table next to my bed. It’s about the size of a Manhattan phone book, and while I love TR, this thing goes into interminable detail that can often be boring. It’s what I reach for when I’m having hard time dropping off to sleep. A few pages of a fifty page discussion about the election of 1904 and I’m off to the land of nod.

Sometimes a few pages of TR is not enough to put me out and I have to reach for stronger medicine. My current heavy-duty sleep inducing read of choice are the blogs of police executives. The writing in a Chief’s blog is about as genuine as the chasteness of a daytime hooker, and as boring as any policy memo I ever read.

The Chief of SCPD started a blog a while back and it is a guaranteed snoozer. A few minutes reading what some staff member with too much time, too little imagination and too many flips through the pages of a thesaurus has turned out would make a speeding meth freak nod off in mid-tweak.

Then I read the blog of Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom of the North Wales Police. I think the man might actually write his own entries rather than delegating it to some house cat on his staff. Some of it is actually interesting and he is not afraid of taking a stand on an issue as opposed to the usual PR drivel that is churned out in other chief blogs. But then, last night, I read his most recent entry and I was wide awake as I read what can only be described as a controversial stance that Brunstrom has taken:

I have spent much time recently trying to inject some sense into the drugs debate. My latest foray was on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme broadcast on New Year’s Day, in which I stated that ecstasy is safer than aspirin, a comment which has attracted much attention in the media – particularly from those sections of the tabloid press which, sadly, seek simplistically to demonise drugs rather than face the facts.

Well, isn’t that interesting. Richard, old man, I have to say that I agree with your general conclusion about the collective simplemindedness of the media. However, given the general degree of harm that comes to society from illegal drugs, I’m not sure that they are too terribly far from the mark in pointing an accusing finger.

But we could argue that sort of thing all day and I suspect that neither of us would be won over by the other. And I am not going after Brunstrom for his policy choice, as much as I really take great offense at this statement:

…UK government figures from the Office of National Statistics show that between 1993 & 2006, ecstasy was ‘mentioned’ on death certificates in England and Wales 456 times (and mentioned on its own, without other drugs being present, less than half that number of times – 234) , whereas aspirin was mentioned on 504 occasions (on 285 occasions in the absence of other drugs)¹. So in the last 14 years, as a fact, aspirin has been formally associated by the government with the death of more people than has ecstasy. That’s why I said on the radio that ecstasy’s safer than aspirin.

Police agencies love to collect data and produce statistical reports. Good managers use metrics to evaluate effectiveness, but they also are smart enough to see through someone who is misusing numbers to hide the truth. Here in the former colonies we like to say that there are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics.

Figures lie and liars figure.

“I say, Cerberus”, you might ask me, “…are you calling Richard a lying bastard?”

What other choice is there? The only other possible explanation is that Richard Brunstrom is a complete dumbass who can’t see through the lies inherent in the bullshit figures he tossed out in his blog, and which are apparently the basis for the utter nonsense that claims Ectsasy is safer than Aspirin.

Why is it bullshit? Because he is comparing apples to oranges. He’s doing some mathematic slight of hand and expects people to fall for it. And it’s not even good magic, but more along the lines of Uncle Frank pulling a quarter out of your ear. You know, the kind of thing you stopped falling far by age ten.

The most recent figures for total Ecstasy use in the UK is from 2002 (right in the midst of the period Brunstrom uses), and indicates that about 2.2% of the population aged 16 to 59 (about 730,000) are Ecstasy users and that they are estimated to consume between 500,000 to 2 million pills each week. That’s 26 – 104 million tabs each year. So, the average is anywhere from .6 tablets to almost 3 tables each week per user. Using a total UK population of 60 million, the per capita per annum use is 1.73 tablets of ecstasy – at the most.

I’m using per capita per annum for the total population because finding extensive data on aspirin use is more difficult. And to be fair, Richard’s statistics are for the entire population.

Aspirin? Sales are pretty static over a long period of time and estimates for total annual sales in the UK range from a minimum of 300 million tablets to 780 million. The range is because the sales figures I found were for packages (or bottles) of pills and used a range of between 25 – 65 tablets per packet/bottle. It works out that the folks in the UK use from 5 to 13 tablets of aspirin per capita per annum.

At least three times as many aspirins are consumed in the UK as compared to Ecstasy, and the number could be as much as ten times greater again. And while I don’t put forward any statistics on how many people use aspirin over there, I will kiss your butt if it isn’t more than the 730,000 odd X takers. A lot more.

The total number of deaths in a population of 60 million is similar between the two drugs over a thirteen year period, but a lot more people take a lot more of one drug than the other. Maybe I don’t know to do European math, but over here those numbers easily add up to Ecstasy being a hell of a lot more deadlier than Aspirin.

If you go to his blog and read his post, you will notice a link at the bottom for an Excel spreadsheet on death data in the UK for the period he referenced in his statement. Interesting to note is that the annual number of Ecstasy deaths have been trending up (up at least fourfold in 13 years), while aspirin deaths have trended down (cut by more than half).

So, Chief Constable, are you a liar or just shitty at math?


They make ’em pretty dumb in KC

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On the heels of the previous post about the repeat offender in rural Kansas who was dumb enough to leave his DNA all over some chicken bones, here come more genius criminals from KC.

Police said two gunmen robbed the store in the 8400 block of Hickman Mills Drive Monday morning. Security surveillance video showed two men shoving cash and liquor into a duffel bag.As the men went to leave the store, they seemed unable to exit. The clerk had to help them open the door, because they were trying to pull the door even though the sign indicated it was a push-to-exit door.

See the video here

There is not a policeman alive who has not acknowledged a debt to dumb criminals. If it weren’t for stupid crooks, the job might be hard.

If these two recent stories are indicative of the general level of intelligence amongst the Sunflower State criminal element, the cops might have to start coming to work blindfolded just to make it a little more fair.