An ugly job, but it’s a living

Posts tagged “Police

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


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.


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

Potential
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.


In the tank

septictank.jpgOne of the good things about working for a large police department is that you can be somewhat insulated from politics. While policies and strategies that affect how you do your job are too often based on someone’s hopes for reelection, for the most part you tend not to be big enough of a player to worry about the ins and outs of local politics. Small town cops, who are likely to write the mayor’s daughter a speeding ticket, or live next door to a political player, have more to worry about.

Regardless of the size of the stage upon which you find yourself, if ambition propels you (or fate drags you) onto the stage, then you become a player, and will find yourself subject to new rules. At best, it won’t be pretty, and at worst it can be very ugly.

When I was a kid I got drafted to help one of my uncles hook his home up to the city’s sewer system. I was employed as the chief, and sole, digger of the ditch that went from the back of the house to the street. While I was slaving away with my shovel I was present when a crew came to clean out and remove the old holding tank that was part of the septic system. Being the curious sort, I took a few moments to observe as they removed the lid from the septic tank. The sight, and odor, was memorable in an unpleasant way. Some things are best left out of sight and out of mind – outside of plumbers, none of us wants to know the details of what happens after the flush handle is pressed. I guess we all want to look at that freshly washed clean porcelain and know only that the job is being accomplished and it looks good from this side of things. But, while we know there is some nastiness somewhere in the system, as long as we are not confronted with it we can ignore it.

That expresses my feelings about politics. I know there is some really foul stuff moving through the pipes, but if I don’t have to deal with it I can ignore it. And anyone who willingly immerses themselves in the filth has to be suspect. When someone screwed up and pushed me far enough up the ladder to the place where I was actually in charge of something at SCPD, I got a sudden and unwanted look at the inside of the political septic tank. It was ugly and nasty and full of underhanded people – and I wanted nothing to do with it. I started formulating an exit strategy.

The beginning of my career at SCPD coincided with those of two other men who went on to immerse themselves in the filth. We attended the academy together and two of us were never candidates for president of the other’s fan club. We will call him Person A. The third man (Person B) and I got along alright, but his incredibly close friendship with Person A was a barrier to our friendship. For the first several years of our careers we were the three out of our class that were promoted while most of the others elected to stay at the officer rank. My motivation for promotion was because I wanted to move into investigations (detective work) and getting promoted was also the only way to get a pay raise in those days. Persons A and B made it very clear that they wanted to be “in-charge”.

My colleagues changed course in mid-stream and went to law school and politics. “A” was elected to two high profile local offices and “B” received a political appointment. Each, in his own way, made spectacular errors in judgment that eventually ended their careers. The news media made hay of their respective screwups, and the general consensus of opinion mirrored my own – “A” was an amoral and arrogant idiot who thought he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it, and “B” was woefully unsuited for the position to which he had been appointed. The first man was outed by news media investigations into his abuse of privileges and power, and when he reacted poorly they went on to beat him up in a very public way. The feeding frenzy left the water frothy with blood and he lost his bid for reelection in a political massacre. His dog might think he got screwed over, but everyone else familiar with the man knows it was a good riddance.

Mr. B’s career ended in an even more fantastic explosion of abuse. Eventually appointed to a  greater position of trust and responsibility by an equally inept politician, he was able to carry on a charade that made it appear as if everything was running well in his agency. Until the hidden flaws in the machine became apparent – and the wheels fell off and the train wreck was gory. Peoples’ lives were affected, careers ended, injustice had been done, and the resulting damage is still a huge gaping wound. The cascade of disasters made national news and the never ending story of the fallout is still frequently cited as a classic example of how not to do things. He also shuffled off the stage.

My relationship with Person C was different. In some ways we were similar, worker bees who moved up in position but stayed out of the limelight and away from politics. He was very good at what he did, although he occasionally made small errors in judgment that were noted briefly by the media. There were a few times the reporters took a small bite out of my ass as well, but not to the same extent. None of us are perfect and after reaching a certain degree of a public profile the sharks start circling when they smell the tiniest bit of blood. But we differed in that eventually he also faced the gaping maw of the political machine – and he jumped in. In his case it was more out of a desire to survive than a desire to be in charge. He correctly decided that if he did not make the move that his past loyalty to his elected official boss made him a target for the next boss who took over. It was a choice between being elected to his retired boss’s job or be shuffled to the side and out the door. It was not the choice I would have made, but I’m not him.

Mr. C soon found himself faced with some tough decisions that were just part of the job. He made choices that quickly brought him under attack. However, he was soon confronted with the volcanic eruption caused by Mr. B, and he did not perform well. In a position to, and somewhat responsible for, cleaning up much of Mr. B’s messes, he elected to try and muddle through without actually accomplishing anything. Not only did he bring a lot of discredit upon himself, but his failure to aggressively try and amelioriate what B had wrought aggravated the situation and made it endure well past the point of being tolerable.

Ultimately, in a decision that I still don’t comprehend, he brought forward allegations about something Mr. B had done that was a classic example of the horrible leader and arrogant ass that Mr. B had become. However, compared to all of the other things that B did, it was such a minuscule act that it compared to a pimple on an elephant’s behind. Mr. B found himself under indictment and removed from his position. He eventually was exonerated in a trial that was seen as a total defeat for Mr. C, but what was seen as a gratuitous kick while on the ground infuriated Mr. B.

Fast forward to today, and I am witnessing a very public attack on Mr. C that has been orchestrated by Messrs. A and B. All coincidentally taking place after Mr. B has announced that he will run for Mr. C’s position and just as the deadline for others to file for positions on the ballot closes. It involves a minor point of personal failing on the part of Mr. C that some might think reflects negatively on his suitability for office. However, it actually is more along the lines of Mr. C’s attack against B several years ago.

Politics, at its base, does not illustrate the clean water swirling on porcelain, but is all about what is inside the septic tank.

It was Mr. C’s attack on B several years ago that lead to me being shoved forward to the edge of the septic tank. I was a minor player in the scheme of things, but I was faced with the choice of doing the backstroke in a pool of feces, or backing away from the edge. As I watch three men, all covered in each others’ shit, act out an inverse morality play, I am pleased with my choice


A Correction/Clarification

In “What Would Elliot Think”, I wrote “when I started my law enforcement career it was illegal in Texas for an ordinary citizen to carry a firearm just because he thought he had a Constitutional right to do so.” That needs to be corrected and clarified. It was not accurate to say that it was illegal for citizens to carry firearms, rather, to be more precise, it was illegal to carry a handgun. Although, under the penal laws at the time I was writing of, it was legal to carry a rifle or shotgun around, the practicality of it seems to make the point moot.


Freedom of speech and internet publishing for da Poh-leece

Two years ago, when a police officer blogger was told by her employer to kill her blog, I furiously set about learning where my freedom of speech rights were limited by my employer’s rights to maintain discipline and effectiveness. Another blog written by a police officer has bitten the dust within the last week – although I think it was a case of self-censorship / self-preservation. His employer had read his blog, and while having minor problems with one or two posts, the blogger told me he was thinking of making the blog disappear rather than trying to fight the man.

After completing my research a couple of years ago, I published my thoughts as a service to other officers who blog. I sent a copy to the officer who recently yanked his blog in an effort to give him some background information on which to do his own research and reach a decision.

I’m going to republish that old post here:

A cop blogger, whose name and agency I will not mention here, has been forced to yank a blog because of adverse reaction at work. A letter of reprimand was placed in this blogger’s personnel file because combining work issues and personal opinions was perceived as a breach of conduct rules.

I am sure many of you are thinking, “pffft, big deal! Bloggers get dooced all of the time just because they blog.” You would get my agreement on that point because, in general, I think taking action against an employee for writing about their employment and their opinions is wrong. However, as we all know now, most people in this country are in “at will” jobs, which means they can be sacked whenever the employer decides it doesn’t like the cut of their jib.

But, government employees are different.

Not because we are a special class of people deserving of more rights than anyone else. No, it’s because our employers are special creatures. We all work for “The Government”. Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As we all know, although the Amendment’s wording restricts Congress, it applies all the way down to the lowest, least consequential body of government. Congress cannot send a FBI SWAT team to my house to haul me off because they don’t like what I said about Hilary Clinton any more than the City of the ‘Burbs can kick in my door to haul me away because I wrote something derogatory about the Mayor.

“So”, you may ask, “what the hell does that have to do with government employees and Freedom of Speech?”

Damn, you are sharp. I am glad that you asked that question.

The Amendments restrict government from screwing with our rights and freedoms. If I worked at IBM and they wanted to fire me because they don’t like seeing their name mentioned on my blog, that is their privilege. The Amendments aren’t aimed at private businesses interfering with my rights, just the government.

All of this does not mean that I get to say anything I want and stand behind the First Amendment any more than any other citizen can shout “fire!” in the proverbial crowded theater. Government has to be able to protect its interests when they are valid and legitimate things that a government is supposed to concern itself with. Like public safety and national defense. Imagine how ineffectively such functions would be if employees had an unfettered freedom of speech regarding the work place.

The Supremes have been dealing with this particular aspect of Freedom of Speech since the 1960’s, and here is what it looks like today:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all citizens, including governmental employees, the right to speak on matters of public interest. This right is, however, not absolute, and analysis of any particular set of facts will involve a balancing of the various issues at stake.

The Court generally upheld the application of First Amendment protections to governmental employees, establishing a balancing standard weighing the employee’s interest in commenting on matters of public concern against the employer’s interest in promoting the efficiency of the public services it renders.

In other words, if you are pissed at your supervisor because he is critical of your work, that is a private matter and not of concern to the rest of the public.

If your agency is releasing nuclear waste into the water supply, well that is a major concern to the populace as a whole.

Since the employees all work for the government, and so much of what they do involves public interests, a balancing test was developed to determine whose interests are more important, the employee or the government: How disruptive to operations was the speech, was it public or private speech, and to what degree did the speech touch on matter of public concern?

The final question to be answered is easy, was there a significant harm done to the employee and was it caused as a retribution for the exercise of freedom of speech?

So, here are the Cerberus Rules of Cop Blogging: Please bear in mind that I am completely unqualified to offer such opinions; you should check with your physician before starting this program, actual results may vary, your individual financial situation may be different, and tax, title and license fees are not included. In other words, if you get fired following my advice without doing your own research, you are clearly an idiot and deserve what you got.

1. Don’t do it. Seriously, if you don’t do it you won’t get zapped. But, if you really want to cop blog, I recommend that you,

2. Never specifically identify anything or anyone at your place of work. (See: Cerberus, Some City, and Giant Red State. All figments of my imagination). How can I interfere with or harm the operations of an imaginary agency in a place that never existed?

3. If you are going to break rules # 1 and # 2, then you damn sure better be certain that what you are cop blogging about is a MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN.

4. Read and know your agency’s policies on employee freedom of speech, respecting other employees, insubordination, and releasing reports and confidential information. Understand what all the words mean in the context of the policy manual (usually there is a definitions section with all of the legalistic definitions for specific words like “may” and “shall”). Having memorized the policies, carefully blog by not breaking the rules. Imagine your supervisor, commander, some jerkoff in IAD, and the Chief of Police (actually his rat-faced attorney), all carefully reviewing every post you ever wrote. See them with their highlighters, the well-thumbed policy manual open and a stack of blog entries printed out? It’s late at night and cigarette smoke curls in the lamplight as a magnifying glass is used. Now, imagine them jumping up with glee and shouting “Aha! I got you now, you son of a bitch!” Finally, see them running down to HR to start the paperwork on your career change.

5. Consider carefully what you publish to be sure that is does not cause undo interference or disruption of the operations of the police department. What exactly does that mean? (Hell, I don’t know. Ask me something easy, like how many crackheads does it take to clear a city block of all aluminum cans. ) It’s probably a question of proportionality. Does the public interest outweigh whatever harm is done? If you publish pictures of the Chief stealing dope out of the back door of the evidence room, the resulting disruption caused by his firing and indictment is probably acceptable in light of the public need to have a non criminal running the agency. On the other hand, if you have video of the man picking his nose, well the resulting disruption from his public embarrassment is probably not worth whatever mild interest your publication may have found in some dark corner of the world.

6. DO IT ON YOUR OWN TIME, USING YOUR OWN FORUM AND EQUIPMENT. Don’t be a dumbass and blog from work. Don’t even read your blog from work. When IAD tells the computer evidence techs to “take a look at his machine”, your history will be found and I bet your agency has some rules about “conducting personal business while on duty”, “misappropriation of city property”, “being available to superiors, subordinates and citizens”, and “attention to duties”. (We even have one that prohibits reading any non-work related material while on duty. I’m not sure why there are always newspapers laying around in the crapper – perhaps they are for emergency backups when the TP runs out).

7. Don’t gossip or assassinate someone’s character. If you engage in personal attacks (The only reason Bob got the new car and his choice of days off is because he sucks the Sergeant’s….) you make your speech more of a personal thing rather than the protected public interest speech.

8. Decide now what you will do when they call you in. Note, that I didn’t say “if they call you in”, because you need to be prepared now. Are you willing to go to war with the brass over your blog, or do you want to follow one of Cerberus’s Addendum to Murphy’s Laws of Police Work? (Giant Bureaucracies have crappy memories. When you screw up, if you manage to keep your job, just keep your head down and within 2-5 years everyone will have forgotten about it.


What Would Elliot Think?

raid.jpg

When I was a Sergeant in Narcotics, I was sitting in my Lieutenant’s office one day talking with him and another Sergeant. The conversation turned to the latest attempts to legalize Marijuana and we were debating if we would see it happen in our lifetimes. It turned into a discussion about what would happen if the weed were legalized.

Personally, I think of Marijuana as the Stupefying Weed – because every regular user I’ve ever come across acts as if half of their brain were turned off. I suspect it might also deserve to be called the Apathy Herb, because chronic users seem to have as much ambition as a dead goldfish. In a rough-sketch, broad-strokes, cop-on-the-street kind of way, I generally equate Marijuana with alcohol, and for that reason alone I don’t think we should legalize it.

Considering the pain and loss that Demon Rum already causes us, can you imagine what it would be like once we tossed Yerba out there? No thanks, society is already fucked up enough as it is.

Our discussion turned to the topic of cops who might choose to smoke a legal Marijuana. While SCPD had rules about what amount of pre-employment drug use was experimentation and how much too much, the Narcotics Division had more restrictive policies. When the Briar Patch is full of untold millions of dollars in dope and cash, you don’t throw Brer Rabbit in there without knowing his feelings on the subject of Briar Patches in general.

Our boss made the statement that, if he had anything to say about it, no officer who smoked legal Marijuana would ever work in Narcotics. My fellow Sergeant and I took him to task over that, and my co-worker made a great statement in support of our position:

Wait a minute. Are you saying it’s okay for a cop to go home and drink legal beer, wine or booze, but it wouldn’t be right for him to smoke legal Marijuana? That’s just crazy. Imagine how many cops go home and turn on their television while sipping a cocktail to watch The Untouchables. There they are with a nice scotch in one hand and remote in the other, watching Kevin Costner fight a war against the very substance they are holding in their hands, all while thinking “That Elliott Ness was one bad motherfucker.”

The conversation went to hell once we discovered that we were hitting a couple of his buttons pretty hard. We sank into total malarkey when we announced that we would have a huge weed smoking party on the day it was legalized, and he was invited. He kicked us out of his office.

So, everybody knows that while Marijuana is illegal in Amsterdam there is a policy of non-enforcement for users that extends to other so-called “soft drugs” like Hashish and Psyilocybin mushrooms. Amsterdam, which also has a long history of tolerance toward prostitution before the Netherlands legalized it, may be discovering that too much tolerance can lead to undesirable and unintended consequences. Decriminalization does not equal to the absence of criminal behavior. Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen is the Netherlands’ National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, she works independently and reports to the Dutch government:

“We have tried to decriminalize the prostitution sector by legalising it, by making it liable for permits and we have seen that it really doesn’t work that way. Many of these women in the legalized sector are being forced and violently treated so the Dutch government is now thinking are we on the right track?”

The city is trying to come to grips with some of the undesirable effects resulting when legalizing and tolerating go a little too far. It’s going to clean up the Red Light District and replace the famous prostitutes in the windows with upscale stores. Amsterdam’s Mayor, Job Cohen said recently,

“The romantic picture of the area is outdated if you see the abuses in the sex industry and that is why the council has to act,” he said. “We don’t want to get rid of prostitution but we do want to cut crime significantly.” While legalization was supposed to turn prostitutes into self-employed taxpayers who did not need pimps for protection, the city said the industry is still dominated by criminals attracted by the 370 euros each woman can earn a day.

He has also announced efforts to close coffee shops and so-called smart shops, which sell other “soft drugs” drugs such as magic mushrooms.

Deputy mayor Lodewijk Asscher said the city wants to restore a number of historic buildings and reverse the decline of a large central area where brothels, sex clubs and the coffee shops that sell marijuana line the city’s canals. “It will always be an exciting city with more freedom and more tolerance than elsewhere in the world,” Asscher said. “There will be other tourists and maybe more tourists but if you go here as a tourist you don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed about what you see.”

Among the announced reforms is a new code of conduct for police officers in Amsterdam – the same cops who have operated under a policy that fostered the situation that has now apparently gotten out of hand. Unlike every other citizen, and tourist, who can go into the local smokery and light up, they are being forbidden from smoking Marijuana in their off duty time. They are not happy with the new code that requires them to abstain when they are off duty.

It has been their duty for years to operate a policy of nonenforcement over the coffee shop culture. Now the police union will back its members in defying the cannabis ban. The union has vowed to bring a test case in court against the first officer to fall foul of the new rules, claiming that they amount to an unjustified intrusion into personal life.

People who support legalization of “minor” offenses such as Marijuana and prostitution have, at the very base of their positions, the belief that they can partake of such things and not be harmed or hurt society. The truth is that there are some percentage of the population that can do all manner of things and be responsible about it. However, society has all these other people who are not responsible and can’t handle it, and they are also the targets of even less-responsible criminals looking to take advantage. Go to Amsterdam and see the results when the irresponsible many are given privileges that only a responsible few can handle appropriately.

I am a vehement opponent of what I see as a trend in government to over protect people from themselves. The Nanny State goes too far sometimes, but there is a difference between protecting people against themselves and protecting an entire society. There are some privileges that we restrict – the right to vote, drink alcohol, sign a contract, carry a weapon, etc. – because we know that allowing everyone to do it can lead to chaos and disaster. Not that every 21 year-old is ready to handle alcohol, or every 18 year-old will vote responsibly, but we believe that most of them are capable of it. And while there are some people in society who can use what they call “soft drugs” in Amsterdam without society going into the crapper, the reality is that too many people can’t.

Part of the territory of being a police officer is that sometimes you have to enforce laws that you may think are silly or wrong. I’ve always believed that the Constitution provides an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that adults who aren’t criminals, drunks or crazy people should be allowed to carry firearms provided they act responsibly. However, when I started my law enforcement career it was illegal in Texas for an ordinary citizen to carry a firearm just because he thought he had a Constitutional right to do so. It was a stupid law, and one that I personally thought offended the Constitution. However, it was the law and all the court cases challenging it had upheld the Constitutionality of the law. I lost count of how many people I arrested for the offense of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon, but I bet you could fill a nice sized banquet hall if you got them all together in one place.

The police don’t get to usurp the power of the people as expressed in laws that society’s legislatures and courts decides are just and proper – our job is to enforce them. Enforce them in a reasonable and responsible manner, but we don’t get to unilaterally declare a law null and void because we don’t like it.

If Amsterdam’s government was telling its cops – “We’re enforcing this law now and it applies to you as well” – I would believe any cop caught smoking dope should be fired and prosecuted. But that’s not what Mayor Cohen is proposing.

The Dutch have put themselves, and their cops, in a tricky situation. Police agencies have to prioritize the use of their resources because there are always too many laws and lawbreakers, and not enough time, money or people to enforce them all. But in Amsterdam they made a decision to ignore the law as a matter of policy, not prioritization, and that is a moral failure. Either something is against the law, and that law is enforced as best as demand requires and resources allow, or the law is wrong and should be rescinded. And making a political decision to not enforce the law in the case of ordinary citizens while enforcing it for police officers is too stupid to describe.

There is no sense in telling police officers that a law applies to everyone, but forbid them from enforcing it, only to tell them they have to obey that same law.


O Krispy Kreme

(Sung To the tune of “O Tannenbaum”)

O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme
You’re lovely and enticing
O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme
How beautiful your icing
My palate you do satiate
I’ll order three…No make that eight!
O Krispy Kreme, O Krispy Kreme

 You’re lovely and enticing.*

Police, chase and donuts – How could I resist?

*Original lyrics by Mark Linville


Santa’s Back and He’s Pissed

According to the calendar it is damn near Christmas and I think now is a good time for me to slow the pace of the writing typing and spend some time with the kids and the Blond Woman who birthed them. Be peaceful, and kind to others, and if you have some good cheer to spare – spread it around. This is the one time of the year in which you can show genuine affection for your fellow man and woman without them questioning your sanity.

Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope that the new year brings you good health and plenty of memorable moments of happiness.

Speaking of sanity – or the lack of it – how do you know when the criminals run your country?

When there are vast regions of the second biggest city in the nation are places no-go zones for cops unless they go in like the freaking army.

Most of Rio De Janeiro’s 700-plus slums are controlled by drug traffickers and are not regularly patrolled by police, who instead go into the slums in military-style raids, often using helicopters and armored vehicles.

One night I was working in New York with an NYPD detective looking at some locations when he started pointing out the various characters in the street drug trade. At one point he did some curious maneuver to go around the block that involved us going far out of the way. When I asked why we did that, he said “We don’t go down that block without two or three units if we can help it.” Apparently there were some place in New York where you only go in force.

Policing in Some City is different in a number of aspects from what it is in New York. We don’t have the density of population that they have, nor do we have compact neighborhoods with thousands of hiding places and escape routes for bad guys. Still, we have experienced neighborhoods here that occasionally become the home for concentrations of criminals, gangs and all sorts of ne’er do wells. Such things have a way of snowballing and getting out of control and that’s when we go in an do something about it. As a former boss used to say, “every now and then the patients have to be reminded that they don’t run the damn asylum.”

Back to Rio. Last Sunday a helicopter and pilot were hired to take an actor, dressed as Santa Claus, to the Nova Mare slum where he would pass out toys to children. As it flew toward Nova Mare, it passed over the neighboring “shantytown” of Vila Joao. The bad guys of Vila Joao heard the helo and thought they were being raided by the police. They opened fire on Santa and his flying machine.

“They thought it was a police operation and started shooting. Luckily, nobody was hurt,” a police official said. The helicopter had to return to its base after the attack. Two bullet holes were found in its fuselage.Santa later returned to Nova Mare by car to distribute Christmas presents.

700 slums, the police can’t go in except in force, and the bad guys shoot at helicopters? The Rio Police need to wave a white flag and call it a day because I don’t think they have what it takes to fix something that is so far out of control. The military might, but the cops don’t.

Anyway, too many years of thinking about how to fix problems like this, coupled with my offbeat sense of humor, gave me an idea how I would handle it:

Hello Boys! I’m baaaaccckk!

Santa’s New Sleigh


Do they have trailer parks in Philly?

Alycialane

A talking head from Philadelphia got busted in New York early yesterday morning for assaulting a plainclothes NYPD officer. The Emmy awarding winning (they give Emmys for reading the news from a teleprompter??) talking head creature, Alycia Lane, was involved in an incident that started with a dispute between a companion and some plainclothes NYPD officers. According to the Philadelphia Daily News:

She was nabbed at 2:04 a.m. at 17th Street and 9th Avenue in lower Manhattan, said New York City police spokesman Sgt. Carlos Nieves. Lane, 35, her current honey, Q102 morning host Chris Booker, and another couple were in a cab behind a slow-moving unmarked cop car, the New York Post reported. One of the males jumped out and headed to the police vehicle, screaming, “I don’t care if you’re a cop, drive faster!” the newspaper said.

We just love it when people say shit like that.

The reaction was about what you might expect. The cops probably exchanged looks of incredulity, briefly wondered if they were on some sort of hidden camera show, and then in unison exclaimed, “Oh, reeeaalllly?” All followed quickly by hurried un-assing of their mobile policing platform, showing of badges, assertion of a command presence and a rapid investigation to determine the specific nature of this person who was vigorously attempting to endear himself to them. Idiot, drunk, arrogant ass, or some combination of the three?

What could a group of plainclothes NYPD cops working in lower Manhattan driving slowly down the street be doing? Gawking at the big buildings? Looking for an all night Chinese take out place? Or, is it possible, they might have been doing their job? I’m betting the latter is the case and Mr. “Drive Faster” diverted them from whatever police task they were engaged in and made himself the focus of their attention. He could have elected to stay in the taxicab fuming at the cops, or he could have patiently waited and engaged in pleasant conversation with his companions. Or, he could jump out of the taxi and act like a fool.

He chose…poorly.

At some point Alycia became involved and started taking photographs of the goings-on.

It is a little disconcerting trying to do one’s job while someone is photographing or taping you. Aside from being concerned if they are getting me from my good side, wondering if the lighting is right for my skin tone and fretting about my hair, what I really am concerned about is their interference. Because they never just stand there quietly and take their pictures – they have to be vocal about it.

A confrontation is necessary because it is street theater after all. Besides, without someone screaming it at me, I would never realize the importance of the powerful people whose behavior I was investigating.

I’m getting this all on camera. Do you know who I am? You are going to be so screwed when this comes out. I’ll have your badge for this! ‘Rodney King! Rodney King!’

and so on ad nauseaum. It’s damned difficult to handle one disruptive person without another standing next to you, poking their camera in your face, and publicly indicting you as Adolf Eichmann reborn. Or, God forbid, questioning your sexual orientation.

The female cop asked her to step back and that’s when Lane lost it, according to the Post. According to the police complaint, the Emmy-winning anchor yelled at the female police officer, “I don’t give a f— who you are, I’m a f—ing TV reporter, you f—ing dyke.”

Acting foolishly or being rude is not necessarily a crime. It depends on the exact nature of one’s foolishness or rudeness. I’ve had plenty of people scream and shout at me and we’ve managed to work it out without anybody going to jail. But there are lines that really shouldn’t be crossed if someone doesn’t want to turn a confrontation into a legal problem. Hitting me in the face is more than sufficiently across my personal standards of acceptable behavior, not to mention the legal standards for assault, that it will win you a trip to jail each and every time.

Alycia, speaking through her mouthpiece attorney, denies everything. And while the charges have yet to be proven, you can understand her concern about her reputation. Being low class and getting arrested for early morning buffoonery is the in thing for the famous and wannabe famous, but denigrating a Lesbian American is an unforgivable crime in our politically correct society. If she really said the things that were attributed to her, she could find herself employed as an Emmy-winning hostess at Denny’s.

Ms. Lane has not previously appeared on my radar screen, so I went Googling in search of more information about our Emmy-winning arrestee. From a New York Post article earlier this year (and found numerous other places on the internet) comes this little tidbit:

FOXY Philadelphia TV reporter Alycia Lane is in hot water after a series of private e-mails and saucy snapshots she sent to handsome NFL Network anchorman Rich Eisen were intercepted by his wife [Suzy Shuster]. A seething Shuster wrote [in a return email to Lane]: “Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?”

She then provides her hubby’s private e-mail, “since you surely are trying so hard to get his attention. I mean, what better way to get a guy’s attention than with skin! Best – Suzy Shuster Eisen”

Now Suzy sounds like she has some class, not to mention a sharp wit and a sense of humor. It’s obvious that she didn’t think much of Alycia and didn’t consider the blatant husband-trawling as a credible threat. That makes me wonder how well Alycia pulls off the bikini look if Suzy forwarded them on to her hubby.

Alycia denied any bad intentions were present in what she emailed and claimed that her relationship with Suzy’s husband was strictly platonic. That happens to me all the time. Damn near every day one of my platonic women friends send me some bikini shots just because we’re such good pals.

Hey Cerb, I’m sending these to you because I value your friendly platonic advice. Do you think my boobs are too big? By the way, I’m going to be in town next week, how about we get together for a cozy platonic cocktail in the lounge at my hotel?

Every day this kind of shit happens to me.

The only thing missing from this story is the mention of a trailer park. You would think that certainly all of this class would have had to have rolled into a trailer park at some point.

For those of you in our viewing audience playing the home version of our game, How Not To Get Busted, remember this simple rule: When you’re unhappy about some police action (or lack thereof), a dumb thing to do is to run up to the officer and start screaming commands and obscenities. Even the nicest and most patient officer you’ve ever met will eventually tire of the situation and start thinking of the elements of laws and ordinances that you might be violating. And there are thousands of them – that although seldom used are still quite effective. The only time I ever arrested anyone for “Driving onto block where fire apparatus being used” was to a guy who just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him drive through all of firetrucks and firefighters to get to Wendy’s before they closed. At the third “Fuck you, you can’t stop me from driving down a public street!” I remembered that offense and used it to settle the argument.

If your frustration gets out of control and you decide to hit an officer – you’ve made the decision and also eliminated the need to ponder lesser-known laws.

The sound move is to file a complaint with the police agency. While that option may not salve your righteous anger or fuel one’s over-inflated sense of self-importance, it will generally keep you from being topic of coffee break conversations: You wouldn’t believe this idiot I arrested.


Have you been taking your medication?

There’s a question I must have asked people a couple of million times.

The mentally disturbed are really not a police problem, but way too often cops wind up dealing with them.

Talk about a recipe for a fucking disaster.

Whatever you want to call them – emotionally distburbed, mentally ill, crazy as hell…they present a challenge to law enforcement that we’re not very well prepared to deal with. Sure, past tragedies (and resulting lawsuits) have forced police agencies to become better prepared, but the truth still remains that it’s just not our role in society to try and help folks who are mentally ill.

And still we get called.

We get called when someone’s illness manifests itself in dangerous ways. When nobody else can deal with them the police get the job. And when we show up we find ourselves stuck in role conflict hell.

When the police deal with someone who is acting unreasonably there are two basic routes to take: Logic or force. When you can’t appeal to someone’s sense of logic, i.e. “Stop doing that or you’re going to jail”, you resort to force “Okay, it’s time for the cuffs”.

But way too often, when we encounter the disturbed, we find people who are endangering themselves more than anyone else Their ability to sense logic or respond to force has gone haywire. It’s like a pack of chimpanzees has gotten loose in the wiring and are busily yanking out connections when they’re not randomly making new ones. Sometimes you can talk them into compliance, and other times you can force them into it. But there are uncountable occasions in which neither works very well. And good old option B, “do it my way or I’ll make you”, can be so ineffective with people who just don’t react to pain and seem to have incredible strength.

One night in the lobby of a private mental hospital, me and six other cops found ourselves fighting an older woman who stood 4’11” and would need lead weights in her pockets to tip the scales past 90. There was a point when we all thought we were losing.

It’s pretty damn sobering to realize that someone the size of an elf is kicking your ass.

It got really fucking serious when she started waving around the razor blade.

It wasn’t her first trip to the hospital. She been diagnosed years earlier and was on a regime of medication that let her lead something pretty damn close to a normal life. Not perfectly normal, I’m sure there were side effects, but it was close enough that she could enjoy freedom, her family, and all manner of things that beat the hell out of duking it out with the cops. Especially so when the reasoning was because the voices told her we were monsters intent on murder.

But she had gone off her meds. The thinking goes something like this: “I’m doing so much better on this medication. But only crazy people need medication, and I don’t want to be crazy. Hmmmm, if I stop taking my meds then I won’t be crazy anymore.”

It’s a scenario played out a thousand times a day. Right after hearing all about how the black helicopters have been using special rays on them, their spouse is poisoning their corn flakes, or there are a nest of snakes underneath the sofa; the first thing the cops want to ask is “Have you been taking your medication?”

The answer is always no. Because it’s only the ones who stop taking the damn pills that start doing weird shit that makes someone want to call the cops.

Whatever the outcome, you always want to know the answer to one question. “If the medicine keeps you from miserable instances of insanity like this, why would you ever stop taking it?”

And that is the subject of a profound and moving must-read article by Heather at Dooce, a woman who is one of the superior authors in the blogosphere.

But I don’t understand why being right is more important that being happy, why someone would go on living with a sick, nauseating swarm of junk in her stomach rather than trying to figure out how to fix it, because the act of even admitting that she feels this way is somehow a character flaw.

Heather is not just another concerned onlooker wondering “why won’t that crazy person take her meds?” Her medication saved her life and continues to do so every day.

Sometimes I have bad days, sometimes bad weeks, but the medication enables me to cope, to see a way out and over those times. I am not ashamed of any of this.

An absolute great read and one of the best uses of your browser today.


No man in the wrong can stand up against a woman that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’*

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Texas is a damn unique place. An independent country before becoming part of the United States, the home to cowboys and oilmen, it’s a place where you can hear phrases and sayings that you’ll never hear anyplace else. This past weekend I spent some time on a ranch somewhere near the Llano River on the Edwards Plateau and ran across the ranch foreman. Noticing that he was driving the four-wheeler that one of his assistants normally drove, I inquired about the boy.

Had to let him go. Boy thought too slow and his hands were too soft to be much use around here.

The translation being that the erstwhile ranch hand was too dim and too lazy for the demands of the job.

When I saw the story about Jeanne Assam taking out Matthew Murray as he entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, I was impressed by how her actions were described by an eyewitness. Larry Bourbonnais, according to the Denver Post, is a veteran of combat from the Vietnam War. A member of the church, he was on the campus when he heard gunfire. Larry ran toward the sound of the guns and ran into the shooter and two armed church members who volunteer as security. The two men were pointing their weapons at Murray but were not firing.

Bourbonnais said he pleaded with the armed guard to give him his weapon.

“Give me your handgun. I’ve been in combat, and I’m going to take this guy out,” Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. “He kept yelling, ‘Get behind me! Get behind me!’ He wouldn’t hand me his weapon, but he wouldn’t do anything.”

Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said. “First, I called him ‘Coward’ then I called him ‘S—head’ ” Bourbonnais said. “I probably shouldn’t have been saying that in church.” That’s when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said.

Bourbonnais ducked behind a pillar but was wounded by fragments from bullets and plaster from the pillar.

At about that moment, Assam turned a corner with a drawn handgun, walked toward the gunman and yelled “Surrender!” Bourbonnais said.

The gunman pointed a handgun at Assam and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.

I was reminded of an old Texas saying that dates back to the earliest day of the Republic and the State. Back when lawmen and cowhands who worked along the Rio Grande found it to be a damn dangerous place. The land, the river and the denizens along either shore were all dangerous and it took a cool hand to work there and survive. Those with soft hands and slow thinking did not last long. The desired companero for such a dangerous place and times was a fellow who was a quick thinking man of action with a cool head when the bullets were flying. It has long been a high compliment to say of someone….

He’ll do to ride the river with.

Jeanne Assam coolly dispatched Matthew Murray before he got too far. According to Colorado Springs Police, Murray had two handguns, an assault rifle, and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. With 7,000 people still on the church campus at the time of the shootings, the grounds would have run red with the blood before he ran dry. Praying to God for strength, Jeanne started walking toward Murray as they fired at each other. So, Jeanne Assam will do…she’ll do to ride the river with.

*Texas Ranger Captain William Jesse McDonald’s personal motto was “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin'”.


The Santa Police

Yes, I know it’s a stupid idea and we all look ridiculous. But you still have to wear the damn hats. And yes, Johnson, you are right, the Chief is a clueless idiot. The very same clueless idiot who will have you walking a beat at the sewage treatment plant – in the summer – if he catches you not playing along with his latest idea to improve public relations.

Aaannnnddd, while we’re on the subject of public relations, the phrase is, “Ho-Ho-Ho”! Three Ho’s, all together, in rapid succession. You got that?If I get another call from somebody pissed off because a cop called her a “Ho”, you guys will be in a world of shit.

Oh, and smile dammit.
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…and then the dog will launch itself at the offender like a missile

Dog_missileA few years ago the chief of police at my former agency came up with a most brilliant plan. He decided he would further reduce his liability protect the public by changing the vehicle pursuit policy. The new policy, in essence, was that we would no longer chase people except in life threatening situations.

…when Police Chief XXXXX pushed a policy that would call for officers to back off speeding suspects. XXXXX told officers they should take down the fleeing suspects license tag and pursue him through other legal channels later.

As you would expect, more idiots than ever decided to press on the gas rather than the brakes when they saw red and blue flashing lights. The police union was critical of the new policy.

However, the [Some City Police] Officer’s Union called the chief’s policy asinine. It placed four billboards just outside city limits, blasting what it calls a ‘no chase, no catch’ policy.

There was immediate public uproar, which sent the politicians into fits of fear that they might have to get an actual job and work for a living. The policy lasted for two weeks before it was rescinded “for further review”.

Coming up with asinine ideas is not just the realm of US chiefs of police. The disease has evidently broken out in the UK as well. The North Wales Police, concerned about liability when police canines bite combative suspects, has initiated a “don’t bite” policy:

‘Instead of biting, the dog is muzzled and launches itself like a missile at the midriff of the target,’ said Deputy Chief Constable of North Wales, Clive Wolfendale. ‘It is one of the additional options open to us to muzzle our dogs and get them to use a head butt,’ added Sgt Ian Massie. ‘We believe it is a safer option for an offender to be head-butted.’

Although I’ve had many occasions to get assistance from SCPD canines, I’ve never actually seen one bite a suspect. Sure, I’ve seen it on television but not in real life. What I have seen is the handler announce that he is going to deploy the dog and remove the muzzle – which sets the dog to barking like a crazed demonic beast. On every occasion the next thing heard is from the suspect:

No, wait! I give up. Don’t sic that dog on me man! I’m coming out.

Maybe the new tactic of the North Wales puppies will bring about a similar high rate of offender cooperation. As soon as the handler announces his intention to launch his dog, missile-like, at the suspect, the effect will be immediate. The crook will fall to the ground, laughing uncontrollably and pissing on himself.

Wait! Stop! I give up, my sides hurt and I can’t breathe. Don’t tell me any more jokes, please, I beg of you.