An ugly job, but it’s a living

Posts tagged “Police

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?

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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?

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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