The Leaders and the People

Macron comes to God and says: “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?”

‘Fifty years.’ replies God.

Macron weeps and leaves

Trudeau comes to God and says: “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?”

‘A hundred years.’ replies God.

Trudeau weeps and leaves.

Trump comes to God and says, “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?”

God weeps and leaves.
****†**********

In Washington DC a man is running along the street shouting :”The whole world is suffering because of one man! One man!

He is seizes by the Secret Service and taken for interrogation.

“What were you shouting in the streets?” asks the interrogator.

“I was shouting that the whole world suffers because of one man.”

‘ And who did you have in mind?’ The interrigators eyes narrow.

‘What do you mean, who?’ The man is astonished. ‘Bernie Madoff, natrually.’

‘Ah-h-h……’ smiles the interrogator. ‘Incidents’ that case you are free to leave.

The man walks the length of the room, reaches the door, opens it and suddenly stops and turns around to face the interrogator.

‘Excuse me but who did you have in mind?’

**†************†******
….. Yesterday in Washington DC an attempt was made on President Trump’s life by an unidentified assailant. The bullet penetrated the bullet-proof car window, hit President Trump on the forehead, ricocheted and killed the driver.

*******†*********†********
Trudeau is visiting Washington DC. The White House organized a foot race between Trump and Trudeau. Trudeau was first to the finishing line, and Trump second, well behind. 

The next morning, Sean Spicer gives a Press Briefing: “Yesterday a foot race took place at the White House, President Trump gained second place, Mr. Trudeau came in second to last.’
†*********†**********†******
President Trump, President Macron  and Prime Minister Trudeau assemble for a conference. After days of conferring they decide to take a break- they would go to India to hunt elephants.

The very first day, towards nightfall, they caught an elephant. They decided to tie it to a tree and agreed to take turns guarding it, then in the morning they would decide what to do with it.

The first guard was President Macron. He stood guard for two hours, woke Prime Minister Trudeau, then went to sleep. Macron stood guard for two hours, woke Trump, then went to sleep. Trump went to sleep too.

In the morning they all woke up and there was no elephant.

‘When is the elephant?’ They ask Trump.

‘What elephant?’

‘What do you mean, “What elephant”?’ The others are indignant. ‘Did we come to India to hunt elephants?’

‘What did’

‘Did we catch an elephant?’

‘What did’

‘Did we tie it to a tree?’

‘We did’

‘Did we agree to take turns guarding it?’

‘We did’

‘Did Macron stand guard?’

‘He did’

‘Did he he hand the elephant over to Trudeau?’

‘He did’

‘Did Trudeau stand guard?’

‘He did’

‘Did he hand the elephant over to you?’

‘He did’

‘What elephant?’
******†*******†************
A man ran through the streets of Washington DC shouting ‘Trump is an imbecile!’

He was seized by the Secret Service and given two charges, one for defamation, the other for leaking state secrets.

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Pirates in Pinstripe

1118352-Cartoon-Of-A-Pirate-Face-With-A-Mustache-Bandana-And-Eye-Patch-Royalty-Free-Vector-Clipart

So back on patrol in Maidstone Kent one night with PC ‘Spike ‘ Milligan, who later went on to be a K9 officer….”heel Spike,  good Spike “. We came across a group of juvenile delinquents headed into town to cause hate and discontent,  you know,  a normal weekend for teenagers.  As we drove up to them,  Spike saw one of them drop something,  so we pulled over and stopped them and Spike went to retrieve what had been dropped. It turned out to be a fire poker in the shape of a sword,  but it had been sharpened,  so now it was a nasty long double-sided knife,  think Sting from The Hobbit.

Since Spike had seen the kids who dropped the poker, we ended up nicking (arresting) him for Possession of an Offensive Weapon and took him back to the nick (Police Station) for processing. Of course the Custody Sargent was good old boy who had christened me with my nickname (Bob, long story), and was renown for making life difficult for officers who arrested juveniles, or non-English speaking suspects, or non-English speaking juveniles, or non-English speaking pregnant female juveniles. Ours was relatively simple, male juvenile, just needed a responsible adult, either a parent or a certified ‘responsible adult’, so we could process and charge.

Well it went just fine until the kid decided to plead Not Guilty, so we got our invitations to juvenile court a few months later. The juvenile had opted to hire the services of a rather good barrister. The barrister had been involved in a car accident as a child, and as a result had lost an eye. He was quite a snappy dresser, wearing a three-piece pinstripe suit, with matching pinstripe eye-patch.

So we went into court, giving our evidence, when the barrister, wanting to enter the poker in evidence, removed it from the evidence package, and lifting the sword high with a flourish, with his eye-patch, and said “Is this the weapon of offense that you say my client dropped on the path officer?”

As you can imagine, the whole courtroom dissolved with hilarity.

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“Paddy Wagons”

paddyw

Ah another day another allegation of Police Brutality, this time in a Prisoner Transport Vehicle. I recall when Kent Constabulary received these vehicles for use. The basic idea is fairly old, that unruly or multiple prisoners can be transported with minimal damage to the regular cruisers, and freeing up officers to continue patrol. However after they had been issued, the reality was found to be quite different. Firstly, I must link to a prior post about one of the most fruitful car chases I had while driving a Prisoner Transport Vehicle, when I got to stand up in Crown Court in full uniform and inform the defense barrister in a very offended tone that “It was not a high-speed pursuit..” in a small diesel panel van with a heavy steel cage inside.

Well after an initial breaking in period, while we figured out how to assign the vehicles, it became clear that whoever was assigned to the vehicle was in for a pretty rotten shift. If the shift was shorthanded, it didn’t usually get assigned, but if there was enough officers, and you happened to be low on the totem, or on a supervisors hit list for messing up something, you got assigned to CZ65, the prisoner transport vehicle. This meant you would not be assigned to any interesting calls, instead you would get any heavy paperwork calls where your being tied up for ages really was not a problem because your patrol function really didn’t matter. And so crews assigned to CZ65 found themselves often patrolling alone, or with a probationer constable, taking on Sudden Death investigations, burglary, criminal mischief type calls. All this while other crews got the exciting stuff, which you got to go along to afterwards when the fight was over and pick-up other officer’s prisoners and transport them to the nick for the officer to deal with.

After I had given my notice with the stated intention of emigrating to become a Police Officer in the USA, I spent a LOT of time driving this vehicle, alongside manning the satellite station front desk.

Sometimes fun stuff would happen with the vehicle, like my chase. In fact, it could be said that the chase really only occurred because we had this vehicle. We had been taksed with a paperwork-heavy racial incident, and had to go hide somewhere so we could complete the paperwork, which meant we were in a perfect position to see the stolen vehicles. If we had been a regular patrol vehicle, we would have bene too busy with regular calls to sit quietly and have something go right by us, which says a lot for the effectiveness of random patrol versus tasked dispatching.

Once one of the probationer officers was assigned the vehicle on a particularly quiet winter night, and being a smoker, he wanted a surreptitious smoke, so he nipped into the back and found that the doors automatically lock. So there he was stuck in the back of the paddy wagon, with the key, but couldn’t make it to bend his wrist around to get the key in the lock from the inside, and the steel cage acting as a Faraday Cage preventing his personal radio transmission from getting very far. Luckey for him he was found after a few hours, and not by a supervisor, and he had not been missed.

So this state of affairs continued for a while, until, as usually happens, someone messed up. As often happens, people being arrested take it out on the officers involved, and as sometimes happens, the officers take it personally. Sometime is very difficult NOT to take it personally, when you are verbally abused, merely because you put on the uniform to go to work, some people choose to very cruel, knowing that you really cannot retaliate because they have not committed any criminal act.

Unfortunately in one case the officers decided to retaliate, after the suspects had been arrested, put in handcuffs and placed in the back of the prisoner van, they were subject to a wild ride, acceleration, which threw them all around the inside of the van, but of course their hands were restrained in rigid handcuffs so they could not save themselves from falling badly, and as a result ended up with some very serious injuries, including broken bones, injured spines. Once the van arrived at its destination Police Station, the Custody Sargent refused custody, called for ambulances and the fertilizer really hit the windmill.

So one of the things to come out of it was that we were to have an officer accompany the suspects in the back of the van at all times. It certainly seemed to make sense, and would prevent any further problems, until one day I arrested a person with diminished capacity, who was a very large fellow. I put the handcuffs in front of him, as per the new regulations for prisoners seated int he back of the van, and sat in there with him. He was fairly odd anyway, and quite quiet, then suddenly about half-way through the journey back to the station, he tried to cover my foot with his as he grabbed my shirt with both hands, which led to quite a wrestling match as I took him to the floor of the van.

So there I was, sitting on-top of him in the back of the van, my radio useless in the steel cage, only a couple of feet away from a colleague who couldn’t hear my shouting over the noise of the van’s diesel engine. I managed to kick the metal partition enough for him to notice what was happening and call for back-up, and we rode the rest of the way with half of a tactical unit in the back of the van with me.

Now what one of the tactical officers tried to do was what I had attempted to as I arrested the subject, which was start a rapport with him, ask questions about him, seem interested, which is a technique most officers use to establish a relationship with suspects, working on the theory that if the suspect sees that you are interested in them as a person, they are less likely to attack you/ Of course in this case it was a non-starter, but more often than not it is fairly effective, but you have to give some of yourself, either information or some personal effort to show interest in the suspect, which anyone can get jaded too after a while.

Obviously the officers who had tried to take retribution out on the prisoners in the back of the van, causing them permanent injuries, were past the point of establishing a rapport with their prisoners, and in my example, the prisoner was in himself beyond being capable of establishing a rapport. If you do not have an officer in the back with the prisoners, it can lead to accusations of injury while the vehicle was being driven. If you do have an officer in the back with the prisoners, that officer is trapped in a locked steel cage with suspects who may or may not be motivated to assault him or her.

If you have a combative subject, either through rage or recreational pharmaceuticals, they can be laid down in the back of the van with multiple officers to help, but in that situation you get into the realms of what is known as positional asphyxia. Basically of someone is restrained by say officers sitting on or pushing on the suspects chest or neck area, such as in a violent arrest scenario, the suspects physical need for oxygen in the exertion of the take-down exceeds the body’s ability to provide air because of the circumstances of the arrest, the suspect suffers from positional asphyxia. Once the suspect is restrained, the hold may be released, the suspect is still conscious and breathing, but because of the positional asphyxia, their condition will continue to deteriorate, despite the conditions which caused it having been removed. and the suspect with die off asphyxia a while after the arrest take-down.

Now I have no idea what happened in Baltimore with the prisoner who was transported by van, and passed away due to a broken neck. What I do know is that while the officer have a duty of care to their prisoner, the suspect has no such duty of care not to injure themselves or the officers, which puts the officers in a difficult position. Obviously if an invstigation shows the officers failed in their duty of care, then there may be a learing oppotunity for all departments that use Prisoner Transport Vans, but just as equally, the suspect may have injured themself due to thier own actions, or at a time they were not in police custody, we just don’t know at this point.

I once went to what appeared to be at first a simple accident, someone had pulled into a mini-roundabout without looking, and clipped a Mercedes which had ended up going off the road and down a small embankment. When we arrived, the driver was out of the Mercedes, and talking on a cell phone (that was back when cell phones were few and far between and not for the huddled masses, see Cellar Phones). When one of my colleagues approached him, he turned his head, dislocating the fracture which had occured when his Mercedes bottomed out falling ten feet from the road, and it was all over for him.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, like the Mercedes driver, sometimes good officers with the best intentions get into situations where bad things happen to themselves or members of the public. Sometimes people die because of this, which means we should follow the invstigation, and hold the invstigating authority accountable for any deficiencies divulged, but not crucify the officers without knowing what happened first.

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The time I drove a Rolls Royce

classic-silver-shadow-rolls-royce

So back in the day, while I was still a “proby” or probationer Police Officer in Maidstone, Kent, we were on patrol, day shift, not assigned any particular detail, just roving around taking whatever calls would be good training points, like shoplifter. Well one weekday afternoon, a disgruntled barman at the local golf-club called in, it was a fancy place, they would call it a country club over here. Apparently he had a rather arrogant customer in the bar, drinking heavily and insulting the barman, and would be driving a rather recognizable vehicle when he left for his home, some two miles away.

So we ‘sat-up’ on him, the barman kindly called to confirm when he was leaving the bar, and we were waiting half-way to his home. Now over there, under the Road Traffic Act, an uniformed Police Officer in a fully marked and liveried police car may stop and inspect the driving documents of any vehicle and driver on a public road. Not like over here where you have to wait for the driver to commit a moving violation. The advantage is quite obvious, UK police can choose a safe place to pull the vehicle over at a time completely under their control.

So anyway we pulled the good old boy over, in his older model Rolls Royce and he was definitely feeling no pain. I haven’t seen many Roll’s being driven in person, but form the parades you see on TV, I expect one drives a Roller fairly sedately, which is what this guy was doing, which may have had more to do with his state of intoxication more than any sedate driving technique.

Again the differences over there, no Field Sobriety Test, actually we did not have the Lion Handheld Intoximeter, of which only a couple were available at the station. Instead we had the old glass tube and bag, there is a crystal form of something or other in the glass tube, you cut off either end and insert it int he tube for the bag, the driver fills the bag, the crystals turn color. If enough of the crystal turns, up to a line, you have suspicion of intoxication.

disposable-breathalyzer-technical-information

So obviously he blew well over the line, he was a fairly happy drunk, quite happy to blow, did a good job of it, not trying to blow around the tube, or giving up half-way through. So he got nicked, but then there was the problem of what do you do with the car? I mean, you’re not going to leave a Roller sitting at the side of the road.

Well he only lived a mile or so down the road, where his car would be garaged in a secured yard, so I hopped in the Roller, while my Field Training Officer drove behind with the drunk in custody, and drove it to the guy’s house.

It was of course a totally sweet ride, it was an older model Roller, the interior seemed to be a time capsule from the 1970’s, a lot of beige, nothing really very special. But then I suppose I was sitting in the chauffeur’s seat, the real luxury would have been in the rear seats where the owner would sit. Which is odd because this guy drove himself, or at least he had been driving himself, perhaps he would have to get a chauffeur for a while

He was still quite merry on the ride to the nick, and during the booking in process. part of the process is to list the possessions of the prisoner, which, reaching into various pockets, proved to be over 7,000 pounds sterling just in petty cash on his person, spending money for the weekend. I forget what he had done for work, but it had been pretty good to him I guess, he was certainly good mannered with us, although he may have been saving his ire for the barman later on.

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Oh Radio Shack, Oh Tandy, how will I miss thee?

logo$_57

I remember the first time I got something from Radio Shack, although it was called Tandy in the Uk, a radio-controlled sports car. I thought it was fantastic, it had a transmitter radius of about 20′, and a battery life of about three minutes of constant use. As it was designed to look like a sports car, it was low to the ground and would bottom out on uneven surfaces. Also it did not work well on carpet, the rubber tires constantly picked up dog hair, which became entangled around the axles, draining the battery even faster. In our house, a 1970’s era  build, wood floors were not in fashion at the time it was built, the only room without carpet was the kitchen, which was of course tiny, and it would get trodden on, or kicked, and so I would have to take it outside to the patio to play, where at least it could not stray outside of the 20′ transmission radius, but it could be stopped by the uneven levels between the paving slabs, so I would quickly get frustrated and take it back up to my room. Perhaps that is why it lasted so long, I could only use it in short bursts in the kitchen, so despite the danger from kicking, it never wore out and I didn’t become too frustrated with the battery life. I remember later in life, when adult friends purchased remote control cars, ostensibly for their kids, but they would never let the kid have the controller until the battery was almost exhausted, would I realize how short the battery life was in remote vehicles, and this was years later when battery technology had come a long way.

The other thing I remember from Tandy/Radio Shack was an electronics kit with which you could make your own radio, and a couple of other things. My father purchased it for me for Christmas one year, mainly because he actually wanted it for himself, but since it was listed as a child’s toy, couldn’t bring himself to ask for it, or get it for himself, so he purchased it for me, then spent Christmas Day playing with it on his own after I lost interest in about 30 seconds. This is an interesting tactic which I have myself deployed on a number of occasions.

So fast-forward a few decades, and here I am in rural Maine, and Radio Shack has just entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, not good. The thing is Radio Shack stores are everywhere, I drove a bus load of kids up to Bucksport yesterday for league Volleyball and Basketball games, they have a Radio Shack, and their town is tiny. Locally I have two stores, both less than 8 miles away.

The staff at these stores are just fantastic, they really set the level of knowledge to judge the Best Buy / Circuit City / Wal-Mart sales representatives by. I have become such a regular at one store, the manager knows me by name, and most of my kids too. I have trusted his advice, with good reason, in either delaying a purchase until a better deal comes out, or in matching purchases to get compatible devices. some years ago I was particularly well assisted in my local store, so I took the opportunity to go online when I got home to fill out the ‘Satisfaction Survey’ and got very specific about how well I was served. Because I had been very specific about it, the manager (it was he who served me) was quickly able to figure out who it was who had filled out the survey, and the next time I came in, which was some months later, he thanked me.  So now, whenever I can articulate a specific was someone helps me in a store, I go online and fill out their survey. For poor service I am generally just grouch to myself, unless someone has gone out fo their way to tick me off. Which reminds me, I need to go online and fill out a survey for the national chain restaurant we visited late last night with a bus load of tired but victorious teens, they were incredibly efficient and welcoming.

The range of electronics they have in the stores, just incredible. A friend recently ‘cut-the-cord’ from Cable TV, and was looking for a digital TV signal converter for their old analogue TV, which I had gathering dust in the attic. At the same time I gave them that I asked if they had a digital antenna, which they did not, so I told them to google how to make one, and since I happened to be near a Radio Shack, I popped in and grabbed a balun (aka a matching transformer), which is the only part of a home-made aerial that you need to buy, it’s the bit that takes the signal from the two lengths of chopped up clothes hangers and converts it to a COAX plug so you can connect your TV.

So recently I was looking for a very specific item, a step-down AC transformer for a science project for one of the boy’s. It would take the 120 volt home voltage and step-it down to about 22 volts, a much safer voltage to work with, while keeping the output AC, rather than converting it to DC like your typical wall-wart converter for phones, laptops ect. So I went to my favourite store first, armed with a part number and secure in the knowledge the computer (all-seeing, all-knowing) stated they had six fo them in stock. So I arrive, exchange mutually satisfactory derogatory greetings with the manager in an acceptable masculine manner, which shocked the heck out of the young kid who was working the counter with him. But there are no transformers on the shelf, or in the racks of trays. So we check the computer, apparently they were sent to the other local store last week, after coming off sale.

But that’s ok, the other store is actually on my way home, so we stop in there, they think they have the transformer, but it would be in a bag, with lots of other bags, which were sent down from the other store last week after the sale. My disappointment must have shown, she immediately suggested we search the bags for it. So she grabbed the huge bag, full of lots of other bags, and we started opening them. Luckily who ever had packed them away knew what they were doing, they had not mixed anything up, so you could look in the top, and be certain that what you saw on top was all that was contained in the bag. i was amazed at some of the items they carry, resistors and diodes I haven’t seen since my dad tried to get me to help him make the radio that Christmas Day long ago. Well to cut a long story short, we did not find the transformer in the bags of bags, it was determined to still be in transit somewhere out there. So in the end we ordered it online, from Radio Shack, getting a couple of other things at the same time to get the free shipping.

And therein lies the crux of the matter, Radio Shack had such an extensive catalogue of items, the stores had to only display a small part of it. The hard choice had to be a retailer of consumer electronics, or specialized DIY electronics, there was not the room for both, nor was there the high demand for either, with plenty of other retailers in the market.

So what lies ahead for the store? I hope my favourite and highly efficient local Radio Shack employees will find employment in the new Sprint stores, and that the stores will continue to sell much of the same items. Tandy / Radio Shack managed to re-invent itself before, when they went from selling their own-brand electronics, to selling other brands.

As I mentioned earlier, Radio Shack was perfect for the last-minute specialist item, and whose to say Sprint will keep this side of the store going? I know I am not alone in lamenting this loss, as this article on Jalopnic illustrates.

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On Michael Brown and Eric Garner

British Meme-

Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians.

As 2014 has now left us, and with a hearty ‘Good Riddance” from many, I thought I might join in the end of year orgy of looking back and over analyzing some of the events of the year.

First I think I should explain myself, I have a BA Honors Degree in History with Sociology, I was a Police Officer in England, in a county force of about 2500 officers. Then when I emigrated to the US I was a Police Officer in a small rural department of five officers for a year. I continued to work in the  Law Enforcement field for a few more years, before turning to the private sector for more of the filthy lucre.

I do not pretend to be an expert on criminology like an old school chum of mine who is a Professor of Criminology, or a published expert like an old patrol buddy. But old habits die hard, I do follow some of the published materials in the field, because it interests me, and certain themes do come to my mind.

Reminiscing back to my years in uniform in ‘the job’ I can strongly remember how it felt to be despised by a large part of society merely by putting on your work clothes. It is difficult not to take that personally, to want the public to see you as an individual in uniform, and not part of ‘the establishment’ or whatever label is in vogue, pigs, copper, gavver. Then of course when the fertilizer hit the windmill, when those who had been screaming epithets at me as an officer suddenly became victims, and now they scream for me to ‘do something’, and serve them to the best of my abilities.

Nowadays I look at the problems with race & policing in the USA in 2014 from the point of view of a white civilian, who lives in a predominantly white state in the eastern United States, who enjoys history and the social commentary of it, and one of the themes I see come to the surface is that a population generally receives the police and government that it deserves. 

In the UK, policing began as volunteer Constables, something which you still see in some small towns in the US. The “Specials” were developed into a paid professional force by Sir. Robert Peel, known as the “Peelers”. Generally speaking there is only one uniformed Law Enforcement agency in any given area in the UK, with a few exceptions such as the British Transport Police. There may be many ‘plain clothes’ departments, especially at the national level such as Special branch, MI5, but generally they do not provide a patrol  or response function. The individual officers are responsible to their hierarchy, and complaints are investigated by the Complaints and Discipline Department or Office of Professional Standards of their own force, who in turn is mandated to report certain complaints to an independent body the Independent Police Complaints Commission. There is also an independently elected Police and Crime Commissioner, who evaluates complaints and sets priorities for the police. Now I am not saying that all this makes the UK Police a bunch of saints (just ask the family of Stephen Lawrence), the very fact that these offices exist demonstrates a need for them. I myself had a run in with ‘my’ Complaints and Discipline Department, which you may have noticed I have not blogged about (yet).

The other area I wanted to mention for comparison purposes is firearms. Each Force in the UK has it’s own firearms department, and generally will have a ‘special’ response vehicle with heavily armed officers available in all geographical areas should a firearms incident take place. Also certain areas such as airports and ports have armed units permanently assigned to them, however on the whole, the usual patrol unit in the UK is not armed with firearms. That is not to say they do not have any deadly weapons, the PR29 or the ASP Tactical Baton are both weapons that can be used with deadly force, but the average patrol officer in the UK is not armed with a firearm.

So let us turn now to the US, where I will speak mainly from my knowledge of Maine, but with some variations, the knowledge can be applied to the rest of the US. There are three immediate levels of patrol departments, first the local / municipal / town police, which is organized and paid for by a town, where the officers only have jurisdiction within that town (barring mutual-aid agreements). Second the county based Sheriff Departments, which in some states do not have a patrol function but only provide the jail system. In Maine the county departments have a patrol function, and a strange sharing agreement with the State Police whereby they divide the county’s in half, and each department (Sheriff and State police) patrols one half for two weeks, then they swap. Then third the State Police, in some states the State Police may only patrol the major highways, or they may be the only department that can investigate major crimes. In some states the towns are so small, few if any of them can afford municipal departments, and the county’s are so huge, the patrol coverage is spread very thin.

On top of this are a multitude of uniformed departments with specialized functions, here in Maine the Game Wardens patrol the entire state, but especially in the Great North Woods, where they may be the only patrol around for a large area. As a border state, we also have Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol. The DHS has many functions in many states. Then you have the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (cue redneck jokes), the Drug Enforcement Agency….the list goes on and on, and if you include plain clothes departments, both federal and state, everything up to the FBI and Secret Service.

Generally speaking each department has it’s own Internal Affairs, although in small departments, this effectively might just be the Chief. But once a complaint clears the Internal Affairs Department, there usually is very few other places to address it. Country Sheriffs do not investigate the municipal police or State Police, State Police do not investigate the Sheriff or the municipal police, the FBI has no power to investigate any of them, your only recourse might be to the ACLU for a civil prosecution if your civil rights have somehow been violated.

To recourse to an old idiom, “He who pays the piper calls the tune”. How can an agency be expected to reach a certain level of ethical responsibility when there is no comeback, no independent regulator. While an agency may have strict internal rules and regulations which govern the conduct of the officers such as no-strangleholds around the neck), it is ethically problematic that they are investigated by colleagues and all are under the jurisdiction of a chief who is paid by the same entity, be it municipal, county or state. This leaves departments open to  structural discrimination, for example, the “Zero Tolerance” Policing Model, which has been detailed before, but in a nutshell, from the Criminal Justice Inspectorates of the UK;

Zero-tolerance is a policing strategy that involves relentless order maintenance and
aggressive law enforcement, against even minor crimes and incivilities. While zero tolerance is most commonly associated with New York Police Department (NYPD)
during the 1990s, the term does not accurately describe the approach that was
adopted.
Bill Bratton – the NYPD chief during the 1990s – has said that he finds zerotolerance
a “trouble-some” term and that does not “capture the meaning of what
happened in New York City” (1998: 42-43). While recognising that it can send out a
powerful rhetorical message, Bratton has said the language of zero-tolerance oversimplifies the complexity of policing and suggests an over-zealous approach.
Advocates of order maintenance policing have also observed that NYPD officers
simply started paying attention to offences that had previously been ignored, and
only sometimes took formal action (Sousa and Kelling 2006). There is a risk that law
enforcement without targeting could be counter-productive in the longer term if it was
perceived to be unfair, and therefore eroded public trust in the police (Weisburd,
Telep and Braga 2010) (see What stops people offending).

It could be said that Eric Garner’s death could be attributed to continuing Zero Tolerance programs, as a task force for the selling of loose cigarettes without a license and therefore not paying tax would fall neatly in a ‘minor crime’ category. It is interesting to note that the NYPD is apparently now on a ‘work slow’ order, and not addressing minor crimes and incivilities.

By no means do I mean that US policing agencies are in any way more or less corrupt that UK policing agencies, or the police of any other agency, don’t get me wrong, but there is simply no independent agency that any US Law Enforcement is responsible too. In extreme cases the Federal Government can step in and invoke the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 or initiate a Civil Rights lawsuit, which sometimes result in Class Action lawsuits which regulate Policing, but there is no agency tasked with tracking serious complaints against Law Enforcement in the US. As has been pointed out after Ferguson, there is also no agency tasked with compiling statistics on Law Enforcement involved shootings, in fact after the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting bloggers realized there was no agency tasked with counting firearms deaths in the US, and so the independent Gun Violence Archive was created, but still has trouble verifying firearms deaths since there is no requirement for agencies to report them.

Of course for for any complaint to become serious enough to warrant a lawsuit, or Federal involvement, either a large number of people have to be involved, such as with the Stop and Frisk Class Action lawsuit in New York, or nationwide media attention has been given to a tragic event, such as in Ferguson MO. But for a minor complaint, weather it be about a particular officer, or a systemic problem in the department, the likelihood of it being addressed are minimal.

I mentioned earlier that I thought the threads of Militarized Policing and Cameras for Police Officers are distractions, smoke and mirrors that obscure a root cause, enabling it to escape without being addressed. Incidents such as the North Hollywood Shootout in February 1997, and the more recent double execution of two officers in New York mean that the police will require sufficient firepower to respond to such incidents. At the end of the work day as a Police Officer, you should be able to go home to your family in the same manner you left, ie uninjured, upright and taking on sustenance.

With body cameras, the lack of any independent complaints agency to act as a regulator, means the storage and retention of any image captured by Police Body Cameras becomes highly problematic, in the same way Internal Investigations and the DA controlled Grand Jury system is has accountability issues already, and notwithstanding that the massive privacy concerns could never be overcome.

The need for militarized equipment to keep up with certain criminal elements is not one I am an expert on. But looking at the situations in Ferguson this year, I remembered the two times I was on duty when a riot or large disturbance was taking place. In the police ranks there was a mix of officers who were scared, officers who just wanted to go home and officers who were scared and showing off bravery to mask the fact they were scared. Then in the ‘crowd’ there were people who thought it wouldn’t get out of hand and were scared when it did, people who were scared and just wanted to leave but couldn’t because of the press of the crowd, and people who were scared and were getting angry to cover up that they were scared.

What protesters tend to forget is that the officers standing behind that body armor is just as nervous as they are, has a family at home that they would like to go back to, has bills to pay, see’s themselves as an individual, and has chosen a profession where they are required to stand in the way of people causing a disturbance and tell them ‘No‘, which has got to be one of the most underused phrases in modern society.

What officers tend to forget, and myself included , is that protesters do not see them as individuals, they are protesting what they see as systemic injustices because they have been denied proper recourse by the courts. Tragic events such as those which led to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner will occasionally happen, and always be regretted, but without an independent means of review, there can be no social redress to ‘right the wrongs’ in a socially acceptable way.

2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which while it is arguable not significant in the articles that were effectively enforced, is significant in the legal and historical precedents it set, that no one, not even the King, was above the law. The document is often cited as a direct precursor to the French Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence, so revolutionary was it’s concept.

In protesting what they see as systemic institutionalized racism, protesters are showing they feel that society holds some members as subject to different standards of law than other members of society. The ‘occupy’ movement sought to hold financial institutions accountable for their actions. Many senior officers of financial institutions committed ‘white collar’ crimes which involved millions, if not billions of dollars, yet to date none of them have served any prison time. In a country that incarcerates it’s population at a level far above any other nation (except for the Seychelles, go figure)  those in prison are predominantly ethnic minorities, this from Wikipedia;-

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the total prison and jail population in 2009 (841,000 black males and 64,800 black females out of a total of 2,096,300 males and 201,200 females).[47] According to the 2010 census of the US Census Bureau blacks (including Hispanic blacks) comprised 13.6% of the US population. Hispanics (of all races) were 20.6% of the total jail and prison population in 2009.[47] Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census

Police Officers are frequently called the Thin Blue Line, although most departments have long moved away from blue uniforms for officers. It is not usually mentioned what they are the line between, they are between the law abiding citizens and those who would seek to hurt them, and as such have to often employ the hated word ‘No‘, to stop someone doing something to hurt another, and in the process put themselves in the middle, as the thin blue line, and draw the ire to them.

The recent protests are saying that they do not feel protected by this thin blue line, instead they feel unfairly targeted by it. My response is that the issues which have come to a head in Ferguson and NY City are focusing a policing as a high visibility scapegoat, and to only target Law Enforcement for review would be to miss the greater issue of institutional reform. To make everyone equal before the law was a primary aim of the Declaration of Independence, but appears to have been lost in modern society. As I said earlier, a population generally receives the police and government that it deserves. To reform just one police department, or only Federal departments, would be short sighted, if the protesters are truly seeking reform, what is needed is more focused nationwide change. I am by no means an expert on social change, so that will be up to others. But it is obvious society does not wish to hold individual Police Officers to blame, nor should individual Police Departments be held responsible for an issue that is part of a wider problem.

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Mawwagae part 1a

mawwage

Now I realize I owe you part II of our story, I couldn’t help but remember this wedding story, when I came across someone else nightmare story, and I just had to get it down before I forgot it, which is after all one of the purposes of my blog after all.

So my story is one I attended in my ‘professional’ capacity, and while I might consider it awful, I got the impression the participants considered it highly successful. ​Now this took place in England, in the mid-1990’s in Kent, at a very nice hotel half-way between the Channel tunnel and London, usually frequented by travelling businessman types. It involves a large group of members of the ‘travelling’ fraternity, which should not be confused with Romany gypsy, which is an honorable and ancient lineage. Travelers are usually extended family groups and do not care to conform to social norms of behavior.

Well, this nice hotel received a booking for a wedding and reception involving about 45 people under an alias name, deposit paid, everything hunky-dorey. Until the actual day of the event. The first clue the hotel got that everything was not going quite as planned was that a lot more than 45 guests were showing up, a LOT more. They were arriving by the chartered bus-full, going straight to the bar and drinking, which the hotel thought at first was ok, because that’s more revenue right?

The staff starts trying to make the management aware of how bad things are getting, by now there was over 200 drunk travelers, with little or no regard for etiquette when they were sober, management is trying to call in more staff to cater to the large groups now arriving, who all want food and drink. The first fight breaks out, the bride and groom have the honor of the first fistfight apparently, it spills out into the lobby and just mushrooms from there. The manager realizes things are just going to get more out of control, so he goes to his office to call, and finds two wedding guests loading his office safe onto a dolly. They inform him where he can go and what he can do when he gets there, and calmly wheel his safe out into the parking lot and load it into the back of one of their vehicles.

So the manager calls the police, which is where I come in, the first unit makes a quick assessment from the parking lot, they are going to need an awful lot of back-up. So I find myself sitting in a staging area, marshaling the arriving riot squads in their riot vans, the supervisor in his “Incident Control”, a fully kitted out range Rover. I recall in particular the sight of all the K9 unit vehicles in a very long line down the road, I don’t think so many had ever been assembled together before.

By the time a supervisor deems that a ‘sufficient’ force had arrived, it was obvious that the hotel was going to need a major refit, most of the soft furnishings in the common areas had been trashed in one way or another, a lot of fixtures had been destroyed or removed along with the managers safe, all the rooms the party had managed to access had been pilfered and trashed. Since the hotel had rapidly run out of alcohol, the party had started to wind down a bit, and we moved in with force, and had them load back on the coaches and by orders of the supervisor in charge, escorted the coaches out of the county.

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