Memories: Random, Recreated, or Otherwise

Hanging On

While rummaging through what is known in most households as the junk drawer, I came Good Conductacross this medal. It is a Good Conduct medal issued to my father during his service in the United States Marine Corps.

I believe he received it early in his enlistment before he ended up on an all-expense paid cruise up the coast of South Korea. Followed by some beach time. (The Marines call it an amphibious landing.) Other than the North Koreans shooting at them, Inchon was lovely.

He later got a full land tour all the way to the Chosin Reservoir where the Chinese cut the trip short. Along the way, he gathered some other tokens of his time in Korea, three Purple Hearts, Two Bronze Stars, and the Silver Star.

But this one he gave to me and seeing it brought back memories. Funny how it is the only thing I have from when we lived in Pawtucket, RI. But here’s the story.

It was 1960 or 61, just before we moved to Cumberland. My sister Peggy–do not call her Peggy Ann. She hates Peggy Ann so do not call Peggy Ann, Peggy Ann—were playing in a neighbor’s yard. In this yard was a rather large hole being dug for some purpose I never knew. In the bottom of this hole were pipes, rocks, and water.

The hole was several feet deep and surrounded by…nothing.  Different times, those.

Of course, we were intrigued.

Anyway, Peggy An..I mean Peggy got too close and tumbled off the edge. I managed to grab her by the jacket.  I wasn’t strong enough to pull her up.  All I could do was hold on.

Eventually, someone noticed this. Whether it was me yelling or them I don’t know, but the next thing I knew my mother ran over and pulled Peggy up.

When my father came home from his tour of duty with the State Police (they lived in the barracks then, so it was a few days later) my mother filled him in.

For my actions in the line of facing deep, muddy, and dangerously unprotected holes and for hanging on I was awarded the medal.

I wore it to bed.

I wore it to Kindergarten.

I wore it to Church. (Yes, I used to go there, under penalty of parental damnation mostly)

And somehow, after all these years, it’s the one thing I’ve held onto…or it held onto me.

Night Baseball

On a recent walk along the bike path onto Martin Street in Cumberland, I chanced past a field where I experienced my halcyon days of Little League baseball. It was where I believed my professional sports career would flourish.

Halcyon, yes. Flourishing career, not so much.

I believe I set a record that stands to this day in that league. I was hit three times by a pitch at-bat in one game.

The pitcher, a rather sizeable 11-year old who looked like he shaved and, I believe, parked a car somewhere hidden from view since I never saw his parents, had two conflicting abilities. He could throw a fastball, and he lacked any control over the direction of the ball.

Combine that with my sloth-like reflexes, and you have a recipe for disaster.  I wasn’t so much a batter as a backstop.  My ability to move as if in slow motion earned me the nickname “Turtle” from my teammates. The longest ball I ever hit bounced off the fence in center field, and I got thrown out.

At first base.  Slow doesn’t even come close.

I’m not sure which one of those guys gave me the name, no matter how well deserved and accurate as it may be, but I recall Eddie Reilly, John Johnson, Scott Partington, Greg Vartanian, and others hollering it with great vigor in between laughing at me and falling to the ground.

Now that I think about it, I was bullied. I probably have PTSD from all those games, plus the bruises. I should sue.

What sparked this memory was the changes going on in the field.  They are installing lights for night games.

NIGHT GAMES in Little League.  Next thing they’ll have signing bonuses and no-cut contracts.

Our idea of night games were those interminable games when the score was 25 to 23 in the fourth inning, 8:30 on a Saturday night in August, and the darkness creeping in.  At the sound of the ball hitting the bat we all had a fleeting glimpse as the ball disappeared into the night. We pretended to look for it, but we were really trying to figure out where it would not land so as not to get smacked in the head.

Now they have lights.

They probably have pitchers with some control over the ball.

Where’s the fun in that?

Choices: You Make’em You Own ’em

Choices: You Make’em You Own ’em

The Jerry Tillinghast Story

 

Now available at the pre-release price of $2.99 for Kindle, the long-awaited story of Jerry Tillinghast as only he could tell it. Click here for the Amazon link. Order it before the price jumps on release date and stay tuned for more formats and deals as they become available. Sign up for my email list and win one of five signed first edition print copies and the ebook version. Click here for the signup form.

CHOICES_Cover_Jerry_Tillinghast_Story-2018.07.27 (002)

Jerry Tillinghast talks about his life and the choices he made.
Battling alongside his brothers on the streets of Providence.
Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, fighting in Vietnam, and becoming a victim of the politics of that war.
His return to Providence an angry young man and his choice to hang with the wiseguys.
His reputation as a “feared mob enforcer” and the effect on his family.
Meeting Raymond L.S. Patriarca and how he came to embrace him as a father figure.
His brushes with the law and the two most infamous cases he is
forever linked to;

 

 

Bonded Vault and the George Basmajian Homicide

Silent no more…

Check out my website for my other books and exciting news on book signings and upcoming appearances.

www.authorjoebroadmeadow.com

 

Black & White & Brown & Yellow & Blue Lives Matter

Anyone who reads the pieces I write understands I am blunt and forthright about organizational racism–targeted toward people of color–and its existence on Police Departments. Yet such open discussion, necessary to identify and eliminate the problem, is hindered when someone unlawfully carrying a gun encounters the police.

GUNApparently, I must clarify a few things.

If you are not a police officer or otherwise licensed to carry a weapon, don’t. If you point that weapon at a police officer, the public, or merely wave it menacingly, you will probably die when the police find you.

Running away from the police does not constitute removal of the threat you pose.

Ignoring the commands of the police to carry on some street form of protest or debate does not eliminate the threat you pose.

Buying into the nonsense that people of color must protect themselves from the police does not mitigate violating the law. It is flawed, dangerous, and disproven by the facts.

And it does not eliminate the threat you pose.

In almost every single case, failing to follow the officer’s simple commands drove the conclusion to a fatal end. Even assuming the officer was acting unlawfully, the street is not the place to prove a point.

Cell phone videos of such incidents, with no broad established perspectives, feed into the entertainment-addicted society. Unfiltered and full of distorted views, they are used as tools to either sustain the racial stereotypes by some or offered as evidence of police misconduct by others.

They are neither.

All one does by ignoring or challenging the officer is compound the problem. If you’ve not broken the law, the court is the proper forum. If you are breaking the law by carrying a weapon, you face a simple choice.

Accept your responsibility and face the legal consequences, or risk dying at the hands of the police.

At that moment, you will be judged not for the color of your skin but for the content of your character.

Your actions speak volumes.

Willing to put your fellow humans at risk, contribute to the racist stereotypes, and do more harm to the cause for which others fight with all their hearts to overcome. A cause for which others laid down their lives to challenge the very violence you invoke.

I am not naïve in believing the tentacles of racism don’t reach into the court system. Yet it is in the court the most progress towards equality is achieved and racist actions by persons operating under the color of law addressed.

The proper actions by those who protect society, operating under the color of law, are the only “color” that matters here. Many of the most critical changes to race relations in society began with court mandates that eventually became social norms.

By the self-defeating act of unlawfully carrying a gun, no matter the color of your skin, you compound the problem.

It is a selfish and harmful act that most severely affects the very people you perceive as victims of racism.

The public outcry focusing on the use of force by the police, ignoring the fact they faced an armed lawbreaker, compounds the problem. People with little, or no, sense of the realities of the use of weapons do nothing but demonstrate their ignorance. Their outcry serves to inflame the issue. Their lack of fundamental understanding, or willingness to acknowledge facts, merely prolongs the false narrative of cops targeting minorities.

Where’s the outcry when cops are ambushed, shot at, wounded or killed? If equality is the goal, it’s missing in the public outrage.

Among police officers, there is a jaundiced saying on survival.

“Better to be judged by twelve, then carried by six.”

Officers, reacting to the reality of the violence and weapon proliferation on the streets of this country, see erring on the side of caution, i.e., resorting to deadly force and letting a jury sort it out, as the best chance to survive.

Perhaps that attitude should be turned around and put to work from the other side. Let a jury decide if the officers acted lawfully and appropriately. Eventually, everyone would be better off.

If you rely on the false belief that a gun makes you safer, being carried by six merely adds you to the long list of unnecessary deaths. You bear direct responsibility for creating your own opportunity to die.

And you leave behind a legacy that imposes the same death sentence on others.

Why Do All These Old People Know the Lyrics to My Favorite Songs?

The other day, while shopping for a few items at a local grocery store, the ambient music playing in the background was Pinball Wizard by The Who.

An ancient looking guy walked by, playing air guitar and singing EVERY SINGLE WORD to the song. At first, I was impressed with this older generation’s appreciation of the peak of the Rock ‘n’ Roll era.

Then I started to wonder.

But my mind drifted back to my original purpose and the thoughts receded… for the moment.

The music in this store seems controlled by whatever manager is in charge. One has a distinct preference for country music, another loves jazz, and one loves classic rock.

HendrixAs the final notes of Wizard faded, the distinctive Jimi Hendrix guitar from Purple Haze took over.  Within minutes a woman who looked to be older than dirt came by mouthing the words.

What is this sorcery?

How can all these old people know the songs of my youth so intimately?

It’s one thing to dance to the rhythm of the music, it’s an entirely different matter, one shocking to the soul, that they KNEW the words.

I decided that it must have been the older generation’s surrender to reason. Where once they didn’t appreciate the music, they have now resigned themselves to embracing it in their dotage.

That’s the explanation I’m going with. Nothing else makes sense.

Hey Joe, where you going with the gun in your hand?

 

Crime and No Punishment

Everyone deserves a second chance. One might even argue you get three strikes, but in any case after that, they must pay the price.

JusticeIn the last few months, two officers were killed and two officers wounded in three separate shooting incidents. Where, you might ask? Southside of Chicago? A gang invested area of Los Angeles? Downtown Detroit? Baghdad?

Nope.

On Cape Cod, the ordinarily tranquil summer vacation mecca and one of the most beautiful parts of the Eastern Seaboard.

It’s happening here for two very troubling reasons. First, the incestuous nature of the court system. Spend time in the courts around the Commonwealth, mainly the smaller venues, and you’ll see it in action.

If you pay attention.

Certain defense attorneys, generally the old hands or their associates with years of appearances before the courts, are treated differently, and their clients benefit by the largess of this deferential treatment. Their ability to wrangle minimal sanction from prosecutors, with the silent acquiescence of the courts and despite the extensive criminal record of the defendant, defies logic and diminishes the effectiveness of criminal sentences.

It’s an enlightened version of the “old boy” network without gender discrimination.

The second factor is the secrecy around criminal records in Massachusetts. Out of some misguided sense of fairness to those who’ve committed a crime, access to criminal records in the state is almost non-existent.

Even investigators face Draconian rules to access records of suspects under investigation. It is these two factors, lawyers with an inordinate amount of influence within the court and the secrecy of criminal records, that put dangerous repeat offenders back on the street under the guise of fair pursuit of justice.

Everyone deserves a second chance, after that they must feel the full weight of responsibility for their actions. Access to criminal records is as much a matter of the public’s need to know as is any other governmental function.

Courts cannot work in secret. That is exactly the situation in Massachusetts. Judges need to act as a balance between a vengeful public and the rights of the accused. Once a defendant signs a plea, that second chance philosophy takes over. Fail any part of probation, commit another crime, violate any order, and the opportunity for leniency should be surrendered.

In many ways, it does not work that way.

This, however, is only part of the solution. The reality is resources to deal with repeat offenders, especially those who commit minor offenses, is limited. Often the state faces a Hobbs choice of where to put people who deserve to go to prison but there is limited space to put them.

To be effective the criminal justice systems needs adequate resources. But that doesn’t just mean more cops, judges, and prisons. It also means we must invest in a prison system that punishes in a manner consistent with the law and functions as an actual system of corrections.

Clearly, if you’ve ever seen the inside of most prisons in the US, that is not happening. We cannot expect a prison system that amounts to nothing more than a warehouse of troubled humans to return a better person back to society.

If we focus exclusively on punishment, at the expense of rehabilitation, we are perpetuating the very problem we want to solve.

Every single criminal case disposed of in court should be a public record. If it takes a generation before people once again understand actions have consequences, then so be it. We’ve created this society of victimhood where everything is someone else’s fault. We must be the first to recognize the folly of that and accept our own responsibility for it.

The situation in Massachusetts is not unique. It permeates the criminal justice system throughout the US. It shouldn’t take cops being wounded and killed by individuals who’ve been given not a second chance but what amounts to a get out of jail free card before we recognize the problem and fix it.

Our criminal justice system need reflect the realities of the human condition in life. Our Constitution guarantees the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Pursuit is not a promise of success, just a fair opportunity to achieve it. Continuously breaking laws is not one of those opportunities.

“There is no going back in life. There is no return. No second chance.”

Daphne du Maurier

TSA and Body Cavity Searches: A Look Inside in the Name of Safety

I recently heard a story of a female Irish citizen, married to an American, who claimed she was subjected to a strip search in the presence of several male and female TSA agents. She claimed that they used a camera to do a body cavity search.

https://izismile.com/2010/12/02/funny_tsa_comics_29_pics.htmlMy first reaction was bullshit, no way TSA agents would be using body cavity probes in an airport environment.

Wrong. Sort of. I’m not sure what happened during the search as for technology, but the TSA can do full strip searches, and the guidelines are a nightmare. Nowhere on the TSA site refers to using cameras in body cavity searches. However, one part of the policy is clear.  The search must be conducted in the presence of TSA agents of the same sex and the person subject to the search has the right to ask a companion to be with them to observe the process.  If the story is accurate, somebody in TSA screwed up.

But my guess is they don’t care.

This woman also claimed, after she explained she was married to an American and held a valid permanent resident green card, the TSA agent told her, “get used to it if you’re traveling here on a green card.”

That I do believe. Having both worked for an airline, and as one who travels frequently, the caliber of TSA agents in my experience, on the whole, is less than optimum. While it may not be a fair characterization of all TSA agents, in general, they are mall cops with a better pension plan.

The attitude toward intolerance of people from other countries and inconsiderate behavior coming out of Washington clearly plays a part in encouraging TSA agents to act in such a belligerent manner.

The change over the past year is dramatic.

Now, having been a police officer for 20 years, I heard wild and incredible (in the original meaning of not credible) stories of atrocious things done by cops.  It was clear they were made up, exaggerated fantasies of someone pissed off they got arrested or received a summons.

Not that some cops don’t engage in some egregious behavior, but it is easy to detect the bullshit stories.

So again, my first reaction to the body cavity search at an airport was one of disbelief.

A slight bit of research on the TSA site and other resources and I was proven wrong. To say I was stunned that TSA agents would be doing internal body cavity searches is an understatement. But the data out there, both anecdotal and reported in the media, is stunning.

Like most government agencies, the TSA website is as clear as mud. I couldn’t find a clear and well-articulated policy on the how and why of the TSA search policy. It leaves one to suspect their internal policy is not any better.

Body cavity searches approach the level of a medical examination. To think TSA agents can be trained to do such procedures is ludicrous. I’ve never encountered a TSA agent where I thought, “this person is wasting their talents here. They should go to medical school.”

Never mind medical school, some of these people wouldn’t be accepted as cadavers.

Now I know I will hear from agents, their friends, or family members about how dedicated and wonderful some TSA agents are. I agree, most are. The problem is, with the level of qualification to become a TSA agent, the position attracts some more enamored of the perceived power invested in the position than out of a sense of purpose, which casts a dark shadow on the good agents.

What the TSA needs is a better appreciation of how the public perceives them. They have no clue.

When most people are queued up at a security checkpoint they don’t see a level of protection for their safety; they see a roadblock to travel. An inconvenience to their getting to the plane.

For most people in line at a TSA checkpoint, the agents and screening process is the equivalent of a marked police car parked on the side of the road slowing traffic and making their commute even longer.

Combine this feeling with a TSA agent who thinks he is the Guardian of the Universe, snarling commands at the great unwashed masses, and you have an agency that serves an important function thought of as bullies and incompetent fools.

Add in the possibility they can take you into a back room and probe areas usually reserved for the most intimate of encounters and resentment will only grow. Until they work on their reputation and mold these agents to be mindful of the public perception, whatever they do, no matter how critical it is to safety, will be met with incredulity and ridicule.

funny_tsa_comics_640_08“You want to look where?  I don’t freakin’ think so…”

I don’t know about you, but that is the LAST place I’m hiding anything.

 

 

(Cartoons copyright by https://izismile.com/2010/12/02/funny_tsa_comics_29_pics-8.html)

 

Where Everyone Knows Your Name

We are in Harrisville, New Hampshire for a few weeks. My wife is attending a weaving workshop, and I have the entire day to focus on finishing up my next book. (More on that later!)

Harrisville (pop. 961), right outside metropolitan Dublin, New Hampshire and a mere 5 miles from Peterborough, New Hampshire is a step back in time to a different America. An America of long ago not yet overrun by urban development.

Each morning we leave the Harrisville Inn, the B&B where we are staying, and walk about a mile to “downtown” Harrisville. Harrisville is best known for its loom making and weaving design center. The building was once a sawmill and grist mill built back in the late 1700’s.

An old channel flows beneath the building and was once harnessed to power the machinery. Converted to a weaving education center, it teaches and preserves the art of weaving.

A short distance away is the Harrisville General Store/Restaurant/Community and Cultural Center. If you want to find anybody who lives in Harrisville, come here. If they aren’t here for coffee in the morning, they’ll be here for lunch.

It is a place with everything you might need and nothing you might want.  Somehow, they know the difference.

A place where people leave their keys in the car.

A place where they trust their kids to know how to cross the street and expect them to say please and thank you.

A place where they say hi to everyone, using first names when they know them, introducing themselves and asking if they don’t.

A place where the flag goes up each morning at 6 a.m. and down at 6 p.m. If it rains, they do not put it up. A tip of the hat to the old rules of respect. I dare say, people would dive into the road to save the flag from touching the ground.

A place where a chalkboard in the town square reports the latest deaths and births.

A place where an ice cream social is a major event.

A place where people will leave their dog with you, telling you the dog’s name as if introducing a family member, while they run in for a paper.

Neither the dog or their owner thinks this unusual.

0719180842a_HDRMeet Hero, my new friend. We meet for coffee each morning on the front porch of the country store. Not much of a conversationalist, but a great listener.

The local conversations range from how much firewood they have split and stacked for winter to how the corn is coming up to how much of the just ripened berries the bears got last night.

It’s a place where they will tell you great places to fish, but not the best places to fish.

It is not the America of Mayberry, but it is as close as we can get in 2018. I am sure they have all the same concerns of politics and world events.

I am sure they have deep feelings about the way the country is going. They keep that mostly to themselves, preferring to speak at the voting booth.

I am also sure that they are the best example of how real Americans can weather any storm, bear any burden, survive any partisan political upheaval, and still remember what matters.

As I sit there, the Simon & Garfunkel song, “America,” plays in my head.

“…they’ve all come to look for America…”

I think I found it, Paul.

 

Returning the Favor of the Nightmare that is Trump

The depth to which supporters of this President will sink is stunning. From parsing words, would means wouldn’t or shouldn’t or couldn’t, to resurrecting long discredited stories of Uranium deals and Obama “emptying” the Treasury to give cash to Iranians and citizenship to their government officials, their pursuit of reviving the comatose brain-dead Commander-in-Chief is pathetic.

A sad, pathetic smoke screen to the reality few of us ever thought we’d see in America.

I may disagree with the policies of a President, but I never want him to fail. Particularly with international matters affecting our sovereignty. No matter how inept the man in the Oval Office may be, our system of government offers a shield to incompetence through intelligence agencies, military branches, Justice department professionals, and an experienced State department to give sound advice and guidance in a complicated and treacherous world.

Such resources are only useful when listened to by the President.

It is abundantly clear this President not only believes himself to be the smartest man in the room, but he believes he is the smartest man ever. Combine that with an attitude of infallibility, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Helsinki wasn’t an aberration; it was a culmination of the disaster that is this administration.

One commentator offered the most disingenuous defense yet by comparing Trump’s interaction with Putin to Kennedy’s dealing with Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He argued that Trump took a playbook out of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War by not humiliating Putin on the national stage. The writer endowed Trump with the wisdom to defeat, but not crush, the enemy in public. Something he claims Kennedy did with Khrushchev by not gloating over the Russians withdrawing their nuclear missiles from Cuba.

The truth is Kennedy agreed to withdraw OUR missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Russians pulling theirs out of Cuba. Kennedy did not try to demean Khrushchev because he recognized that two could play that game. If the original goal of the Russians placing missiles in Cuba was to negotiate the withdrawal from Turkey, one might argue the Russians won that challenge.

Kennedy and Khrushchev played a harsh, but intelligence based, gambit to reach a joint agreement.

Trump is no Kennedy. Putin, on the other hand, is more potent than Khrushchev ever was.

Republican Senator Bob Corker said “The president’s comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover and I was disappointed in that, “ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-summit-corker/republican-senator-corker-trump-comments-on-putin-make-us-look-like-pushover-idUSKBN1K62D2

Corker also tweeted, “ The president in 15 minutes at a press conference can do more damage on the foreign policy than months of us passing resolutions and making calls to our counterparts.”

If the Russians compromised Trump, then when the full story comes out we are facing the greatest disaster to American standing in the world ever. If the Russians did not compromise him, then we are at the lowest point of the Presidency in history because of sheer incompetence.

Nixon was a corrupt and evil man, but at least there was intelligence behind his machinations, no matter how evil, and he never risked our national security while he ignored the law.

Trump is either the biggest traitor since Benedict Arnold or the most profoundly inept man to hold the office of the President. Despite all this, some will continue to support him. Such blind allegiance withstands all logic and reason.

But it cannot withstand most Americans who, regardless of the political leanings, will not stand by and let treachery or incompetence destroy this country.

How do we return the favor of the Trump nightmare?

I thought of something supportable by rational argument if a bit vengeful.

Return the leadership of the country to the respect and admiration of the world with an eminently competent rational American.

MO2020 President Michelle Obama.

Now that would be sweet justice.

(The reaction to this should be delicious)

 

 

 

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How Fake News Kills Cops

The prevailing trend to choose what one believes in the media is not just problematic, it is dangerous.

According to some media outlets, there are two virulent plaques in America. The first is that the police are killing people in the course of their duties more than ever before. And that there is a racial bias to the shootings.

This is not just false, it is demonstrably false based on many data sources from official government agencies to multiple media outlets that show a consistent reduction in these incidents.

statistic_id585152_people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-2017-2018-by-race

https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/

The second dangerous misconception is that the number of officers killed in the line of duty is higher than it’s ever been and rising. Again, the premise is not supported by the numbers.

US officers killed as the result of crime, 1970-2015

(Green) Officers killed as result of crime      (Red) Preceding 10-year average

Cops killed

http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/

Preliminary 2018 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities 

January 1 through July 15, 2018 vs. January 1 through July 15, 2017

2018 2017 % Change
Total Fatalities 76 73 +4%
Firearms-related 32 27 +19%
Traffic-related 27 28 -4%
Other causes 17 18 -6%

Please note: These numbers reflect total officer fatalities comparing
January 1 through July 15, 2018 vs. 
January 1 through July 15, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36826297

Now, this is where these two fallacies form a deadly combination. The perception of those inclined to unlawfully possess firearms or otherwise commit a crime, when confronted by police officers, tend toward a more violent level of resistance.

From the officer’s perspective, they anticipate each confrontation likely will pose a deadly threat to themselves or their fellow officers. Officers aren’t trained to apply different risk assessments of suspects based on skin tone. We teach them that every encounter is a potentially deadly one. It is a necessary survival mindset, but one that must be tempered by experience and sound judgment.

When officers operate in an environment rife with false or inflated perceptions of risk, the appropriate level of caution and tactics may be unreasonably amplified.

The false perception of a problem, promulgated and promoted by the media frenzy,  masks the reality and the results are deadly.

There is also the political factor officers face; both internal and external. Politicians and some members of the command staff, far removed from the realities of the street, are quick to criticize officers for political expediency or job preservation. Decisions made in difficult circumstances under enormous pressure with mere seconds to choose are autopsied for days by people who may have never found themselves in such situations.

Thus officers confront the perfect storm; all-to-common violent behavior by individuals with no respect for law, an atmosphere charged with perceived high levels of risk, and the possibility of being thrown to the wolves by politics.

Is it any wonder officers are shying away, either intentionally or by direction, from effective street policing. As a friend of mine, a former supervisor with a federal agency, liked to say, “Big cases, big problems. Little cases, little problems. No cases, no problems.”

Officers have the right to live and to protect themselves. We owe them the opportunity to do their job based on sound judgment and accurate information.

The loss of any officer is a tragedy. Even with the number of officers being killed showing a decline, one is too many.

Police officers must face the reality of the number of weapons, both legal and illegal, in this country. This almost guarantees a tragedy. Whether it is a felon with an extensive and repetitive criminal record on the street because of the incestuous nature of the lawyers (prosecutors and defense counsel) and judges minimizing cases for expediency or an angry and distraught individual, absent any prior criminal record, the guns pose a danger.

Add into the mix a “corrections” system that in many instances in nothing more than an advanced degree program for crime and you have all the ingredients for a fatal encounter.

Combine the misconceptions of these false and fable-like stories with the prevalence of weapons in America and tragic incidents like the most recent shooting of an officer and an innocent bystander in Weymouth, MA will become more and more common. The trend toward fewer police-suspect confrontations will end and likely grow.

Cops will die all because of a lie.

 

Life’s Lessons From a Four-Legged Refugee

SEamus 1This is Seamus. Technically speaking, Seamus is a refugee, rescued by the compassion of several unknown Americans and welcomed into my daughter’s home. These Americans, of unknown political bent, ethnic heritage, or religious faith or lack thereof, saved Seamus and one other dog from a litter of seven. Five died. Seamus and his sibling (in parts unknown) survived through the kindness and care of ordinary Americans. It is an example of the best of America and reflects our natural inclination to human kindness.

The regal bearing of Seamus is unmistakable. While applying zoological classifications would say differently, there can be no mistaking the similarity between Seamus basking in the sun as he surveyed his kingdom and these other two creatures surveying theirs.

lions1This lion picture went with a story of lions attacking and eating three poachers in a nature preserve so I can’t be sure if it is just the warmth of the sun they are enjoying or the post-dinner satisfaction of poacher du jour. In any case, the sun is either the primary comforting factor or a contributory one to their post-meal digestion.

Seamus also has an attitude of accepting everyone as they are (after a thorough sniff.) While wary of new people, once he takes their measure they are as welcome as those he’s known for years.

Except for birds, squirrels, and other similar creatures. They are demons that must be pursued relentlessly.

We can all learn something from Seamus.

Never rush through life without taking a moment to bask in the sun.

Never miss a chance to meet someone new and share a moment of time.

Never pass up an opportunity to chase a ball, explore the woods, enjoy a meal, or lean against someone you love and just be.

A dog is not just man’s best friend, he can be our best reminder to live our lives with compassion, concern for our fellow creatures, and to focus on the good in the world, not wall yourself in out of fear.

By accident of birth, Seamus could have been left to the fate an uncertain life but for the kindness and compassion of Americans who gave him refuge.

Seamus returns that kindness every day in the pleasure he brings by just being a part of our lives. Sometimes taking a chance and letting someone into your life, as opposed to what is safe and practical, is the right thing to do.

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