The Whole World is Watching (Again)

(For added special effect, here’s a link to Chicago’s “The Whole World is Watching.” Just skip the ad if it pops up, let the music start, then read away)

During the first presidential campaign debate, Donald Trump answered the question about the future direction of America by favoring stronger law and order. His answer implied that the law enforcement community is either unwilling or unable to provide what he considers acceptable law and order.

His obvious scorn for preparation for the debate was on stark display with that pronouncement.

In 1984 President Reagan signed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. This was a wide-ranging consolidation of penalties for criminal violations, started a more widespread use of forfeiture of properties and assets of organized crime, and reinstituted the federal death penalty.

In 1994 President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.  The bill was a reaction to the increase in violent crime and rising homicide rate in the US. This created a set of minimum mandatory sentences, increased use of electronic surveillance, and increased federal aid to state and local law enforcement.

Proponents argued, despite recognizing there would be a significant impact on minority communities, that each of these bills had the support of minority legislators and community leaders.

This is only partially true.

While many minority members of Congress voted for the legislation, they argued for added provisions including increasing aid to education, job training, and programs aimed at reducing poverty.

These provisions were never incorporated.

Which leads me to the point of how Trump panders to lowest common denominator with each position he takes. In this case, the strong law enforcement crowd. They see themselves as the solution to the crime problem. In fact, they, like the previously mentioned laws, are reactions to the problem.

They are not the solution; they are one element of the solution to a complex problem.

You can flood the neighborhoods of the south side of Chicago, or anywhere else, with an army of cops and lessen the number of incidents of violence. Yet the problem will remain.

Law and Order is not a solution; it is a TV show. And like a TV show, it is not reality. It replaces the truth with fantasy.  A fantasy embraced by those seeking a quick solution to an embedded and difficult problem.

There’s a line in the movie, Fort Apache: The Bronx, about the former 41st precinct in New York. One officer, experienced and jaundiced by the reality of the time, explained to another officer, “We’re not a police department. We are an army of occupation.”

Like other armies of occupation, the Police Department soon realized that occupation is a short-term strategy. Eventually, they had to address the root cause. Police departments are ill-equipped to deal with these endemic problems.

Yet Trump would suggest stronger law and order is the answer.

We need to recognize that armed response to violence is not a solution, it is a placebo. We need to reduce the culture of violence and prevent those conditions which foster it from arising again.

We need to learn from the successes and mistakes of the past to create a more responsive and effective law enforcement model.

By all measures, the 1984 and 1994 crime measures both offered fixes to short-term problems and exacerbated the deeper, underlying causes. While some credit the passage of these laws with the reduction of violent crime, an equal number point out that the decrease in violent crime was already underway.

Through what amounted to a trick of accounting, we removed thousands of people from the welfare system by putting them in prison. And put them back in prison when, on release, they were unable to find jobs and re-offended.

Then, we turned the prison system into a for-profit enterprise. I have no doubt we could find a cost-saving method of implementing the death penalty through the private sector as well. Capitalism at its finest.

Despite the braggadocio of Trump, you cannot solve poverty with prisons, embrace enforcement of laws without also embracing education, or create “armies of occupation” as solutions to the racism and hopelessness of a segment of American society.

“Law and order” solution to crime is like injecting morphine into a broken arm.  The pain is gone. The underlying problem still there, waiting to reemerge when the medication wears off. The problem, like the pain, will be worse.

Recent events would suggest the medication has worn off.

Trump touts the endorsement of organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police as validation of his position. I think it more a sign that the Fraternal Order of Police has lost sight of its true purpose in pursuit of empty promises of more cops.

If Trump had his way, there’d be thousands of more cops on the street. But if I were them I’d be worried how, or if, he would find a way to pay for them. Look at his business “success.” He contracts for something, then refuses to pay for it.

Listen to his own words about paying taxes. He doesn’t pay them because he’s smart. Those same taxes that go to support law enforcement. Trump doesn’t put any value on them. He merely panders to an unsophisticated, narrow-minded, short-sighted mentality.

No one had a stronger law and order approach to crime than the Gestapo or the KGB. Crime was rare in Moscow. Paris was almost crime-free during the occupation. Crime is pretty low in Pyongyang as well.

That’s strong law and order.

The law and order pronouncements of Donald Trump invoke the chilling echoes of a Final Solution.

Is that the kind of America we want?

 

 

The (Almost) Foolproof Way to Survive a Police Encounter

In light of the recent controversy over the use of deadly force by the police, I decided to do some research.

Accurate and verifiable statistics are hard to come by, but for the year 2013 according to the FBI, there were 461 people killed by the police.  There is a website, killedbythepolice.net, which reported 748 people killed by the police for the same year.

Now, it seems obvious that a website called killedbythepolice.net, has a specific agenda (I am certain they would claim the FBI does as well) but assuming for arguments sake that these numbers are valid, let’s split the difference and say the police killed around 600 people.

First, that is 600 too many. However, with that said, we now turn to how and why.

There are certain conditions under which officers may use deadly force.

The officer must believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

The use of force must be “Objectively Reasonable.”

This standard arises from a Supreme Court ruling in 1985, Tennessee v. Garner.

In almost every case, a Grand Jury reviews the use of deadly force by an officer to determine the justification.  That most Grand Juries do not indict, while frustrating to some, is a reflection that fits with the statistics.

Most Police shootings are justified.

Despite this justification, all cases involving the use of deadly force by the police are controversial.  However, the controversies and the emotions of those that disagree with the use of deadly force does not make it unjustified.

I did come across some truly stunning information, something that should give pause to everyone concerned with police use of deadly force.

Going back over the past thirty years, analyzing thousands of arrest records, there is a group of people who enjoyed a 100% survival rate in an encounter with the police.

Many of these people possessed firearms or other deadly weapons.

Many of these people had killed or gravely injured someone.

Many of these people had a history violence.

Sadly, some of these people were innocent of any crime.

There is one common thread within each of these cases.

They complied with the instructions of the officers.

They put down their weapons, they did not resort to violent confrontation, and they did not try to run.  They followed the officer’s instructions and survived the day.

For those that were innocent, most were released immediately. If not, they found an attorney, or an attorney found them, and they sued everyone.

For those that were involved in a crime, they went to court.

Nevertheless, they ALL survived.

Instead of spending millions on new, idiotic, and politically expedient federal training programs for police, just have a short lesson in all our existing schools and teach civility and respect for the law.  Oh wait, don’t we do that already?

Do you want to survive a police encounter?  The lesson here is clear, do what the officer says. Adopt a DO NOT philosophy.

Do not commit a crime, do not point weapons, do not decide to reach for your cellphone to video this perceived injustice, do not fight with the officers, just do what they say and you will survive.

Here is a good idea, let’s recycle all those idiotic T-shirts bearing the slogan, “Don’t Snitch.”  We can take out the words “Don’t Snitch,” and change it to DO NOT.

Here is an easy way to remember this advice.

Cops like DONUTS

Cops like DO NOTs.

Maybe I should print T-shirts. Order yours today at www.dowhattheniceofficersaysandliveanotherday.com

Ant CSI or Law and Order (Hymenoptera)

Have you ever watched ants as they come across one of their own. I don’t mean as they run willy nilly about, but upon one their own, dead?

My observations entertain two scenarios.

The ant that finds the “victim” immediately goes into a circular search pattern, marking the crime scene, looking for suspects. Soon, by some form of ant telepathy or really tiny ant radios, he is joined by others repeating the search pattern.

Finally, a more thorough examination of the body is done by the ant authorities, complete with drawing an “ant” version of the chalk outline. This is followed by several ants doing a full crime scene search, climaxing with the Ant Medical Examiner directing Ant CSI members on removal of the body.

The victim’s remains, led by the ant that originally found the body, guarded by uniform Ant PD, to be fully interviewed by Anticide Detectives “down” town, are brought into the secure area of the nest.

Since ants are one of the most successful evolutionary developments, colonizing almost every land mass on the planet except Antartica, this isn’t really that far fetched.

The “victim” is taken to the morgue where the body is examined, an “antopsy” conducted, toxicology tests done, tissue samples taken, internal organs examined.

After the tests are concluded, the ME produces his report reading something like this;

“The victim is a healthy, fully developed, non-breeding male, with normally proportioned head, altitrunk, petiole, and gaster. There was a catastrophic and uniform crushing of the body.

Death was most likely, instantaneous.

The conclusion of this examination is that the victim was crushed by one of the many large hazards encountered in the exo-nest world. The exact nature of which remains undetermined.

Next of kin have been notified of the release of the remains”

The victim is then reassembled and embalmed, a memorial service held, followed by a solemn interment.

The Ant Chief of Police holds a press conference announcing a task force to “identify and apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous act”

Ant Senators and Congressmen “vow to hold hearings to shed light on this travesty of justice”

O J Ant announces he “will not sleep until Kato Ant and I find these killers”

OR

They just add him to the daily crumb collection and eat him for dinner!

Tough to be an Ant!