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Archive for the ‘Law enforcement’ Category

It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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I want to know where the hell the protesters are in Philadelphia and Fulton County, Georgia. What, you don’t know about the shooting deaths of two Black men in that city and Local County? Or is it possibly because they just happened to be police officers ambushed and killed in the line of duty? Is someone going to try and feed me that bullshit line that it was “in the line of duty?” They’re dead; they were Black; they were shot; they are dead. What the fuck is the matter with people who will protest over the death of a thug like Michael Brown and do nothing when a couple of Black, White, Pink, or Green police officers are gunned down.

Officer Wilson was in a shop to buy a gift for his son who had done well academically and who had a birthday coming up in three days. Two armed brothers entered the store and announced they intended to rob it. How dumb were these two? The patrol car, with Wilson’s partner was parked outside the store. They didn’t see Wilson until he announced himself. According to the “Officer Down” web site, “He exchanged shots with the two brothers as he drew fire away from the customers and employees. He was struck three times during the shootout in which over 50 shots were fired. The two men then exited the store where they were engaged in a shootout with Officer Wilson’s partner, who had remained in the patrol car. One of the subjects was wounded during the second shootout. Who is out there protesting the death of Bob Wilson? Perhaps his wife and two sons should take to the streets. After all, they have more right than most to hold signs that say, “Black lives matter.” They won’t do that however; they’re too busy mourning the death of a husband and a father. Who protests for them? “Oh, it was in the line of duty.” What bullshit!

Twenty-two-year veteran police officer Terence Green died when he was shot in the back of the head from an ambush position. Green and other officers were responding to a shots fired call. The suspect had left his house and gone into hiding. As the officers walked past, he fired, killing Greene and striking the radio of another officer. While his mother mourns, there are no protesters. He’s dead but, “It was in the line of duty.”

Since the beginning of this year, 19 police officers have died. In some cases, they have been in gun fights with suspects. In other cases, they have been killed by accident while pursuing suspects. Who marches for them? Who holds up signs saying that their lives matter?

Last year, 125 officers were killed “In the line of duty,” 47 of them from gunfire. These men and women have chosen to uphold the law, to protect the citizens of their communities, but I have yet to see a protest on their behalf; people marching in the streets with signs that read “Stop the violence against police officers.” It appears to be an attitude of “Well, they chose their profession so tough shit if they get killed; I hope they didn’t kill some poor, innocent kid before they died.”

The attitude that I have heard from some people about the police has nearly gotten me in trouble several times. I happen to be a police advocate. When those men and women put on that uniform and strap on that belt with, yes, a gun as a part of their equipment, they haven’t a clue as to whether they will return home that night for dinner and a drink or whether they will wind up in a body bag on a coroner’s table with a tag tied around their big toe. How many jobs have that kind of risk involved… not every few days, weeks, or months, but every 24 hours? It’s a horrible job. It’s overworked and underpaid; it’s people who care deeply about protecting others and are willing to lay their lives on the line for many they don’t even know. When Greene was killed in Georgia, one neighbor said, “I wish I had known him, just to say thank you for protecting us.” Too many people show disdain for the members of law enforcement, referring to them as “Gestapo” and worse. But when they need help, these same people will cry their eyes out when the police save their butts.

Am I prejudiced on this matter? You’re damned right I am. Over the years I have taught more than 4,000 police officers. Some of them are rough and ready, I admit. Some of them appear very cynical toward life, but that’s not cynicism, that’s reality. A few are bad apple bullies, but they generally get weeded out. Most are hard working men and women who want nothing more than to be able to do their jobs each day and get home safely at night for that “dinner and a drink” and maybe, just maybe a kiss from the wife or girlfriend and a hug from the kids.

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Okay, here we go. Let’s get all of the members of the Asia and Hispanic communities across the country to protest the assassinations of Wenjin Lieu and Raphael Romero to get out there and protest. We can smash windows and loot stores and have Lieu’s new wife and Romero’s widow and children appear on television screaming, “Someone has to pay, and it has to be Black people because a Black man killed our husband and our father.” Then the President has to weigh in and say something like, “Wait a minute; these were police officers. They’re expected to go out and die for the city. Then Al Sharpton can get a few more minutes on the boob tube telling the public about what a great big, jolly fellow Ismaaiyl Brinsley really was and then the Blacks in Bed/Sty and other cities, particularly in St. Louis will have a reason to go out and break more windows and loot more stores and…ah, fuck it, this whole thing is just getting completely out of control.

Michael Brown was a thief and robber; Eric Garner was selling cigarettes illegally and resisted arrest; Tamir Rice was waving around a toy gun from which he had removed the orange cover denoting a toy. What the hell was the crime that these two police officers committed? Were they involved in the Garner takedown? I don’t think so. Was it because they were sitting in their patrol car in Bed/Sty trying to keep peace in the streets? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  I’m told that Brinsley had a long criminal record so what the hell was he doing with a gun? Answer that one for me NRA. I’m told he had an “undiagnosed mental illness.” What, in the name of God does that mean? If it was undiagnosed, how do we know that he had a mental illness? Behaving like an asshole does not necessarily qualify one as having an undiagnosed mental illness. I have an undiagnosed brain aneurism. Does that mean I have one or not. Well, I get these headaches so that’s what it must be. Now, if you swallow that one, I have a bridge in the Bed/Sty section of Brooklyn that I’m going to sell on the cheap. If you’re interested, drop me a line.

Seriously, the Michael Brown case is over. To Mom, Dad, and Step-Dad, the kid could do no wrong. The video of him shoving the store clerk shows a different side. To the family, he was just a big kid. To Darren Wilson, he was a credible threat. Eric Garner was a big man. He didn’t want to be arrested; wasn’t going to be arrested without a fight. The police jumped him. As I watched the video again, I heard him keep saying that he couldn’t breathe. If he couldn’t breathe, how come he kept saying it? Did the police overreact? Possibly, but why didn’t they just taser the guy and drop him like a sack of flour. “You’re under arrest” means put your hands behind your back after you’re down on your belly. It doesn’t mean, “Fuck you; stay the hell away from me.”

We’ve lost perspective in this country when it comes to law enforcement and how to react when people in law enforcement attempt to do their job to the best of their ability. “Put wings on pigs,” my ass. To me that mean that it was open season on Ismaaiyl Brinsley, and it’s just too damned bad that he got to fire the first shots.

I’ve got news for you Mr. & Mrs. Black America. Too many of you aren’t paying close enough attention to what your kids are doing. Those who are see their kids accomplishing great things. They see that because they are on top of their kids activities from the moment they leave for school in the morning. They pay attention to the report cards; they go to the meetings with their children’s teachers; They encourage their kids to do the right thing. How involved were you Mr. & Mrs. Brown? How involved were you Mrs. Garner? What was Tamir Rice doing out at night playing with his toy gun, waving it around in the park, and where were his parents?

Please, stop trying to excuse the actions of you and your children by telling me I’m white and don’t understand. That has been the bullshit excuse for decades. Just because the color of your skin is different from mine doesn’t mean that you “deserve” greater consideration or that you have “permission” to do things that would get my ass hauled into jail. We are people; you owe me nothing; I owe you nothing. What I do understand is that I know a hell of a lot of Black people who are smarter than I am, and I have great respect for them. I know a hell of a lot of white people who are dumber than I am and I say the same thing to them that I’m saying to many of you…”Get off your ass and do the best with what God gave you. Stop bitchin’ and start thinkin.’ Berry Gordy, Jr. was a prize fighter who was known as “Canvas Back.” He saw the light; borrowed $50 from his mother and if you don’t know the rest, go look it up.

Years ago, after being beaten to a pulp by some true idiots in the Los Angeles Police Department, Rodney King asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I don’t care about “getting along” with the Browns or the Garners or the Rice family. They screwed up…and they won’t take responsibility for screwing up. Wake up Black America. There are some fantastic role models out there for you to emulate. Get with the program and start emulating them.

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In my teaching career, more than 4,000 police officers have passed through my classrooms. They have been young and still very wet behind the ears; they have been old, set in their ways and some might even call them grizzled. There have been men and women, black, white, Latino, and Asian. They have been from as far west as Wyoming; as far south as Louisiana, and there was even a group from Haiti. By and large, these were good, dedicated, hard-working men and women. There were a few sour apples along the way, but they were quickly identified and more often than not, were asked to leave before a call was made to their chief. I have to freely admit that I like cops…even the one who pointed his gun at me and those who have pulled me over for this, that, or the other thing.

When people who are not in law enforcement talk about a “Blue line,” they don’t and cannot possibly understand the full meaning of those two words. We don’t hear about it all that often, but every single day that an officer of the law walks out his or her back or front door, the husband, wife, or partner of that “Badge” has no idea if this will be the day they get “the call.” Put bluntly, it’s a bitch of a way to live one’s life.

There are many times when police officers have temptation thrown in their paths. The vast majority are able to resist the temptations they face. There are a few, for whatever reasons they may have, who cross the line and become something less than they are supposed to be. I cannot give you actual numbers of the cops who give in to these temptations, but I’m willing to bet it’s less than five percent across the nation.

Even times when it ‘appears’ that police have trampled on someone’s civil rights, there are processes to determine whether or not, the police were wrong or right. Internal Affairs Bureau is not in place to whitewash a brother officer, believe it or not. Grand juries look at evidence to determine whether or not the party – cop or not – should be indicted. Sometimes they get it right; other times, those of us not serving on those juries wonder exactly what the heck they were thinking.

In the case of Officer Darrin Wilson in Ferguson, I’ve already made my position clear. I believe the grand jury returned the correct verdict. In the case of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, I have great difficulty understanding why an indictment wasn’t issued.  Forget the choke hold; when we hear the suspect clearly yelling, “I can’t breathe” as many times as Eric Garner was heard, it’s time to release or reduce that hold. Was Mr. Garner lying? I cannot find it in my mind to believe that he was trying a ruse to get away. What I don’t understand is why it had to reach the point that a choke hold was necessary, but, and it’s a bold but, I wasn’t there and I don’t know what other words or actions preceded Officer Pantaleo’s jumping up and applying the choke hold. From the video that we have all seen, I believe that the charge in an indictment might have read “Sufficient cause to indict on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.” Am I defending the people who are lying down in the street and otherwise disrupting traffic and God-knows-what-else on Staten Island and in New York City? No, I cannot justify those actions. Calling them “peaceful protests” is erroneous; they are not peaceful because they are disruptive. In addition, we are well aware that they won’t remain peaceful because agitators from all of the country are going to pour into the Big Apple and attempt to make each bite they take bleed red. It’s already happened when the nut from Brooklyn threw fake blood that splattered Police Commissioner William Bratton and nine other law enforcement officers. In addition, an outside agitator from California flew from Ferguson to New York to begin protesting.

We still have one more case of “cop kills Black” to go through, and this one is going to be a beaut. Officer Tim Loehman is going to get hung out to dry for shooting twelve-year old Tamir Rice. The problem is that Loehman should probably never been allowed to carry a gun and a badge, and that is the fault of the Cleveland Police Department. Unfortunately, America has been through three “White cop kills Black man” situations recently. The first two have – so far – allowed the white cop amnesty. The President of the United States has now gotten involved. Does anyone honestly believe that Officer Loehman will not get thrown under the bus? He shot and killed a kid with a “gun” less than two seconds after arriving on the scene. His previous police experience ended in a terrible manner. His supervisor and his chief sent letters to Cleveland that basically said, “If you hire this guy, you’re nuts!” Cleveland authorities admit that the officer was not properly vetted, but you can bet your boots it won’t be the “Cleveland authorities” who will take the fall. Say goodbye to freedom for a while, Tim Loehman. After the grand jury and the trial, you will be able to add, “S.L.C.” to the end of your name for you will now be known as the Sacrificial Lamb of Cleveland. Whereas academics may be proud of putting Ph.D. after their names, I don’t think this one will bring you any pride whatsoever.

Frankly, I can see only one of these cases where proper police procedure was followed, and that was in Ferguson, Missouri. I made my points on that in the post,  ‘Wake up Fergusonians.’ The case of Eric Garner is open to a great deal of interpretation and since I have no intention of reading the grand jury minutes, nor the reason for the lack of an indictment, I’ll just shut my mouth and get on with living.

If everyone is looking to blame someone or something, perhaps we should be asking ourselves, “Why don’t we have more qualified minority police officers?” Why isn’t this a career choice for more minorities? Is our system exclusionary in some way? There are many questions that need to be answered. Officer Pantaleo is 29 years of age. He says that he learned the hold he used in the Academy. If that be the case, did he enter the Academy at the age of 12? After all, in theory, this hold was taken out of the curriculum in 1997. Just sort of makes you scratch your head and wonder, doesn’t it?

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I am so goddamned sick and tired of hearing how Michael Brown was just a great big jolly kid who didn’t deserve to die that I want to puke.

The way this kid is being portrayed by members of the community, most of whom are probably like me and didn’t know him, is that he was just so wonderful, laughing, the life of the party, etc., and he was shot by that white son-of-a-bitch who was out to get him. That’s what I’m hearing; that’s how I’m interpreting what I’m hearing. Now that white son-of-a-bitch is going to go free, just like that white son-of-a-bitch in Florida who killed Trevon Martin. All the white sons-of-bitches are going to go free because it’s open season on Black people.

What a crock of shit! Michael Brown robbed a store minutes before he was shot to death. He threatened and pushed a clerk or someone, perhaps the man who owned the store and who was so small he wouldn’t stand a chance against someone of Michael Brown’s size and obvious disposition. Give me a break, folks. Michael Brown was killed because he was a punk who thought he was bigger, badder, and the meanest son-of-a-bitch on the street. Evidence says he got two punches into the face of Darren Wilson before Wilson started to shoot.  In my mind, from all that I’ve heard, Michael Brown got exactly what he deserved.

That being said, I don’t believe that Trevon Martin got what he got. I do believe that George Zimmerman should be sitting in jail for murdering that particular 17-year old. I toss that in here just to placate those who have reached the point where they would like to shoot me.

Fact: If you are told to stop by a police officer, stop!

Fact: If you are told to put your hands up by a police officer, get your damned hands in the air!

Fact: If you are told by a police officer to get down on the ground, hit the deck with your arms and legs spread!

These are the facts. I’ve been there; I know this. If a cop tells you, “Stop or I’ll shoot,” you better freeze in your tracks and hope your bladder and bowels don’t let go. I’ve been there; I know this. If you are acting suspiciously – and we were – and a cop comes toward you with a gun, you are well advised to do what “the man” says, regardless of the color of your skin or the size of your body! My personal experience happened in South Boston many years ago. It was a mistake, but it was a very frightening experience.

Had that cop shot and killed any of us, I find it difficult to believe that a large group would gather and burn down businesses in Southie. Being Irish wouldn’t have helped me or my friends in that Irish neighborhood. In Ferguson; in Detroit; in many other cities around the nation, if a Black person is shot, that seems to be time to riot, burn businesses – many owned or franchised to  Black entrepreneurs – and otherwise cause trouble…because “the man” hates Black people.

I read an editorial in the Boston Globe this morning. In it the writer notes, “Being black in America means trying to heal wounds that feel like they’ve been left raw since long before you were born.” I’m sorry but for me, many of these wounds have been self-inflicted. Most of us, Black or white, can only speak anecdotally about our experiences with people of the opposite color. Most of my experiences have been good; some have been extremely unpleasant. When I walked into a Black bar in the Mission Hill section of Boston, I was the first white face in there. Until the members of the Boston Patriots football team walked in behind me, I was terrified. Why, because a group of Black men were already on their feet and coming toward me and from the expressions on their faces, they did not have handshakes on their collective minds. Had we not been previously invited by the bar’s owner, things could have gotten ugly. The writer goes on to say, “Over and over he (St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch) repeated two themes: That the loss of Brown’s life was tragic; that Wilson was justified. This reinforces a message that gets whispered and shouted from black parents to their children and all along the family tree: Your life is not your own, your body is all you have, and even that guarantee can be voided in this country. Wait a minute; that’s not a Black thing; that’s true of every single one of us. Our lives are not our own. Our lives are governed by the environment in which we live. Our body is all any of us have, and it can be snatched from us with the snap of one’s fingers. Don’t you dare go attaching color to something that is universal. Yes, if you choose to live in a violent neighborhood, your chances of survival go down, but please don’t tell me that you are required to live in that neighborhood. There are  many people who manage to get out of those neighborhoods by hard work and an understanding of why they should move.

I am sick to death of this “Woe is me” attitude that I’m hearing from people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the protesters in Ferguson. Stop blaming all of your problems on the white man. Burning out businesses and turning over and burning cars is not the answer. Organize; run your own candidates for public office; work to get out the vote and vote yourself. Stop bitching and start building opportunities.

 

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They tell me that I’m old and shouldn’t try to understand it.

They tell me that times have changed and that it’s more common that I’d believe.

They tell me that there’s more pressure today.

They tell me that children are very different from when I was in school.

I tell them that’s a crock of shit!

I tell them that kids today have lost the ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong.

I tell them that parenting today has changed; not the children.

I tell them that today, the desire to possess the materialistic has replaced the desire to put children and family first.

I tell them that they are so flooded with information that the overload is diminishing something we used to call “common sense.”

I tell them, “The Jones’s are in debt.”

They don’t appear to understand that so they just go right on trying to keep up with the latest, the brightest, the shiniest, the most popular.

They tell me that I don’t get it!

What the hell is “it?”

There is not “it” in my life. I have a smart television set; I have a smart phone; hell, I even have a smart girlfriend, and I have no desire to stab to stab her in the face or neck if she doesn’t want to go with me to Walmart or out to dinner, or whatever. I was once married for more than 50 years, and I never had the desire to kill my wife…or harm her in any other way shape or form. We had three kids; they all graduated from high school and college; they are all happily married and each has three kids of their own…no killing; no shooting; no stabbing.

So, I have to ask myself, “Why Littleton? Why Newtown? Why 28-year old mothers collaborating with their boyfriend to kill her 5-year old? Why pipe bombs left in suburban streets?” I don’t remember these things when I was younger. We had fire drills in school. We didn’t have lockdowns. What has changed? What makes life so cheap today that the alternative to being told, “No,” is to kill?

I read all of these statistics from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that say “crime is down?” The FBI tells us that crime is down. Sociologists tell us that crime is decreasing. Some ‘authorities’ are saying that crime is, statistically, where it was in the 50s and 60s. ‘Authorities tell us that the cycle of crime is far different from the cycle of business; that it is a longer, broader curve that can’t and should not be measured in the same manner we measure anything else that might be cyclical. In an article in The Christian Science Monitor a while ago, six reasons were given for the decrease in crime in the United States. The first of these was “incarceration.” We have built more prisons and put more violent crime offenders away and this – so the article reports – is a major reason for the reduction in violent crime. Excuse me, but more violent people are still growing up in our society and our population growth hasn’t diminished. Better policing procedures in listed as another reason for the reduction in violent crime, and this is one with which that I can partially agree. If one works in a nearby city, one’s picture is probably snapped half a dozen times a day. There is more police surveillance but it’s confined largely to urban locations. “Law enforcement has worked with community groups for years to develop social programs to keep youths engaged, provide them outlets, and combat crime. Those efforts may finally be paying off, criminologists say.” Tell that to the parents of kids who have been gunned down at school or sitting on their front porch. Another reason given is simple demographics. That is, younger people who commit crime are now a minority in the population. The ‘baby boomers’ and older make up the majority of the population and – according to some – are not the violent criminals. “Some theories suggest that the more government support an individual can receive – through unemployment benefits, food stamps, controlled rent, and other forms of welfare – the less he or she may be encouraged to commit financial- or stress-motivated crime.” There is some logic to this but benefits alone are not going to stop crime, because of the more, more, more attitude that seems to pervade society. “If I don’t have what you have and I can’t get it…oh, yes, I can,” and despite the obstacles, the “I can” attitude will take over. The final reason given by the CSM article relates to fewer opportunities; that high unemployment with less cash and valuables on hand make it not worth the criminal’s wile to attack…that is just downright fallacious!

It is my personal belief that while fewer banks are getting robbed; fewer homes are getting invaded; fewer armed robberies with loss of life are being committed, new crime has taken its place. We all know about the problems taking place because of white collar crime. I had a notice the other day that my medical insurance information had been stolen. I was one of 7,100 whose information, including Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, and all that other ‘stuff’ is now floating around in the Ethernet. Around the holidays of last year, we all heard about the episodes of data theft from Target, Lord  & Taylor, and several other stores. It’s frightening, but it doesn’t threaten my life. No, what threatens my life is the kid who has no values; whose parents abrogated their parental responsibility to bring the child up to know the difference between right and wrong; whose parents are so busy with their own lives that they leave their kid’s education to the few hours of formal schooling and then turn to Grand Theft Auto and other video games, or Fast and Furious, part whatever to learn about ‘real’ life. The pressures of adulthood today mean that something has to be given short shrift, and it appears to me that it’s the children who are suffering, growing up and learning from X-box and television, movies and music that promotes violence. It’s too damn bad, and I just don’t know where it will all end.

 

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The Class of 1946 of Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts cannot write their names. Wow, there’s a broad statement for you. However, it’s also a true statement. Brookline was a test study for a project by the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. They taught children to print. Don’t get me wrong; they could print as fast as some of the rest of us could write…but they could not write. How do I know this? I worked with a member of that Brookline Class who told me the story. He never forgave the Brookline school department or Harvard.

Why is this important? It demonstrates the stupidity and naiveté of some communities when it comes to what is taught in our public schools…or what isn’t taught, as the case may be. I have not forgiven my own school system for allowing me to be placed in a curriculum that did not take advantage of the skills that I wasn’t even aware I had when I entered high school. Where were the ‘guidance’ counselors who were supposed to work with students? My memory, believe it or not, is still reasonably solid, yet I cannot remember the name of one single guidance counselor in my high school…I can tell you the name of every teacher in the school and even the number of their classroom, but not a guidance person. I mention this because it appears to me that times have really changed…and not necessarily for the better.

Today, teachers teach to tests and bullshit, no matter how minor, is not tolerated. Today, students are subject to search and seizure, suspension and expulsion at the drop of a hat. I saw where a student in Tennessee was going to be sent to an alternative because a search of his car turned up an old knife of his father’s. Wait a minute; who was searching his car and why? A kindergartner was suspended for pointing a finger gun at another student; what is with that? You slap the kid upside the head; tell him or her it’s wrong and get on with your day. If the parents come in to complain, tell them to “fuck off and let me do my job.”

Some wise old fool came up with the term, ‘zero tolerance,’ and everyone said, “Oooh, what a great term; let’s see how we can use it as a control tool.” Here’s one definition:  “Zero tolerance is a type of policy, which implies that certain actions will completely not be accepted under any circumstances. It is generally applied in reference to policies that make clear exactly which actions are not allowed.” It is a “type” of policy which “implies,” and then it establishes what won’t be tolerated. To my mind, it’s a type of policy that puts too much power into the hands of too many different personalities, and that, my friends, is a bad, bad thing to do.

A police chief friend of mine had a zero tolerance policy instated in his town that said underage drinking would not be tolerated…anywhere…any time. He enforced it. I think we have all read of what can happen when people under the legal age get drunk and get behind the wheel of a car; usually someone dies. The unfortunate part is that too rarely is it the drunken teenager. Everything went along swimmingly until the chief and his men arrested the “wrong” underage drinkers. “Oh, my child will lose her athletic scholarship to X College next year.” Oh, my child will be thrown out of the honor society.” “Hey, I’m a cop; you can’t arrest my kid.” The excuses were many and myriad, but guess what? He didn’t care; he enforced a law that had been passed in his town, and when he did, the baloney went right into the Westinghouse [a polite way of saying, [“The shit hit the fan”}. In other words, zero tolerance is fine until it affects ‘those’ people who aren’t supposed to be affected.

Years ago, I was asked to write an emergency plan for the institution at which I was working. We had some problems, and no one really knew how they should be handled. Therefore, together with the head of the campus police department, a plan was developed. The very first paragraph contained words to the effect that no emergency plan could ever hope to anticipate all potential emergencies. It can’t be done and/or if it could, the damned thing would be so voluminous that no one would ever read it. Immediately, critics jumped on the fact that the plan was too general. The critics were the same people who would stick their collective heads in the sand and pretend that everything was right with the world…while the bombs were falling all around them. Eventually, the plan was passed. Within two weeks of its passing it had to be put into effect. A couple of years later, I learned that a teacher at Harvard told his graduate students, “If you want to learn how to properly address an emergency situation, look how they did it at {our school}.”  Would we have handled a different emergency in a different manner? Yes, we would have, but the principles would have been the same.

It is possible to have a zero tolerance policy without being intolerant. Automatic sentencing for a violation of a zero tolerance policy is idiotic unless you know the circumstances of the violation. Certainly, if someone brings a loaded weapon to any school, that cannot be tolerated, but what’s the punishment? Has this person been in trouble before? Certainly, the weapon is immediately confiscated, but what’s the why? Had they, in fact, been planning to kill? Zero is an awfully big word. What if the weapon was unloaded; the student had spoken to the school security officer, his teacher, and the principal, and was doing a presentation that involved a demonstration using an unloaded weapon? Certainly, the circumstances are exaggerated but how does this fall under ‘zero?

Schools are different places from when I attended. The students are brighter, more worldly and sophisticated. They have smart phones and texting; they have so many entries into an information age that is fascinating and endless. Those who want to learn want to be challenged, not taught for some bloody test. Those who don’t want to learn but prefer to disrupt, get them into a situation where their disruptive traits can be put to work…like cleaning bathrooms in a police station. If schools suspend or expel students for violating a zero tolerance policy, examine the policy at the same time the punishment is being examined.

From day one at school, every child is aware that the world is one big, frightening place. They have no clue regarding where they fit. We tell them to study hard and they’ll do well; that’s bullshit. We tell them to go to college and they’ll succeed; that, too, is bullshit. We provide so much false hope for so many of these kids that when their hopes and wishes don’t come true, whether it’s in the first grade or in the workaday world or anywhere in between; when they see the world for what it is, they want to blame someone and they rebel. It can happen at any time along life’s continuum. We often forget that, but as we’ve seen all too often, sometimes we’re too late…or others just don’t want to listen. Maybe the world is just spinning too rapidly for some people.

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