Redefine police.

My Facebook feed is full of videos of police acting badly. The news is full of stories of police brutality, aggression, militarization, racial bias. Our prisons are full of people with mental illness, addiction, poverty and the worst pox in America- being black.

The system is broken, expensive, and fundamentally flawed. In Ohio, you don’t even need a high school diploma to be a cop, and it’s good to see that you don’t need one in journalism either- almost all news sources directly quoted Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine saying that Ohio is one of three states that don’t require this- but none found out what the other two are.

Police officer training in Ohio is loosely regulated and mostly insufficient, but Ohio is just a microcosm of the state of police training in the United States. It’s debatable if we have any semblance of an idea of how to go about training police, and I’m going to blame 40 years of progressively more violent portrayals of police in film and television as a starting point for our failure.

We’ve gone from Andy Griffith as Sheriff Taylor to Michael Chiklis as dirty cop Vic Mackey in The Shield. Sgt. Joe Friday barely pulled his gun in Dragnet, but Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens in Justified, shot at least 18 people and still had a job. The TV show SWAT, was the beginning of cops thinking they could be soldiers and criminals got the idea that machine guns were status symbols for gangsters with Scarface. Not that it hadn’t been done before; during prohibition where every bad guy had a Tommy gun in our portrayal of Al Capone and John Dillinger.

In reality, the best cops I know are more social worker than bully, and could probably qualify for a master’s in counseling better than their target shooting skills. The sad thing is, the violence they have to deal with is mostly borne out of  other issues that our society refuses to address: drug abuse and mental illness, chronic poverty, inequity. Just changing the training isn’t enough- we have to change the whole concept of what a “free society” really is supposed to look like.

More surveillance isn’t the answer

Right now, the leading solution to police brutality issues is bodycams- a very expensive and misleading approach. Take a look at your cellphone camera- and think of how many unindexed, untagged, unorganized photos and videos you have. Now, think about storing video of you at work, every day, for at least 30 days- for you- and all of your coworkers- all to be made available on demand?

And personal video is only an after-the-fact solution- no matter what studies say about people behaving better when they know they are being observed. Need proof- watch this video showing what happens when a black man with corn rows openly carries an AR-15

There is a video on Facebook which takes this video and juxtaposes it with this video  of a white guy doing the same things- without the same result- but making it seem like it’s the same people organizing it (it’s not)

Needless to say, being on candid camera isn’t the answer.

More guns aren’t the answer either.

There has been a mad rush for “self protection” in this country, which is sad. In most civilized nations people don’t think they need a gun to be safe. Statistics clearly show this, but, thanks to our founding fathers (who can’t possibly have made a mistake) we’re convinced that having a deadly weapon is almost a god-given right.

In many countries the police don’t even have guns. Go look at your average beat cop today- a gun, a taser, a bulletproof vest, a shotgun or AR-15 in his trunk or mounted next to him inside the cruiser.

The poverty penalty

You have a right to a speedy trial, you have a right against unlawful detention, but, it seems this is more likely for wealthy white people than for poor black people. A recent opinion piece in the New York Times suggested abolishing bail.

This is a national problem. Across the United States, most of the people incarcerated in local jails have not been convicted of a crime but are awaiting trial. And most of those are waiting in jail not because of any specific risk they have been deemed to pose, but because they can’t pay their bail.

In other words, we are locking people up for being poor. This is unjust. We should abolish monetary bail outright.

Some will argue that bail is necessary to prevent flight before trial, but there is no good basis for that assumption. For one thing, people considered to pose an unacceptable risk of flight (or violence) are not granted bail in the first place. (Though the procedures for determining who poses a risk ought to be viewed with skepticism, especially since conceptions of risk are often shaped, tacitly or otherwise, by racist assumptions.)

Source: Too Many People in Jail? Abolish Bail – NYTimes.com

Sometimes the really big ideas are the simplest.

But, back to police training. Arguments can be made for higher standards, longer training hours, more continuous education, but so much of what we’ve focused on for our police officers is based on reacting to worst case scenarios: terrorists, “active shooters” and tactical supremacy.

Maybe what we need to focus on is a totally different approach to police work, training, hiring, and perception.

The riots in Baltimore weren’t caused by a menace to society. Freddie Gray was a loser x-con with a knife clipped to his belt- who “fled” police. Walter Scott was pulled over for a tail light violation that was questionable, and shot in the back when he ran. Somewhere, we’ve made a dramatic mistake on who we’ve chosen to “serve and protect.”

I return to the changes in police as portrayed in the media. I don’t recall the national FOP protesting the violent portrayal of police officers. I have heard FOP officials defending cops repeatedly for using a gun before their mouths. I’m still haunted by the shooting of John Crawford in a nearby Walmart- while holding a bb gun and talking on the phone, and the shooting of the 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a playground by an overzealous cop.

There is a video that inspired this post- of four Swedish police officers on a NY City subway, subduing a fight. Listen to their language, and watch how they treat their “perps”- this is a start:

If you’ve seen a really good cop doing his/her job, it looks and sounds more like this- than a gunshot ending all chances to discuss matters.

It’s time to set some national standards for police training, ethics, situational awareness and integrity, before we have more riots caused by police reacting badly. It’s time to reexamine our criminal justice system, which is putting record numbers of people behind bars who are more of a threat to themselves than to others. It’s time to invest in peace in America before we worry about peace in the Middle East.

You can’t take care of the world, while your own backyard is full of injustice.

UPDATE

the next morning- a very good NPR morning edition piece on changing police training: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/18/407619610/ways-to-avoid-community-violence-after-local-police-encounters

Listen carefully to the part where they changed the images in the academy, stopped falling in silent at attention- instead greeting one another, and the focus on the constitution.

INSKEEP: Whether a city explodes in protest or not, may depend on decisions made years before an officer ever pulled his gun or a citizen started recording video. Sue Rahr believes something similar. She’s thinking about police training. She is in charge of the police academy in Washington state.

SUE RAHR: You always want to create space and time so that you have the opportunity to engage in some kind of de-escalation strategy with the person first.

INSKEEP: Rahr points to a police shooting in Cleveland, Ohio, last year. An officer approached a man with a gun and killed him. The man turned out to be 12, and the gun turned out to be a toy. An investigation continues. Rahr says the officer might have learned to approach more carefully. That would avoid any sense of danger until he understood the situation. For two years, Rahr says, she has been adjusting the training for every local police recruit in Washington state. They’re supposed to focus less on being warriors and more on being guardians of citizens’ lives.

RAHR: We changed the training environment itself. We removed a lot of the symbols and the tools of the trade that were on the walls with murals of the Constitution. And we spent a great deal of time talking about the Constitution and what it means to a police officer. I tell my recruits in the first week there at the academy, my entire career, my training on the Constitution, consisted of how to work around it so that I could make an arrest and prove a case. It never occurred to me when I was working the street that I was there to support the Constitution. I viewed myself as being there to enforce the law. Some of the other things that we’ve done is move away from some of the military protocols. Instead of requiring recruits to snap to attention and be silent when a staff member passes, we require them to engage in conversation because that’s a skill they need in the field. Effective police officers are able to engage community members in conversation.

INSKEEP: So you’ve started this training – changing training – in Washington state before the incidents of the past year. But now we’ve had the incidents of the past year. And on this program, our correspondent Martin Kaste spoke with a number of officers who spoke of the risk of police becoming passive. They may be videotaped and scrutinized at any time, all their actions could be called into question – things they did in a split second and maybe it would be better for them to drive past that apparent crime scene than to get involved. How do you deal with that risk?RAHR: Well, I think it – you avoid that risk by the culture that is set in the police department where the officer works. And this is a part of policing that we don’t talk about often enough and that is the internal culture of the police department itself. There’s a cultural anthropologist named Simon Sinek. And Simon Sinek said the most important influence on the behavior of an officer on the street is going to be the internal culture of that police department. And so you need to focus on building a strong culture internally, where the leaders in the police department demonstrate respect and they set the tone for what they expect of their officers. Their behavior needs to model the kind of behavior they want to see on the street. So if you have a police department with a very strong, healthy culture and the officers know that if they are doing their best on the street and they’re wading into a difficult situation, they know that their leaders will support them, even if things don’t go well, if the officers are following policies and procedures. If an officer works for an agency where they believe the leaders are going to throw them under the bus if they make a mistake, then you’re absolutely right. The officers are going to drive past and not dive into that because they don’t want to take the chance of being unfairly criticized and punished.

Source: Ways To Avoid Community Violence After Local Police Encounters : NPR

 

Just say no to naloxone

Naloxone, or Narcan® is the antidote for heroin overdose. It puts first responders in a position to “save” junkies from their stupidity. The same junkies who, in many cases, have been taking up inordinate amounts of their resources- causing crimes to feed to their habit.

Some first responders don’t feel comfortable intervening in Darwin’s work. Others, worry about liability, as practicing medicine isn’t what they signed up for. And, in many cases, it’s really a moot point, because many junkies just come back and do it again.

The reality is, our country is schizophrenic about addiction and drug use. While there is a growing base of support for legalized marijuana which was often labeled a “gateway drug”, cigarettes which are said to be more addictive than heroin- are getting carte blanche access to a new nicotine delivery system via vapor/e-cigs. Stats are showing a decline in smoking among teens but a huge uptick in e-cig use.

What’s even funnier- is that persons vaping in the bar, may not even have nicotine fluid in their vape- it may be hash oil- and you’d be none the wiser. Chalk one up for the druggies.

Fentanyl is the “new problem” for junkies. Dealers apparently don’t see the value in return clientele and are cutting their H with Fentanyl- with deadly results. It’s a synthetic opiate- that’s much more powerful and fast acting. It’s a sad day when you need 100% organic labeling on the drug you’re buying to ruin your life- but, that seems to be the case.

Governments can pass laws all they want against drug use, but they won’t stop it anymore than laws against prostitution have worked, or prohibition with alcohol. Drug use is here to stay. What we have to decide is what our real goal is in society? Is it to eliminate people’s escape mechanisms- or to create a huge incarceration industry- or to improve everyone’s quality of life?

Think about it. You may never ingest a single illegal substance. You may not know anyone who does, but you pay for it in so many different ways.

  • The cost of crime to feed the addicts’ habits.
  • The lost hours of productivity as people deal with their loved ones’ addictions.
  • The cost of emergency services to respond to overdoses.
  • The costs of locking people up.
  • The cost of insurance against the actions of addicts- who are more likely to be uninsured motorists involved in accidents, thieves, etc.
  • The cost of health care provided “for free” to these physically debilitated junkies.
  • Costs of maintenance programs that substitute one drug for another at public expense.

Face it- we all pay the costs of a few peoples’ illness.

This isn’t unique to the United States- just our huge emphasis on incarcerating people for being involved with drugs are. We spend billions on a system that doesn’t solve anything. Just like Naloxone- it’s not a cure, just a quick fix- a return back to square one, to start the merry go round again.

Should we just let junkies die? While that sounds harsh- we seem to be in favor of the death penalty too, seeing as we allow it. It’s amazing- the State can’t find the drug combo it wants to use to kill people- with drug companies “refusing to supply it” – while Fentanyl seems to work just fine on the streets.

We need to totally rethink how we want to deal with drug addiction in this country. Suppose we supplied clean kits and provided no questions drug purity testing? Would heroin deaths and the need for Naloxone drop?

Or, if we just legalized the drugs and tried to make sure that the people who want to go through life stoned- can do so without impacting the rest of us? Sometimes I think we’d do better to just wall off a Vegas like compound- where people can go in and do whatever they want- signing waivers to enter- with the only condition is much like the old Vegas ad tagline- “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” You want to gamble, prostitute, do drugs- go to the compound, let the rest of us get on with our own lives free of your “sins.”

While I believe my body to be a temple- and that ingesting drugs and  alcohol are a defilement, most of the population has no problem with drinking- despite the huge numbers of deaths from drunk driving- and costs associated with lost productivity due to hangovers. Taking drugs is really a crime against yourself in my eyes- and having the government get involved in your personal decisions doesn’t work out most of the time, be it pregnancy, marriage or assisted suicide.

You can make a historical argument for such a place- didn’t the founding fathers declare: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – and if you think heroin is going to make you happy- who are we to stop you?

Family Dollar fires manager. Crack addicts have better protection than a working mother.

The store manager at Family Dollar on Wayne Avenue is a friend of mine. We’ve lived on the same street for 29 years, and when she was a teen, I had her working for me doing minor office work. This morning, Family Dollar fired her over the altercation at her store on Saturday.

Here’s the story from the Dayton Daily news:

DAYTON —A woman told police she was desperate to support her crack cocaine habit when she tried to walk out of Family Dollar with a cartload of items.

Sparkle Colquitt, 33, is being held on suspicion of felony robbery after her arrest Saturday, according to the Dayton police report.

Family Dollar employees told police the woman walked in and started going down the aisles and loading up a shopping cart.

The alleged shoplifter then pushed the cart toward the entrance. An employee moved to block the door and asked the suspect what she was doing, to which she replied, “Making it easier on myself,” according to the report.

Police said the suspect started to pull hair and fight with the employees, who were able to subdue her and hold her down for police.

She was trying to walk out of the store with more than $255 worth of items, according to the report.

Police said while she was questioned in the back of a cruiser, Colquitt admitted she was addicted to crack cocaine and planned to sell the items she was about to steal to get money to buy more of the drug.

Colquitt, who has a history of arrests in Montgomery County dating back to 2000, is scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Monday.

via Police: Crack addict caught shoplifting sparks fight at Family… | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Family Dollar and their mistreatment of employees: Boycott Family Dollar. Makes Walmart look good on employee compensation. Since then, the store installed real video cameras. However, the security guard they provided after the in-store gun discharge only lasted a few weeks- apparently, this store doesn’t “make enough” to provide real security for its employees.
On Saturday, the manager was in the back with two other employees, putting away inventory from their weekly truck delivery when they heard a ruckus up front. When they got to the checkout, she immediately grabbed her cell phone and called 911- one of the other employees went to help the cashier who was having her hair yanked by the crack addict. That employee grabbed the crackhead and threw her to the floor- and detained her. While waiting for the police to come (the video shows it took almost 10 minutes to respond to an assault in progress) they let the crack addict back up- and she grabbed the manager’s hair- and started pulling her through the gap between the security device and the wall. More fighting broke out.
Nothing ended up stolen, and the addict is in custody. The assistant manager was fired Monday, and the manager today. This is not an April Fool’s joke.
Family Dollar has a horrible record of labor relations. Salaried managers often end up working 70+ hours a week to make a “budget” that purposely doesn’t include enough hours to properly staff a store. Shrinkage of inventory is counted against margins and managers are held accountable, despite the store not providing tools to combat shrinkage like security guards, or double doors with the ability to lock a thief in.
If anyone is looking for a hard-working, honest, employee with retail experience, please contact me and I will put you in touch with a very special woman who has 2 kids and a disabled baby daddy at home to support. I’d love for her to work for Costco or Aldi/Trader Joe’s- but with the hours she has at Family Dollar she never has time to apply.
I’ve contacted an attorney to represent her in this case. There is no reason that crack addicts should cause anyone to lose their job.

Our grandstanding prosecutor, Mat Heck, and the reach of UD Men’s Basketball

In another case of “it’s who you know” in Montgomery County, isn’t it somehow odd that 2 petty thieves don’t end up in jail- and have to wait for a speedy trial just like everyone else- because they were members of the UD Men’s basketball team?

Any other black male, caught breaking into UD dorm rooms and stealing stuff, who was positively identified, would have been in jail the next day, and already done with his sentence.

But, not Robinson and Scott- they get to “go home” or to some other school- and pretend like nothing happened for 3 months, until the UD season is over, to avoid distraction from “the run” that the team was on.

Read the language in the DDn article:

Two former University of Dayton basketball players accused of felony burglaries on campus in December will soon return to the area to face charges, their attorneys said Wednesday.

The Montgomery County prosecutor’s office on Tuesday issued nationwide arrest warrants for Jalen T. Robinson and Devin H. Scott. Robinson, 21, is currently enrolled at the University of South Carolina Aiken, according to the school’s sports information department. Scott, 20, is in Georgia, and has been researching schools, his attorney said.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. approved three charges against Robinson and seven against Scott with more possible, according to a press release issued Tuesday….

A supervising deputy for the U.S. Marshals confirmed that the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (SO-FAST) and Dayton police were working to bring in Scott and Robinson.

“They are not typical fugitives who went on the run after they became aware that they are wanted,” Supervising Deputy Jeremy Rose said. “I believe in the near future they will turn themselves in.”

Jewson admonished Heck’s office for the press release, which stated that surveillance video from Dec. 14, 2014, positively identified Anderson and Scott and that the investigation is ongoing.

“None of that information has been presented to me and, frankly, I think it’s inappropriate for the prosecutor to attempt to try this case in the media and — basically regurgitate all the facts that they have that haven’t been disclosed to the defense — and put those out into mainstream media through Facebook and other outlets,” Jewson said, adding that such video hasn’t been tested for authenticity or admissibility. “It’s basically rumors at this point.”

via Lawyer: Ex-UD players to return.

And, at the same time, the coach who brought these misfits to Dayton, is getting a contract extension and probably a raise.

What’s even more troubling, is that Devon Scott, had already been in trouble for domestic abuse. Found guilty, and handed a suspended 30-day sentence. See Aug. 25th WHIO article:

University of Dayton basketball player Devon Scott won’t serve any jail time after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct against the mother of his son.

Though he didn’t appear in Dayton Municipal Court with his attorney, Scott was sentenced Monday by Judge Deirdre Logan to 40 hours of community service to be completed by Nov. 30, a suspended 30-day sentence, a $250 fine with half of that suspended, and court costs.

Scott also must show proof of completing a domestic violence program and will be on non-reporting probation for one year in which he has no new offenses.

via UD’s Devon Scott takes plea in April assault case | Dayton, OH | www.whio.com.

Normally, when a black male has a suspended sentence, and is caught in the commission of another crime, he goes to jail, directly to jail, he does not pass go, he does not collect $200. But, again, we’re dealing with UD, which gets a different set of rules for its riots, and especially for its  beloved basketball team.

I was aware of the thefts before the news broke because I live within 5 miles of campus and enjoy the anonymous social app Yik Yak as a way of taking a mental break from the serious. Everyone on campus knew the two 6’7″ bball stars had done it, because, well, they are hard to miss and well known. I didn’t want to break the news- because I don’t consider reading Yik Yak a reliable news source- nor, do I think that petty theft is worthy of my blog. But, this ranks as front page breaking news in local media. Sad to say, thieving from students somehow is worse than domestic abuse, and being able to play basketball provides you privileged treatment by the courts here in Dayton.

The University has taken great effort in trying to change student behavior, stressing “#community” and a positive ethos- with their “Green dot” program. They teach their community members (staff, faculty, students) that there are “red dots”- acts of hate, violence, disrespect- and that in order to reduce these types of occurrences, everyone needs to be tuned into “Green dot” behavior- helping each other out, respect, integrity.

From last night- a yak said “watched a clearly drunk girl stumbling home alone and got nervous when a guy approached her. I watched as he called mom’s limo for her and waited with her until they came. I fucking love this school. – posted around 3am. 63 upvotes, and a comment “green dot”

Shared UD yik yak about green dot behavior

Shared UD yik yak about green dot behavior

The fact that our prosecutor seems to enforce different standards of prosecution in Montgomery County is a red dot to me. Do lawyers and their families who break the law get different treatment here? How about politicians? If only half the stories I’ve heard about some of the “Monarchy of Montgomery County” in the past are true, the answer is yes- but the mainstream media are in bed with the royalty and afraid to cover it. When names are missing from police reports- and it only says “an Oakwood resident” my “friends and family” radar always goes off.

Seemingly, only the pawns, lowly basketball players, are fair game for the media to mock, and the prosecutor to play games with in public.

This is just another example of why I believe if the Justice Department came into Dayton, we’d fail the Ferguson test.

Big brother stopped watching you yesterday

Traffic cam

UPDATE

March 23, 5PM A Lucas county judge ruled in favor of Home rule, and the City will continue using the cameras and ticketing until this winds through the courts.

On March 1st 2015(correction, March 23rd) the city of Dayton lost one of its crutches- the use of red light and speeding cameras to extort owners of vehicles for the misdeeds of individual drivers.

The cameras, supplied by a private company, Redflex, were a “partnership” where a private company made unlimited amounts of money from this questionable impingement on personal freedoms. Had the city bought the cameras outright, like they do most pieces of law enforcement equipment, this deal may not have reeked so badly, but in the ultimate act of brilliance, your leaders chose a questionable deal. Much like private prisons, where the incentives are to keep people locked up – because more convicts mean more money, the cameras were continuously questioned for their accuracy and the timing of lights suspect as contributors to this scam.

The sad thing is, the cameras worked. Speeds dropped, accidents declined, in the areas where the cameras were in place.

The real question is why people came to drive like idiots in the city of Dayton and other places where the cameras were deployed? No one speeds in Oakwood, and Kettering still has a rap for traffic enforcement. These communities run traffic tickets as a way to show their police departments are out watching and waiting for crime to happen- versus Dayton, where all they do is chase the tail having to go out reactively  all day long.

Maybe if our leaders would spend more of that “economic development” cash they hand out like candy to their political supporters and scam artists promising jobs- and just did the job they were supposed to do- ensuring our safety, the cameras wouldn’t have been a last resort. In the 29 years I’ve lived in Dayton, I’ve watched the police department drop in staffing by at least a third. Of course, the size of our city hasn’t gotten any smaller geographically- but, we’ve also seen almost a quarter of our population vote with their feet to move to other parts of Montgomery County where they feel safer.

In all the time the cameras have been installed in Dayton, I’ve never gotten a ticket so this hasn’t affected me directly, but, I did get one in Kettering- for a supposed right turn on red at Dorothy Lane and Wilmington. The difference being- one was handed out by a cop, who said he saw me do it. And while I know so many of you are happy about the end of the cameras- in my one ticket, I would have preferred the camera- because I would have had proof that I did the crime.

Hopefully, Dayton police will learn to write tickets again, because, well- that’s their job. Don’t be surprised if you get one and costs you more, because real police work costs more than a robot cop camera. If Redflex goes out of business, I won’t be crying. They made ungodly money out of their monopoly deal on cameras. The question is, how long the city leaders will leave the cameras and signs up- even if the cameras are now impotent.

Sometimes just the idea that we’re being watched, makes us behave differently.

Legalized racketeering- only in Ohio

When Ohio voters amended the Ohio Constitution to allow casinos, they mandated the actual real estate for the casinos. When it came time to build the four casinos- a minor obstacle in Columbus- when the location they authorized wouldn’t work for the criminals who got the golden ticket had to move it. No worries, the legislature bent the voters over and moved it.

Now, we’re facing the same with pot growing operations. Vote for pot- and give 10 sites a monopoly on legal pot growing:

if Ohio voters approve a constitutional amendment in November to legalize pot for recreational and medical uses, documents released Monday show.

ResponsibleOhio released a 24-page summary of the ballot language that identifies where each of 10 grow sites will be. Investors bought or arranged purchase options on the 10 sites.

via Moraine site would grow marijuana if issue passes in November | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

The identification of specific parcels isn’t law- it’s racketeering.

ResponsibleOhio is backed by deep-pocket investors that include financiers, current and former professional athletes, real estate developers and others. It is opposed by anti-drug organizations, five statewide officeholders including Kasich and DeWine, and grassroots marijuana groups that believe carving out just 10 growing sites will unfairly block others who want to cultivate cannabis for sale.

ibid

If you don’t know what racketeering is-

Racketeering refers to criminal activity that is performed to benefit an organization such as a crime syndicate. Examples of racketeering activity include extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery.

Just because it’s voted into law, doesn’t make it legal.

It’s time for a constitutional amendment in Ohio to stop granting unfair advantages by government to any business- be it limiting the locations of pot farms or casinos to specific sites, or the awarding of individual tax breaks, incentives or grants to a single business without offering the same benefits to their competition.

Racists, rapists and apologists

The head of the local Republican Party/Sheriff fired two of his employees on Friday, for unbecoming conduct. Three others got disciplined. It seems that all had been either sending or receiving racist jokes via text messages.

An Oakwood 19-year-old on an athletic scholarship to Stanford, was playing doctor on an unconscious woman in the bushes outside a fraternity party. He was inebriated, despite not being of drinking age.

Sheriff Phil Plummer made the hard call and took a stand saying there is no room for racist jokes, comments, or behavior under his command.

Stanford sent the swimmer away. They made a clear statement that non-consensual sexual behavior was unacceptable.

Then I see debate on Facebook. I see people using the First Amendment as justification for statements contrary to the founding beliefs that “all men are created equal.” I see people saying that because the swimmer used his fingers instead of his penis, somehow that was OK, besides he was always a “nice boy.”

When was the last time you heard a public figure step right up and admit they screwed up?

Brian Williams of NBC somehow thought he could tell a yarn about him being in a helicopter that got shot down. His first response?

“I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.”

Am I guilty of conflation of the racists with the rapists? Certainly saying something politically incorrect is one thing, sticking objects in someone unconscious is another. Except, when you are an officer of the law, you have to be held to a higher standard of conduct- that’s why we trust you with a gun and a badge.

There is a go fund me set up to pay for the Captain’s legal expenses with a very long explanation of why he shouldn’t have been fired- it was put up by his wife. It blames the ex-wife of the deputy, the NAACP, the Sheriff- and the news media for slandering the Captain. The fact that when he got the first text his immediate response wasn’t “this isn’t acceptable” isn’t mentioned, nor is the fact that he erased his iphone and ipod before turning them in, against policy. When you are a leader- a higher level of accountability is expected.

There was a piece online trying to explain away the swimmer’s odd behavior. How about he’s already guilty of being drunk under age? The complaint clearly has eyewitnesses describing something that no one would wish for their daughter.

And, yes, we have courts of law to decide upon guilt or innocence, justifiable firing or not. But the court of public opinion, the debate we have with others- the thoughts we hold back, do they matter?

It’s a question of what kind of society you want to live in. If you don’t want to hear your news from a liar, you can always change the channel, but, when it comes to the guy who shows up with a gun and a badge, what kind of moral character do you want them to have? Or, if your daughter goes to visit a college campus, do you want her molested by a drunken athlete- and then be blamed for her actions?

For a society to function, the actions of a few miscreants is one thing, the willingness to apologize for them is a much greater risk to our community. I know many of you will argue that this is a stretch, but the liberators of the concentration camps had to march the townsfolk through the camps- because they didn’t believe it happened right under their noses.

Many are quick to blame all Muslims for the acts of a few extremists as well, but, that is no different than judging all Americans by the actions of Charlie Manson or Timothy McVeigh.

Morals, ethics, the standards of society are set by what we allow as OK. You don’t know how many times while I’ve been hanging basketball nets I’ve had to say that I don’t think using the N word is acceptable- and so far, I’ve not gotten my ass beat.

There are always at least two sides to every story- but, in the end, there is only one rule that is universal- the golden one. There is no excuse for racist jokes by cops, there is no excuse for doing anything to someone unconscious other than to protect them and get help- and there is no excuse for apologizing for their actions, or trying to say it’s OK- it was among consenting adults, or that they are “good people” because, they aren’t if what happened is true.

Dealing with a neighborhood cancer

Note, this is a long read. This is about a lot more than a demolition derby and a crime clan. Please take the time to read.

Friday, Dec 12, 2014. I had just settled into bed after playing hockey. Our game started at 10 p.m.- and we left the ice at 11:30. By the time I’m home, gear put up- showered it’s 12:15. I had watched about 15 minutes of TV when I started hearing an engine revving, and things going boom- soon followed by a car alarm going off.

Out the window I see little Brandon Crouch’s “new” Chevy pickup- sitting in my neighbor Marilyn’s front yard- facing my house. Her friend Doyle’s Hyundai Elantra is already sounding its alarm and flashing lights. I try to call 911 from the house phone- and must have misdialed, it wouldn’t connect- I run out the front door in my shorts (it’s 20 degrees out) and take a photo of Brandon’s truck now in the middle of the street- sideways- facing my house and me. He’s crashed Doyle’s car and is in the process of backing up and ramming one of my neighbor John’s VWs.

Branden Crouch driver of the one-man demolition derby

You don’t drive sideways on a side street (sorry about the sideways pic- no time to trouble shoot)

He then goes forward- ramming Marilyn’s Chevy Blazer that’s in front of my house. I go to open the passenger door, slug the little shit in the face- and pull the keys out of the car. Doyle, in his bathrobe- pulls him out of the truck- and he proceeds to run away from his house toward my office- I give chase and tackle him and hold him down on the pavement where he keeps fighting me- as I try not to kill him.

Brandon Crouch's truck after he hit 4 cars and 2 wrought iron fences

The final resting place of Brandon Crouch’s truck

Doyle and Marilyn gather around- and after holding him squirming on the ground for a couple of minutes he starts to calm down- and is talking about how he got hit in the face with a baseball bat. I’m covered in his blood and freezing my butt off- and am sick of doing a cop’s job. He won’t stay on the ground- but stands up and stays put for a minute or two- before he takes off again. I know who he is- and don’t feel like chasing him again. I call 911 from my cell- Doyle is calling from his house phone- I have to assume others have called- but who knows. People have come from blocks away to survey the carnage.

He had jumped the curb in front of John’s house- hitting the front of one of John’s 4 VWs- doing major damage to the car- then destroying all of John’s incredible wrought iron fence- as well as Marilyn’s fence. He had then rammed Doyle’s Elantra- to get back onto the street. This was the point where I had come out and the story started.

Fences at 108 and 114 Bonner after Brandon Crouch destroyed them

2 people lost their wrought iron fence because of Brandon’s criminal acts

When the cops and the medic showed up- Brandon was gone. The cops asked me why I hadn’t kept him there, as if it’s my job to wrestle with an 18-year-old for 10 minutes while they take their sweet time showing up.
The next morning- when I saw him pull up to the house and go in- I called it in, but he left again before the cops could get here.

I had a busy day- operating on about 4 hours sleep. And in the afternoon I called the Chief of Police and asked for a call back. To date, he’s not called. At around 6- a cop car was sitting on the street- they had just come out of the Crouch house. I asked if they’d arrested him- and got attitude from the cop- after he said he’d talked to Brandon, and it was up to the detectives. He wasn’t going to arrest him, just a traffic ticket. I wanted him arrested and screened for HIV and Hepatitis, the cop said he wouldn’t do that.

Yes, you and I get a traffic ticket for hitting another car- then we stop. We don’t plow through neighbors’ yards- then try to ram our way back to the street. I call and ask to talk to a supervisor- who basically says the same thing- it’s a traffic ticket, that’s all.

Unbelievably, he had insurance, but, that’s not going to replace John’s fence with anything like what was there before. It’s also not going to pay for misery this punk has brought to our block.

I wrote most of this Saturday night and started preparing the rap sheet of the Crouch family from the county’s websites, real estate taxes, purchase dates, criminal records. Doyle and Brandon’s uncle- who has lived on the block for 20 years and is the one Crouch who isn’t a criminal – told a story that goes something like this-

Brandon had bought an expensive video game (system?) for his little brother Cory- and his older brother, Tony Jr., had stolen it and sold it for $50 so he could buy heroin. Tony Jr. has a long list of turns in prison for a year or less for theft, burglary and receiving stolen goods. Brandon took Tony Jr. over to the guys who bought the game- and Brandon wanted to buy it back for $50- they proceeded to beat Brandon with a ball bat (Brandon stands 5’5″ and weighs in at 128; Tony Jr. is much bigger). Then supposedly they jump in the truck to return- “being chased”- and as they turn onto our block,  Tony Jr. hits Brandon again in the face- causing him to careen onto the sidewalk after clipping the VW-  Tony bails out (no video confirmation of this- his Uncle has all of this on his security system DVR- including our tussle in the street).

Sunday morning I wake up to see a long thread about an arrest of a Crouch. Yep, DPD has Brandon (misspelled “Branden” on the Sheriff’s site)  in lock up after there was a dust-up at 629 Oak St.- or nearby. 629 is owned by Christianna Crouch (unbelievably no relation) – and she owes $3,013.07 in back taxes. Oddly- this house has no record of purchase date. She lives on Beatrice.

Mugshot of Brandon Crouch

Brandon Crouch, just turned 18 and starts his life of crime

Branden Crouch 11/6/1996 is being charged with:

  • CARRYING CONCEALED W
  • USING WEAPONS WHILE
  • SALE LIQUOR UNDERAGE

Only the liquor charge has a bail at this point of $1,000, the other two are not entered.

There were some posts about gunfire in this area last night as well- but at this point I can’t connect the dots.

Brandon Crouch and his family of criminals entered our lovely neighborhood 18 Aug. of 2008. I had just moved my elderly parents down from Cleveland in June of that year almost directly across the street from their house, 121 Bonner St. The house had been owned by the Bowling family for years- their daughter had married the Crouch kids’ good uncle and lived at 105 Bonner peaceably for years. The Crouch home, 121 Bonner,  went into foreclosure and was bought by a Florida investor- who was paying me to maintain the yard that summer. I’d asked him about purchase price and he was evasive.

Turns out he sold it for $14K to Anna Lockhart- the baby momma of Tony Crouch Sr. and parents to a gaggle of kids- including Cory, Dillon, Brandon, Dustin, Tony Jr. and 2 daughters, Casey and Candace- who left the house early- getting hooked up and pregnant.

Anna currently owes $1,864.82 in back taxes on the house.

They were able to buy the house because someone won a judgment in a worker’s comp case. Anna already had a judgment out against her for $85K after her youngest- Cory, burned down 27 McGee Street back in 2004. She was arrested in 2012 for possession of cocaine- but the case was dismissed.

Tony Sr. did an 8-month turn for domestic violence back in 1999. But, generally, other than being drunk and obnoxious, he manages to stay out of trouble and works as a mover when he can.

Can’t say that for the boys.

Tony Crouch Jr. born 24-MAY-87

  • BREAKING AND ENTERING (unoccupied structure) 7 Months 17-MAY-06
  • ATTEMPTED GRAND THEFT (MOTOR VEHICLE) 7 months each count- 2 counts 17-MAY-06
  • BURGLARY 7 Months 17-MAY-06
  • BURGLARY (habitation/person present or likely) dismissed 19-NOV-09
  • THEFT (2913.71 PROPERTY) 12 Months 24-FEB-10
  • THEFT (2913.71 PROPERTY) THEFT (2913.71 PROPERTY)
  • RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY ($1000 but less than $7500) 7 Months + 12 Months 02-JAN-13
Mugshot Dustin Crouch

Dustin Crouch, mugshot 20 Jan 2015

Dustin Crouch born 12/18/88

  • RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY (MV) + ATTEMPTED GRAND THEFT (MOTOR VEHICLE) 9 months 25 Aug 08
  • THEFT ($500)(WITHOUT CONSENT) AGGRAVATED ROBBERY (deadly weapon) + ROBBERY (use of force) 10 Months 14 Feb 11
  • GRAND THEFT (MOTOR VEHICLE) 7 Months 20 Sept 07
  • BURGLARY (occupied structure/person present) + AGGRAVATED ARSON (harm to person) NO BILL 13 Jun 08
  • Parole Violation (PV-Robbery) and Petty Theft booking 20 Jan 2015.

And now add Brandon. Note, he’s only been eligible to be in the big boys’ jail booking for a month and a half.

There are still 2 more in the pipeline to enter the system- Dillon and Cory.

Since they’ve moved in, we’ve experienced a crime wave. The police have responded to that house at least 20 calls a year every year (I’ll be collecting the exact reports this week). We’ve had drug overdoses, fights, truancy, searches for Tony Jr. or Dustin the works.

UPDATE

16 DEC 14 The Crime Stats

I’ve received the crime stats- in the three years previous to the Crouch’s moving in, one police call;

DateIncident AddressPriorityInc_Dsptch_Code_DescInc Dispo
6/3/2008121 BONNER ST4BURG2

Note- this was when the house was empty- and someone broke in and stole the copper etc. Might have even been the future homeowners for all we know, since the DPD has a lousy record of catching and prosecuting scrappers.

In the three years after they moved in 49 and counting-

DateIncident_AddressPriorityInc_Dsptch_Code_DescInc_Dispo
14-Sep-08121 BONNER ST2911U1
14-Sep-08121 BONNER ST4FT1
15-Sep-08121 BONNER ST9THEFT1
15-Sep-08121 BONNER ST6THEFT1
14-Sep-08121 BONNER ST6THEFT1
21-Sep-08121 BONNER ST6THEFT1
07-Nov-08121 BONNER ST4FT1
07-Nov-08121 BONNER ST8MISC1
07-Nov-08121 BONNER ST4FOUNDJUV2
08-Nov-08121 BONNER ST4FOUNDJUV1
23-Oct-08121 BONNER ST4WANTED2
08-Oct-08121 BONNER ST2DOMVIO2
26-Jan-09121 BONNER ST2DOMVIO1
01-Mar-09121 BONNER ST1DIST2
06-Jun-09121 BONNER ST2DOMVIO1
17-Jun-09121 BONNER ST1OD1
09-Aug-09121 BONNER ST1OD2
16-Sep-09121 BONNER ST3DIST3
20-Aug-09121 BONNER ST4WANTED1
22-Oct-09121 BONNER ST2DOMVIO1
14-Oct-09121 BONNER ST4ASSIST1
14-Jan-10121 BONNER ST7TRANS1
12-Mar-10121 BONNER ST1OD1
16-Jan-10121 BONNER ST4MISSJUV2
11-Jan-10121 BONNER ST4MISSJUV2
12-Jan-10121 BONNER ST4FOUNDJUV2
18-Jan-10121 BONNER ST4MISCINV1
11-Mar-10121 BONNER ST4MALARM2
03-Jun-10121 BONNER ST4FT1
18-Apr-10121 BONNER ST4WANTED1
09-Apr-10121 BONNER ST4WANTED2
11-May-10121 BONNER ST4FT2
24-Jun-10121 BONNER ST4ASSAULT2
10-Apr-10121 BONNER ST4FT1
12-May-10121 BONNER ST2DOMVIO1
12-May-10121 BONNER ST4DWI3
17-May-10121 BONNER ST4DRUGS2
19-May-10121 BONNER ST4MISCINV1
03-Jul-10121 BONNER ST4WANTED2
24-Jul-10121 BONNER ST3FIGHT1
05-Nov-10121 BONNER ST6DWOC2
20-Oct-10121 BONNER ST2911D1
11-Dec-10121 BONNER ST4BURGN
24-Dec-10121 BONNER ST1MEDICPF
30-Dec-10121 BONNER ST4WANTEDL
20-Feb-11121 BONNER ST3SCL
09-Mar-11121 BONNER ST2911N
24-Jun-11121 BONNER ST2911N
06-Jul-11121 BONNER ST8MISCF

UPDATE

End of crime stats update

I moved to 113 Bonner on Jan. 28, 1986- the day the first Space Shuttle blew up. In the 22 years before the Crouch Criminal Clan arrived, I’d had my garage broken into once- with very little stolen. A walk board stolen off scaffold at my office. My contractor’s tools stolen out of the cottages that were being rehabbed in 1998 and that was it. Since the Crouches, the house and my office have been broken into, the garage has been broken into twice, and cars on the street broken into repeatedly.

The reason I bought the cottages across the street was to provide a good place for my parents to live- and to get rid of crappy tenants who were also constant problems- but not thieves. From 1998 to 2008, this block was quiet and peaceful. After the arrival of the Couch clan- it’s been hell.

The house next door to them had been bought and rented to UD Law students for a number of years- they were getting broken into regularly. The next tenants, some hearty good people with kids- got sick of the BS after about a year and a half and left. The turning point? A major ruckus ensued when one of the Crouchs’ compatriots- who drives an older red Jeep Cherokee kept drag racing down the street. The tenants asked him to stop- and the Crouch Clan all piled out and threatened to fight the tenant. They left- despite their older kids just renting a house behind them.

The crazy thing was that even Tony Sr. agreed the next day that speed racer was being a jerk, the next day- but, in the mob the day before, was egging the fight on.

Other neighbors live in fear and don’t come out much. They’ve come to think this is the status quo- and that there is nothing they can do. The cops claim that unless prostitution or drugs are being dealt, they can’t nuisance the house. Housing inspection doesn’t cite them for broken windows. Amazingly, they take pretty good care of the front yard, but often do open burns in the backyard- mostly melting plastic off stolen air conditioners to separate the metal from the plastic.

I believe we can take the crime stats, the calls, and the latest fiasco, and file a civil suit against them as a neighborhood. This is the plan of action we will begin to proceed with, if they won’t accept an offer to buy the house on the condition they leave South Park.

The city would be in better shape purchasing and moving them out- considering the cost of the constant police calls and ambulance runs in and out of this house. For all the work the people of South Park have done to improve our properties and make our neighborhood so desirable that our property taxes have gone up, you’d think that they could find the money. They didn’t have any problem pouring millions into Wright Dunbar to achieve less.

The preamble of the Constitution clearly states that the reason we have our government is to:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,  promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It’s time to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility on Bonner Street. This is the first responsibility our city government has- not the tax-seeking behaviors they call “economic development” or “job creation.”

I sent an email to the Mayor, Commissioners Williams and Mims- and haven’t heard back. (note- Mims and Williams reached out on Sunday – still no call from the Chief or the Mayor)

The demolition derby was the last straw. It’s time for peace and safety to return to South Park and to Bonner Street.

To be continued…

Another blow to the American dream

Come to America, where everyone can become a millionaire.

Thing is, a million ain’t what it used to be.

It’s been a long time since I served with the U.S. Army Special Forces. We liked to think of our special operations units as the “quiet professionals.” We didn’t like to have our pictures taken, we’d keep a low profile, identifying marks on our bodies that weren’t put there by god weren’t approved of. (A friend, Tim G., got busted 2 ranks and put in a shit job for getting “YANKEE” tattooed across his chest just before being shipped to Nicaragua to train people we had no business training). When “Mark Owen” wrote the book “No Easy Day” about the operation to get Bin Laden, I pre-ordered it and read it the weekend I got it.

I didn’t see anything that even remotely seemed like a security leak, or disclosure of classified info or special ops weapons or tactics. I’d read most of Dick Marcinko’s “Red Cell” books- and gleaned a lot more there.

And while it’s OK for Hillary, Bill, and Barack to make millions from their books- apparently, it’s not OK for an enlisted man to make a dime.

Matt Bissonnette, a former member of Navy SEAL Team 6, will probably have to forfeit at least $4.5 million in book royalties over his failure to allow the Pentagon to review his best seller on the Osama bin Laden raid for possible security breaches, according to court documents filed by his lawyer. The documents say Mr. Bissonnette would also have to give up movie rights to his book “No Easy Day,” worth at least $900,000, and would lose the security clearances needed to do military-related consulting work.

via Former Navy SEAL, Author of Bin Laden Best Seller, May Face Costly Penalties, Lawyer Says – NYTimes.com.

Let’s see the differences:

Bissonnette signed a blank check to the people of the United States guaranteed with his life. He trained harder than 99.99% of Americans. He risked his life many times over.

Hillary, Bill and Barack- got elected. They smiled and waved at cameras, told people what they wanted to hear, and took billions in donations to reach their goal. Hell, even Monica Lewinsky got paid for her near toppling of our government over her sloppy blow job.

Charlie Sheen pretended to be a Navy SEAL- and got paid millions. Why shouldn’t Bissonnette? He’d even promised most of the proceeds to go to families of Navy SEALs who were killed in action, although the foundation refused his donations according to Wikipedia sources.

Generals have made millions from their book deals- I’ve got a signed copy of General Tommy Frank’s book, Colin Powell has a book, McChrystal has a book- after he had to resign for talking to Rolling Stone while still on duty. Look at what all the generals get to do once they retire- sit on boards, work for defense contractors, lecture tours.

Guys like Matt who did their dirty work, make up the largest segment of America’s homeless.

The American dream isn’t what it used to be. Even the guys who make it possible for it to continue to survive- have to fight tooth and nail to get their share.

I hope the Pentagon drops this stupidity before they make bigger fools of themselves.

The Sexist Selective Service System

Selective Service Manual cover with the words "No Girls Allowed" superimposed

Selective Service System is still a good ole boys club

When I turned 18, I went to the post office and registered for Selective Service. About 6 months later, I volunteered to enter the U.S. Army, where I served with women who weren’t required to register.

From the Selective Service System website:

Almost all male U.S. citizens, and male immigrants living in the U.S., who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service. It’s important to know that even though he is registered, a man will not automatically be inducted into the military. In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. Then, they would be examined for mental, physical and moral fitness by the military before being deferred or exempted from military service or inducted into the Armed Forces.

via Selective Service System: Fast Facts.

I hadn’t given it much thought lately until I heard a PSA on WDPS reminding young men to register. It warned that failure to register could stop eligibility for “student financial aid, loans, or grants; vocational training under WIA; government employment; and security clearances.”

In light of changes to the rules about women in combat, as of Jan. 24, 2013, when:

a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today announced the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members.

via Defense.gov News Article: Defense Department Expands Women’s Combat Role.

it would seem to me that it is discriminatory to force the “Selective Service System” only on men, and only penalize men for not registering for the draft that probably would never happen. It’s time to level the playing field and ask women to make the same commitment to their country as men, if they also want access to financial aid, loans, grants, etc.

It’s been a long time for this country to live up to the words of the founding fathers – in our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Women can vote, women can go to war, women can become presidential candidates- it’s time for women to register for the Selective Service System.