Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is gay. According to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, some people are allowed to decline him service.
Mississippi’s governor signed far-reaching legislation allowing individuals and institutions with religious objections to deny services to gay couples…
The measure signed by Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people if doing so would violate their religious beliefs on marriage and gender.
Apparently, Mississippi didn’t learn about civil rights and non-discrimination from Dr. Martin Luther King, so maybe it’s time for Tim Cook to teach them a lesson.
Let’s face it- Citizens United says corporations are people too- and have a right to buy elections, and by the same standard, they should be able to decline to serve an entire state if it wishes to discriminate.
My proposal is that Apple shut down all their Apple stores in Mississippi, tomorrow. Then, shut off access to the entire state to the iTunes store, to iCloud, to Apple Maps and any and all programs on residents’ iPhones.
I would hope that Google joins in- and sets up a geofence and denies service to the entire state. No Google. No Google Maps. No Android updates.
Throw in Facebook. Geofence the entire state. If you are in Mississippi, you’re off Facebook. Just like that.
I would think that if these three companies cut off all services within the state- Mississippi would cease to exist- but, for good measure- Ebay, and PayPal can join in too. All of these companies have believed in and supported diversity. Microsoft can jump in too- although who really uses Bing?
Since we don’t have legislators or leaders who do anything without the almighty dollar directing them- maybe, just maybe, teaching the people of Mississippi a lesson not to elect bigots, racists and haters to office will send a message to all of these holier than thou misanthropes a lesson.
Enough people died in Mississippi to end segregation in the sixties. Supposedly, we moved forward- to where we no longer judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
America has no place for bigots like Phil Bryant.
Which of our corporate chieftains will have the fortitude to step up and stop this hate from spreading?
The call came in a few days ago- a Wright State student who was organizing Bernie Sanders events on campus was distraught: apparently, someone had donated some sodas for the meeting, which they distributed for free at a debate watch party.
The next thing you know, they were being threatened with being banned from campus. You see WSU signed an exclusive contract with one of the big soda companies for exclusive rights on campus, and this soda was from their evil competition.
I was in the midst of work, and it didn’t really register as a battle worth fighting. They’d looked me up for my posts critical of the university for the scandal train that’s been running around the university for too long. The more I thought about it after I hung up, the more I realized, they are willing to go ballistic over $20 worth of pop, but a million dollars to Ron Wine without a contract– that’s ok?
This “soda gate” had gone all the way up to Dr. Rountree- yes, the opportunistic political climber now sitting on the Dayton Board of Education. This is what she gets paid close to six figures to rule on- free soda distribution.
In the meantime, the Dayton Daily has yet another example of the school trying to weasel around the Ohio Sunshine laws:
Wright State University has paid $309,750 to an independent auditing firm to review its practices amid a federal immigration probe and other ongoing controversies, but says it will not make the audit’s findings public.
Wright State says the details of Plante Moran’s work are not subject to Ohio public records laws because the firm was subcontracted through the law firm Dinsmore and Shohl, therefore the audit falls under attorney-client privilege.
The university repeatedly has denied requests for a copy of the firm’s findings, beginning with a written denial in October: “(They) are privileged and the university has no plans to share them publicly at this time,” WSU spokesman Seth Bauguess wrote in response to a request for the records under Ohio public records law.
This newspaper later followed up with a request for records on how much Plante Moran was paid. That information was received this week.
Plante Moran, a certified public accounting and business advisory firm based in Michigan, was paid for work done in 2015 with five checks from WSU, cut between September and January.
Dinsmore has billed the university another $108,000 this fiscal year under a pair of contracts for “immigration matters” and “legal advice and services related to internal investigations.”
“Every organization can find ways to do things better and those of us who love and support Wright State know that our university is no different,” WSU Trustees Chairman Michael Bridges said when he announced the hiring of the CPA firm in June. “We look forward to detailed and aggressive recommendations from the outside accounting professionals at Plante Moran to help us make the best possible strategic decisions for our university.”
The work by the two companies is related to an ongoing federal investigation into possible violations of immigration law, which led to several top university officials being suspended, fired or forced to retire.
Let me translate, Wright State paid Plante Moran directly, yet claims the work was hired by a sub-contractor, also hired directly by the university, so that the work product, done for the school, is not public record.
The board chairman, who already illegally voted on the hiring of his son to an unposted job, at one time claimed that WSU hired Plante Moran back in June to help THEM, Wright State, not the law firm, make best possible decisions- but, oh, we’re not going to see it, because our lawyers need to keep it secret.
It’s time to fire President Hopkins, bring up the hack “spokesman Seth Bauguess” on charges of violating the Sunshine laws, and to replace not just the board president, but the entire board, which has been asleep at the wheel.
There is no more room for this kind of deceit at a public university. The report needs to be made public no if, ands or buts.
What good are public information laws if they aren’t enforced?
And those damn commie students with their 3 cases of soda. Send them off to the gulag. We can’t be sipping contraband soda while rooting for a damn democratic socialist running for president. What is this world coming to?
For the last 2 days, the world has been focused on the terrorist attacks in Paris. Much like lots of Donald Trump campaign trail rhetoric, terrorism is focused on triggering media coverage, not actual effectiveness.
In the grand scheme of things, the downing of the Russian airliner out of Sharm El-Sheikh, where 135 people died, was a more effective campaign- about the same number of deaths 135, with a lot less casualties of terrorists. Same goes for 9/11- 20 men lost, 3000+ victims. Yet, Paris will dominate headlines because of where it is, and because Europeans died.
Every day in the United States, hundreds of people die from heroin overdoses, drunk driving, distracted driving, lung cancer caused by smoking, and we’re used to it. But the moment someone yells “allahu akbar” while killing people- we’re up in arms and condemn an entire religion making up about 23% of the world’s population.
What we refuse to understand about terrorism, and fail to acknowledge is that it is the last resort of those who feel powerless. The fight for attention, for a voice, is more easily gained by bullets and bombs than by words and peaceful demonstration. The days of Gandhi and King are over.
Those who are willing to die for a cause will never stop, as long as their deaths prove to be effective at gaining the world’s attention. That their message gets lost in the media noise isn’t an accident, it’s the very reason they continue. At some point, we need to stop pointing fingers and figure out what the real cause of radicalized Islam is, and what causes it.
Now, the mythology of American Supremacy has to be examined. There are plenty of Jim Bobs and Billy Bobs in America who believe that what happened in Paris couldn’t happen here. That the “good guys with guns” would take out the “bad guys with guns.” This philosophy, this pipe dream, is why we also continue to spend more than the rest of the world on maintaining a military that is so grossly mismatched to any kind of conflict that no nation would willingly think of a conventional war with us. Nuclear power, submarines, aircraft carriers aren’t ever going to be used again as in World War II and yet we cling to that fantasy.
So do the Billy-Bobs- who think their concealed carry 40 caliber 9 shot automatic is going to take on 4 guys with a plan, the advantage of surprise and superior firepower. It’s why we equip our cops with AR-15’s now- because you lose that fight every time. To quote a t-shirt that I owned when I was 19- with a picture of an M-16 on it- “Why waltz when you can rock-n-roll” comparing the three shot burst setting to full auto.
Mismatches cause two things- overconfidence and helplessness. This applies to military might, and to income inequity (which are often intertwined, but that interrelationship is often ignored). Throughout history, whenever the gap is too big between parties, be they nation states or even between 2 people- things implode. There is a good reason we talk about the balance of nature. Balance is the key to averting disasters that can be controlled by man.
Terrorism tilts the balance to the underdogs, conventional war, to the mighty. With all of our investment in winning wars, we believe we are preventing them, when in fact, we’re just asking for it.
If we want to stop terrorism, the first thing to do is to stop exporting weapons. Only a fool hands a gun to his enemies or untrusted ally- and expects it not to be turned against him. The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against, has made trillions off these wars that can’t be won, that never end, and guarantee a world where terrorism is the only game left.
The other part we have to do, is to stop thinking we have a birthright of freedom to share across the globe. Our own people are, despite “a standard of living” that we consider superior, drowning in debt, poverty, and a frustration brewing at home that the deck is stacked against us as well. Inequality is something that never lasts. Equilibrium is and always will be, a force to be reckoned with.
To understand jihadists, look at the numbers that we overlook, the death tolls in our attempts at regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq- 224,000. U.S. military deaths- 4,491 from 2003 to 2014. In Afghanistan, 2,372 U.S. deaths, compared to 106,000–170,000 for the Afghans that we were “freeing.”
The fact that we can clearly count our casualties and not those of our opponents should tell you something.
When the odds are this mismatched, there is no choice but terrorism. Call it a cost of war, call it a last resort, but, understand that it won’t go away as long as the deck is stacked on one side’s favor.
What happened in Paris sucks. What happened on 9/11 sucks. But, what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam before that- wasn’t exactly how you help a country out. War is never the answer, it’s the result of failed statesmanship, it’s the result of failed policy, it’s the result of shortsightedness.
It’s time to step back and re-evaluate our extension of military power, our exporting of the weapons of war, and our policies of trying to pick other countries’ leaders.
We wouldn’t tolerate it here if we thought another country dictated who our leaders were, would we?
In a state where recreational pot for adults is fine, we have a high school football team being punished for sexting. Juveniles playing modern-day spin the bottle are facing possible felony charges for making and distributing child pornography. Colorado isn’t exactly a state known for puritanical tyranny like nearby Utah- where Applebee’s can’t be called a “bar and grill”- but some people can have “sister wives.”
In Ohio, a bunch of holier than thou legislators, are trying to legislate laws to make legal abortion impossible. We just passed a law to “ban monopolies” aimed at a private pot cartel, but not at the casinos that wrote themselves into the constitution without a peep of protest from the Statehouse. Now, all of a sudden, everyone from used car dealers and dentists to hairdressers and morticians may be under new scrutiny caused by passage of Issue 2.
Smoking pot in this state, even for medical reasons is still illegal, and while we’re facing an epidemic of heroin deaths, our solution is still prison instead of health care.
Our “sex offender” laws create an underclass of people, who are no longer free to live where they want, without notices being sent to all the neighbors. Normal employment, basic rights- all out the window- even if your crime was being in love – with someone younger than you, or having had nude photos on a computer of someone who appears to be too young.
Never mind the huge number of African American males being imprisoned for being poor.
I read “The Scarlet Letter” in high school and thought that those days were long over. We’d had the “sexual revolution” in the 1960s- and Roe vs. Wade had settled the abortion issue. Pornography- hard core, had come out of the closet with Larry Flynt and his raunchy “Hustler”- which no longer made any secrets of what a certain part of a women’s anatomy looked like.
The fascination with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and celebrity sex tapes is able to captivate the country, yet we still seem to think that our politicians don’t have sex, or if they do, it’s only in the missionary position, with the lights off, with their legal spouse of the opposite sex.
We impeached a sitting president for a blow job, spending months investigating this most personal act, between consenting adults. Yet, when the Wall Street wizards destroyed the global economy- we didn’t put a single one of them on the scaffold, or force them to wear a scarlet letter. Fuck the world economy and you get a pass, fuck an intern and it’s all over.
To bring this into local perspective, the City of Dayton has given up on basic city services- leaf collection, street sweeping, snow plowing, parks and recreation, and even effective policing.
But, we handed $3.5 million to Stuart Lichter of IRG to pillage the Emery/UPS building- and create zero value, without a peep. We’ve bought 3 buildings for half a million each- that have zero public use. We’ve allowed CityWide Development to buy a few more- including this gem of a piece of shit for the same. All without a single cry of immoral uses of the public trust. $2 million went into the hole in the ground on Ludlow- $5 million into the failed Wayne Avenue Kroger- and no trials, no witch hunts, no question of impropriety. We’re handing out $75K checks left and right for office remodels to “help businesses relocate in downtown Dayton” while our property taxes are being hiked indiscriminately and capriciously.
The latest levy- issue 13, was heavily backed by the health care cartel in Dayton, which isn’t subject to the property tax in the first place. And while they scream about low government reimbursement rates for services- any kind of questioning their illegal ad hoc pricing structure goes ignored.
It’s time to stop legislating against sex, race, orientation, and poverty- and start putting laws in place that guarantee equal and fair treatment for all. From corporate welfare disguised as “economic development” to tax breaks for the wealthy and the protected classes (hospital networks) it’s time that no more breaks be given unless they are equally available to all who meet fair and published standards- i.e., no tax breaks for companies that have employees who are eligible for public assistance or that pay their executives more than 20x their median payroll. No incentives for individual companies or industries that may have supported or contributed to political campaigns. Look at the donors to Mayor Whaley’s campaign chest- and see that the Sinclair Supporters bought her election for her.
It’s time to stop criminalizing human behavior- like sex and sexual health, addiction and orientation- and get back to criminalizing criminal behavior like grand theft, racketeering, union busting, labor exploitation and violent behavior that are all much more important than two or twenty teens sexting.
What passes for “news” these days is often just glorified gossip. Actually committing a crime isn’t even necessary anymore- if you’ve been following the pathetic case of a local basketball star who is being punished for being accused of a crime- not for actually committing one.
Which leads me to wonder, how much longer will my ability to publish this blog still be protected?
Read these words carefully-
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
On June 7th of 2015, I wrote a piece about my discomfort with private police forces- here is just a short excerpt:
The rise of private police forces and hired gun security services is a relatively new thing. The real question is should these private armies really have legal standing? And, why are they necessary in the first place? Some blame the cost of unions and pensions of the real police. Others say crime is rising and we have to protect our fiefdoms. The reality is that society is breaking down and we’re blissfully ignoring the warning signs.
Now, with the murder of Samuel Dubose in Cincinnati by a University of Cincinnati “police officer” engaged in a “chicken crap stop” (the prosecutor’s words, not mine) over a missing front license plate (which Sam had, but just hadn’t mounted) others are having the same discussion. Here is the stabilized, uncensored video:
Some people are asking the same questions: why?
There are questions about training standards. In the rarest of rare, a judge on the federal bench spoke out against the practice:
Although the consent decree expired in 2008, an advisory group meets regularly with the city to monitor continued adherence to what it calls “the collaborative.” Some group members, including Judge Susan Dlott of U. S. District Court, who oversaw the consent decree, say they were alarmed to learn, after Mr. DuBose’s death, that the university had a formal agreement to patrol beyond campus borders.
“We were furious, because we knew that the U.C. police have not had any of the training that the Cincinnati police have,” Judge Dlott said.
The fundamental issue is who is watching over these keystone cops? Who is held accountable? Whom can we pressure that we elect, to get rid of bad cops? Sheriff Phil Plummer knew that he wouldn’t get reelected had he not fired the two supervisors in his department who were exchanging racist text messages. He was accountable.
Municipal police chiefs are accountable to a city manager or a mayor, and both of them are accountable to voters. Not so with campus cops.
Today, UC President Santa Ono, announced that he was appointing one of his professors to oversee the campus department:
The University of Cincinnati has created a new executive position to oversee campus safety and police reform – more reaction to last month’s officer-involved fatal shooting.
Respected criminologist Robin Engel has been named vice president for safety and reform effective immediately, UC President Santa Ono announced Tuesday.
Engel has been a professor in UC’s highly regarded School of Criminal Justice. UC has not yet announced what Engel is being paid to serve in the new role, which has been created in the wake of now-former UC Police Officer Ray Tensing shooting and killing Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19.
Engel’s research has focused in part on racial profiling, and she has worked with the city of Cincinnati on its collaborative agreement and the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV).
Engel said she will not directly oversee day-to-day operations in public safety or in the university’s police department. Instead, she will report directly to Ono and will advise him and UC’s trustees on long-term strategy.
I have nothing against professor Engel, however, she has zero police training, and voters can’t fire her, or President Ono.
There can be no mistake, the ability to hire and fire the head cop is critical to the confidence the public, and even the police force has in a department. A long time ago, soon after I moved into Dayton, the police department had lost faith in Chief Tyree Broomfield. The politicians couldn’t stomach the idea of firing our first black police chief. In a very strange move, local businessman Tom Danis stepped in and offered to pay Broomfield $100K to resign- which he promptly did. In most communities, paying off a policeman would be frowned on, here it was cheered. Broomfield went to a job running the private force for Central State and didn’t lose any sleep over it.
If you go back and read my article from June 7, I was against the dilution of police command and control amongst many sub-departments.
After watching the video of former UC Officer Ray Tensing, you too should have good reason to question the training and ability of these private police forces.
After the rash of questionable shooting by under-trained or sub-standard police officers in Ohio, the state has stepped in and started requiring more hours of training, and even a high school diploma as qualifications to be a police officer. But on the flip side, they are also insisting that cops should babysit traffic cameras with the threat of withholding state money if cities like Dayton continue to use them.
Using this same rationale, maybe cities should levy “licenses” on private police officers equal to their pay- to make all these private organizations leave the policing to the professionals. Dayton would gain the numbers of cops working for Sinclair, UD, Premier Health Partners, Kettering Health Network and even some MetroParks cops. Net gain, at least 100 more cops on the street- with proper training and a professional chief who reports not to a college president, or CEO, but to a city manager who works for our elected City Commission. It should also be included that no organization can have a private police force if it is exempt from paying property taxes, just because we shouldn’t have to pay for their protection, or our own- when they send out liars like Ray “I was dragged” Tensing.
And one last point, any cop who lies about another cop’s actions, should be found guilty of the same crime the officer who committed the crime is sentenced to. Enough of this “thin blue line” being held to cover up incompetence.
Gone, but never forgotten. SGM Woodall, US Army Special Forces
“Veteran of 3 wars, 85, dies in home invasion” is still taped directly in front of me- above my computer monitor. I look at it every day, and wait for the Dayton Police Department to solve the crime. To bring the killers to justice. To avenge the death of Sergeant Major North E. Woodall in his home at 1028 Walton Avenue in Dayton. 2 silver stars. 3 wars. The toughest training in the Army- and you deserved better.
It’s been 6 years Top. We’re still thinking about you. De Oppresso Liber.
It happened on Monday, July 27th, but I always remember it on the 29th- because that’s the date of the paper that had it on the front page.
There is still a reward out for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the killer(s).
Anyone with information should contact the Dayton Police Department at 333-COPS
I walk into Kroger on Wayne Ave., and there he is, armed, and probably a lot more dangerous than he looks. The private security officer. Kroger pays for him, and that cost is reflected in my grocery bill.
Family Dollar on Wayne, despite multiple robberies, including one where a gun was fired inches away from a manager’s head– pays for a private cop for a few weeks then stops- because if they had to build his pay into their product costs- apparently, people would stop shopping there.
Of course, that hasn’t stopped Miami Valley Hospital from having its own private police force. Note- I used the word “police” not security guard. Sure, we’ll just add it to your bill, which we make up as we feel fit, one price for you, another price for you, and yet another price for someone else.
The University of Dayton has a police department, too. More like a secret service. Get arrested by them as a student, and we’ll deal with you in our secret court and our secret system, even if you were committing a felony. A country of our own apparently.
The rise of private police forces and hired gun security services is a relatively new thing. The real question is should these private armies really have legal standing? And, why are they necessary in the first place?
Some blame the cost of unions and pensions of the real police. Others say crime is rising and we have to protect our fiefdoms.
The reality is that society is breaking down and we’re blissfully ignoring the warning signs.
When the City of Dayton decided that “creating economic opportunity” was more important than essential city services, money started flowing to places like CityWide Development, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton Development Coalition, its own internal Department of Economic Development- and then throw in the insane waste of tax dollars buying up real estate that then stopped producing taxes while they sit on it until someone wants to have it for a song…. and dance, promising “Jobs!”
Our police force has basically fallen in half since I moved into the city in 1986. The city hasn’t gotten geographically smaller, and the population didn’t drop by half either, so less police have to deal with the same distances, a few less people, and an economy that keeps making things more difficult to stay on the right side of the law (poverty and crime are closely related).
Take all the money that we’ve spent on the fixing up of the Arcade (the last time- before we sold it to Tom Danis for $36,000), the Arcade Tower ($37 million- later sold off in foreclosure) and the countless little pieces of property that we bought without any public use (no one has explained why the city spent over $100,000 for the plot of land that is now known as Garden Station 20 years or so ago). The latest fiasco at the Cliburn Manor site is only another example of tax dollars diverted from public uses to benefit private parties. At some point, this has to stop.
It’s kind of weird that the biggest tax-exempt organizations in Dayton- are also big employers- and also the owners of the largest private cop shops (Sinclair also has one, but, it’s quasi-government as is Five Rivers Metro Parks which you can add to the list). Suppose both of them paid taxes instead of for their private police forces- and Dayton added another 60 cops to the streets? Cut out Sinclair’s cops and add another 20 or so? Instead of spending $5 million trying to acquire real estate for Kroger to build a new building at Wayne and Wyoming- had another 20 cops on the street.
Now, once you’ve added another 100 or so cops, Dayton doesn’t seem safer, it is safer. Prices at Kroger and Family Dollar and Miami Valley Hospital are lower- because they don’t have to hire a private army to protect them. Tax payers aren’t getting fleeced in phony real estate deals either- that often benefit these big employers as well.
And, guess what, you even created 100 new jobs in Dayton. Ones that protect my business, my home and my peace of mind. We know that the police officers who respond to a crime are well trained, accountable, and ultimately responsible to us- the taxpayer.
And if you need a further reason to justify the ending of these private police forces, remember, Hitler had his own private police force, too.
OMG, call out the FBI, a former teacher, goes to Congress, becomes Speaker of the House, leaves- somehow is now a multi-millionaire- and we don’t question that. But, pull out more than $10K at a time from his own bank account (to allegedly pay hush money) and we’re on it:
Hastert was charged Thursday with withdrawing $952,000 in cash in small amounts to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. The former U.S. House speaker is also charged with lying to the FBI.The indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to an unidentified person to hide “prior misconduct” against that person. The indictment does not describe the misconduct Hastert was trying to conceal.
Apparently, international professional soccer is also a den of criminality that requires the FBI to investigate:
For decades, that was how business was done in international soccer, American officials said Wednesday as they announced a sweeping indictment against 14 soccer officials and marketing executives who they said had corrupted the sport through two decades of shadowy dealing and $150 million in bribes. Authorities described international soccer in terms normally reserved for Mafia families or drug cartels, and brought charges under racketeering laws usually applied to such criminal organizations.
And while trillions were stolen from everyday Americans through mortgage manipulations by the wizards of Wall Street- more investigation and justice was done to the NY England Patriots over Tom Brady’s balls:
The evidence listed in Wednesday’s “Deflategate” report is eye-catching:
Text messages between a part-time New England Patriots employee and an equipment assistant with talk of cash, free shoes and autographs.
The part-time employee, a locker room attendant responsible for 12 footballs before the AFC title game, spending 100 seconds in a bathroom after game officials had approved the balls for play.
Measurements taken at halftime after a team that is losing tips off the league about footballs that appear to be too soft.
The Patriots’ star quarterback and the equipment assistant suddenly exchanging phone calls in the days just after news of underinflated footballs blew up.
Those are the key points in the 139-page NFL-commissioned report given to the league’s brass.
Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as “the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.”
Mr. Ulbricht had faced a minimum of 20 years in prison on one of the counts for which he was convicted. But in handing down a much longer sentence, Judge Forrest told Mr. Ulbricht that “what you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric.”
Life in prison for setting up an exchange- while the Wall Street bandits stole trillions.
Trillions gone. People losing their homes. Credit card rates at near usurious rates, pension funds cleaned out, higher ed becoming out of reach, universal health care that’s just fattening the pockets of the insurance middlemen- and zero, zip, zilch investigation or action.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?