Letter: Recent editorial cartoon fuels divisive agenda

You lost all credibility in choosing to publish the editorial cartoon on Sunday, Nov. 8. Pushing the black lives matter vitriol only serves to further an agenda of racial divide on which people like Singer make their living. The cartoon not only suggests, wrongly, that the police target blacks, but that the officers who keep our communities safe are not themselves a diverse group of all backgrounds. In fact, so is the group of officers who have been killed while serving the neighborhoods that need every hand they can get to curb violence: largely neighborhoods of color.

The cartoonist and others would do well to take a post in these very communities where there are pervasive problems with crime and violence. Where black lives seem not to matter to other black lives. How cute that you include a graphic that lists a handful of alleged victims of police brutality and deaths in police custody which race-baiters have used to create a picture of a police-led war on minority communities. The upsetting reality is that the names of young minority lives lost at the hands of members of their very own neighborhoods and the names of police officers murdered by people of all colors are far too many for me to list with any chance of seeing this letter published. You should be ashamed.

Paul Grattan Jr.

Letter as published in the Times Herald Record, November 14, 2015

Letter: Recent editorial cartoon fuels divisive agenda

Police Body Cameras – No Cure for Criticism

Body-worn police cameras are a hot topic lately. Several highly-publicized incidents recently have led to a wave of anti-police protests and rhetoric.  In turn, jurisdictions have scrambled to implement use of the technology or to expand their existing programs.  Manufacturer orders have soared, with large cities that had been slow to adopt the cameras, like Los Angeles and New York, finally joining the ever-growing number of police agencies that use them.

The benefits for police are profound.  Body-worn cameras aid in officer safety, police and civilian accountability, and enhance evidence gathering and prosecutions – to name a few.  Sure, they come at a cost – both financial and logistical, but officers and department heads far and wide are enjoying these benefits.  For many, they are seen as a natural progression from other tools that have been commonplace for some time.  In-vehicle camera systems have aided law enforcement for decades.  A body-worn option is therefore a logical enhancement to an existing method.  While the newer technology confronts us with additional challenges like coordinating evidence retention, storage, backup, and security concerns, and policy changes – these challenges are far from insurmountable.

But what happens after the cameras are in widespread use? Those in public service are wise enough to understand that an enhanced view of police encounters will hardly pacify the harshest and loudest of police opponents.  Criticisms that once centered on why agencies were slow to use body-cams will only move toward any number of reasons that such cameras failed to tell the full story in favor of a particular agenda.  While the future of law enforcement is likely to involve more video technology, the future will also include a great deal of debate about its use.  Those who see the cameras as a boon for police accountability, for example, are at the same time wary of their intrusiveness on the public.  Thinking forward, it’s easy to imagine the questions that will continue to arise. At what point for example, will one camera be sufficient? How long before persistent critics suggest multiple viewing angles, or demand that camera activation be tied electronically to other officer actions, such as un-holstering a firearm, or using a Taser?  Police body cameras will hardly stymie the most vocal opponents.

Effective law enforcement will always include disagreements about police encounters with the public, and personal body camera footage will not likely diminish this.  Agencies should anticipate a substantial number of new questions and accusations related to body-cams.  Police leaders can mitigate this with careful research, policy planning, and collaboration with government and community partners at all levels.

Body-worn cameras certainly have enough positive attributes to warrant an agency’s careful and individual consideration.  However, given that a segment of the population will never be satisfied with the level of visibility and accountability they provide, jurisdictions must avoid knee-jerk reactions that effect body-worn video implementation and policy.  Lawmakers and police agencies need to prudently consider privacy concerns, policies regarding the availability of video recordings, and internal policies concerning their use (including related disciplinary matters).  Only then can we be reasonably confident that the adoption of this technology is being done with appropriate research and planning, rather than in an attempt to appease the inappeasable.

This post originally appeared on PoliceAcademyU.com

Calling all old people

As you know, your aunt works with with the elderly.  It has never been fully explained to me what she does, but I do know she gives them sex education classes, shuttles them around in her Honda (to soccer games?), counts their nickles at bingo night, and helps place them into position during morning yoga.  I’m not really comfortable with any of it, but that’s why I went into law enforcement and not geriatric care.

So here is the problem – your aunt is quickly learning a very hard lesson.  You see, the group she takes care of is, well, dwindling in number.  Hell, you’re big girls – I’m here to tell it like it is:  They’re expiring.  Dying off.  Leaving your aunt’s bingo group for heavenly pastures.  Yup, old people die.  Not only that – and I don’t want to get too statistical here – but old people have a much greater chance than young people of leaving your aunt’s 95-and-over yoga class for Pilates with the Lord.

So here’s the lesson your aunt is learning: you have to recruit.  Fill in the ranks.  For every old geezer who dies in his sleep you should have two with the appropriate paperwork and waivers already filled out, waiting anxiously at a chance of folding their wheelchair into the back of an overcrowded SUV to go sit on the sideline of your cousin’s soccer practice.  This shouldn’t be taken lightly – if your aunt wants to have a robust program over at Shady Pines Home for the Aged then she needs to be prepared for the inevitable.  These old bitties fade fast – and often one after the other.  They’re like dominoes – once one goes down they take the others with them.

I know this well.  My mother, your grandmother, has been a geriatric nurse my entire life.  She enjoys it – and the fact that the residents at the nursing home are six feet under as soon as you turn around doesn’t spoil it.  It’s just the way it is.  You have to go into it knowing that for every one coming in the front door, there is another one going out the back.  If you can take part in making their life a little rosier, you’ve done well.

The life lesson here girls: always think ahead, and never rely on old people.  Especially when it comes to them continuing to live.


Stupid wooded areas

When I was in shop class in school the teacher gave a lesson on power tool safety. To get his point across, he showed us photos of what happens when you don’t respect a jig saw. It wasn’t pretty but it kept us further from the business end of the thing. 

I like this teaching technique. It’s simple. So to prevent stupid, I will sometimes need to show you stupid. 

The first example (with so many more to follow, I’m sure):

Today at work we were discussing a colleague who had been bitten by a tick and ended up with a rash.  This caused one (stupid) coworker to remark “he got bit by a deer tick? He must have gone into the woods or something”. 

You see what I mean? There are so many problems here it hurts my head. For starters:

A. What does the woods even have to do with it at this point? He got bit. Try to keep up. 
B. If you end a statement with “or something” then silence was your best option.  You effed up. Apologize. 
C. Ticks are not exclusive to the woods. Fun fact. 

That’s like if you say Johnny has a cold and the response you get is “well Johnny must have been kissin’ up on a five-foot-three Hispanic girl with dark glasses and a ponytail who had a cold.”

I wish I could tell you people like this are priceless, but they’re a dime-a-dozen.