Posts Tagged ‘Police’

Will Bob Dylan Get a Beer Summit?

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I’m not sure if someone has notified the White House, but it looks like President Obama might need to hold another Beer Summit at the White House:

Bob Dylan was detained by police in Long Branch, N.J. last month, when a young officer failed to recognize him, police said. The officer proceeded to go to earnest lengths to ensure the hooded, disheveled, rain-soaked music legend was, in fact, who he said he was.

The great lengths included putting Dylan into the back of the police car and driving him to a hotel to verify that he was who he claimed he was. Just how did Dylan respond to this oppressive profiling by police (the police officer assumed he was a homeless vagrant):

“OK Bob, why don’t you get in the car and we’ll drive to the hotel and go verify this?’ ” she said she told him. “I put him in the back of the car. To be honest with you, I didn’t really believe this was Bob Dylan. It never crossed my mind that this could really be him.”

Buble made small talk on the ride to the hotel, asking her detainee where he was playing, she said, but never really believing a word he said.

“He was really nice, though, and he said he understood why I had to verify his identity and why I couldn’t let him go,” Buble said. “He asked me if I could drive him back to the neighborhood when I verified who he was, which made me even more suspicious.

Huh. I guess you probably don’t get a beer with the President for being nice and understanding that a police officer is just doing their job. Otherwise, the President would probably have to buy the vast majority of us a beer. Come to think of it, that’s a stimulus package I could probably get behind.

Racism in America

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Is there still racism in America? The simple answer is yes. However, the vast majority of us are not racists. As a nation, we have made tremendous strides. Unfortunately, recent events involving Henry Louis Gates, Jr. show that too many people are clinging to the past:

Gates had trouble getting into his home because of a damaged door.

Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley was dispatched on a possible break-in. He found Gates there and asked for identification.

Police say Gates initially refused, became angry and accused the officer of racism. Gates was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, which was dropped.

In response to a question at a news conference, Obama said Gates was a friend and said he didn’t know all the facts, but that the police acted “stupidly” in making the arrest.

Personally, I wouldn’t be offended if a police officer asked me for identification while I struggled to enter my home. In fact, I would be grateful that they were so responsive to policing the community and protecting my property. Based on what I’ve read and heard, it seems to me that Professor Gates is the one with the problem here.

I actually had something like this happen to me once. When I was much younger and living in Los Angeles, I was driving a $500 car with a broken backseat window. I had broken the window myself because the locks didn’t work on the car and the way for me to let myself into the car was from the inside. Well, while driving around, I was pulled over one day by a police officer.

He flat out told me that he pulled me over to check and see if I had stolen the car. At the time, I was in my early twenties. It was summer so I was pretty dark and sporting a mustache and goatee, which my wife always thought made me look like a gang member. Probably a pretty accurate assessment since I actually landed a role in a low budget film as a gang member with that look.

Did I take offense that the police officer pulled me over? Did I become belligerent and argumentative? No, he was doing his job. If Professor Gates had assumed the same instead of jumping to a conclusion that officer’s actions were motivated by racism, this all would have been a non-issue.

Of course, the real problem here is that the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, felt the need to chime in on the incident. Moreover, he did so in a way that assumes racist motivation on the part of the police officer. That’s wrong. Of all the things the President should be focused on, this just doesn’t rank.

Going After Teens is Senseless

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

A terrible tragedy happened a couple of weeks ago, when repeat drunk driver Scott Owens killed four Santa Fe area teens:

Teen driving is in the spotlight after a June 28 crash that left four teenagers dead. Law enforcement authorities say Scott Owens had a blood-alcohol content of .16 nearly four hours after he crashed into a car with five teens inside.

The only teen to survive the crash on Old Las Vegas Highway was driving on a provisional license. Holders of those licenses are barred from driving between midnight and 5 a.m., and from driving with more than one other person under 21 in the car who is not an immediate family member.

The driver, 16-year-old Avree Koffman, didn’t have alcohol in her system, authorities said.

The problem here is not teen drivers. The problems is that we allow habitual drunks to get back on the road time and time again instead of locking them up. Case in point this guy with six DWI’s on record:

48-year-old arrested Wednesday still hasn’t been charged in July 4 accident.

Calvin Finch, 48, of Aztec, was arrested Wednesday for his sixth DWI, just 11 days after he was involved in a crash that killed 62-year-old Harry Irvin, whose motorcycle was struck by Finch’s pickup truck at the intersection of U.S. 550 and San Juan County Road 2105, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

Yet, rather than tackle the tough problems head on, some lawmakers want to go after the vast majority of law abiding teens out there:

In the wake of the crash, some lawmakers are thinking about changes to state law that might help keep teen drivers off the streets during prohibited hours.

Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat, said he’s considering a bill under which teen drivers with restricted licenses would have to display a marker on their car, such as a bright yellow triangle in the back window.

Give me a break. Studies referenced in the article have not come up with any concrete evidence that further restricting teen driving makes a difference. Keeping our kids from driving when they are not supposed to be driving is a parental responsibility, not a police responsibility.

Lawmakers, like Representative Egolf, should focus on passing legislation that puts habitual drunk drivers behinds bars, not taking away parental rights.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Thanks to countless television shows and movies, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone in America that doesn’t know about the Miranda Warnings. Keeping those rights in mind, watch the video below (Hat tip: Blue Collar Muse).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMB6L487LHM]

This is not a partisan issue. The previous administration put the TSA in place under the guise of safeguarding America. The intrusion on freedom and privacy concerned me then, and it concerns me now. Review history, and you’ll discover that it does not take long for governments to move from intrusive to oppressive. There are ample number of examples on the left and the right.

It is easy to look back at how the Nazi’s round up Jews during World War II and wonder how all of those millions of people allowed themselves to be loaded up into cattle cars and taken to their deaths. Yet, look at how quickly we’ve given up the right to move freely around the country. It’s been less than 10 years, and already the nation has grown accustomed to moving through cattle lines for processing and being detained for questioning.

The Nazi’s did not start filing people into ovens from Day One. There were steps that were taken to acclimate the public over a number of years. They were taken in the name of national interest.

The continued and ever growing encroachment on our personal freedoms coupled with the global economic crisis and escalation of the threats by North Korea and in the Middle East are a combination that historically have set the stage for increased government control and oppression.

Am I being overly alarmist? I don’t think so. As George Santayana so aptly wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Today, I turn 40. I would like to enjoy for the next forty years of my life the same freedoms I have enjoyed during the first forty. But, more importantly, I’d like my children and their children’s children to enjoy those freedoms. For that to happen, we must ALL safeguard those freedoms regardless of political persuasion. We are no longer at the precipice of a slippery slope. We are now sliding down it.

Criminals Now Have Safe Haven in New Mexico

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

If you’re in the country illegally, you are breaking the law. If you’re breaking the law you are acting criminally. If you’re acting criminally, you should expect the police to come knocking (subscription) at your door.

Until now.

The chief federal judge in New Mexico has ordered the Otero County Sheriff’s Department to halt communitywide raids in poor Chaparral neighborhoods conducted solely to find illegal immigrants.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit said the raids illegally targeted low-income Latino residents and were carried out using Operation Stonegarden funds earmarked for anti-terrorism activities.

The preliminary injunction ordered by Chief Judge Martha Vázquez is virtually unprecedented nationally, at least at this stage of proceedings, attorneys familiar with immigration cases say.

Vázquez entered the order Friday in favor of the Border Network for Human Rights, which filed suit on behalf of more than a dozen alleged victims of the raids, including three children.

Albuquerque lawyer William Slease, who represents Otero County, said he does not comment on pending litigation, but defendants in court documents deny they are acting illegally.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Briana Stone, director of the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the order marks a milestone. “The judge’s decision confirms that within our borders, everyone has the constitutional rights to be safe in our homes and free from discrimination elsewhere,” she said. “Hopefully this ruling will ease some of the fears that residents of Chaparral have had since Operation Stonegarden began.”

The only residents in Chaparral who should have been fearful are the illegal residents of Chaparral. Someone please explain to me how rounding up law breakers is discrimination? Judges should not be creating new rules of law, but that is exactly what Chief Judge Martha Vázquez has just done.

First Line Shows Bias

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Sometimes you can read the first two sentences of a newspaper article and immediately see the bias (subscription):

A 62-year-old Oregon youth counselor was left out in the cold in a high-crime area by Albuquerque police late New Year’s Eve.

But police say they were just doing their job when they seized his car.

The reporter has put the police on the defensive. That’s absurd. The real story buried half way down in the article is:

Police stopped Vargas about 11 p.m. after they saw him driving too fast over speed bumps in the 200 block of Pennsylvania NE, APD Capt. Murray Conrad said.

Vargas has three DWIs and a revoked license, according to his motor vehicle record. Vargas, who had an Oregon identification card, was charged for driving on a New Mexico suspended license, according to a Metro Court criminal complaint.

Not one, not two, but THREE DWI’s and he is still driving on a revoked license. Yet, the guy whose car he is driving, Dennis M. Lufkin of Medford, Oregon, wants an apology from the police.

Give me a break.

The headlines the day before reported that a drunk driver killed two people on New Year’s Eve (subscription). I’m thinking Mr. Lufkin owes the people of New Mexico and apology.

500 Bicycles for Needy Children

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

It’s Rumble in Rio time again, and this event is now one more reminder of why we don’t want Mayor Marty Chavez (subscription) to be elected to the United States Senate:

Firefighter Melvin Parker and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the city last year after city officials threatened to discipline— or fire— anyone who participated.

Parker won the lawsuit, allowing city police officers and firefighters to participate.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t think we would ever be at this point,” said Parker, who will face Albuquerque officer David Padilla. “What we did a year ago wasn’t just about the Rumble in Rio. Our suit pretty much set precedent that the city cannot dictate what you do outside of the department.”

Trouble started last year when Mayor Martin Chávez and then-Public Safety Director Nick Bakas said any city firefighter and police officer who participated in the event could face disciplinary action.

Oh, did I mention that “last year’s Rumble in Rio raised $50,000 and bought 500 bicycles for needy children.” Nice guy that Mayor Marty Chavez.

Political Backpedaling

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz is in a very uncomfortable position:

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on illegals doesn’t apply to criminal investigations.

Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said in a Tuesday news conference that police are not to ask about a person’s immigration status and will not enforce federal immigration laws.

But that doesn’t mean police can’t arrest an illegal immigrant or inquire about a person’s immigration status in a criminal investigation, according to this morning’s Albuquerque Journal .

“Any officer investigating criminal activity is allowed to inquire about immigration status and take any action necessary,” said Schultz, who said there is a lot of confusion about APD policy regarding illegal immigrants.

Schultz said false information is circulating that criminals will not be asked their immigration status, the Journal reported.

Hmm, I wonder what the cause of that confusion is:

Some police officers told News 13 that the change could prevent some serious criminals who are illegal immigrants from being deported.

The policy, a copy of which was obtained by News 13, states, “Officers shall not inquire or seek proof of a person’s immigration status, even if an arrest is made for a non-immigration criminal investigation.”

Schultz said the policy is being misinterpreted.

“The intent that’s there was never to prohibit officers from conducting a criminal investigation, and, during the course of that criminal investigation, determining the immigrant status of the person that they’re dealing with,” he said. “So, we need to clarify that.”

Sorry Chief Schultz, but clarification is not the problem. The policy language is very clear. What you need and the City of Albuquerque need to do is let police officers enforce the law. Illegal immigrants are illegal.

Now to be fair, Chief Schultz is operating in a politcal environment in New Mexico that is full of mixed messages when it comes to immigration.

Some Standards Shouldn’t Be Relaxed

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Maybe I’m just being old fashioned, but I think some standards should be upheld no matter how tight the job market (subscription):

The Police Executive Research Forum study also noted a drop from 36 percent to 20 percent in recent years of departments that require candidates to have a clean criminal record.

Many departments also subject their recruits to lie-detector tests in which they are asked about their drug use. But cities such as Fort Myers, Fla., are overlooking occasional use of drugs such as Ecstasy and powdered cocaine as long as it was more than five years in the past. Most departments still disallow anyone with a felony conviction.

“It’s different now for the kids. There’s a lot of drugs out there,” said Fort Myers Maj. Glenn Johnson. “I’d hate to rule them out because of that.”

He’d hate to rule out police recruits because of drug use? And only 20% of police departments require candidates to have clean record? To quote a retired law enforcement officer, “What’s wrong with this picture?”