Tuesday, February 19, 2013

H.B. 2204

In the morning I head to California to attend the funeral for Detective Jeremiah MacKay of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office EOW 02/12/13.  He was the final tragic death in the murderous rampage of a crazed ex LAPD officer bent on revenge on innocent people to right his perceived wrongs.  The tragic actions of the suspect (I do not write his name because to me his victims are more important to me) will never make sense.  His final Victim was Detective MacKay.  I did not know him but I go to stand and be counted as one who stood up for a fellow officer. 

A video of some of the funeral.  It was an honor to be a part of honoring a fallen hero.
Detective Jeremiah MacKay Funeral

Just as in the military when it comes to public safety service the saying all gave some and some gave all is just as true.  A political debate on this topic has been brewing in the great state of Arizona.  A bill put forth by Rep. Bob Robson makes it so the family of officers killed in the line of duty will have the city keep the families able to purchase medical insurance at the normal employee rate until surviving spouse is remarried, eligible for Medicare or the children are all adults.   It doesn’t give them free medical insurance for life just that they get to purchase insurance at the same rate as employees (in my case the employee rate is about $700 a month).  It does require the agency to pay the employee portion or in this case the portion for the officer killed in the line of duty after his death. 

Most people would think this is a no brainer and may even expect that it happens that way anyway.  Believe it or not 5 Republican Representatives voted against it. 

Rep. Carl Seel
Rep. Steve Smith
Rep. Adam Kwasman
Rep. Darin Mitchell
Rep. Steve Montenegro

These are the five that felt that organizations should not have to allow the widow of officers killed in the line of duty to be allowed to PURCHASE medical coverage at the same rate as employees.  Why?  I would be speculating but I assume like most Tea Party folks they think my benefits are too good as it is and I should not get any more, especially if I am dead.  If I am dead the far right wing of the republican party think that my family deserves no more bennifit.  I mean if I get killed by some felon that the judicial branch failed to keep their oath and let them back out, why should my wife get to buy insurance at the same rate as when I was alive?  That seems like a waste of precious tax payer dollars.

I guess it goes back to the Tea Party right that changed our pensions a few years back from 20 to 25 years.  Funny thing is in New Mexico an officer can retire at 20 years with 70% of his pay as pension and at 22.8 years 80%.  In Arizona under the old system you could retire at 20 years with 50% as a pension and to get to 80% you had to do 32 years.  Now you have to give 25 years just to get 50%.  I guess cops are worth more in New Mexico to the legislature than in Arizona.  Or maybe in Arizona they like to pay a couple hundred thousand dollars to train officers then lose them to other things and stats and have to pay to train up the replacements sooner.

I know police work isn’t that dangerous right?  Only like 130 officers get killed each year.  But that doesn’t take into account the 60,000 officer assaulted and thankfully not all officers shot die due to better equipment and technology.  To those five, I say shame on you.  Shame on you for spitting in the face of the family of those officers that gave all,  that ran to the sound of the gunshots , that fought a violent subject in a to the death fight and didn’t make it.  To you five, I cannot put into words how much disappointment I feel.  For decades conservatives enjoyed the benefit of Law Enforcement endorsements.  You five will be driving one of the final nails in that coffin.  How sad is it that you have squandered the support of Law Enforcement and Public Safety in general.  When the public safety pension was ravaged by mismanagement for god sakes Kyrsten Sinema was the only elected official to publicly express outrage.  What was the tea party republican response?  Extend the time from 20 years to 25 to get a pension and make us pay more each month.  Thank you for showing your true colors.  Since your spit in the face was metaphorical, I dare you to contact the families of officers killed in the line of duty and tell them personally that you don’t think they deserve to be able to buy insurance at the same rate as employees because their family member that was an employee was murdered.  I doubt you will like the response you get.   

Sunday, February 3, 2013


The other day I was having a conversation with an attorney discussing what is wrong with society.  At one point of the contestation I was expressing displeasure with the fact that the district attorney picks and chooses chases to push forward.  I had just described the details of a horrible neglect case that resulted in an infant death.  I pointed out that the district attorney never charges these because they say, “The death of the child is punishment enough”.  The attorneys response was, “At a certain point don’t you think it’s a waste of tax payer’s money to go forward with a case?”   I have to admit I was stunned but my response was “Nope”.  Conversation was quickly changed by another party and I have to leave before we could debate the topic further.

Now you could argue politics in this matter and certainly the law school she went to could make one draw a conclusion as to the politics taught at that school but I am apolitical.  Partly because I have served in the military with both a republican and democrat Commander in Chief.  I have worked on Presidential protection details for both a democrat and republican President and I would have taken a bullet for either of them, and I didn’t vote for either.  Why because that is the role I chose.  I chose to take the oath of police officer to protect others and execute the laws of my jurisdiction.

Now I want to point out first and foremost that I harbor no animus towards the attorney.  She is way smarter than I am and a brilliant attorney by all accounts.  My problem is not with her at all and certainly not her specifically.  My problem is with the mindset we in society have fostered that at a certain point the consequences of our actions are redundant and not necessary.  My problem is the prosecutors deciding based on their belief system on what cases get prosecuted.  This conversation with this attorney merely triggered this response after festering inside me for a week.

Myself and all prosecutors have taken oaths, both to protect and defend the constitution and to carry out our jobs without malice and prejudice to the best of our abilities.  The wordings may be different but its clear the intent is more similar than not. 

I have taken several oaths in my life.  First the scout oath on my way up to Eagle Scout.  Next I took an oath in the Navy and the National Guard.  Both of those I effectively swore to defend the constitution and freedom with a means up to and including my life.   My oath as a police officer was similar except that I also pledge to uphold and enforce the laws of the state and to project the citizens within my jurisdiction (the entire state I am sworn in). 

If I was able to use the logic of wasting tax dollars to make decisions I would make very different decisions on the street.  I think back to many situations where I knew that saving the life of a person was going to cause more crime and cost taxpayers more money, but I still did everything in my power to save their lives.  Why?  Because I took an oath to do my job to the best of my ability!  I know there have been situations where I had my gun pointed at an armed suspect and was just about to serve them a dinner of hot lead biscuits when they dropped the weapon.  Wouldn’t it be better for taxpayers if I just dispatched criminals the very second I was legally able to rather than trying to peacefully resolve the situation?  Well, allowing me to deicide based on taxpayers needs who lives and who dies about as ridiculous as prosecutors deciding which cases are cost effective.  I am sorry but if society expects me to risk my life and potentially get killed doing their work, then I expect that my work not be in vein and exercise in futility.  

Why do I have to keep my oath to the letter by prosecutors get to dance around the requirements.  The simple answer is I don’t.  I chose to because my ethos is what drives me.  Every man (and woman) has an ethos that drives them to do what they do.  My ethos is a personification of the oaths I have taken.  I think Tecumseh said it best and this is the ethos that guides my life. 

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion;
respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled
with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep
and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

So yes both the prosecution and I, and all attorneys for that matter have taken the oath.  This is what guides me.  What guides you?