Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bruce St James

Bruce St. James is a radio host on a local radio show in the Phoenix Metro Area.  I understand he is a better movie reviewer than radio host.  He comes across as the typical libertarianesque radio host.  Less government, cops are too heavy handed “Its not a riot until the cops show up” (one of his quotes).   For the most part he is pretty harmless until he opens his mouth and starts spewing misinformation.   Well to be honest some of it is just his opinion but he is so wrong on every topic and it drives me nuts.   I think the first time I heard him was when he was stating that guy who had his nephew dress up in a sheet and a very real looking replica RPG to simulate a Middle Eastern terrorist on a street corner in Phoenix had not broken any laws.  Well the courts seemed to disagree and I am guessing Bruce never read the endangerment statute that he was charged with, but it was his opinion and he as an American is entitled to be ignorant to the laws and even entitled to spew his ignorance for everyone to hear (while getting paid to do it is pretty impressive).  

The next time I heard him he was talking about some shenanigans at the City of Phoenix and pension spiking (which I agree that there is some abuse and much of the spiking practices need to stop) and he made some comment about it going on because police unions pay off the elected officials so they don’t put an end to it.  No empirical data to support his position, just a statement.  Never mind the fact that a police union can only contribute roughly $400 to any given candidate, even if the largest group of unions that are aligned for political donations got together for one candidate gave the full amount each candidate would get a maximum of $10,000.  Now that is not to say a politician is not going to sell their soul for 400 bucks or even ten thousand dollars, but lets’ be realistic.  The city was giving away millions, do you really think a few bucks that can be scrounged together is going to buy off millions of dollars a year of waste?  But just blowing out your ass wild statements without empirical data to support them is much more fun and better for ratings in this market.

A while after that I heard him talking about the war on drugs and how President Obama commuted the sentences for a few people he felt were incarcerated too long for “minor” crimes and such.   One of those was Stephanie George whom Mr. St James described as just getting caught up because her boyfriend stored some drugs and cash at her apartment.  While it is true that her boyfriend claimed to be the owner of said drugs and cash, let’s look at this in a little more detail.  She was not sentenced to a mandatory 25 years because of this single arrest.  She had 3 previous crack cocaine related CONVCITIONS not just arrests.  Keep in mind this was during a time when crack was ravaging US cities and murder rates were skyrocketing.   In the early 90’s when I lived in New York City crack was destroying the city from within.  You could not walk down the street outside of midtown without seeing empty crack vials all over the ground.  In some places it was so bad you would lose your footing on the thousands of empty crack vials on the stairs of the subway and such.  In the early 90’s the murder rate in NYC hovered around 2000 people a year.  Now its closer to 400 a year, a massive reduction.  Cities and states struggled to curb the violence that crack was bringing to our cities.  Thus the mandatory minimums were developed to keep repeat offenders from continuing to dole out their poison and death.   In Ms. Georges case she had the previous three convictions for dealing and using crack cocaine and was found with 1.2 pounds of cocaine ($15,000 value), the equipment to convert powder cocaine to crack.  And $17,000 in cash.  All of which belonged to her ex boyfriend who paid her to care for all of these items and contraband.  So let’s be honest about her culpability, she was an active participant in wholesale distribution of crack cocaine.  Bruce commented that it was not a violent offense which in itself is true and was excessive in sentence.  What most non cops do not realize is that 95% of murders fall in to two categories.  Drug rips and Domestic Violence.  DV murders can be lovers, or any family relationship and drug rips are what the news calls “a drug deal gone bad” , more specifically an armed robbery over drugs or drug money gone bad.  But I digress.  The remaining 5% are for all of the other non drug and DV related, types like road rage, one neighbor kills the other over too much noise (it happens) and the ultra rare random murder.  So yes, her drug crime was not violent per se but the violence that is a byproduct of said drugs is a very real component that Mr. St James left out of his blathering of dribble.    

I really like KTAR but when he is on as soon as he starts talking about anything of merit I am forced to change back to the depths of NPR where I know its slanted because I cannot take the complete reckless disregard for the truth.  There I was driving somewhere channel surfing and I hear them talk about “gang related” issues, well dealing with gang members regularly and having two gang members currently serving prison sentences for threatening to kill me with their gang, I became interested.  It was an NFL member getting kicked out or something for gang activity.  Bruce states that he has quite a bit of experience riding with the gang unit and states from his expert opinion that he was not a gang member but “gang related”  or the correct term “a Gang Associate”  someone who affiliates with known gang members but is not an actual member.  He points out that one of the incidents drawing this attention was the subject making gang signs during a football game.  What????  If Bruce were an expert on gangs he would realize that very bad things happen to “non gang members” flashing real gang signs (acting as if there were a member of the gang) and in fact it is reason for a serious beating.  Anyone who hangs around gang members knows that until they earn the right to be a member (by whatever means is required for that gang) they are not allowed to say they are a member, flash signs or do any such thing without reprisal.   But then again it was his opinion, but at least a few hundred people listen to him and think highly of his opinion.

Now  it brings me to yesterday when I got in the car KTAR was on and I hear them talk about an incident in Chandler where 5 schools are locked down over an armed suspect.  Well again without having all of the facts normally the co-hosts are voices of reason but this time they jumped on the tardwagon and jumped to conclusions with Bruce.  They went on the assumption that Chandler PD locked down the area and five schools because an open carry guy or someone removing a hunting rifle from his car or something.  Bruce drones on and on about how it’s legal get over it and how this is being blown way out of proportion.  Well in their defense the news was vague, but when is the last time you heard the police locking down 5 schools for an open carry guy out trying to prove his point?  Um………Um………Um……..I cant think of one can you?  That is because they don’t!  Hundreds of times a day retarded people call the police because someone is open carrying and how many of those turn into school lock downs and such?  What really happened was a felon with a gun was running through a trailer park pointing the gun at people and later shooting at officers.  Not your typical open carry situation is it?  Should people get over calling the cops on that Bruce, was that an overreaction?  Who overreacted over the situation?  You jumping to conclusions or the people who called or the cops?    

When you tell people to calm down over open carry rifles Just remember this, when it comes to open carry with a rifle Adam Lanza and James Holmes were both legally open carrying rifles right up to the moment they committed the atrocities.   

At one point a while back I heard Bruce tell people not to take his word because he is a moron and we should look things up ourselves.  I had to wonder was he a genius spewing misinformation in an effort to get people to educate themselves or was in fact a moron?   I struggled with this because I did in fact learn more by getting frustrated with him, but then I drew the conclusion that he was right, he was in fact a moron, that thinks so much of his opinion he considers it fact.  I suppose this comes from being a movie critic where his opinion is considered of above average value compared to other people.  So maybe he is just a victim of his other profession.  Regardless, I prefer less windbagedness in my libertarian radio host; I prefer Larry Elder.  Larry makes his points with empirical data to support his position.  And his voice is not as whiney and does not grate on my nerves.  Check out Larry at www.larryelder.com

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A little something I wrote for Memorial Day but just got around to posting.

Several years ago while serving in the Navy Reserve I was in Hawaii for training.   One Sunday morning I put on my dress white cracker jack uniform, I even wore my favorite dog dish hat that I had carefully rolled the edges just right to look like a salty sailor and headed across Pearl Harbor (the base) from Arizona Hall where I was staying to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was crowded being a Sunday morning, a few boats of visitors had been ferried across to the memorial. As I went across on the ferry I was the only person in uniform other than the two crew members a petty officer and a seaman. I waited to be last to exit the ferry. As I exited I looked down into the water and for the first time gained perspective of the size of the Arizona. I felt a somber peace come over me as I walked up the ramp to the memorial. It was nearly silent even though there were probably 60 people there. I walked across the memorial to the wall of names. There was a Pearl Harbor survivor there visiting staring at the names on the wall. I could tell he was a Pearl Harbor survivor by the Hawaiian shirt and the garrison cap (piss splitter) denoting him as a Pearl Harbor Survivor from BB-44 the USS California, The same ship that my mother’s uncle Kenny would later die on near the end of the war. As he stood watching I noticed it was just he and I and everyone else had moved back. Without thinking about it, I snapped to attention and rendered a ceremonious salute to the wall of service men that died that day. Standing just feet over the very watery grave of the 1102 sailors entombed in the USS Arizona BB-39. It was a powerful and emotional moment for me. Suddenly the Pearl Harbor Survivor standing just a few feet away snapped a tidy salute in a ceremonious tempo. I pulled my salute and did a tidy about face, but in a ceremonious tempo and started to walk back to the ferry with very foggy eyes. The Vet called out to me, “Shipmate” (In the Navy everyone is your shipmate young or old, it’s like calling someone brother) I stopped and turned around. He reached out to shake my hand. I reached back and he said “Thank you”. Feeling wholly inadequate I responded with a crackling voice “No, thank you… for your service... and... sacrifice” He smiled and embraced me. The conversation was rich and memorable as we talked. It was not the official Memorial Day we celebrate in May, but for me it was ever so memorial. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to those that served, all gave some, some gave all.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I am not from Utah and I do not live there.  I have had occasion to visit there during my many travels.  It is a majestically beautiful place in the spring and summer, winter it’s just too damn cold.  The one thing most people think of when they hear Utah is "Mormons" and Utah has more than a few of those.  By in large Mormons are considered to be mostly conservative folks which is why what is happening in Utah is so strange to me.  Robert F. Kennedy once said “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”  Citizens of Utah, keep that thought in mind as you watch the evil around you rise and the law enforcement become more and more ineffective.  Not ineffective by choice but by appointed and elected officials forwarding their agenda and clipping the wings of law enforcement.  What is going on seems so counter to the conservative mindset it’s hard to imagine its happening in Utah.  

Before I dig in to the meat and potatoes of it I need to back up and tell a tale of two cities.  Things will make more sense after I do so. I tried to think of the city most similar to Salt Lake City in the US and I came up with Mesa Arizona.  Salt Lake City Utah and Mesa Arizona have a lot in common.  Both cities were settled by Mormon settlers and both still have a mostly Mormon influence.  Mesa AZ’s crime rate looks something like this 4.13 Violent crimes per 1000 (the national average is 3.9) residents, 34.00 Property Crimes per 1000 residents, for a total of 38.13 total crimes per 1000 residents.  Compared to Salt Lake City’s crime rate of 6.46 violent crimes per 1000 residents (again the national average is 3.9), Property crimes 71.21 per 1000 Residents and a total 77.66 crimes per 1000 residents.  

I know what you’re thinking, it has to be because Salt Lake is so much bigger than Mesa, right?  Well, that is not exactly true, in fact it’s not even close to true.  Mesa is the 38th largest city in the nation and Salt Lake City is 124th Salt Lake has a population of about 190,000 residents and Mesa has nearly 460,000 residents, yup surprisingly Mesa has more than double the population of Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City comprises about 110 Square miles so that means it has about 1727 residents per square mile.  Mesa comprises 133 square miles which makes the population density something like 3458 residents per square mile.  Salt Lake has 391 sworn officers for a ratio of 485 residents per officer and Mesa has 773 sworn officers for a total of 595 residents per officer. 

By now you are probably wondering what is going on?  How can a city with more than double the population and pretty much worse ratios when it comes to population density and officers per citizens have such a better grasp on keeping crime in check?  Culturally both cities are more similar than not.  Both have Mormon influence and values associated with its rules and expectations.  Both have a grip of Mormons living there.  Being that Arizona is a border state Mesa is about two and a half hours from the border so it gets its fair share of border crime and Salt Lake is about 13 hours from the border.  Another anomaly particular to Mesa is that Mesa has over 120 Halfway house and 65% of all of the prisoners that get paroled out of Department of Corrections Prisons come to Mesa.   What does that mean?  It means that it has an above average amount of known offenders in the city.

So why are there such dramatic differences in crime rates?  Well first off, the Chiefs of both organizations are as different as can be. One seems to be focused on his next career (politics?) and the other on the task at hand. The chief of Mesa PD is Frank Milstead who is a career cop who pushes his officers to increase street level drug arrests and to actively make criminals lives harder.  He has told his officers that he wants criminals to draw the conclusion that Mesa is a bad place to be a criminal.  He is constantly tasking officers with more aggressive policing to reduce crime by actively working on maintenance issues like the homeless drinking and sleeping in public, loitering, panhandling and other quality of life related issues; and it has worked, apparently since Milstead has been chief the crime rate in Mesa is as low as it has been since 1963 for crimes per 1000 residents according to AZCentral.com.(Video) Salt Lake on the other hand is run by Chief Chris Burbank who looks more like a politician than a cop.  In fact he met with Attorney General Eric Holder about Arizona’s Immigration laws.  Wait, what?  He met with the AG about Arizona’s immigration laws but Chief Milstead a Chief of a department twice the size of Burbanks from the state that is affected by the laws did not?  Mesa is 179 miles about two and a half hours from the Mexican border and Salt Lake is nearly 900 miles and more than 13 hours from the border.  Okay, you may also remember him being the face of the anti assault weapons Chiefs after Sandy Hook.  I wonder how many of the 6-8 murders a year are committed with assault weapons?  I think nationally only 323 murders were committed with all forms of rifle .22 to .50 cal (including all forms of assault weapons and hunting rifles too), the vast majority nearly 9000 were with handguns.  But that did not stop him from jumping on the anti assault weapon bandwagon. It seems that he jumps on a lot of political band wagons outside of his state.  But why not, Salt Lake City is well and truly under control crime wise right?  Oops, that’s not really the case is it?  

Chief Burbank tells his officers to avoid stirring the pot on immigration and doesn’t put enough emphases on hassling the drug market down in the Pioneer Park area. He even asked  officers to stop citing transients for sleeping in  public for a while to simply appease a small group who protested about it. In SLC they rarely book criminals on misdemeanor warrants (Mesa books on all warrants unless they have a medical reason that the jail won't take them) and only utilize these smaller warrants as a last resort basis.  Not all of the blame for this fiasco goes to Chief Burbank though, But I still blame him for not standing up and leading to fix it.  Judge Baxter allegedly throws most of the charges out for the same things that Chief Milstead in Mesa has his officers do in an effort to reduce crime. Chief Milstead works with the prosecutor’s office to get integrate them into its maintenance projects including one similar to Pioneer Park in Salt Lake.  In Mesa there were problems with hundreds of homeless who were wreaking havoc at Gurrero Rotary Park.  A zero tolerance approach for a 1 mile radius was adopted and the prosecutor assigned got every case and worked closely with the street officers to help mitigate the issues.  Guess what?  Crime went down in that area.  People could let their kids play in the park again and didn’t have to worry about stepping in human waste or drug paraphernalia.  In Salt Lake City Chief Burbank lets the prosecutors further their liberal agenda any way they chose without so much as a peep.  Are you starting to see why the crime rates are so different?  The difference is SLC says “criminals, you are welcome to do business here as long as you do not cause too big of problems” and Mesa says “Criminals, you are not welcome to do business here and we will do everything constitutionally and morally possible to make you want to leave and take your crime elsewhere”.  

I should probably explain something here that most law enforcement officers know and if they do not it's because they are an administrator and not a cop.  You rarely arrest a drug dealer for dealing drugs or a burglar for burglary.  Drug dealers try to shield themselves from the dope so they have a different person hold the money and yet another hold the stash and so on.  Burglars and sneaky bastards, which is they have taken your stuff when you didn’t want them to.  Most burglars get arrested for drug possession or drug paraphernalia possession because they are sneaky bastards, but they are dope fiends, but still sneaky.  Drug dealers get arrested for loitering since they are not holding the dope.  The deal is you arrest them for whatever chicken shit charges whenever you can arrest them and on the rare occasion that you get to arrest them for the actual crimes it’s a good day.  But locking them up on lesser charges makes the street safer if only temporarly.  Think about this, as the prison population has grown in the US the crime rate has dropped.  So the effective model for reducing crime is to incarcerate the 10% that commit 90% of the crime.  Salt Lake Officers want to do this but they are not allowed to. Chief Burbank was named Utahn of the year in 2011 by the SLC Tribune.  “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on”.  So it looks like you have the Law Enforcement you insist on and let’s take a look at the criminals you deserve.  How about Curtis Allgier.  Read here 

I have to make something clear, I am not saying Salt Lake PD is assed up and Mesa PD isn’t.  Both have their strengths and weaknesses and both are great agencies filled with great officers.  It’s just that they have very different types of leadership running them, which yield very different results. I think the point I am trying to make is, Utah, you are getting the law enforcement you insist on, but is that what you really want? It is clear that the issues do not lay squarely at the feet of Chief Burbank.  Its woven into the elected and appointed culture and I don’t know why.  It really does not make sense to me. But the District Attorney Sam Gill tries with every possible opportunity to prosecute officers on nearly every officer involved shooting.  Even ones that seem so cut and dry, its hard to comprehend.  Again, you Utahns are getting what you insist on.  Don’t think of the Robert Kennedy quote as the rank and file officers but the institution of law enforcement in general.  Is this really what you want?

To compound this issue you have other activist judges in Utah like Justice Nehring who in a recent ruling surmised that although its never happened before but he thinks officer should be responsible for the welfare of a fleeing suspect.  That means if a suspect tries to run and gets hurt it’s the officers responsibility and the officer should be allowed to be sued. Um…Utah…Hello?  What officer is going to chase any suspect ever again?  They could run right into your home and the liability is too high to chase them.  It used to be that they would try to stop them from getting into your home now, if they get injured in the process, it’s on the officer.  Utah, you may want to start treating criminals like criminals and soccer moms like soccer moms.  When you start putting the welfare of criminals at the same level as soccer moms you are sure to end up upside down.  Good luck with this one Utah, can you see how this is going to turn out? 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day

It is on days like this where a fellow officer is buried that my emotions are full. Though I did not personally know Officer Daryl Raetz, He was a brother officer, a shipmate who served in the Navy and husband and father. Forever bonded as brothers wearing the badge and shipmates serving the country we love in the Navy, together we stood the line between good and evil. For Daryl Raetz his watch ended May 19, 2013 when he was murdered by a hit and run driver. A tragic end to a bright and productive life who sought to do go in the world, but more than seeking to do good, He did good and died doing so. 

The Friday before his death I was at the Phoenix Police Academy helping out with the FBI Negotiator School. I was assigned to help with the students going through the evaluation over in the “Tac Village”. I have been there several times on different training events and I always stop to take pause before I enter the village. You see after getting searched and any live weapons removed (it's strictly a simunitions training environment) you walk around the corner and on the wall leading into the village is the names of every Phoenix PD Officer killed in the line of duty. As I was stopped reading each name a fellow officer noticed what I was doing and walked up and joined me in reading the names and quietly whispered “Too many names on that damn wall”. I quietly responded “Agreed”. Neither of us knew it would be less than 48 hours before another name would be added. We both knew and all who wear the badge know that it’s only a matter of time before another name gets added. There are thousands of similar walls around the US and the world. Each and every name has a family that misses them. 

In his case the suspect was apprehended. He was an undocumented immigrant. I was chastised by a friend for using the term illegal alien. The suspect had been previously deported for criminal activity such as DUI and furnishing alcohol to minors among other offenses. When he was arrested with the blood of Officer Raetz still covering his vehicle he was arrested for cocaine possession. My friend that chastised me for using the term Illegal alien and said itshould be reserved for criminals who do more than enter the country illegally. Well if the shoe fits…. Immigration reform is something we hear about in Arizona but nearly half of our officers are killed by them. Yet they represent a much smaller segment of the population. Those who live in other states just do not know what it is that we deal with in Arizona. Questions will be asked, answers to difficult questions will need to be answered. Borders need to be secured like they are in Texas and California. (you may think they are not, but look at the seizures in those states compared to AZ) 

A tragic week for those of us in the valley of the sun, In addition to the loss of Officer Raetz, Phoenix Fire lost Firefighter Brad Harper in a tragic accident. The FBI lost two HRT members in a training event, the week before Arizona DPS lost a state trooper and in London a member of the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Lee Rigby a veteran of Afghanistan. In last few weeks dozens of officers and servicemen serving around the world have lost their lives. This is nothing new. But this memorial day, enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy your barbeques and get togethers. Just take a quiet moment and think of the get togethers and barbeques that are subdued by the absence of a family member or friend who lost their life standing watch on that line between good and evil.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Earnest Hemingway was right

I am often commented to by people that find out I am a police officer “OMG I can’t imagine doing your job”.  Little do they know I think the same thing about theirs.  Most think it’s too dangerous or scary; some too gross or can’t imagine having to fight for your life in a lethal force encounter.  Some just don’t want the responsibility of the world on their shoulders.  Personally I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I have done lots of other jobs but this is without a doubt my calling in life.

When I tell people about near death experiences on the job or arresting genuine doers of evil, people are aghast that I enjoy it.  Little do they know I crave it.  I find so much joy and peace in seeking out those that do evil and bringing them to justice, that it’s hard to imagine that I get paid to do it.  Hemingway once said “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”  When I read that the first time I knew right away that he got it.  I posted this quote on my Facebook page and the response from some that don’t get it was “Yikes” from a few and those that get it and do it were like, “Hell Yeah”.  Those that say “Hell yeah” do so because it rings like a cord of truth to our soul.

It’s not that I don’t care for anything else thereafter but, it ranks pretty high on the list.  Like if I was in a foot pursuit chasing a guy and you threw a medium rare rib eye and mashed potatoes in front of me (my favorite meal) I wouldn’t stop chasing the suspect.  Well unless you threw it Uncle Rico style like in Napoleon Dynamite, then I would probably stop and punch you in the gullet for wasting a good steak, then continue chasing the suspect. 

Now understand that I don’t think there is anything wrong with the “Yikes” and the “Hell yeah” people.  I think that some people are predisposed to being a cop and some are not.  Certainly anyone can be trained to do the job; we have all seen that first hand.  But those that excel at it genuinely love hunting bad guys; I think that comes from within.  We have millions who have served in uniform who get it and understand it.  You don’t need to be a cop to get it and understand it. 

In my case I have three older brothers who either served in law enforcement or the military, so they got it. I suppose we got it from my dad.  He was in the Korean War and after worked at many things including seeking bad men.  On the up side he worked as a bounty hunter seeking those that needed to be brought back to justice.  I remember him picking me up from kindergarten one day with a bad guy handcuffed to the handle on the dash (we called them chicken bars growing up because you were chicken if you grabbed it)  My dad warned the guy to not to look at me.  The guy did in fact look at me and my dad backhanded him with a flashlight and split his face as blood splashed on the passenger side window.  I crawled into the back of the 1969 VW bug, and the guy did not look at me again.  On top of that my dad worked in a covert capacity for the US government seeking evil doers and dealing them death.  That’s all I will say about that.

One of my favorite movies is Act of Valor and in that there were many good quotes but this one rings true to me.  “War is a county or will; there is no room for sympathy.  If you’re not willing to give up everything you have already lost”.  Those that put on the badge or the uniform are at war with evil.  We will all battle in that war.  From it we will bring home scars and injuries.  Some physical and some emotional, we will all feel pain and loss.  We will all win battles and lose battles.  Unfortunately some will lose their life in those battles.  Some will lose their soul.  Deep down those of us that gets it, keep pushing on to hunt and catch that murder suspect.  And when we narrowly escape death or injury doing so, we will be glad, and those that do not feel the same ring of truth from Hemingway’s quote hear our stories, they will not understand why we do what we do.

So on the days where I wrestling some mostly or completely naked bloody suspect, I have to wonder if I should blame my dad for passing along the bug. 

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?