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CURMUDGEON'S CORNER: It's been a rough month for law enforcement officials (OPINION)

September 26, 2012

The last few weeks have not been particularly good ones for law enforcement officers.
A judge found the City of West Warwick guilty of negligence in the death of a man who suffered from schizophrenia. Police responded to a report that a sign at a place of business was being vandalized. They found a six-foot-four, 245-pound man at the scene who refused to follow their instructions saying, “You’re not the boss of me.” After being subdued and placed in the back of a patrol car, this giant suffered some kind of seizure and died despite efforts to revive him.
West Warwick was fined $250K for negligence and $250K more for the decedent’s family’s “pain and suffering”. Three police officers were fined $1,000, which they have to pay out of their own pockets.
The chief of North Providence’s police department, meanwhile, was sentenced to six months in prison and four and a half years on probation for stealing $714 from the purse of a woman and trying to persuade a Pawtucket policeman to keep it quiet. The state’s largest daily newspaper couldn’t help but repeat ad nauseam that the woman “was a stripper at the Satin Doll”. In sentencing, the judge said the chief showed no remorse and accepted no responsibility for his actions. The city’s mayor said the colonel would be terminated from his $82,000 a year job.
New York City’s vaunted police department had some bad days, too. An NYPD officer accidentally shot a man attempting to flee an armed robbery at the Bronx bodega where he worked. The 20-year old victim ran into the officer whose drawn pistol discharged hitting him in the shoulder. Hollywood movies notwithstanding, the wound was fatal.
Two weeks earlier, two officers let loose a hail of 16 bullets on a busy Manhattan street at a man who had killed a former co-worker moments before. The assailant was killed but nine bystanders were wounded by the police gunfire. Video shows one of the cops firing while retreating –not exactly NYPD’s finest hour.
The anti-gun crowd was unusually quiet on this mass shooting all the victims of whom fell to despised semi-automatic handguns. The police, in fact, were equipped with dreaded high-capacity magazines for their service weapons. The assailant’s pistol held only seven rounds, five of which he fired into his victim. This gun still held two bullets meaning he never fired at the police.
I graduated from the first Citizens Police Academy held by the North Kingstown Police Department in 2005. Classes included the firearms training simulator (“FATS”) and ride-alongs with field training officers.
FATS projects computerized scenarios on a giant screen where students equipped with realistic laser pistols and shotguns have to make shoot-don’t shoot decisions. It gave me an appreciation for the split-second, sometimes fatal decisions a police officer has to make –hopefully not too often. The wrong decision can bring harm to a fellow officer or innocent bystander.
I have done several ride-alongs with two other police departments since graduation. The words of one officer stay with me. “If you want to do this job”, he said, “you better be prepared to be second-guessed all the time.” He meant second-guessed by your superior officers, the press, the public, grand juries and the courts.
It’s an aspect of the job that you don’t often see on TV or in the movies where the star blows bad guys away after a reckless high speed pursuit in which countless vehicles are wrecked and civilians killed and injured and then goes back to work in the next scene as if nothing happened.

n The Obama administration stumbled and bumbled its way through another foreign policy crisis with a compliant media attacking Mitt Romney for speaking out about the situation. As I write this the administration’s spin seems to be “it’s the movie made ‘em do it.”
This refers to an amateur video allegedly defaming the prophet Mohammed. Apparently according to our President, in the Islamic world this justifies the killing of an American ambassador and three other personnel supposedly protected by diplomatic immunity. That this happened in a country (Libya) in which the United States intervened militarily to free its citizens from a dictator’s rule seems to be mostly overlooked.
In this country it is considered artistic expression to display a crucifix, the holiest symbol in Christianity, in a jar of urine.
The attacks on our embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere in the Arab world were timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The American intelligence community was once again caught unaware.
For his part, President Obama declared that his opponent, Mitt Romney, “has a tendency to shoot first and aim later”. In my opinion, Barak Obama has a tendency to apologize first and make excuses later.

n David Brochu, CFP, whom I have quoted before, wrote in his newsletter on September 13th, the day before Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed would buy $40 billion mortgage-backed bonds per month indefinitely:
“[T]he problems in Europe are, like here, structural. The troubled countries, including the US, spend more than they take in. Citizens of these wealthy countries are accustomed to a standard of living that the country’s economic engine cannot support. Our lifestyles have been funded by massive quantities of debt. A debt-based economy requires continuous growth in excess of the rate of growth in the debt. In the US, we fund almost 40 percent of our national budget by selling bonds.
The global economy is in uncharted territory. Never before has the world experienced this level of unbridled money printing. Inflation in the financial sector is nothing new. But inflation in financial assets facilitated by a global slowdown providing an umbrella for money supply expansion to this extreme is.
What happens when the economic crisis takes place in the public sector? Unfortunately, we may soon find out. Between now and the end of the year, four very important events will take place: the Presidential election, the need to increase the debt ceiling, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the triggering of the sequestration.”
Mr. Brochu calls the Fed and administration’s current policy “the print and pretend program”.
“Sequestration” means the automatic cuts to discretionary spending that were mandated by the negotiations leading to the last hike in the debt ceiling.
No matter who wins in November, President Obama is going to have to deal with this crisis. Buckle your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. He served for six years on North Kingstown’s Audit Committee and was its chairman for the last two. His opinions are his own.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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