Law is obeyed of respect, power obeyed of fear

The other day, the Odessa American reported on the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute’s event on policing, and as reported, the featured guests said some troubling things.

First, both outgoing Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson and Odessa Police Chief Tim Burton suggested folks ought to comply with whatever an officer tells them to do in order to protect themselves.

Now, women in the audience might not feel completely comfortable following that advice if interacting with former police officer Salvador Becerra during a traffic stop or former deputy Alfred John Herrera once in jail.

Or maybe that’s not fair. Only rarely do peace officers sexually assault people they have in their custody.

Continue reading “Law is obeyed of respect, power obeyed of fear”

Advertisements

This is why people in Seattle go shop in Bellevue

I’m working another season in retail, selling games to people looking for ways to make their children smarter.

That’s the way the bitterest way to describe my job responsibilities. The more charitable and more common feeling is that people come in looking for ways to make happy the people in their lives, and it’s my job to understand the sort of thing they already enjoy in order to find them a new thing they’ll also be pleased with.

Doing my job right means I listen to or tease information out of people, have a good understanding of the products we have to offer, and demonstrate what I like about it well enough they can easily imagine the gift-receiver enjoying, too.

It’s fun. It feels like a net-positive to the universe. But it’s also a far cry from being a journalist.

Continue reading “This is why people in Seattle go shop in Bellevue”

How often are prison guards killed transporting prisoners?

Eight prisoners and two correctional officers died in an accident near my hometown last week when their bus went off the side of an overpass, onto a moving train. It made national news, and my former coworkers did a great job all day letting people know what was going on as information came out, and putting it all into context by day’s end.

When hearing about a fatal train/prison bus collision, many people made the obvious connection, because that’s how we expect things to work, but the culprit seems to be icy conditions and very bad luck.

I can’t explain why the eight prisoner deaths seem so much more tragic than the two guards. Continue reading “How often are prison guards killed transporting prisoners?”

Drugs are bad, but they’re good enough

There’s an interesting debate going on now about the nature of our drug laws.

If you look on the Odessa American’s website and read some of the comments to the Kopbusters sting and related articles, between the specifics of the Yolanda Madden case and the hoax itself, and ignoring a lot of abusive language, there’s a conversation about illegal drugs, law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and what should be done about it.

Maybe we’re at a place where we can talk about the issue without shrillness or hyperbole, because everyone can admit something definitely isn’t right.

Continue reading “Drugs are bad, but they’re good enough”