Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we make it through this Thanksgiving week without a flood of car traffic invited to park outside our front door to donate to a charity scam it will be the first time since I have been in my home. Our HOA has forced the homeowners here to host a donation drop off in the fire lane of our private property for the entire time I have lived here, almost 15 years. Literally thousands of cars have passed by my front door to leave junk, or food, or volunteer hours preparing food for the public for a fake charity. The HOA board has a fiduciary (legal) responsibility to protect the property value of the corporation, but they see fit to use our property to show off their own fake philanthropy to the neighborhood. They operated these scams all year, and solicited donations in various ways. They used the US Postal service to solicit funds from the neighbors, which was incredible. Holidays were special times when we had non-stop cars drive through and park for hours to donate to the charity scams.
The most amazing feat they accomplished was to go to court and get a restraining order from a city court judge. They told him they were “giving back” and need to restrain the people who live here and own the driveway with the fire lane they occupy from stopping the charity scam donations or food prep. We tried for years to stop it through our official Tucson Police Department neighborhood watch, but the cop was in favor of both filling the fire lane with cars, and inviting the public to drive through this driveway we have to pay to pave in order to keep the white collar criminals happy. She did not even know them, but wanted, in general, to make this a shittier place to live. She encouraged the HOA board to trash the environment and break federal revenue law. It seems she was just untrained or not paying any attention. There was no way to know what she was thinking because she simply refused to respond when we reported the crime. She was able to influence the whole city government to refuse to enforce the fire lane law here for reasons known only to herself…or more likely to nobody, since it was a mindless clueless action. Cluelessness is contagious and soon the whole city government was too clueless to even collude with each other. They had manifested the ultimate willfully blind untrust. They unknowingly were the biggest promoters of obvious crime in front of all of us in the area. They stuck to their guns for more than a decade, and last night there were 4 cars in the fire lane and 1 in a neighbor’s driveway without permission. If a fire had broken out they had blocked people into their garages who would be trapped while the fire truck would be blocked. They don’t see any reason not to expose us to that kind of risk.
After being forced to live with this full time donation drop off site in my front yard for years, the neighbors and I petitioned the newly elected mayor, who is a lawyer. He refused to respond, and in fact since the first petition in 2013 he has not been willing to respond to the citizens here who petitioned his office to halt the charity scam activity that freaked the whole neighborhood out. His office thinks it has a right to remain silent while refusing to give us any law enforcement services for more than a decade. They are not trying to refuse to perform. This is the extent of the ability they have. They send out a cop to promote charity scamming and filling the fire lane of the property with as many cars as possible, and then refuse to respond when we ask for at least a clear fire lane. No can do. I have pointed out the total number of nights our fire lanes have been clear in the last 15 years. The number is stuck at 6 nights total. They passively aggressively pretend that this law enforcement task is impossible for them, so they can’t do anything to improve this situation. They manage to keep the fire lanes clear downtown. They do know how to write these expensive tickets. They prefer to ignore the issue. They have fully trashed our hood as well as trust in the police with their actions. I still can’t get them to repair the damage because it would include admission of an error. They are sticking with deeper clulusion. This is why we can’t have nice things.
I want to convince the commander of my local police station to learn more about the progressive use of social media. Controversy and conflict spread like wildfire on all platforms today. This is a reflection of our relationships in real life. It is easy to get into a political argument but not so easy to locate community spirit. We drastically need dialog and understanding to build better neighborhoods. The tension between police and citizens must be treated. Lack of trust must be brought to light and replaced with understanding. We need better communication, and I believe it can be achieved with judicious use of social media. I believe twitter has the power to prevent crime if used with imagination and good strategy, just as it has influenced some to fight for ISIS. The only way to stop an evil force with a twitter account is with a loving force with a twitter account.
In the photo above a young detective is joking around with SWAT Officer Salisbury, who was working showing off the SWAT stuff at the station the other day. I had just asked him what he detected about Officer Salisbury. He was telling me he that his colleague is very speedy. Their camaraderie is evident and the good nature of the joking between them was fun to see. These young men are charming and professional, but I certainly hope I will not require their services. It is fine to hang out in the parking lot, but I don’t want them to come to my house in the middle of the night.
It was all fun and games until I said, “I know you saw the PBS special last week about SWAT.” They didn’t really say much, but they indicated that this PBS reference had bummed them out. I don’t blame them because it is another blow to the already ragged respect for police across the country. News coverage brings scary evidence that violence is escalating in certain cities. Tucson is one of them. These young cops face ever-growing danger with no hope of a pay raise in sight. For them, as well as for all of us, we need to find ways to communicate to prevent crime of all kinds, particularly crimes against cops. We will find ourselves unable to recruit people who are willing to take the job if we don’t kick in and help them reduce crime and violence.
I believe social media has the potential to transform crime prevention because
What do you think, gentle reader, is the answer to the social disorder we are experiencing today?
I met Officer Rob McCusker ,who trains dogs to detect explosives at TPD, last November when he was training a new puppy. I featured Officer Cookie in a post because she was so sweet and friendly to meet as a youngster. When I saw Officer Rob yesterday I asked about Cookie. She has moved to Anchorage Alaska to work for a private security firm. It turned out that Cookie was doing well with her training until the time came to go outside. It became apparent that she just did not have the right stuff to be a bomb squad professional. I could tell listening to him tell the story that this had been a very heart wrenching experience for Officer Rob because their bond was very tight. They put in many months of training. Finally the breeder where she was born was consulted, and they decided together that there were no more training moves to be made to improve her skills. She had to retire from her law enforcement career.
The great news is that she nabbed a job in Alaska in which she never needs to go outside. She lives in a nice home up there and still has a place in the professional sniffing dogs universe. Since she is a dog she may not really think of us any more, but we remember her fondly and thank her for her service. The other fabulous piece of news is that JR, the bomb detecting dog who had retired at the McCusker family home at the age of 10, is back to work. Nobody could be more delighted than JR. He is extremely affectionate, and glad to be back at his job. He does not mind one tiny bit filling in while a new recruit is trained in the thousands of scents they must learn to detect explosives. It is old hat to him, and he is the life of the party. He is impressive in every way. He gets a bath about every 10 days to make sure his own scent does not interfere with his missions. He must be the cleanest black lab in the world. He is shiny, healthy and happy. It was a pleasure to meet him at thank a cop day, out of retirement having a wonderful time. JR is the bomb.
The Tucson Police Foundation holds a giant car show every November that is very popular with the public. I enjoy seeing all the well cared for vehicles as well as the cops of various kinds on display. The Border Patrol was on hand with a truly amazing vehicle they souped up as a hyper dune buggy. It has a Corvette engine and looks like Road Warrior. I am sure it scares those it chases. I am scared by the latest intelligence the Border Patrol agent laid on me. The farmers in Sonora are all switching to growing poppies because the weed market is no longer profitable. This is terrible news for the US, now trending heavily into heroin as our current drug darling. He said only two thirds of the drugs that enter the US travel through here. When I asked how he knew that without busting them all he replied that they have their ways of knowing. This is all pretty creepy, but the vehicle is impressive. Tempe Police Department entered for the first time this year with a confiscated very hot car they took form a drug dealer who used it for work. This special police car in use for “crime prevention”. This makes me laugh. Tempe police are saying we will drive your car after we bust you. I bet it does do some crime prevention.
It is fun to talk to the helicopter pilots who hover over our neighborhood so often in the night. They land the helicopter at the park so they can show it off to the citizens all day. There are many great examples of antique law enforcement vehicles every year too. The show brings together love for cars and history creating a time the public interact with the cops in an informal (not enforcement) atmosphere. It is my favorite thing the cops do in my city. My favorite cop in the city, canine Officer Evo was present, hamming it up for the cameras and winning hearts and minds.
The next post here will be devoted to Officer Evo and a new canine officer on the scene this year, Officer Cookie of the bomb squad, a lab who loves to party. The canine cops both fascinate and thrill me. They are very professional, but underneath it all they are dogs. Stay tuned to learn more about dogs in law enforcement and the cops who love them.
The term community policing has been tossed around in the media lately by experts and citizens of all kinds. This trending topic has been defined by the US Department of Justice:
Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. Community policing is composed of three key components:
Partnerships – Collaborative partnerships between the law enforcement agency and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police.
Organizational Transformation – The alignment of organizational management, structure, personnel, and information systems to support community partnerships and proactive problem solving.
Problem Solving – The process of engaging in the proactive and systematic examination of identified problems to develop and evaluate effective responses.
I hope incorporation of these policies will take place as soon as possible. Within the organizational transformation plan is a geographic approach to assignments. In other words, provide neighborhood cops who know and interact with a certain area by assigning them to that area. This is essential in my opinion, and would be helpful where I live. The advice given is to despecialize the force, creating a more generally skilled team to handle most situations. Problem solving and cooperation with the public have been missing elements to improving the safety in our city. Obvious ongoing crime would be obvious to any cop who patrolled here all the time. The force would see what we see, and even become known to the neighbors. These concepts will improve safety for both officers and the public.
In a co-dependent relationship each side wants the other to be different. One striking example today is the relationship between the public and the cops. Police departments across the country are found to be engaging in all kinds of costly and illegal practices that are not in the best interest of the taxpayers. One such practice is the use of public safety disability systems to pay off and retire problem (and criminal) cops. We foot the bill for all the retirement and disability payments retired cops are given, whether they are valid or not. Obviously we want to protect, heal and compensate those who are legitimate victims of on the job injuries. To do otherwise would be irresponsible and thoughtless.
Since this system is so easily deceived by bogus medical claims it only makes sense to examine the system for fraud. Tucson has unreasonably high disability figures compared to the national average for cops, which drains our coffers in an unsustainable way. Either we are really doing something that injures our employees more than other cities, or we are being taken for a ride much more than other cities. I sense that it may be a little of each. If they do nothing to take care of themselves they will not be healthy as they go through their careers. Obesity, drug addiction, depression, mental health issues, and low back problems would naturally arise from a work life sitting in a patrol car all day or wearing a bullet proof vest to compress the spine. There are significant risks to health besides getting shot or killed. I think this problem needs to be addressed. They have direct exposure to the worst of general public all day, every day. None of us could do that without experiencing a loss of optimism and bliss. PTSD is as real for the cops as it is for the people who go to war.
In Tucson our police department is drastically understaffed by the city council. They loose more to retirement and atrophy then they can replace by training because they are so far behind in the process. The lack of personnel leads to highly impaired service. I hear people say they can’t get through to 911 after holding for 5 minutes to report gun shots next to their home. I don’t try to call 911 because I have never had a response, and am not expecting that situation to improve by itself. I do report and send in pictures of suspicious activity and crime I see on a phone app. This is a way for me to contribute to better law enforcement without wasting my own time. I think most of the crime in my neighborhood goes unreported. People have no faith that there will be a response or a solution.
To provide protection under the law for our city Tucson needs:
Authority can be dangerous when it is placed in the hands of bullies and punks
Thugs enjoy the feeling they have when they frighten and terrify the public
It is time to call out dishonesty and extortion by law enforcement officials
Who break the law and take the law as an excuse to rob society of basic dignity
Hiding behind their badges they misrepresent reality to emphasize their abilities
They have no relationship with the truth, but are overcome with corrupt power
Enjoy reading and creating poetry during the month of April here. Both dark and light poetry can be found. Mine is a bit dark today.
The extraordinary power of the people’s evidence locker, YouTube, is changing the world at a rapid pace. The police in Rialto, CA are using shoulder mounted cameras to improve their service to the community. They also have tools for predictive policing. Since this technology exists and helps reduce waste in the law enforcement budget why are we not outfitting all the cops in the country with these cameras and these crime maps? Criminals today are tech savvy and steal up to and including people’s identities without even physically looking at them. Let us act smarter with our law enforcement resources.
The Tucson Police Foundation produces a great car show at Reid Park every year. This year was no exception. The Cops and Rodders show provided entertainment and a fabulous social setting for meeting enthusiasts who share a love for vehicles. I enjoy seeing all the variety and the extreme care that has gone into restoring and decorating the vehicles. I sometimes go to the Volkswagon show, but this one is my favorite because they have everything from old panel trucks and fire engines, to low riders. The paint jobs impress, and the creativity amuses. If you live in Arizona you might like to attend next year. It is always free to the public. The Police Foundation raises money through raffles and entry fees. It is almost always perfect sunny weather here in November, so the paint jobs shine and glow. To me it is like an art gallery, curated by the individual car clubs. I love it.
Yesterday I received a call from a lady at the TPD who identified herself as a detective. I told her that I am Nancy Drew and she was dead silent. I asked her if she knew who Nancy is, and she replied in the affirmative. This was the first clue that I had that this lady had called to play cat and mouse, having absolutely no idea that I am a tiger. She said she was investigating a peeping Tom incident from last year and had heard that I know a lot about our ‘hood. This was my second clue.
I have seen the Police Academy movies and think the whole thing looks like a lot of fun. Something happens to them between those heady days of graduation from the academy and grinding out the day-to-day police reports that goes terribly wrong. This detective lady called to find out if I am crazy or not. I let her know, in no uncertain terms, that I am indeed crazy from reporting the same crimes over many years to the TPD, until I am blue in the face. She asked about crimes in my area, I told her a few facts, and then told her what I thought about working conditions for the cops. She had no idea how to be the mouse, so she said she was only calling about the peeping Tom last year and would not be able to investigate the other crimes we discussed. Even Nancy Drew knows there is little point in trying to find out who was peeping last year when we have active full time, already confessed under oath, felonies going on right this minute. I had to hang up when she asked me to call 911 if I see anything. There is such a thing as insulting the intelligence of the public. These guys should have studied Tom and Jerry back at the academy.