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The Tweet is Mightier Than the SWAT

May 23, 2016

TPD SWATTER Salisbury

TPD SWATTER Salisbury

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

  • A picture is worth a thousand words
  • A penny saved is a penny earned
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
  • A stitch in time saves nine
  • The tweet is mightier than the SWAT

What do you think, gentle reader, is the answer to the social disorder we are experiencing today?

SWATTER Stoner

SWATTER Stoner

Police Mendacity

May 17, 2016 4 Comments

Police

Police

I have watched with interest the specials PBS aired last week about police and gun violence in America. The problems are even worse for law enforcement professionals than I thought they were.  The panel discussion of police chiefs and victims of SWAT team violence revealed a shocking systemic practice of lying to the public to protect officers who make deadly mistakes on duty.  A lively discussion on-line took place at the hashtag #PBSPeaceOfficer.

Both sides are heavily polarized on the issue, as we might expect.  The police chiefs stressed that the problem needs to be addressed to the mayors and councils to find solutions. The cops themselves are following orders and protocol and strategies set by those in command.  Hiring, training, and supervision are needed by the agencies to correct the current problems.  In most cases they lack the funding to buy enough essential training and adequate supervisory personnel to equip and supervise recruits. The officers lack the skills they need to both protect themselves and the public.  This seems to be the case across the country.  While the citizens arm up and carry guns everywhere the cities refuse to provide enough funding to operate functional law enforcement agencies.  This is an obvious recipe for more violence.

When the government declared war on drugs and terror, they began to distribute military surplus to police departments to fight these “wars”.  Included in this discussion is the tendency to use this military equipment to occupy neighborhoods rather than protect them.  The police chiefs were quick to point out that much of the surplus they receive is office equipment and other non lethal much-needed supplies.  The police professionals also agreed they needed the military weapons because their own communities failed to arm the force adequately.  There is now a new policy against militarized police forces, but they already have plenty of gear to continue the heavily occupation of America.  The NRA has a strong lobby in support of arming the entire population.  This is escalating an already terrible problem.  We need disarmament negotiations between the cops and the citizens, apparently.

I have seen the TPD employ the SWAT team in my neighborhood.  They came in the middle of the night to bust some dope dealers who had been operating boldly in the open for years, right on the street.  I could have busted them myself any day during the previous couple of years, either making drive by deliveries from the front yard, or by busting the group of youngsters on tiny bikes that fanned out to deliver drugs throughout the hood before dawn daily.  Some of the bike delivery guys were able to stay in the apartment and have a yard sale after the SWAT bust which I found to be amazing.  I know for sure that one of my neighbors reported this obvious ongoing dealing but was told by a group of cops who had answered a call at his house that they were not interested. About 6 months after Russ told them about the dealing they showed up with flash bombs.  This was evidence to me that they enjoy this use of force too much to be safe with all that fire power.

More of a concern to me than the use of force is the use of mendacity.  They use statistics to tell us about themselves, yet they compile these statistics.  If they are willfully blind to their own errors the law enforcement agency becomes a dangerous street gang.  If they are encouraged by municipal authorities to hide mistakes rather than learn from them they become the villain rather than the hero in our society. This trend is very dangerous to our public health.

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