Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Yesterday I met Canine Officer Evo of the Tucson Police Department. He and his human trainer were at the Cops and Rodders Car Show. This free annual event is sponsored by the Tucson Police Foundation. My partner Bob always brings his antique VW bug to be in the show and I always attend. This year was graced with perfect weather and some really artful vehicles of every kind. My favorite collection this year was old firetruck and cop car toys that a regular exhibitor brought just do try something different. It was also especially lucky because the restored firetruck that normally sits in the lobby at station one permanently happened to to out for some kind of repair, so the retired firefighter who works on this beauty drove it over to the park to be in the show. I love all the firetrucks. They are spectacular works of mechanical art. I was thrilled to have a chance to meet and ask questions of the retired firefighter who has done the body work on these antiques and is rightfully proud of his work.
The police are set up to meet the public and answer questions all day. They are divided into specialties according to training and equipment they use. The SWAT team is very popular because the robots interact with kids and pass a bottle of hand sanitizer, etc. They dress up in jumpsuits and stand next to their big vehicle. The helicopter lands and the crew hangs out all day. People love looking inside the cockpit and meeting the cops on our local beat, since they are usually flying over us shining big obtrusive lights around our hood. There is a booth with their heavy military artillery, a place with TPD recruiting information. At the end of the display I spotted a woman wearing a walking patrol uniform. I asked where she gets to do that, and the answer was downtown and 4th Avenue, a more urban part of town. The same officers do bike and walking patrols. We had a few in midtown and really wanted more on duty here, but they were canceled. Now we have no boots on the ground in midtown, which we regret because air support can only accomplish so much without a coalition on the ground to hold the territory. We have the helicopter on a very regular basis, but are not comforted by our relationship with it. It does not make any sense to us to cancel bike cops because the budget is too tight, and use the helicopter instead. There is such a thing as efficiency. I was feeling annoyed, as I often am, at the priorities (or total lack thereof) of government spending when I saw him, everything I have ever wanted in a police officer.
The canine unit has only 10 dogs. Not all of them are social, and therefore would not be brought out to meet and greet the pubic. Evo, however, is a total party animal. I had no idea they were loving, or that they even were allowed to party with the public. Imagine my surprise and delight when I came down to his level to say hi to him and was given big fat kisses all over my face. He just would not stop with the kissing while he showed me his tummy. We played for a minute and I fell deeply in love with him while his other fans waited to meet him. From little kids to adults, he charmed the humans as no other cop there had the power to do. His trainer opened the back of his car so his fans could see how he rides and answered the millions of questions we had. A very loud and aggressive lemonade vendor came by shouting out his wares. He meant no harm, but his shouting voice was out of place. Officer Evo did not bark to react like a pet dog might, but you should have seen him come to attention. His ears went shooting up and he left his PR job completely to focus on the risk the lemonade guy might pose. At that moment he displayed situational awareness the humans just can’t achieve. He had been there winning hearts and minds since 7:30 am when I met him about 2 in the afternoon. He showed infinite patience and stamina. Of course he is much younger than the human cops. He is only 4.
I learned a lot yesterday even though I just went to see the vehicles. I came away with the following impressions:
I would like to see more paws and boots on the ground in midtown. Can I get an Amen?? If you don’t live in Tucson, gentle reader, then this may not seem to apply to you. Your city may also do inappropriate law enforcement stuff rather than more effective stuff just because they can. If they don’t, you are fortunate.
I am enthusiastic about Nextdoor.com. It has potential to become a tool of great value to fight crime and improve life. I invite everyone I know to start one for your neighborhood. I opened ours just a few days ago and we have gathered more than the minimum 10 members we need to have our site supported for free for our community. This is private, non commercial networking to improve the environment and create safer places to live. It is not connected to any government agency or political group. This start up knows that cities need this, and is developing the system with venture capital. It is brilliantly simple.
We have sunk to a new nadir in Tucson. Our neighborhood has a federally funded neighborhood watch consisting of only 5 households, for the sole purpose of willfully denying the presence of the charity scam, “Feeding the Homeless in Tucson’s Parks“. It is a sad state of affairs when your city will break federal revenue law, getting a grant to help a small group of white collar criminals break federal revenue law in front of everyone in the neighborhood. This makes it look like the best way to stay in any criminal business is to found a fake neighborhood watch to protect it, and help your local cops get a federal grant to help you deny that it is criminal to collect donations without reporting them to the IRS.
It is completely ironic to call this neighborhood watch when the majority has to watch the minority…and the authorities…openly break the law. This is why Nextdoor is an important way to clean up neighborhoods. When people know what is happening around them they can make improvements together for the benefit of all. When people live isolated lives, crime has more opportunity to exist. If there is a real neighborhood watch that succeeds in real life, I applaud you. In our case, we need to start by simply getting some neighbors to know their neighbors. That is progress in itself where I live.
I had a magical experience that changed my life last year. During the government shut down my friends and I were treated to a tour of a working monument to justice in San Francisco. The very special building, which is owned by the taxpayers, was still open for business while the irresponsible part of the federal government was having an irrational fit at the taxpayers’ expense. We each had a chance to put on a robe and pose with the babes of justice, as my friend who works with them calls them. We all felt very special and talked later about being so lucky and having so much fun that day. Sometimes events take on more meaning as time reveals a larger meaning. I was being baptized on that bench and accepting a big mission that I recognize now. We were joking and laughing, really being free and happy, but a vow to liberate others through justice was happening at the same time. Let me explain:
My first teacher of Buddhism was Claude D’Estree, a monk who hangs tight with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. When we were lucky enough to receive teachings from his holiness in September of 1993 Claude flew down from Denver once a month for a year before his arrival to initiate us to Tibetan Buddhist teachings in preparation. We had classes at St Phil’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, and held retreats on that beautiful campus to learn about the three jewels. The subject was new to me, but Claude is an excellent teacher. From the dedication of merit to dependent arising, he covered the material in such a way that very complex concepts became clearer. I will never forget an example he used to explain compassion, using his own personal life experience.
He had worked as a federal prosecutor, who has the obvious job of defending justice and fighting evil. This job exposed him to egregious wrongdoing. As a monk he has the job of using compassion to save the world from pride, delusion, and anger by practicing patience. This seems like a paradox, and it is. He taught us that the most compassionate thing to do for people who are delusional, destructive and angry is to stop them. The trick about doing it as a prosecutor-monk, or monk-prosecuter is to do it without any attachments or aversions, in other words, without anger. Compassion turns anger into patience, an alchemical process that takes much dedication and study to achieve. He had to prosecute very serious criminals in the line of duty. He had also taken the Bodhisattva vow to return to earth until all beings are free and happy. He has undertaken this giant mission to meditate and cultivate diligence for those whose minds are slack and wondering ( a seemingly unending group). Since we all were given the rare opportunity to tread the path of buddhahood Claude was showing us how to meditate and turn our own merit into bliss for others who are suffering. I think of him and his teaching often when my patience is challenged.
The year of study and retreat was a deeply religious experience, but did not require the student to become a proclaimed Buddhist, or join any group or movement. The teachings were given to help us comprehend the even deeper experience of our time with his holiness. We were initiated to Green Tara and introduced to Shantideva. These are deep teachings that can take lifetimes to comprehend, but the Dalai Lama encouraged the women in the class by telling us that we have a better chance of spontaneous or instant enlightenment than the guys. We learned the mantra for Green Tara, who has the specialty of speed. She is the Mother of all Buddhas who saves us from our envy, wrong view and avarice.
For years I have been involved in an anger/patience/justice drama about my home. Now I am going to have to do some serious patience practice while I sue the flaming pants off the city of Tucson for violating federal revenue law and obstructing justice like crazy fire. I am calling on Green Tara to save me from attachment and doubt in order to liberate our neighborhood from evil. I have taken the vows too, and have a responsibility. Green Tara and I are now both babes of justice. Wish me luck as I walk through the valley of the shadow of anger.
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.
In Tucson our cops represent themselves very badly. A cop in training went to a gas station wearing a bullet proof vest waving his duty weapon at the clerk. He was looking intoxicated, which he has a right to be..in private…but not in public with the vest and weapon we supplied for this loose cannon. The TPD asks the public to excuse this little incident and forget another recent cop drunk driving to work event. Our tax dollars are being spent wisely we are assured. I don’t know anyone who trusts the TPD in my neighborhood. I do not like the way they spend my tax dollars.
If the general public has so much mental illness we need to assume that some of the cop population suffers from similar problems. If we look at evidence we notice that our police in Tucson behave badly. I am not at all pleased to have armed this punk who used his duty weapon to show his alignment with reality. Guns do not kill people…drunk punks dressed in vests certainly might.
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.
We have so much negligence that it is necessary to break it down into its various categories:
Negligence per Se is obvious disregard for regulation that harms society. Criminal negligence is a gross deviation from the risk assessment skills of an average person. Gross negligence is failure to act with the slightest degree of care. Concurrant negligence is a group acting without the slightest degree of care. Obstruction of justice is acting to impede the law enforcement system. Seems a bit blurry, but we all know negligence when we see it.
The Latin root word in question here is about discernment and understanding. Intelligence is the ability to discern clearly, and negligence is sloth, injury and injustice. We do not have so many legal categories for intelligence because it is rare. There are laws, and there is the spirit of the law. Intelligent citizens will make the bureaucracy responsible for negligence of every kind. We pay for this negligence, and I think it is a raw deal. Good management practices eliminate negligence and waste of resources. The status quo looks to me a lot like concurrant negligence.