Defunding the police, a move towards a privatized police force

 

If you had asked me in January of this year what I thought would be happening by June, in my wildest dreams I never would have thought we would be having this discussion. As I write this, a police station in Seattle has been taken over by protesters and proclaimed a “sovereign land.” This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and whether you are on the left or the right in the past five years both sides of the political spectrum have tried this. Ammon Bundy, a cattle rancher who had a problem with the expansive powers of the federal government, along with a handful of anti-government sympathizers, took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest in 2016. The federal government didn’t storm the Refuge, instead choosing to sit back and wait for these people to leave for supplies. The other entertaining aspect of this standoff was the mailing of donations and supplies to the sanctuary by the US postal service. The internet wasn’t cut off, giving these rebels a live internet feed to display the dildos and gummy bear penises that had been mailed in response to their pleas for help. The standoff did not end well, one man shot dead after he exited the car he was riding and pulling a gun on federal officers. President Trump pardoned Ammon in 2018.

While this latest protest is happening in Seattle there is also the cry across the country to defund police departments or disband them all together. The scariest thing is that some public servants are actually considering this. Minneapolis voted to disband their police force saying they are beyond reform. The day after my home town of Kalamazoo talked about defunding the department of public safety, which consist of police and fire department, we had three shootings in a span of 24 hours. I have to wonder if any of these measures will actually happen but considering the language that is being used and how easily the politicians are quickly trying to appease these protesters, I would hate to admit this might actually happen. Looking ahead and considering what this would mean, I don’t think these people have full thought about what would happen to their own communities they claim to protect or care about.

We are looking at the start of the tribal state. Instead of having one police force that works for a city, county, or state entity and funded by taxes, there would have to be a local force paid by the community and accountable to whom? If you don’t pay your monthly dues to the local posse will they refuse to investigate the break in at your house? If someone from the northside of town commits a crime in the southside will that prevent the militia from apprehending the suspect because they don’t have jurisdiction? What about all the laws we already have on the books for law enforcement? Will those be thrown out as well. Instead of being read Miranda rights as you are arrested you might receive a baseball bat to the ribs because that’s how they do things on that side of town. But hey, at least they are policing their own, right?

When it comes to the question of protection an idea like this will only make the inequality of our society grow. A wealthy neighborhood with consistent six figure incomes would have little problem funding their own police force to protect their neighborhood. Meanwhile, across town the poor neighborhoods that already have a higher per capita crime problem would find themselves at the mercy of whoever stepped up to run things. In some cultures, this idea isn’t all bad. When the tsunami hit Fukushima in 2011 the local government did little to help the locals evacuate and find a place to stay. However, the Yakuza stepped in and supplied food and water to the survivors when no one else did. They don’t call them organized crime for nothing. This model doesn’t work everywhere and it rarely does overall. It is not uncommon to find areas of Africa under the control of warlords. In Somalia the government controls a few square blocks of the capital city while the rest of the country is controlled by warlords and pirates. The same goes for parts of southeast Asia and eastern Europe in the former soviet bloc.

During the Iraq war there came a time when people wanted our boys to come home and the federal government moved towards returning our troops home. In return they were replaced with private contractors who did not answer to the pentagon or the Iraqi government. They were completely independent and they made more money than the troops that were originally there. Most of these men were former military and went back to Iraq for a better paycheck and the ability to do the job they wanted to do before but were unable. This resulted in the Nisour Square Massacre in 2007 where 17 Iraqis were killed and 20 injured. According to the new Iraqi constitution that the US helped write for the Iraqis, contractors working in Iraq could not be tried in Iraqi courts or charged for any crimes committed in country. Later this was changed during the Obama Administration but the fact that these men were able to operate with full immunity was unthinkable.

Some will say that is where we are at now. Cops killing people without being held accountable. The officer who is accused of murdering George Floyd was charged. The three officers with him were also charged. The theory that this was a racist crime goes out the door with these other officers, one of them being Asian American and another of Hispanic descent. The fourth officer who helped with the arrest had been on the job for four days and allegedly asked questions during the arrest about turning Floyd over when he said he could not breathe. Does this one act mean that we completely tear apart a system that has worked relatively well over the years? We don’t complain when cops arrest serial killers or child molesters. When there is a mass shooting, we don’t call the local militia to come out and stop the gunman.

Instead of looking at erasing the police from our society why don’t we take a look at other communities that appear to have gotten things right. In Japan it is required for police officers to be members of Judo clubs. Constantly learning how to grapple and restrain people with little or no effort. I might also point out that the crime rate in Japan is almost nonexistent. That is why when things do happen there it is a shock to the society and it is usually perpetrated by someone that is not from there. In the 1990s there was a case of children being found dead in old refrigerators, boxes, and alleys. These kids had gone missing during their solo trips to school that is a Japanese tradition. The suspect was later caught and it was a man who had migrated to Japan from Portugal for work. who are you going to call when your child goes missing?

I don’t know what the future holds, if we will end up with privatized police forces or some bastardized version of community policing that will be impotent and unable to function. Emotions are high and when we make quick decisions on those emotions, they usually don’t have good results. As a nation we need a change. We are completely divided instead of thinking of ourselves as Americans. We are democrats or republicans, Christians or other, gay or straight, white or black, man or woman, but we never think of ourselves as Americans first. There was a time when people would say “stop trying to label me, man” but that has been replaced by every subculture we can think of. A person would rather say they are recovering catholic, straight, white male, with liberal tendencies except for some conservative ideas about fiscal responsibility. Or they say they are vegan and then it is best to just leave the conversation and save the next hour of your life from a lecture about animal cruelty. The point is, we are not one tribe. We don’t work towards making things better for everyone. Instead we talk about oppression and unfairness, and equality in a land where everyone has the chance to make a better life for themselves. In Kalamazoo this could not be truer. We have a program called the Promise, where any graduate from the public-school system is able to go to college for free. Most kids don’t take advantage of it and find themselves years later still working in $10 and hour jobs complaining about how unfair the world is. That is who is protesting these days. Going to school to make your life better is too hard, it is easier to complain and blame others for your lot in life. Being a victim doesn’t take any effort. Taking personal responsibility, that is hard.

Just like occupy wall street and the riots in Ferguson this will be a little footnote in history. People seem to think this is a huge historical life changing event but considering the lack of thought or the root of the cause itself this will be half assed like the lives of these ignorant people. A statue of Winston Churchill was vandalized during a protest with the word “Racist” spray painted across it. These people clearly have no idea who this man was. He stopped the spread of fascist around the world. He fought in the Great War and understood the idea of personal sacrifice for a greater cause. After the war he provided universal healthcare for all British citizens regardless of race or gender. Churchill was a great man but to these idiots he was nothing but a racist. Our sense of belonging is gone and no one seems to understand what came before to create the world we have now. People complain about police brutality during these protests, while forgetting that protesters were shot and killed by national guard troops at Ohio State during the Vietnam war. Things have gotten better. They have always gotten better through constant reform, new amendments to the constitution, and the turn over of laws that were morally wrong. Running out into the streets and crying about how you want change and you want it now is not how you get what you want, it is how you end up getting spanked by an adult.

I really hope nothing comes out of this. I hope this dies down and we have a trial and the system does its job, not the one that the protesters demand but the fair and speedy trial that finds these men guilty or not guilty. That is not up to us but the men and women of the jury. Catering to a mob is not justice, it’s a lynching. You would think that these protesters would know what that is.

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Golden: part 8

The last day in Seattle started out like all of the others. This morning a jazz band was playing in the corner of the deli and when they asked for requested, I suggested something from Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis classic. Without a horn in the group the electric guitar took over the role and played the piece for ten minutes. I was impressed and the head of the band told me that the guitarist had really improved over the past ten years. Nick added afterwards that he had recorded some of the American song book with this group but others in the band were not up to his standards for the job.
We sat at the counter with the picture window overlooking the street and patio. Nick read one of the local papers and discussed how the governor of Washington state was meeting with President Xi of China. Some people were suggesting that the Governor might run for president but I knew that role was already going to Hillary. I knew nothing about local politics and sat silent eating my meal listening to the conversations around me.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched a woman walk into the deli. I had been repeatedly told about the beautiful exotic Asian women living in Seattle but after a week of staying there and seeing little of Seattle I took the information to be a local myth I should disregard. I few women I did meet were just like the college students I saw in my own town with three universities. Young naive and consumed by pointless over charged educations, with a thirst for consumerism, the women I saw in Seattle were clones of this model, until this day.
The woman who walked in was very different from anything I had seen at home or abroad. Wearing a blue sundress, her hair was pulled back into a pony tail as she stood in line only a few feet away. Dark red lipstick emphasized her smile and when the owner of the shop walked up to say hello her eyes squinted as she smiled. She knew the owner and continued her conversation as I sat silently watching from afar hoping she wouldn’t notice me. The sundress did little to hide her curvaceous body and I fought to remember the details of this rare beauty. Thick calf muscles teased there way into view between the brown boots and the skirt. Thick thighs blended into wide hips and a healthy attractive midsection. Completing her curvaceous figure were her full breasts. These details I was fortunate to remember and looking away from her simple and classical face of beauty was a task upon itself. Big brown eyes and thick red lips filled her oval face gave her a constant expression of kindness that wasn’t faked or forced like so many I had met before. The girl at the airport bar in Salt Lake City came to mind.
The woman was called to order her coffee and just as fast as she appeared, she was gone. So, the mythical women of Seattle are actually real and just like any unicorn, snipe, or bigfoot you have to enjoy them for the few seconds they are there before they are gone.
I asked Nick bout the girl afterwards hoping to have a name to go with the face. He had never seen her before but by his recollection she might work for one of the local advertising agencies in Bellevue. Flying back to Kalamazoo later that night there was no point in pushing the issue.
Nick had this strange idea that I needed an iPad. He had a second device that he wanted to give me and that was our mission for the day. The second iPad belonged to his girlfriend Jan who came to own it from buying a new Cadillac. She used it once, set the pin number and after two years of sitting in the closet she forgot what the number was. Nick drove to the local mall where there was an Apple store.
The mall was no different from any other except for the Tesla car store in the middle. Nick was fascinated by these cars and thought these must be a rare breed in the land of Detroit muscle. The car by itself was odd, no motor, exhaust, gas tank, transmission, or cooling system. Everything was touch controlled and the car talked to you. I thought of Nightrider.
At the Apple store we spent an hour arguing with an employee about the resetting of the iPad.
“Unless you have the code, we can’t help you.”
“But we don’t know the code because it’s forgotten. Are you telling me that I own an iPad that I can’t have fixed if I forget the code?”
“do you have the receipt?”
“it belongs to my girlfriend and she got it from buying a new car.”
“Well unless you have the receipt, I can’t help you.”
“I want to talk to somebody else.”
This went on for more than an hour and this was how I spent the last day in Seattle, sitting in a mall surrounded by stores I don’t go to and people I don’t like. I could be doing this at home.
We left the mall with Nick promising that he would have the iPad unlocked and mail it to me. I didn’t want the iPad. I didn’t have WIFI. I didn’t and still don’t like Apple products. The iPad, even when it did become mine would become a useless pile of crap taking up space with little or no use to me. Nick never listened to me.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. Once you have it, you’ll like it.”
Back at Walden I packed my bags and carried everything upstairs to wait by the door. I had been awake for almost 24 hours at that time and it was another 12 hours home, flying overnight to Minneapolis and then to Chicago after a three-hour layover. I was hoping to sleep on the plane but knew that would be near to impossible.
When went to a local Hooters in Seattle close to the airport. The three of us sat at a table ordering beer. I didn’t want any food, my stomach felt like it was filled with rocks and the discomfort was getting to me. A cute little Latina waitress was serving us. Her hair was cute to her shoulders with bangs, her skin glowed and she was polite even when others were not. She was fit and you could tell that she went to the gym regularly. Sam flirted with her and she said things like “that sweet” or “you don’t say.” These are the “I’m not interested, please stop being creepy” clues. Nick talked about asking her to be in a demo video for the show and Sam suggested they get business cards as producer or executive producer for getting laid in the future. The slapped each other on the back for the great idea and grew excited at all the pussy in their foreseeable future. These were not the kind of guys I would hang out with in any other circumstance. I kept looking at the time and suggested that we go to the airport.
Once I was dropped off, I made my way to the loading area and waited. There were little shops and I bought a rechargeable battery for my phone so that I could use it while flying back. Only problem was that you had to pay to use the WIFI on the plane. They didn’t even supply free WIFI.
I unwrapped a movie I had bought in town, Under the Red Hood, an animated Batman movie and popped it into my laptop. Myself and the two people next to me watched the movie with subtitles while the rest of the plane pretended to sleep.
On the top of the mountains below us were flashing lights that didn’t appear as far away as I would have liked. Small towns were glowing petri dishes in the dark. The lights condensed to the main street and gradually spreading out from the center.
Minneapolis was a great non-event. I recall nothing. I was now at 30 hours without sleep. The 1.5-hour flight to Chicago took five hours with you include the layover and waiting on the tarmac forever.
In Chicago, there was the wait for my luggage, again forced to be checked in at no extra cost. I took the shuttle to the garage where my car was still parked in the same spot, I left it. Leaving the garage, I set my phone for directions to Kalamazoo. It didn’t matter where I went the phone kept telling me to make a U-turn. Frustrated I tossed the phone in the back seat. I jumped on the highway and drove as far and as fast as I could. I lost an hour in town from a stupid app and now the trip back to my hometown was taking me three hours. Then there was the traffic backup.
Some idiot had jackknifed a truck and the traffic was at a standstill. Many people were jumping off the highway to take side streets around the accident. The side streets were their own traffic jam. I stayed on the highway and looked at the morons who were twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out how to move the truck.
I put the audiobook on and tried not to fall asleep at the wheel. Clear blue skies and a bright sun kept me awake while squinting the whole time.
I drove up to my house. Pulled into the driveway. Left everything in the car. Went upstairs and climbed into bed. I had just hit 48 hours of being awake and no it was time to crash. I wouldn’t wake up until the next morning. 14 ours of sleep was just what I needed.

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