Archives December 2021

If this retired police captain had a magic wand

Roughly 240 million 911 calls are logged every year in America. Five percent of those calls concern violent crime. Cops and firefighters are busy 365 days a year, making communities a safe place for residents and workers.

The best source for analyzing crime, in general, is not through the courts, lawyers, and prisons. No one is closer to such problems as is your local cop. It is he/she who responds to millions of calls for police service every year, from rescuing accident victims to surviving urban riots where everyone is at risk. They remain under the microscope.

 Marshall Frank, guest columnist

As a 30-year cop in Miami-Dade, Florida, with experience in various phases of law enforcement, I’ve seen my fair share of criminal conduct and the systems that have operated to deal with criminal behavior.

 If I had the magic wand, I would …

  • Appoint a joint committee made up of legal, social, and law enforcement personnel, to redesign drug laws that would put more emphasis on control, treatment, and mental health, rather than banishing users into prison cells for decades.
  • Establish a method by which we could identify people who suffer from psychotic issues and re-establish long-needed sanitarium facilities where mental health personnel treat the mentally ill — before committing a crime, not after. Recent studies reveal that 20% of prison inmates in state penal systems suffer from some form of advanced mental illness.
  • Decriminalize prostitution and establish laws that protect consumers. This would legitimize, sanitize and control such unenforceable ‘crimes’ that have been in the service business for centuries.
  • Reduce jail and prison populations by invoking the European model which hands out shorter sentences while converting those cost savings into funding for treatment, training and education.
  • Help released prisoners re-adapt to society after being incarcerated for many years. Such inmates often return to society with no support system or opportunities to survive with criminal records. This often results in choice recidivism, i.e. convicts committing crimes in order to return to prison.
  • Abolish capital punishment. Studies reveal that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. It is an outrageous cost to taxpayers, far more than standard incarceration. Meanwhile, the risks of executing innocents, though rare, are far too great. One is too many. The state should not be in the business of killing another human being.
  • Let judges judge by doing away with minimum-mandatory sentencing.  Laws often require a predetermined number of years for inmates to serve in prison if found guilty of a felony regardless of circumstance. Prosecutors use these laws by negotiating sentences to secure a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. Thus, many judges are stripped from exercising judicial discretion.
  • Why reinvent the wheel? We should focus on communities that have succeeded in lowering crime rates. “Stop-and-frisk” policies were highly productive in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. All citizens, black, white and purple, benefited greatly.
  • The claim that systemic racism runs rampant among police personnel is untrue. It had been true in past years. I know, I’ve been there. Some cops will occasionally be held to task for misbehavior in the heat of the moment. That does not make it “systemic.”  We need to support brave men and women in uniform, or we’ll find ourselves unable to fill vacant positions. Good cops will seek other jobs. The ultimate winners: Criminals. The losers: Citizens.
  • Citizens should oust public figures who lobby for defunding of police. It reveals other goals they have in mind which is clearly political. I firmly believe the enemies of America have been stirring hatred and sowing the seeds of chaos in order to destroy our democratic republic. The riots throughout America in 2020 and 2021 have shown this to be true. As career cops leave the profession, criminals are in wait.

    We must keep politics out of law enforcement.

    Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and author of 15 books. 


In a word:  Magnificent

The original 1961 movie version of West Side Story, directed by Jerome Robbins, won 10 Oscars. Sixty years later, the 2021 version, directed by Steven Spielberg, will likely surpass 10. It is a fabulous picture that deserves to be considered among the greatest musical/dramas of all time.

Sadly, the big screen theaters will likely be disappointing as the movie makers and movie fans these days are watching such films on at-home large screens. The Covid19 infestation may have much to do with that. I would still urge reluctant movie-goers to give the big screen version of this epic a viewing of the real thing. West Side Story deserves that.

Among the biggest stories of the 2021 version, is Spielberg’s utter genius in reaching out the virtually thousands of young actors/singers in assembling the very best cast possible. More often than not, youngsters who won a part in the movie had little background in show biz.

The major star playing the principal role of Maria, was plucked from a plethora of some 30,000 wannabees in an effort to cast the very best of the best. New to the movie industry, that role went to Miss Rachel Zegler, now age twenty. (Remember that name) Not only is Miss Zegler simple and beautiful, she has many natural elements needed in such an important role. Besides that, she has a pure and natural singing voice. No doubt, we will be seeing a lot of her in her movie career.

Interesting to note, in the 1961 version, the primary singers, such as Natalie Wood, did not actually sing because their voices were dubbed. In the 2021 version, the voices were not dubbed.

The full cast roughly included 30 street-gang players, some adult roles, all too many to include in a brief review. However, we must tip our hat to one star who appears in both versions of the movie, sixty years separated. That would be Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1961. In the new version, she plays Valentina, an elder woman who interacts with the young Hispanics of New York City’s “West Side.” And, she also sings.

Special credits are owed to other players as well, one being Ansel Elgort, age 27, who wonderfully plays Tony, the “Gringo” with whom the star, Maria, has fallen in love. Another powerful actress emerged from the cast who we will surely see more often in the future. Ariana Debose plays a voluptuous Puerto Rican teen whose energy is second to none.

How will the awards be doled out from this movie? Very generous I suspect. Best director, best musical score, best set design, best acting in lead roles and supporting roles, best costumes, best  cinematography, best sound, and et al. We’ll know on March 27, 2022.

Plenty of trivia, for fans interested. For example: This is Rachel Zegler’s first film role. Stephen Spielberg credits her as the greatest Maria he’s ever witnessed.

For more trivia in “West Side Story” click on link below.  

West Side Story (2021) – Trivia – IMDb

West Side Story (2021) – IMDb