JUSTICE SYSTEM GONE AWRY – BUSTING CHILDREN

Have we gone nuts?

A ten year old child brings a steak knife to school in Ocala. She’s caught cutting her meat at lunch, and then arrested as though she was a serial killer on the loose. Perhaps a sharp knife was inappropriate on school grounds, which is a good reason to confiscate, teach her a lesson, admonish her parents and send her on her way. But why whack the fifth grader with a formal arrest as though she had committed a crime?

That’ll give a growing kid a warm and secure feeling about the law.

A first grader in Avon Park, Florida, lost control and acted out in class, kicking and scratching. That’s bad. She obviously has a problem. Teachers called the cops, who came and handcuffed her for restraint. Okay, I can even live with that. Then child — a six-year-old — was brought to police headquarters and charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. Huh?

When did common sense lose it’s foothold in America? Years ago, we’d read stories like this in communist China.

Moses Lake, Washington, 2006. Seven juveniles were taken into custody and arrested for vandalism and theft. Two of these were five and six years of age. The others were closer to twelve. Whatever happened to laws about contributing to the delinquency of minors? Locking up five year-old children as criminals? There must be another way to handle these kinds of situations.

December, 2006, a twelve year-old boy in South Carolina was arrested by police for petty larceny for — get this — opening his Christmas present without authorization. When his mother learned that he had opened the $85 Nintendo game without her permission, she called the cops to teach him a lesson, and the cops made the bust. Honest. Read for yourself. Click here: Boy Arrested

September, 2006, Pleasant Grove, Utah. A teenage prankster streaked naked across a stage during a school play. There are children in the audience. He’s pretty stupid. He needs punishment. He got it. The kid is facing criminal charges for which he will likely be required to register as a sex offender for life. His name, address and photograph will be available on the Internet as warnings to citizens that this boy is a predator and to protect your kids. He’ll be unable to find jobs. He’ll be the instant suspect in unsolved sex crimes. A lifetime of retribution, for a silly stunt that has nothing to do with sexually offending anyone.

Honor student and football player, Genarlow Wilson was seventeen years old when he received consensual oral sex from a fifteen year-old girl in Georgia in 2005. Uh…that’s an every day event by the thousands in all fifty states. But, the laws in Georgia mandated a ten-year sentence for the (ahem) sex offense with a minor child. Genarlow was ultimately released by a compassionate judge after serving two years in prison. Still, he must register as a dangerous sex offender for life.

I think we’re using a sledge hammer to kill the bug. Serious crimes certainly need to be addressed by the criminal justice system, but we’ve gone over the top with the tough-on-crime mantra.

I’m sure glad I retired when I did. I served in an era when judgement and common sense prevailed, when a cop had the option to send a DUI driver home in a taxi cab, or kick kids in the ass for raising hell at a party, send lover’s lane sexpots off to motel rooms and scare the hell out of truants and other youngsters who dabbled in pot. I had the latitude to make humane decisions about minor indiscretions, always aware of how an arrest would affect the rest of a kid’s life. I feel comfortable that I, and many of my colleagues, saved some young people from entering the oppressive walls of the justice system as criminals when it wasn’t in the best interest of justice.

Sure, I know all about the law, and my job was merely to enforce. I did that. I made over two thousand arrests in my career. But I also made a few unarrests for which I am proud, for I know in those few instances, I precluded a lifetime of obstacles and stigma for the undeserving because I decided to give the “offenders” a pass.

When it comes to showing small kids the strong arm of the law, there’s another way, besides jails and handcuffs. It’s called, education treatment, compassion and guidance.

When a system can label people for life as sex offenders, when they are not, then something needs to be fixed.

In today’s world, the hands of police officers are tied, they dare not make decisions. It’s all spelled out. Break the law, pay the price. Even if the price is a million dollars for a stick of bubble gum.

They better not come for my grandson while he’s still in diapers, even if he does throw a tantrum.

BORDER CRIMES: SCORE ONE FOR THE MEDIA

This was a first, too important to not pass on, about a gutsy Texas Sheriff and an even more gutsy television talk show host. For those who missed the broadcast, I wish to share it with readers, adding only few words of commentary at the end. The repartee speaks for itself.

On November 8th, just two weeks past, I was viewing the Glenn Beck show on CNN when I caught some of an interview between Beck, Sheriff Rick Flores of Webb, County, Texas, (a border county in Laredo) and Congressman Henry Cuellar who represents that district.

The discussion concerned the out-of-control drug trafficking in the border region of southern Texas, the astronomical crime rate and the ill-reported kidnapings of more than seventy Americans in the last four years, twenty of whom are still missing. The issue is the lack of support for American interests versus uncanny support of the Mexican government by U.S. politicians.

The dialogue is much too long to publish in an article, but here’s the crux. To start, Beck is addressing the congressman:

BECK: You tell me the next time — you tell me, sir, the last time we won in anything with Mexico. You tell me the last time we actually got a fair shake, we actually got rule of law from Mexico. It doesn`t happen.
We bend over backwards for that fricking country, and I`ve had it up to here, and most of America has as well. Sheriff, I want to change the subject as well. And I`m sorry, I`ve got to go to the hostages. Can you please tell…

SHERIFF FLORES: OK. I need to say one — I need to say one thing, Glenn.

BECK: OK.

SHERIFF FLORES: I want to ask the congressman, who is he representing, President Calderon or his district here in Laredo, Texas, where we haven`t received any resources at the local level to be able to combat the problems on the border?

CONG. CUELLAR: Well, first of all, let me say this, Mr. Sheriff, what we`re looking at is you have got more money than you`ve ever gotten in the past, and we`ve got to keep in mind that the border will be patrolled by the Border Patrol and by the federal agencies. We will work with the local law enforcement, and we represent, but your job is to be a county sheriff, not a U.S. congressman, which is a big difference.
My job is to look at the big picture. Your job is to look at the smaller picture. And I will do my job as long as you do your job.

BECK: Boy, Congressman, I don`t think I have ever.

SHERIFF FLORES: I`d like to find out how much money has a congressman allocated to our county. How much money have you allocated for border security for Webb County or from the counties from Brownsville all the way to California? How much money have they allocated for border security? Nothing. They`ve allocated money for.

BECK: Congressman, I`ve got to get to the hostages. Guys, I have to tell you, Congressman, shame on you for that response. That was the most belittling response I have ever heard. Shame on you.

CONG. CUELLAR: Well, let me tell you, let me.

BECK: No, sir, I`m going to change the subject now and I`m going to go to the hostages. You`ve had your piece. Let`s talk about the 70 people that have been kidnaped now. I know, sir, you have spoken out about this. Can you tell me about the progress with the 70 people that have disappeared on the American and Mexican side? They are Americans. Can you tell me a little bit about them, sir?

CONG. CUELLAR: Yes. As you know, we have set up a joint task force with the FBI and the Mexican law enforcement. They have started to investigate some of the law enforcement — some of the cases we`ve had. As you know, Glenn, this is a different jurisdiction. You might call that a “fricking”country. And I appreciate your comments. But you`re wrong. We have to work with Mexicans to find answers, and that`s what we`ve been doing.

BECK: Yes, well, I.

CONG. CUELLAR: Glenn, let me finish. Let me finish, Glenn. I know it`s your show, but give your guests a little respect. And what we have to do is we have to make sure that we understand what has been happening down there. We have seen some progress. We need to do more. And we`ll continue doing that.

BECK: All right. Sheriff, please just tell me a little bit about the progress that has been made on the kidnapings. Can you tell me about that?

SHERIFF FLORES: Your answer is as good as mine, Glenn. We haven`t gotten anything regarding the missing Americans in Nuevo Laredo.

BECK: OK.

SHERIFF FLORES: And if the congressman is saying that we`re getting support from Mexico, please tell me who are the people that you`re working with across the border, because some of those people can`t even be trusted.

Three cheers for Sheriff Flores and Glenn Beck for crossing over the politically correct barriers toward truth. What the congressman, and much of Washington fails to acknowledge, is that when a 911 call goes out, it’s not the FBI that responds, nor the DEA or Border Patrol or Customs. It’s the local police officers, some of whom have been victims of murder. They are the ones on the front line who need support and obviously are not getting it.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ll say it again: Something stinks in Washington.

For a full transcript of the interviews, see: Click here: CNN.com – Transcripts

Going After The Cops

The fine line between a cop doing one’s duty or overdoing his duty is once again in the grip of Monday morning quarterbacks to judge. Meanwhile, a pair of police careers are on the line.Two Los Angeles cops are being investigated by federal authorities for their conduct in the arrest of a wanted felon back in August of this year. After running from police, the thief was taken to the ground. As the cops tried to restrain him, it appears he resisted. It also appears he was a formidable foe.

A bystander’s video depicted one officer punching the man in the face while his arms were being held. The amateur video showed up on YouTube.com and then found its way into major newspapers and, of course, network television for all to decry.

Turns out, the suspect, William Cardenas, 24, is an alleged member of an L.A. gang with a past record for attempted murder and carrying a concealed weapon. And now, the watch dogs want the cops jailed.

In my 30 years on the job in Miami-Dade, I was never accused of brutality. In truth, I was less physically adept than many of my comrades and knew my limitations. But there was one incident which, if videotaped today, would probably have landed me in the midst of a similar brouhaha.

We had just arrested Big Tony Esperti for a Mafia killing at a Miami Beach night club. Esperti was well known in crime circles, big and mean, a former heavyweight boxer who once lost to Cassius Clay and a known killer. At 245 pounds, he towered and powered over me and my partners.

Upon advice of his mob lawyer, Esperti refused our request to let us swab his hands for gunpowder. We had the law on our side, so we decided to use whatever force was necessary. He resisted. The brute threw the three of us around like rag dolls. My partners grabbed his arms and took him to the floor where he wrestled us all. We were about to lose this fight. Not only that, we feared Esperti escaping. Adrenalin surged. We, the cops, were afraid.

In a moment when the other detectives were on the floor grappling with his arms, sweating, panting, I stood up and kicked him in the testicles. How’s that for a mea culpa? Then I leaned with all of my 180 pounds into his groin with bended knee. Voila, the job got done. Esperti instantly turned pussycat. His hand yielded a flake of fresh gunpowder.

Good thing YouTube.com and CNN wasn’t around then. My police career would have ended, and all the good I ever did for many years would have gone for naught.

Such is the case that these two officers are now facing. I watched the video with interest. Clearly, Cardenas was a tough and rugged young man who elected to resist once he was taken to the ground. Cardenas had powerful arms, which presented a daunting task to the two cops trying to restrain him lest they be injured in the fray. Cops are ever aware that their firearm is a tempting lure to such nutcakes in a fighting situation. When the one officer saw that the grappling effort was going nowhere, he reared back and punched the felon in the face, in an attempt to subdue. From everything I saw, it was totally justified, and the media is dead wrong for replaying the video over and over and over again, as though they were airplanes ramming the World Trade Center, in order to create controversy and sway public opinion.

Police Chief William Bratton said he that found the video “disturbing” but stressed that the 20-second clip amounts to only a fraction of what transpired.

The Los Angeles Times since reported that a Superior Court commissioner viewed the video nearly two months ago, heard the officers’ testimony and concluded their conduct was “more than reasonable” because Cardenas was resisting.

The trends are frightening. More than ever, police officers in the U.S. are becoming the targets of federal investigations in order to grease the squeaky wheel, particularly where minorities are involved.

Stephanie Mohr was a decorated K-9 officer for the Prince George’s County P.D. One night, she was called to a scene where two illegal aliens were caught at 1 a.m. atop an office building. As the two thieves were surrounded at ground level, she claims it appeared one of the Guatemalans made a move as if to start running. She released the dog. The thief was bitten.

Prosecutors said it wasn’t justified. One cop, in need of a special favor, turned state’s evidence and testified against the female cop. The feds went after her with a vengeance, claiming she was a bigot and released the dog for folly. It took two trials. The devoted mother of a small boy is now spending 10 years of her life in a federal prison … for a dog bite.

It’s out of hand. The numbers of incidents of good police officers who have become targets on the federal firing line are too many to list in one short article. The trend is clear: Cops represent a prosecutor’s plum in cases where a fine line exists between performing a duty or committing a crime.

Not a blind defender of wayward officers, I’ll be the first who will lambast brutal or crooked cops. The last arrest I ever made was that of five other police officers who had beaten a man to death. No regrets.

But it’s a national disgrace when drug smugglers, crooks, rats and social parasites are coddled while civil heros are buried away in prison cells in order to satisfy a vocal minority. Police officers today are ever wary, not of criminals but of the convoluted legal system they work within. In confrontation situations, who can blame them when — given an option — it’s more prudent to do nothing rather than face the standing army of condemnation. And in the long run, it’s we, the citizens, who lose.

And we wonder why thousands of police departments have such a hard time recruiting. Voracious prosecutors and sensational media should heed a message: When a nation turns on its protectors, so goes the nation.