Category Politics & Government

DECADES OF ADDICTION KILLED MY BOY

(This Op-Ed by yours truly, appears in Florida Today, 20 October 2019, under title “I Got The News Families of Addicts Fear.”)
 
In 1972, a flower-child, divorced mother of a 12-year-old named Bennett introduced her son to marijuana. Pot use had been common in the household, so she said to Bennett, “Here. Try this. You don’t have to do this behind my back.”
So he did. Not only that, he found her secret stash in a closet and brought a pocketful to school, which turned out as a lucrative endeavor, hoisting his status to a seventh-grade drug dealer.
Not only did his mother ignorantly and wrongfully teach him that drugs were harmless, the subliminal message was worse, as he wondered why the one person who is supposed to protect her child from wrongdoing, actually encouraged it. So he wondered: Why doesn’t my mom love me?
Fast forward to age 18. After several episodes of runaway behavior, minor crimes and shifting residences with his single father, Bennett began showing signs of mental problems. A prominent psychiatrist diagnosed him as “manic-depressive,” which entitled Bennett to Social Security disability income from the government. Bennett spent three months in a treatment center under care of the doctor. When released, Bennett was prescribed Haldol and Lithium, powerful drugs meant to balance bipolar disorder.
The results were catastrophic. Bennett turned into a quivering, drooling zombie, with loss of control of body functions. Basically, the psychiatrist prescribed powerful drugs, of all things, to a drug addict, while earning his fees from the government. The doctor said he’d have to take those drugs for life.
Eventually, Bennett ran away again and went on into a drug-infested lifestyle while still collecting money from Uncle Sam for 40 years. Repeated efforts to help by family members never helped. He could not hold a job and ultimately joined the ranks of America’s homeless and mentally ill populations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes roughly 70,000 deaths a year to drug overdoses. Some 553,742 people experienced homelessness at least one day in 2017 while 19 million generally experience “housing insecurity.”
The CDC estimates that 50% of homeless people suffer from addiction. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health reports that 20% to 25% of homeless people suffer from severe mental illness. In a separate report, 17.3% of mentally ill prison inmates were homeless prior to arrest.
The crisis is clear: The land of prosperity, the free and brave, turns its back on those who are clearly mentally ill, drug dependent and imprisoned, giving them no hope at all other than more drugs and/or jail cells.
What is wrong with us?
We open our gates to third-world populations providing all the benefits of American citizens, while turning our backs on so many bona fide Americans, including war veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, relegated to finding bushes for shelter and thievery for bread.
Basically harmless to others, Bennett found ways to survive while living in a derelict used car lot, pandering for nickels and dimes. Thanks to government disability, he still maintained his flow of drugs from doctors who overlooked his motives.
In his last doctor’s visit in January, unkempt and needy, Bennett asked and received refills for Xanax and OxyContin. The next morning he was found dead in the back seat of a derelict SUV with a needle filed with Fentanyl in his arm and two empty vials of Xanax and OxyContin.
At age 58, he had struggled enough. The government system gave him money for 40 years, which only helped to maintain his habits. But he had no life.
The next morning, a plainclothes cop wearing a badge on his belt knocked on the door of a house in Suntree, Florida, and asked the man, “Do you know someone named Bennett Frank?”
“Why?” the man asked. “Is he dead?”
“Yes.”
That man was a former police detective who had notified family members of deaths hundreds of times. This time, that family member was me. Bennett was my son.
There are no lobbyists or committees for homelessness or the mentally ill.
Out of sight …
The full story of Bennett Frank’s life and death, and what we can do, is outlined in Frank’s new book “A Boy Who Mattered.”

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.        

FOCUS ON GUN ACCOUNTABILITY NOT CONTROL: Op-Ed. M. Frank

(This article appears as Op-Ed in Florida Today, this date)
 
Here we go, focusing on “control” as a means to fix the nation’s problems with gun violence. Government leaders, to one degree or another, offer the perennial answer which is to control gun ownership by people who have a history of mental illness and/or felonious behavior. We’ve been doing this for many years. How’s it going so far?
     Now, the House of Representatives is considering new legislation which will improve background checks, ban high-capacity magazines and create red-flag laws entitling local police to remove guns from people believed to be a threat. Well, something is better than nothing. But it will not reach the heart of the problem. Nothing is really going to change.
     Year after year, decade after decade, we’re constantly focusing on “gun control,” instead of “gun accountability” as the issue in need of attention. Background checks are important, but they do not identify people who have severe mental problems unless they’ve already been incarcerated, and then it’s too late. Most of the recent notorious shooters had no past record by which a background check would mean anything. The real issue should be “accountability” and not “control.”
     Guns are certainly dangerous instruments, but they are also needed for self-protection and we must never deny a law abiding citizen their 2nd Amendment rights. But there is an alternative, if politicians and the NRA had the guts to implement. That is, treat every gun as it were an automobile. Every owner should receive due process after passing similar requirements that protect others, as well as themselves, when cars are on the road.
     American citizens possess two instruments that are responsible for the majority of violent deaths in America; Cars and guns. But there is a vast difference between the two regarding accountability. Automobile ownership has stringent accountability requirements while guns do not.
     When someone owns and operates an automobile, he/she must provide records that they have a license to drive. They must also show status of insurance plus a title of ownership when purchasing from a dealer or a private party. Same as with cars, private sales should be recorded for accountability. Nothing in the 2nd Amendment, which guarantees rights to gun ownership, prohibits any of these things. It’s simply a matter of holding gun owners (and car owners) accountable. Things have changed enormously since the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791, from single shot weaponry to repeating bullets and magazines that can hold hundreds of cartridges.
     Criminals buy and sell guns in the streets. The current proposed legislation would have no effect on that.
     Passing gun “control” and extended background checks will have very little impact on the mass shooting dilemma. It will make some law-makers look good, that’s about all. Thousands of felony crimes in the U.S. are committed using stolen or illegal weapons from the “hot” marketplace. Chicago, among others, is well-known for their random shootings, year after year. According to the Chicago Tribune, as of August 12th, this year 1,692 people have been shot so far in 2019. Most of those guns were bought or obtained illegally by criminal elements with no accountability.   
     The National Safety Council reports that 40,100 people died in vehicular crashes in 2017.  The Center for Disease Control reports 39,773 died by gunshots the same year. A dead heat. The death records are almost identical, so why not accountability?
 
     Focusing on “control” offers little in terms of doing anything that will actually impact the problem. There are many other issues that we should be focused upon, particularly within inner cities. One would be the dilemma of fatherless kids throughout big cities in America. Studies are replete with statistics and predictable outcomes when young males choose gangs as their adopted family over mothers. And, yes, automatic repeating weapons and large capacity magazines should be prohibited.
     In order to make a real difference, we must invoke accountability as a starting point. That may irk some pro-gun folks, but it’s also hard to argue the logic.
    

RISKS OF BECOMING A COP – Op-Ed

(This article, by yours truly, appears in today’s issue of Florida Today Op-Ed page)
Anyone applying for a police officer job these days is doing so at great risk. Never before have public servants been the target of so much undeserved hate and condemnation. The real losers? We, the people.
Police officers were my extended family for 30 years in Miami-Dade County. Times have changed, not for the better. No sane and selfless man or woman would voluntarily enter the pits of hate, surrounded by enemy cameras, weapons and rebels, subject to unrestrained harassment and assault. It’s difficult enough knowing you are a target for rogue criminals simply because you wear the uniform, protecting the very people who hate you.
No one mentions how police account for the sixth highest rate of suicides among all professions, according to a recent CBS study and behindthebadge.com. In 2018, 159 cops killed themselves, more than the numbers killed in line of duty, according to the Huffington Post. In my career, I personally knew 10 officers who killed themselves.
There’s a lot of stress out there.
Worse times are ahead for law and order, particularly in larger cities. The more breaking of laws and demeaning of cops, the more disorder will explode. Perhaps that’s the intended goal.
When law enforcement is openly denigrated, assaulted and stripped of authority and power without support from political leaders, the more we will see escalated crime and chaos in the streets. Those water buckets dumped on the heads of New York officers by young men were not lethal weapons, but they were lethal to the heart of law enforcement personnel and, ultimately, to America’s future. Many qualified potentials will be looking for other jobs.
In recent debates, some presidential candidates stupidly revisited police shootings, particularly the Michael Brown case in Missouri in 2014, in which Eric Holder’s Justice Department found civilian witnesses who completely exonerated the officer. That cop did nothing wrong, yet politicians still fuel the fires.
In the Baltimore fiasco of 2015, six officers were charged broad-brush without an iota of evidence that any cop had killed Freddie Gray in a transport van. Three were acquitted, the other charges were dropped. The city exploded into riots causing millions worth of damage. The mayor stated at a press conference, unbelievably, “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” The city shamefully settled with the Freddie Gray family for $6.4 million before any trials were held, prejudging the officer’s guilt.
In 2018, while eating, two officers in Central Florida were shot dead through a restaurant window, for no other reason than wearing the uniform. In 2017, two Brooklyn cops were parked in their patrol car when a hater walked up and shot each in the head, for no reason. Protesters in New York organized a street march in 2015 chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops” In another hate-cops march, Black Lives Matter spewed, “Pigs in a blanket, Fry em like bacon.”

The political climate is worsened when certain governors and mayors act as law breakers, openly defiant to federal agencies while declaring their jurisdictions “sanctuary cities and states.” That translates to open season for crime and violence. Defiant officials, like the mayor of Oakland, forewarned illegal immigrants that ICE agents were coming for them. If that’s not “obstruction,” what is?

Every day is a risk for police. In 2018, 144 line-of-duty cops were killed, 52 by gunfire, 26 in car crashes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 31,000 officers suffer non-fatal injuries annually. Between 10 and 15 cops are killed in ambushes each year. 

Officers these days will answer calls, but many will avoid pro-active policing. What for? To be doused with water buckets? Next time, it might be acid.

Police and military are the life-blood of our democracy. We better protect them, or else.

RISKS OF BECOMING A COP – Op-Ed

(Correction…my webmaster erred in logging this article as her work.  This, and other materials cite her name, but it is a mistake.
(Written by yours truly, by yours truly, appears in today’s issue of Florida Today Op-Ed page)
Anyone applying for a police officer job these days is doing so at great risk. Never before have public servants been the target of so much undeserved hate and condemnation. The real losers? We, the people.
Police officers were my extended family for 30 years in Miami-Dade County. Times have changed, not for the better. No sane and selfless man or woman would voluntarily enter the pits of hate, surrounded by enemy cameras, weapons and rebels, subject to unrestrained harassment and assault. It’s difficult enough knowing you are a target for rogue criminals simply because you wear the uniform, protecting the very people who hate you.
No one mentions how police account for the sixth highest rate of suicides among all professions, according to a recent CBS study and behindthebadge.com. In 2018, 159 cops killed themselves, more than the numbers killed in line of duty, according to the Huffington Post. In my career, I personally knew 10 officers who killed themselves.
There’s a lot of stress out there.
Worse times are ahead for law and order, particularly in larger cities. The more breaking of laws and demeaning of cops, the more disorder will explode. Perhaps that’s the intended goal.
When law enforcement is openly denigrated, assaulted and stripped of authority and power without support from political leaders, the more we will see escalated crime and chaos in the streets. Those water buckets dumped on the heads of New York officers by young men were not lethal weapons, but they were lethal to the heart of law enforcement personnel and, ultimately, to America’s future. Many qualified potentials will be looking for other jobs.
In recent debates, some presidential candidates stupidly revisited police shootings, particularly the Michael Brown case in Missouri in 2014, in which Eric Holder’s Justice Department found civilian witnesses who completely exonerated the officer. That cop did nothing wrong, yet politicians still fuel the fires.
In the Baltimore fiasco of 2015, six officers were charged broad-brush without an iota of evidence that any cop had killed Freddie Gray in a transport van. Three were acquitted, the other charges were dropped. The city exploded into riots causing millions worth of damage. The mayor stated at a press conference, unbelievably, “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” The city shamefully settled with the Freddie Gray family for $6.4 million before any trials were held, prejudging the officer’s guilt.
In 2018, while eating, two officers in Central Florida were shot dead through a restaurant window, for no other reason than wearing the uniform. In 2017, two Brooklyn cops were parked in their patrol car when a hater walked up and shot each in the head, for no reason. Protesters in New York organized a street march in 2015 chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops” In another hate-cops march, Black Lives Matter spewed, “Pigs in a blanket, Fry em like bacon.”

The political climate is worsened when certain governors and mayors act as law breakers, openly defiant to federal agencies while declaring their jurisdictions “sanctuary cities and states.” That translates to open season for crime and violence. Defiant officials, like the mayor of Oakland, forewarned illegal immigrants that ICE agents were coming for them. If that’s not “obstruction,” what is?

Every day is a risk for police. In 2018, 144 line-of-duty cops were killed, 52 by gunfire, 26 in car crashes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 31,000 officers suffer non-fatal injuries annually. Between 10 and 15 cops are killed in ambushes each year. 

Officers these days will answer calls, but many will avoid pro-active policing. What for? To be doused with water buckets? Next time, it might be acid.

Police and military are the life-blood of our democracy. We better protect them, or else.

 

THE UBIQUITOUS "RACIST" TERM IS WORN OUT

“He’s a racist! She’s a racist!” Everyone’s a racist”
     When hating cannot be justified, haters resort to “racism” to denote what they cannot describe otherwise. Today, it is the most abused word in the English language.
     Recently, CNN host, Don Lemon peered into the camera and declared, “Donald Trump is a racist.” That has been echoed often in the media, particularly on cable news networks, CNN and MSNBC. In May of 2017, only four months into Trump’s presidency, The Washington Examiner released a study citing political attitudes toward the president, in which 92 percent of air time was devoted toward berating Donald Trump. And that includes repetitive allegations he is a racist.
     In July of this year, the rhetoric has not waned. Rather, it has intensified in the wake of political power-plays by four rookie congresswomen who have made no secret that they hold prejudicial attitudes toward others unlike them, particular the president, and let fly with citing “racism” as the predominant term to label those who are opposed to their politics. Meanwhile, they never fail to refer to their identities as “women of color,” as though it had anything to do with anything.
     Why do politicians, pundits, and media personnel continually cite “racism” when describing anyone who thinks differently than they?  Answer: Because it draws attention, truth-be-damned.
     Adolf Hitler made references to the power of lying in his book Mein Kamph. His number two Nazi, Joseph Goebbels, has been attributed to the same tenet, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
     President Trump certainly has his share of faults, but “racism” is not one of them. Cite any neutral-minded person who has had business or political dealings with the president, and they will usually say that he has no racist attitudes toward anyone. Trump’s accomplishments in assisting the plight of black minority needs in less than three years have been remarkable. Here are a few examples that the biased media avoids telling us:

  • Lowest unemployment rate for blacks ever.
  • 9 million people lifted from food stamps
  • Declaring M.L. King’s birthplace a national historic park.
  • Overhauling criminal justice to provide opportunities for non-violent inmates ending long sentences. This affects thousands of black offenders.
  • Praised and supported by numerous blacks in business, politics, and news media including: Robert Johnson, founder and CEO of BET, Herman Cain, former presidential candidate, Col. Allen West, former Congressman; Thomas Sowell, renowned columnist; Larry Elder, talk-show host; Condoleeza Rice, former Sec. of State; Starr Parker, columnist; Professor Walter Williams, columnist; Republican Senator Tim Scott; Candice Owens, rising pundit and TV personality; author Dr. Alveda King, (MLK’s niece); Charles Payne, business journalist; and many more.
  • Rasmussen polls in July of 2019 show Trump’s favorability numbers rising to 50 percent. A Pew Research poll in found that Trump has more than doubled his appeal to black voters, from 6 percent to 14 percent.

     All this in the wake of the ubiquitous “racist” tag among the opposing party and news pundits which, in truth, makes the users appear more prejudiced and dishonest.
     I remember racism well, starting as a rookie cop in segregated Miami in 1960. THAT was racism, when blacks could not reside where they wished, nor gain employment, nor sit in the front of a bus or use a water fountain while banned from certain hotels and restaurants only because they were a darker color. Today, blacks have come a long way becoming equally prominent as whites and other minorities in arenas of wealth, power and influence, including sports, entertainment, politics, businesses and etc.
     The majority party in Congress has squandered nearly three years focused mostly on impeaching a duly elected president, rather than attending to their elected mission: Passing laws, expanding jobs, working on national security, infrastructure, enforcement and international relations. That’s what they are paid to do. We, the taxpayers are being wronged by politicians who cannot, or will not, do their jobs. 
     Other than an occasional bigot here and there, institutional “racism” is essentially dead in America. It is only the liars and power mongers who work at keeping it alive because it feeds into political agendas. It’s time to put the term to rest.
     To a fault, President Donald Trump tends to let fly from his mouth whatever comes into his head. That’s about as transparent as one can get. But there is nothing he has said or done that can honestly be attributed to anything close to racism.
     Enough already.