Author Archives: mike

No Training + Firearms + A Badge = …

I’ll let this article answer that one:

Four months into his job, a police officer in Mississippi holds a gun to the head of an unarmed teenager and puts him in a chokehold. A rookie officer in Illinois gets into a car chase that kills a driver. And a new campus policeman in Indiana shoots an unarmed student to death.

Some are blaming these harrowing episodes on what an Associated Press survey found is a common practice across the country: At least 30 states let some newly hired local law enforcement officers hit the streets with a gun, a badge and little or no training.

These states allow a certain grace period — six months or a year in most cases, two years in Mississippi and Wisconsin — before rookies must be sent to a police academy. In many cases, these recruits are supposed to be supervised by a full-fledged officer, but that does not always happen.

This is disturbing on so many different levels. It’s a bad thing for everyone involved: giving untrained personnel the weapons to implement deadly force is as much a disservice to them as it is to the citizenry they are supposed to be protecting and serving. I honestly can’t say I am surprised, though. This very laissez-faire attitude towards regulation of police officers has become pervasive in American society. What does it say about our society where we give any Joe Schmo who wants to be a cop a badge and a gun?

The bottom line is that if you haven’t been properly trained, you shouldn’t come within 10 feet of a firearm. This is as true for police officers as it is for civilians. Government seems to understand one part of that deal; it’s a shame it can’t seem to abide by the second.

Amtrak Incompetence

Why is this unwieldy unproductive behemoth still around?

With freight traffic soaring in recent years, Amtrak’s never-stellar on-time performance declined to an average of 68 percent last year, its worst showing since the 1970s. When the routes where Amtrak owns the tracks are excluded, the on-time performance last year fell to 61 percent.

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Amtrak performs far better on the Northeast corridor, where it owns the tracks. Last year, 85 percent of its high-speed Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington arrived within 10 minutes of their scheduled time.

But where Amtrak depends on the freight railroads, the picture is far gloomier, and the Capitol Limited is not even the worst case. The Coast Starlight, which runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, had an on-time performance of 4 percent in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. For the California Zephyr, connecting Chicago and San Francisco, the figure was 7 percent. In the current fiscal year, the California Zephyr has not once arrived on time.

In the current fiscal year, that particular train has NOT ONCE arrived on time. And we’re funding this with our tax dollars? Time to put Amtrak out to pasture. Privatize the Acela Express and the rest of the Northeast corridor, where it owns the tracks. Give the rest of it the ax.

Be Prepared

“Be Prepared… the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”

-Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts (emphasis mine)

First, extremely brief story time. This Thursday I walked into a dorm on campus, turned the corner, and found a female lying unconscious face up on the ground with a rather large pool of blood behind her head. I made sure 911 was called and applied first aid. Keeping an MFASCO first aid kit in the dorm is so important and this exemplifies exactly why every college student should have one in order to protect each other. The night ended with me spending 5 minutes in the bathroom scrubbing my hands to get the blood off. Head wounds bleed. A lot. Anyway, there is quite a bit more to the story, but if you want to read that, head on over to my place. This experience has led me to a larger point that I’d like to share.

The point is best summed up in the Baden-Powell quote at the top of the page. If you are truly going to be prepared, you can’t just go through the training. Training is important, yes, and if you don’t at least know basic first aid skills and CPR, you should take a course or two, and if you don’t own a first aid box then you can find more info here on some of the top-rated kits for medical emergencies.

But training alone won’t get you through a situation. There were at least two bystanders that I know knew what to do. But they didn’t, at least not initially. I did. I’m not going to try and play this up to be some huge deal; it’s not. Obviously, it wasn’t much of a life threatening situation. But I only found that out after I got my hands bloody and investigated to find out just how bad things were. If, say, it had been an arterial wound instead of a head wound, and say I had froze up for another 20 seconds, or I hadn’t been there and the bystanders I mentioned above had frozen up for that 20 seconds, that could be the difference between life and death. You have to run through things in your head before hand, play out scenarios, so you know exactly how you are going to react and don’t have to think about it. If you are taken by surprise, you will freeze up for that 20 seconds (or more), and as I’ve shown, that can be the difference between life and death.

It is a process that never stops, either. You always need to be reevaluating and rethinking things. For example, with this most recent case, I’ve thought about a couple of things. First, I’m going to start carrying a pair of latex gloves on me, so I’m never put in the uncomfortable situation of getting someone else’s blood all over my hands. Also, I needed to do a better job of taking charge of the situation. The friend was introducing too much stress into the situation; I should have just asked someone to take care of her and get her calmed down instead of trying to do it myself. Finally, I found that I needed to be better prepared to make small talk with the victim. I didn’t take the opportunity to find out anything more about what exactly happened, and I was finding that I was having to force myself to talk to her, which shouldn’t happen. Like I said, always something to learn.

This isn’t just something to do with basic first aid, either. All sorts of contingencies need to be planned for. LW over at Blackfive’s place has done a good job over the past week detailing disaster preparedness, an area I’ll be the first to admit I am piss-poor prepared for. Here’s a summary. Just a quick, by no means comprehensive list of things I’ve thought about: natural disaster (tornadoes/T-storms being the biggest threat where I live, although flooding depending on the topography), a large scale terrorist attack, fire, mugging attempt, car crash (both being involved in one and coming across one), heart attack, shooting incident, leg injury with myself (how do I get help if I’m alone and can’t walk)…the list could go on and on, and with every contingency, there is the space for legal representation if possible, like that Kaplan Lawyers can offer. The point is that you need to always be actively thinking about and preparing for these incidents so you are able to act and respond effectively.
The effects of disasters can be immense. They can cause environmental destruction, psychological damage to people, structural damage, business financial losses, and so on. In the aftermath of any disaster, it can be difficult and stressful for everyone. However, if you act quickly and effectively, you can still save some of what is left. For example, when flooding affects your residence or business, try to get a quick response from a remediation company. Expert water damage services might respond quickly to the water damage situation and clean up the mess within a short time frame. Searching for phrases like “Water and Flood Restoration Nassau” could provide you with a list of local service providers. In this way, you may be able to get in touch as soon as possible without wasting time.

And just so we’re clear, hitting 70 doesn’t clear you from responsibility for this. Those senior citizens seemed to be pretty prepared to act and defend themselves appropriately. Are you?

I’ll let RAH have the last word:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love

UPDATE: Nick posted some good links for first aid and other survival gear in the comments.

“Police needing heavier weapons”

This is great news.

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement agencies across the country have been upgrading their firepower to deal with what they say is the increasing presence of high-powered weapons on the streets.

Scott Knight, chairman of the Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says an informal survey of about 20 departments revealed that since 2004 all of the agencies have either added weapons to officers’ patrol units or have replaced existing weaponry with military-style arms.

Knight, police chief in Chaska, Minn., says the upgrades have occurred since a national ban on certain assault weapons expired in September 2004. The ban, passed in 1994, in part prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons and ammunition dispensers holding more than 10 rounds.

“This (weapons upgrade) is being done with an eye to the absolute knowledge that more higher-caliber weapons are on the street since the expiration of the ban,” Knight said. He said his own department of about 20 officers is in the midst of determining whether to upgrade its weapons.

Ah, yes. The “assault weapons” ban. Prior to the ’94 ban, the term “assault weapons” did not exist. In fact, now that the ban has (thankfully) expired, that term isn’t really used much anymore, except by gun-banning groups like the Brady folks and police chief associations. For the record, USA Today is completely wrong in stating that the ban prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons. It banned them from producing semi-automatic weapons that looked scary, weapons that looked “militaristic.” They were still completely free to produce semi-automatic weapons as long as said weapons didn’t look like they were a military weapon.

This is why I find it hard to believe that the streets of American have suddenly been flooded with a glut of semi-automatic weapons with the expiration of the ban. The only thing the streets could have been flooded with are weapons that look mean. Nothing has changed with regard to the operation and effectiveness of legal weapons. Of course, there might have been an increase in the amount of automatic weapons on streets in the U.S. (unlikely, but possible). However, this would have absolutely nothing to do with the “assault weapons” ban, as fully automatic firearms have been illegal without special permission from the BATF since 1934. This of course begs the question as to why Chief Knight felt it was necessary to bring up the “assault weapons” ban. He wouldn’t have an ulterior motive, would he?

In Houston, where homicides were up as much as 25% in 2006 over the previous year, Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the AK-47 assault rifle has become “kind of a weapon of choice” for warring gangs, major drug distributors and immigrant smugglers in a city that has become a major transit point for criminals.

“The reality on the street is that many of these weapons are readily available,” says Hurtt, whose department began upgrading its weaponry with assault-style arms about three years ago before he arrived from Phoenix.

I’m not sure this article could get more stereotypical if it tried. Oh no, it’s the AK-47 boogeyman out to get you! I’m surprised Chief Hurtt didn’t drop the other three horsemen of the gun control apocalypse: the TEC-9, Uzi, and AR variants.

I don’t doubt that there are some very nasty people out there with some nasty firearms. The police need to be equipped to effectively deal with these people. But the overall increased militarization of our police departments, when coupled with the drive to disarm our populace, is not a good thing for liberty.

UPDATE: Rob Miller over at Homeland Stupidity has a post up on the same article, including some statistics to refute the assertions of the Chiefs.

Latest Rack n’ Roll Development

The already sordid case from Manassas Park has taken another turn. Greg L, the proprietor of BVBL, has received a cease and desist letter from an attorney who represents the City of Manassas Park, its police chief, and several other officers.

I would say this is unbelievable, but it’s actually SOP for city officials caught in a compromising legal situation. Of course, as Greg mentions over at his place, if the case was to go forward, the media coverage, and more importantly, discovery, would be one of the best things to happen to David Ruttenberg. Which is why it won’t; this is just an attempt to strong arm into silence those who have the gall to call out their political masters.

If you need background, check out BVBL’s collection of posts here, and Radley Balko’s here.

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