Monday, March 30, 2009

The "professionals" have been quite busy lately

A veritable plethora of interesting news stories about the only people "professional enough to carry firearms in public":

Orlando, Florida Police Chief Val Demings is in a little bit of hot water after her Sig Sauer service pistol, along with other gear such as handcuffs and a baton, was stolen from her official SUV, which was parked in front of her home at the time.

An unfortunate mishap that could happen to anyone? Perhaps, except for a few minor details:

a. An inspection of Chief Demings' vehicle "did not observe any forced entry".

Translation: She seems to have left the vehicle unlocked.

b. "Since 2007, the Police Department has replaced all of its in-car gun locks and outfitted all new police vehicles with alarms."

Translation: It looks very much like she took advantage of neither of the kind of important security items available to her that would have been able to help prevent just the sort of theft that happened to her.

c. Chief Demings didn't bother to publicly admit to her serious error in judgment, initially only reporting the crime to the mayor and her own Internal Affairs Unit, and filing the official burglary report with the Orlando County Sheriff's Department. The sheriff? Her husband, Jerry Demings, who ironically instituted a policy in 2006 barring his employees from leaving any weapons in an unattended vehicle, after a rash of break-ins of police vehicles. Her department currently has no such policy, but will presumably have one in the very near future.

Translation: She apparently tried to keep this whole incident quiet by using the sheriff's department (that her husband coincidentally and conveniently runs) to investigate the theft, instead of her own department's detectives. Nope, no conflict of interest there at all.

"However, agencies including the Orlando Police Department previously have alerted the public about some previous gun thefts, especially involving officers' assault weapons. Unlike previous thefts of guns from rank-and-file officers, Demings said she told her Internal Affairs office to discipline her without going through an investigation.

Her investigators declined the offer, saying it would be treating her differently."

Nice try, Chief.

Sorry, but you're going to have to go through the same process that you make the officers you lead go through when they have a similar monumental screwup. Now's a shining opportunity to put your leadership skills on display and demonstrate that you're willing to be disciplined by the same policies that you expect everyone else to abide by. Special thanks, of course, must go to the Orlando PD investigators who went by the book and refused to allow her to weasel out of taking her official medicine.

Chief Demings explained that she was having houseguests that night which included young children, and that she was only trying to keep them from being able to access her firearm. An admirable goal, but she absolutely has to be one heck of a lot smarter about how she goes about doing it, especially given her extensive experience and knowledge of criminal techniques and behaviors.

As for her punishment, Jim Philips of the XM radio show The Philips Phile (which is based in the Orlando area) came up with the right (paraphrased) sort of idea for her possible punishment when he suggested that she should get the same penalty that an ordinary officer with her years of experience would receive. No more, no less. Her deputy chief should be more than capable of running the department during any enforced vacation without pay she may have to endure.

"I would say to the community 'Anybody can be a victim, it happened to me,'" she said. "Do everything you can to safeguard your family, your home and yourself."

Oh, do be quiet.

2. Indiana State Trooper Chris Pestow is finding out the hard way that his bosses are aware of the social networking site Facebook, and that if you're a police officer it's probably not a good idea to post pictures of yourself pointing a pistol at your head, or describing what you do as "picking up trash for a living", or writing the following about homeless people:

"'Let someone, homeless or not, try and stab me with a pen, knife, spoon, etc, not only will he fail, he'll probably end up shot. These people should have died when they were young anyway, i'm just doing them a favor.' [sic]"

Those allegations are bad enough; it's even worse when your bosses find out that you've apparently been updating your Facebook profile while you're on duty in icy weather conditions. Even Pestow's online friends can grasp that simple concept:

"A friend quickly responded to that post.

'Hmmmm. how are u keeping the streets safe ... if u r on facebook? :),' the friend wrote."


Trooper Pestow is now under investigation for his activities, although he is still on paid duty. Indiana residents can no longer follow his on-duty extracurricular adventures, however; his Facebook page has been removed.

Buffalo, New York police officer Mitchell J. Thomas was given a slap on the wrist "non-criminal harassment charge" and a 22-day unpaid suspension from the force after he pleaded guilty to
"displaying a loaded handgun and swearing at bar security personnel at a Main Street bar last year." (Emphasis mine)

The charge had been reduced from "menacing", for what reason we can't possibly divine (that's sarcasm, in case you don't recognize it). What's more embarrassing is that Thomas was ordered to stay away from the bar's workers:

"At the request of the prosecutor, Carney also issued a one-year order of protection to three Town Ballroom employees, instructing Thomas to stay away from them during that period."

When ordinary peasants engage in such asinine and dangerous behavior, they get jail time and lose their jobs, and deservedly so. "Officer" Thomas, apparently solely due to the fact that he's one of the "special people", merely gets the equivalent of a traffic ticket and a three-week time-out, despite being barred from interacting with three innocent citizens.

"The judge reminded the 10-year police veteran that being a police officer 'is a career, not a job.'"

I wonder what kind of outrageous behavior it actually takes for a cop to have their "career" ended up there in Buffalo?

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