Monday, October 12, 2009

The Jack-Booted Thug of the Week...

... is Tempe, Arizona Police Chief Tom Ryff, for placing city resident Eleanor Holguin's home on a list that flags addresses which appear on it as "hazards", warning police and fire personnel to use particular caution when responding to calls for service at those locations.

Holguin only found out that her home happens to be on that list when she recently called 911 to report that her elderly father had fallen. One of the paramedics that showed up to help requested that she step outside for a moment, and then asked if she had recently moved in or, if not, if she perhaps knew why her house was on the list, according to the article:

"Holguin said the paramedic told her that 'whenever we get that (hazard) dispatch on our call log it means we're possibly going into a hostile situation. That could mean other things like you could be on some terrorist list.'"

This was very puzzling to Holguin, as her family has lived there for 40 years or so without incident, and the emergency aid summoned for her dad seems to have been the only time that 911 was ever called from that house. There is apparently no reason whatsoever for that particular house to appear on a list of potential trouble spots.


Earlier in the year, Ms. Holguin had apparently spoken out publicly against the chief for some other reason, including requesting that he resign his position.


Well, it sure doesn't look too kosher from our vantage point.

We can see the value of keeping such a list in certain situations, for example to let officers know when they're about to arrive at a known troublemaker's home, or to warn rescue workers about a nightclub that regularly has altercations in its parking lot. In such cases, a police department should be able to clearly articulate why they have labeled an address in such a manner, both to justify their actions as well as to allow the individual or business to publicly challenge the evidence which labels them as bad eggs, giving them a chance to remove themselves from such a list if they prove their inclusion had been due to errors or bad information. (This supposes an active criminal investigation isn't ongoing, of course.)

So, all Chief Ryff has to do is simply announce why the Holguin residence was placed on the list, and this matter will quickly be resolved, right?

Hah. You just knew where this was going:

"Tempe police refuse to say what placed her on the list"

and, of course cited the tired old "for security reasons" argument:

"Releasing information about why an address is a threat could anger a resident, leaving public-safety officials and the public at risk, Tempe Sgt. Steve Carbajal said."

It appears that your not releasing the information is thoroughly "angering a resident", Sergeant. How do you propose to deal with that "risk", sir? Article commenter bostonblackie ably points out the ridiculousness of the department's untenable argument:

"The police have taken the Kafkaesque position that they can't tell you why you are on a 'hostile' list because it might make you hostile."

Lunacy. Pure lunacy.

Interestingly, the story reports that the Tempe fire chief has now agreed to remove the Holguin home from the list (at least as it pertains to fire calls), which only further raises a casual observer's suspicion that Chief Ryff is merely playing games with his secret little "enemies list", rather than actually having a legitimate reason for including the Holguin house on it.

Come on, Chief Ryff. Either come out with a legitimate reason why these people have been singled out for inclusion on your hazardous address list, or else immediately strike them from it.

No comments: