Time to Make Systemic Changes to a Damaged Law Enforcement System

PoliceOfficers

The job of a police officer, county sheriff deputy or other member of the law enforcement community is not an easy nor a thankless job. Day in and day out, the men and women who stand the “Thin Blue Line” subject themselves to the scorn of criminals, politicians, and sometimes even the everyday person, all for a pretty small payday (the starting pay for a police officer in New York City is around $41,000; by comparison, the starting salary for a schoolteacher in New York City is around $57,000). To be honest, any job that you do that you might not return home from in the evening (or the morning) deserves to have some level of respect given to it.

The problem is that Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) have pretty much pissed this goodwill away through their actions. Dating back to the days of Prohibition, when cops pretty much turned a blind eye to the wrongdoings of organized crime and bootleggers because they got a piece of the action, LEOs have frequently straddled the line between criminality and following their credo of “to protect and to serve.” While some might think it is a recent occurrence, a look back at history shows that “bad cops” have long been a problem in U. S. society.

Smithsonian Magazine looked at this ugly history and, in many instances, some of the examples they came up with could be transposed to today’s environment without much effort. The well-done article cites a 1929 study of the Chicago police force and found that, although blacks made up only 5% of the population of the Second City, they accounted for 30% of the police killings between 1927 and 1929. Further study by the administration of President Herbert Hoover acknowledged the plague of police brutality, summed up in a report in 1932 from the Wickersham Committee called “Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement.”

John Lewis

The advent of the civil rights movement only accentuated and accelerated the abuses by police against those they are supposed to protect. Violent race riots across the South and the usage of weapons, police canine units and fire hoses – because they didn’t have military style rifles, armored vehicles and tactical gear back in those days – became the norm as blacks sought equality, looked for the civil rights, the basic rights of humanity that were granted by President Abraham Lincoln 100 years earlier. These actions always seemed to have one note of difference – these actions weren’t taken against white offenders, usually just minorities.

It has only gotten worse since these days. It seems today that we can’t go but a few months without some sort of police shooting because a cop “feared for his life” (one of the most ludicrous things that I’ve ever heard – you don’t walk into a war expecting to find cotton candy waiting for you). The lineage of people who have died at the hands of inappropriate police shootings is a long one – Tamir Rice, a 12-year old BOY with a toy pistol; Philandro Castile, who was a licensed gun owner and TOLD cops he had a weapon in the car; Eric Gardner, choked out because he was selling singular cigarettes; and, most recently, George Floyd joined this list of infamy, having his larynx crushed because he MIGHT have passed a counterfeit $20 bill. In most of these cases, LEOs walked away with no punishment and those involved in the Floyd case are just beginning to answer for their actions.

George Floyd's Brother Holds Prayer Vigil At Memorial Site

It is time that there is change to the way that police, that law enforcement officers of ALL uniforms and organizations, perform their duties.

Some people have suggested that we require that anyone who joins a police or sheriff’s department has equivalent military experience before being considered. The problem there is that is where the “power issues” begin, in many cases. Handing a badge and a gun to a person barely eligible to drink, in most cases, isn’t the answer because they haven’t had adequate training. Others have thought that a college degree should be required, but we already have that in “Criminal Justice” majors that do not teach law enforcement.

No, it is time that there were some changes to the oversight of Law Enforcement Officers, monumental changes that are stringently held to and are completely and thoroughly implemented. First, the entirety of a police department must go through psychological exam YEARLY, from the Chief down to the newest rookie. Second, all LEO must report all their online social accounts and club memberships, both online and in their normal lives. Third, they would be subjected to a YEARLY review of their conduct professionally – arrest history, commendations, both the good and bad – and with the general public. If any LEO has a problem with these things, they are immediately dismissed from the force and not allowed to be licensed as a LEO, detective or security personnel anywhere in the U. S.

Additionally, each community, city and town would create a Citizens Review Board, a seven-member board with three people chosen by law enforcement officials, three people chosen by the people of the city and overseen by the mayor of each city. This board would have subpoena powers and could, if they deem so, force the District Attorney to file charges against those who have been determined to have done wrong. They would be a sitting Grand Jury that never recesses and holds the equivalent powers of such an organization.

Finally, there would be MANDATORY usage of body cameras by Law Enforcement Officers, and those cameras would be on 24/7. If, for any reason short of the camera being broke, that it is manually shut off (and these cameras are smart enough that they can tell when they are shut off through human action), the LEO is immediately fired. There would also be a disbandment of police unions who, although advocating for fair wages and treatment of their members, has devolved into a roadblock that tarnishes the “Thin Blue Line” into what the Mafia called omerta.

PoliceBuffalo

People are angry, and justifiably so. Law enforcement officers like the 57 pansies in Buffalo who resigned their positions on the Buffalo Emergency Deployment Force after two of their members were charged with assault for shoving a 75-year old man to the ground and cracking his skull open to the point he was bleeding on the concrete (and, to be honest, they should have turned over their badges right there instead of this pussy-ass demonstration) need to clean up their act. These suggestions aren’t as extreme as “defunding” police departments and LEOs across the nation and maybe even around the world should be smart enough to figure out that their shit isn’t going to be taken anymore.

Wondering Whatever Happened to…For February 1

Filthy15

Sitting around wondering whatever happened to the “Filthy 15” while pondering…

You Want to Talk About Double Standards? In December in Akron, OH, Daniel Kovacevic was the subject of a brutal verbal tirade from Deone Slater on a sidewalk in a busy neighborhood. Kovacevic was so in fear, reports state, that he called police in to get Slater away from him. Police arrived on the scene and did speak to Slater, who was yelling profanities at Kovacevic…because Kovacevic wanted to walk in front of Slater’s business, a barbershop, while carrying a loaded rifle slung on his shoulder.

While Ohio is an open carry state – even to the point of being able to openly carry WITHOUT a license – Slater was understandably bothered that Kovacevic chose to do it in front of his business and really didn’t understand why police had an issue with his displeasure. “They (police) asked me why do I have a problem,” Slater said. “He’s a threat to me and my people. He’s a threat to me.”

If you hadn’t figured it out, Slater is black while Kovacevic is white and Slater believes this played into police reaction, which they deny. Still, the state of Ohio is the one that saw police shoot to death a 12-year old Tamir Rice for having a toy gun (among other superb examples of police work in the state), but in this instance decided to speak to a business owner about being upset over a guy walking around in front of his place of business carrying a rifle and running off his customers. Double standards, anyone?

What, You Contributed How Much? OK, Go Ahead and Kill Kids… – In the state of Florida, the stupidity normally runs towards criminals running into the swamp and being eaten by alligators or a bicyclist who shoots himself to death because he’s carrying his gun on him, but this one takes the cake. After the Republican Party of Florida was partially the beneficiary of $200,000 in political contributions from Tenet Healthcare, state officials dropped quality standards for surgical procedures for children with heart defects despite those procedures being in place for nearly four decades without being questioned.

Tenet Healthcare is a for-profit hospital that was under review because many tests and services for pediatric cardiology weren’t being performed at the hospitals owned by the company. As such, the Tenet-owned hospitals were unable to maintain a proficiency in heart operations for children, even on some babies younger than six months. A doctor from Johns Hopkins University suggested that the Tenet hospitals stop performing surgeries until their performance could improve. The hospital system ignored them.

Since those Tenet-run hospitals didn’t conform to the state’s standards for children’s heart surgeries, the state got involved. The state also quickly closed their investigations after $200,000 in campaign contributions were given to Governor Rick Scott’s political action committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the Republican Party of Florida. Of course, the politicos in charge claim that there is no “pay for play” in action in this case.

You might think that protection of children might be something that everyone would be interested in. Apparently not in the state of Florida…

For SHAME, Woman! Wear The Proper Clothes! – In Kansas, apparently a lawmaker is more interested in what a woman might wear when she appears in front of his committee instead of what the committee’s work might entail.

Kansas State Senator Republican Mitch Holmes instituted an 11-point dress code that dictated what was an “acceptable form of dress for women appearing in front of his committee.” Holmes, who said he thought about putting in something for men but eventually decided that “they didn’t need any guidance,” is the chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee and says he wrote the instructions “because provocatively dressed women are a distraction.”

Naturally, the pervert Senator caught some flak for these “guidelines.” A fellow Senator, Democrat Laura Kelly, plainly said, “Oh for crying out loud, what century is this?” Another female Senator and the ranking Democrat on the Holmes committee, Oletha Faust-Goudeau, stated, “In my 13 years in the Legislature, that’s the first time I’ve ever read anything like that.”

After several days of being the laughingstock of the Kansas Senate, Holmes was finally shamed into removing the rules from his committee. “My failure to clearly specify that all conferees, regardless of gender, should strive to present themselves professionally is unacceptable. I apologize and meant no offense. I have decided to retract the conferee guidelines,” Holmes said in a written statement. He has refused any further statement on the subject.

Perhaps now the Senator can get about the business of rescuing Kansas’ rapidly escalating budget deficit rather than worrying about seeing some woman’s cleavage.

Perhaps A Remedial Course in the First Amendment Is in Order – Last week, the University of Missouri assistant professor who called for “some muscle” to rough up a student journalist during a campus protest in the fall was charged with a misdemeanor assault charge. Almost as quickly, the professor was able to avoid prosecution by agreeing to complete 20 hours of community service and not violate the law for the next year.

The problems began at the University of Missouri on November 9 when professor Melissa Click, who had joined several protestors who were protesting the delay that the school’s leadership was taking in its investigation into several racial matters on the campus, aggressively approached two student journalists who were working for the campus newspaper. Click allegedly grabbed one of the student journalists and called for “some muscle” to forcibly remove them from reporting on the scene of the protests on campus.

It must also be added here that Click is a professor of communications on the campus and had a courtesy appointment with…the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, which she not surprisingly resigned after violating that little thing called “freedom of the press.”

Although the legal case is apparently solved for Click, the school still has to decide what to do about her position. There is a tremendous uproar from the state Legislature to have her tenure revoked, but there is an almost equal crowd that is willing to accept the apologies that she has made and move on. At the minimum, she should have to take a review course in Journalism 101 and maybe keep that “freedom of the press” thing in mind next time around.

Now the answer to the question…whatever happened to the “Filthy 15?”

TipperGore                            PeopleMagazine1985

Three decades ago, there was a movement afoot that attempted to crush the rise of “shocking” lyrics found in pop, rock and metal music of that era. Led by then-Senator Al Gore’s wife Tipper (we never really found out who else was with Tipper in the group, just that she had a “legion of followers”), the Parents Music Resource Center railed against all forms of music that it felt violated certain standards that it set (and, once again, there was no indication of how these standards came about). They called the songs the “worst of the worst,” the worst offenders, the “Filthy 15” and the PMRC even went to Congress testifying about how “this type” of music was destroying the youth of that day.

The PMRC, as they were known, wanted to introduce a ratings system, much like what was done with movies since 1968 with the MPAA film ratings system. Instead of PG, R or X, however, the PMRC wanted something a bit different – D/A for drug/alcohol references, O for occult, V for violence and, sure, X for profanity or sexual references. After a hearing in front of Congress didn’t get the ratings system that they wanted, the PMRC was able to run the long con on the music industry that they WOULD be able to get their ratings system through eventually. The two parties ended up settling for the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” sticker that we’ve come to ignore for the past 30 years.

FrankZappa

To look back at the “Filthy 15” today, you would really have to chuckle. Metal bands such as Judas Priest, Motley Crue, W.A.S.P., Mercyful Fate, Def Leppard and Twisted Sister (yes, the song that Donald Trump currently is using in his Presidential campaign, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” was a part of the “Filthy 15”) were easy targets for violent or occult references, but some of the others were comical. The Mary Jane Girls (“In My House” for being sexually explicit), Cyndi Lauper (“She Bop” an ode to masturbation) and Madonna (“Dress You Up” for being sexually explicit in probably what was her most non-sexual song ever) all earned the ire of Gore and her coven of mommies whose ears hurt when they heard these songs.

It seems the ladies had a particular wing of the PMRC built for the iconic Prince. Not only was he there for “Darling Nikki,” he also earned his place on the list with Scottish songbird Sheena Easton (“Sugar Walls” was written by Prince) and his protégé Vanity (“Strap On ‘Robbie Baby’”). Yes, if you couldn’t figure it out, it was for profane or sexual content that these songs made the PMRC list.

DeeSnider1

The two gentlemen above (along with musician John Denver, oddly enough) were at the forefront of testifying against Gore and the witch hunt from the PMRC. Noted musician Frank Zappa, while not a member of the “Filthy 15,” eloquently testified to Congress against the censorship of music, while singer Dee Snider of Twisted Sister said at the time that the music was no different than what kids had done throughout history…finding a way to rebel against their parents’ staid world. Unfortunately, Zappa would pass away in 1993 from colon cancer; Snider still is on the road, performing with Twisted Sister and as a solo act, and he admits to listening to everything that his children do to make sure that it is appropriate for them to hear, only censoring in the most extreme cases (he notes the Tenacious D song “Fuck Her Gently” was not appropriate for his eight year old daughter in an interview).

So what happened to some of the other “Filthy 15?” Vanity, for her part, never quite had the career that she might have had if she had stayed under Prince’s tutelage (she was supposed to be the female lead in Purple Rain, but had a falling out with Prince before filming began; the role would then fall to another Prince acolyte, Apollonia). The album that her PMRC greatest hit appeared on, Wild Animal, wasn’t exactly memorable and, in 1985, she posed for Playboy. In the early 1990s, she shed the stage name Vanity (returning to her birth name), found Christianity and became a minister. Regarding her days as “Vanity,” she said to Rolling Stone, “I was young and irresponsible, a silly woman laden with sin, not caring for anything except fame and fortune and self.”

The same is also true for Blackie Lawless, the founder and leader of W.A.S.P. Their song “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” was one of the biggest bombshells of the PMRC and Lawless’ photograph – of him with a circular saw blade protruding from his groin as he played bass onstage – was waved frequently during the hearings in Washington, D. C. in 1985. Lawless, however, now is a born-again Christian and states that he hasn’t played the song – either live or otherwise – in more than a decade.

Others, however, are unapologetic for the music they created. Easton commented to Billboard that “parents have the right to filter the content that their children are exposed to. If parents felt that “Sugar Walls” was inappropriate…they were well within their rights. Adults, on the other hand, are free to choose what they want.” Prince noted that the “times were different back then” in saying, “I wouldn’t stand out today if I were brand new.”

Finally, there are those that viewed that “Parental Advisory” label as a badge of honor. King Diamond, the vocalist for Mercyful Fate who went on to form his own eponymous band, stated, “The sticker never served as a warning, but more as a stamp of approval that kids ended up looking for in record stores.”  Vince Neil of Motley Crue echoed Diamond, saying, “Once you put that sticker on, that album took off. Those kids wanted it even more.

And as for the PMRC and Tipper Gore? The organization doesn’t even exist anymore and Gore separated from her husband in 2010. She continues to be a political advocate, this time for the LGBT community and in support of AIDS research. Meanwhile, no one pays any attention to the sticker on the CDs anymore and songs such as Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck with You,” Tove Lo’s “Talking Body” (where she sings “we fuck for life”) and other songs are readily played on the radio nowadays with little thought about their lyrical content.