The year 2010 has brought me around half circle on my beliefs about what America has become and where it is going.  After 25 years of good, trusting relationships with law enforcement officers at all levels–college police, city police, county sheriffs and deputies, state troopers, police chiefs, detectives, state trooper colonels and FBI agents, and seeing them act, enforce the law, and help those in need–I’ve really become disillusioned at what they can, will and know to do in situations involving domestic matters.

I say that because this year, I’ve witnessed some disturbing practices.

For one, the idea of community policing, at least in my experiences, is dead. While most departments will have a community relations liaison, they’re often stuck off into a corner among themselves with little or no support, and almost no budget.

Second of all, our society has become so violent and dangerous, when it comes to doing preventative policing, there isn’t enough time, budget or man power to do it.

Third, with that in mind, most police will tell you they don’t have time for domestic matters, they have to be out catching real criminals. And yet in Arlington, TX this morning, a 24-year-old rookie female cop was killed last night at the scene of a family domestic violence event.  She’d been out of the academy and all for two weeks.  I’d say what happened was pretty serious.

Fourth, like many things in the US Constitution, things have been so twisted over the course of time that it’s the law-abiding citizens who are getting screwed the most by the laws paid to the government and police departments to protect us with.

Five, most police officers really do their best to avoid things that are going to keep them off the streets and ultimately, out of trouble with their supervisors. So if you’re having a domestic violence issue in your life, most first responders will say, “Talk to your lawyer. This isn’t something I can help you with. Plus my sergeant wants me to get 10-8 again.”

Probable Cause

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution says: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How does this apply to a case of domestic violence?  Well, for one, it almost got Veronica Galaviz here in DFW killed in April.  After supplying information, providing testimony to the police, even showing them video of who she says and was willing to ID in court as being her estranged husband, the police said it wasn’t conclusive enough for them to make an arrest or bring the man before the judge who had said enough evidence existed previously, and he felt that there was a threat of possible further assaults and violations, that in case there was even a hint of it, the man was to be brought before the court.

The Dallas Police, Sheriff’s Department and the FBI

This summer I also was a part of an effort to engage Dallas-area law enforcement and even the FBI, when a friend of mine’s daughter had been taken by her non-custodial parent and then took the child across the border into Mexico.  Dallas police wouldn’t issue an Amber Alert because they said the daughter was with her mom.  If her African American father had taken off with the kid and the mom was raising cane, do you think the actions by DPD would have been a lot different?  When my friend obtained documents from the court ordering Dallas County Sheriff’s to return the child to the custody of her father, Dallas County SO said that unless he knew where the child was, they would not, could not go get her or even search for her.  Bewildered, my friend responded to a Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy who said they had to have an address of where the kid was to go get her, “If I knew where she was, I wouldn’t need your help.”

When we learned that the child had been taken to Mexico without the custodial father’s knowledge, I personally called the Dallas FBI office.  The agent I talked with said my friend would need to get another document from the family court suspending the non-custodial parent’s right to the daughter.  Only then could the FBI classify the mom as a fugitive.   And even then, there wasn’t going to be a posse that saddled up and went looking for the child.  Only if the other parent had been stopped by authorities on something else, would the matter even matter to the FBI.

I don’t fault the agents of the law, not entirely any way.  They’re doing what legal counsel or their sergeant or someone up the food chain has told them to do.  Most of the officers I have dealt with in these situations tend to feel bad about their in action, but they feel like their hands are tied, too.

And so in too many cases of domestic matters, you have at least one parent pleading for help, spending every last penny possible to right matters, you have law enforcement that says its hands are tied, you have prosecutors who won’t bring a case before a judge because of a backload of cases or because they feel that there’s not probable cause and the arrested person will sue them for wrongful imprisonment, etc.  And on and on it goes.

Worse, still, the news media, who so love to provide infotainment these days and not hard news, won’t cover situations where there’s parental kidnapping. Again, they’ve gotten too worried about being sued, and since they have deep pockets and the main mission of a TV station isn’t to provide timely, accurate news, it’s to make money.  Lawsuits cost money.  Why do something that might endanger the bottom line?

The Wussification of America

The Atlantic magazine has published this piece:

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, three weeks from the business end of his state’s two-term limit on office, isn’t going gently, although he thinks America is.

The governor, who moonlights as a football commentator, kicked up a snowstorm earlier this week when he blasted National Football League officials and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter— a fellow Democrat — for postponing Sunday’s scheduled matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings on account of the blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow on the City of Brotherly Love.

In an interview with National Journal hours before the rescheduled kickoff of what is now the NFL’s first Tuesday night game since 1946, Rendell seemed more interested in expanding upon, rather than retracting his controversial remarks. He sees the missed opportunity for a snow game as a metaphor for  “the wussification of America,” evidenced by a laundry list of irritants, including, but not limited to, the country’s sluggish economic growth, the District of Columbia’s school-closing policies, and the lengthy medical warnings affixed to the end of pharmaceutical commercials.

I quit reading there because The Atlantic’s way of thinking in part has contributed to the said Wussification of America.

I’m not really a Gov. Rendell fan, he’s a Democrat that’s been way too connected in my tastes to the president, however, he’s right in what he says.

Okay, I read a little more of The Atlantic piece. Rendell also was quoted as saying:

“We’ve lost our boldness, we’ve lost our courage, we’ve lost our pioneer spirit, we’ve lost our sense of adventure.  I don’t think Americans are willing to take prudent risks anymore. It’s symptomatic of the fact that business is reluctant to invest, and they use every excuse in the world…. In the old days, entrepreneurs believed in themselves, they believed in their product — they would’ve been out there pumping.”

And so that’s why this piece is entitled: America, what happened? Gov. Rendell, I couldn’t agree with you more.  While I likely wouldn’t like your more government solutions on how to return to the true grit of the American spirit, we’re both on the same mission, but looking at it at different perspectives.

My Troubles of 2010

Without the transpiring of events in the past 18 months, and my work at various levels of state and local government the past 25 years, I might not be as sensitive to all this as I’ve indeed become.   The first time I met with Veronica Galaviz–six days after she was nearly murdered–she said it was clear to her that God had our paths cross for a reason.

Like Gov. Rendell, who is about to leave office, I’m looking at 2011 as a new opportunity to make a difference.  God has focused my mission to do something about domestic violence, the way law enforcement is able to address it, and to help my friend, Veronica Galaviz in her mission to do something about it.

God Is At Work

While I’ve been writing this very piece, I just got a call from a DFW TV station asking if they can interview Veronica this afternoon about what happened in Arlington last night.   Another chance to make God’s work happen.   I just heard some of the facts about what the officer in Arlington did last night: When a man was trying to shoot an 11-year-old girl, the officer took the bullet for the girl.  Yes, she was only two weeks on the job as a police officer, but Officer Jillian Smith decided that she wasn’t going to stand for the Wussification of America.

Now ask yourself, are you?

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