Sunday, March 16, 2014

Law enforcement and the abuse of power

I have posted links on Facebook recently to stories that show acts of conduct unbecoming a Police Officer. For the observant, you will know that I continually post links about what I consider to be abuses of power, whether in the presidency, other political entities, or otherwise. I'm an equal opportunity reporter of abuses. Police are not exempt in this. I personally have nothing against law enforcement officers in general. I have known several and still know some---all of whom have been and are outstanding men. I have had brief run-ins with the other kind though—those who go into law enforcement for the love of power.

Considering all that, within law enforcement there are far too many incidences of mistaken shootings in which the officer mistakes a cane or a wallet for a gun. Nearly daily we see examples of brutality, and though a case may be made for some violence being warranted (I dislike the news media who only show the beatings and not what led up to the beatings. That too does not tell the full story) in far too many incidences, it is used inappropriately.

This is the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor:

On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.  I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.  I will always uphold the constitution, and will remain loyal to my community and the agency I serve.

Let me first say that I understand the challenges of being under pressure. I understand the danger that some suspects are to police officers. That being said, there is never an excuse for a police officer to shoot an innocent person. Rule number one in gun safety is to not even put your finger on the trigger until you know at what you're shooting. I'm thinking that cops violate this rule frequently and probably for their own safety. But their own safety is not the reason they should be involved in law enforcement. Their job is to protect the public. How does shooting someone in error protect the public?

A big issue is the attitude that “it's a war out there.” If it's a war, then casualties enemy and “friendlies” should be expected. This is not the proper approach.

I'm thinking that unless someone is really willing to risk their own life to protect the public, they shouldn't be doing the job. It should not be the public's lives that are at risk because someone failed to obey the first rule of gun safety in order to keep themselves from getting shot. Of course, an officer doesn't want to leave his or her children fatherless or motherless. So because of that, it's okay to be trigger happy? What about the innocent person who just got killed because of you? Don't you think their children need their father or mother?

So if they really want to go into law enforcement, they should go into it with the realization that they need to protect the public, even if their own lives are in jeopardy. If not, they should find another line of work.

My next issue involves another point in which I think many (but not all) law enforcement officers are breaking their oath, and that's the phrase “I will always uphold the Constitution”. Consider the recent law that was passed in Connecticut, which turned gun-owners who failed to register their semi-automatic guns into felons overnight. Officers were willing to go into people's homes to confiscate their guns, a clear violation of the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.

What is going to happen if there is some general order from the President to confiscate guns? How many officers are going to march in lock-step with such laws and go ahead and try and carry out the confiscations? How many, if ordered to, will carry out such laws just because they have been ordered and have the power to do so? I'm encouraged by county sheriffs in various states around the country who refuse to enforce gun control laws. These individuals take seriously their edict to uphold the Constitution. We can only hope that that is the majority opinion amongst law enforcement officers and administrators.

The misuse of power has long been a problem among law enforcement officers, including, but not limited to, adding more violations on to speeding tickets because someone is a smart aleck. Adding on violations because one can is just the smallest example of the abuse of power. Everyone with power has the potential to abuse it. Abuse of power amongst law enforcement is why some people come to dislike police officers. Think of someone you know who was abused or molested as a child. Does that person not have a reason to hate the abuser? The same thing goes for law enforcement officers who abuse their power, especially in its most extreme forms, such as unwarranted tazing, beatings, and shootings.

Now I've said this because I post a lot of links about such abuses. I also post good stories about police officers when I find them. I know and love some fine police officers to whom I am grateful for the hard work they do, but I hope that these good people will not turn a blind eye to the abusers within their ranks, or to the oath breakers who walk among them. I have a pretty good idea that those I know will not do so. I hope that they believe that their main job is to protect the public, not themselves. I hope most of all, that those who have been entrusted by the public to protect them, will do so, whether it's protecting them from criminals, or protecting them from their own government who is violating the Constitution. They have sworn an oath to do so.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Working on the story

So, I've been going back over my story Last Stand at Cibola, and I can see some really well-written sections. I'm not trying to brag, but maybe I'm not as far away from that million word level as I thought I was. That's really a step up from where I was a while back when I reread my first novel Gateway to Fear. I had thought I had done a good job with that, and there were some places in it where I did, but overall, it sucked. I could rewrite it, and maybe will some day, but for now, it's onward and upward.

 I think the hardest part for me is organizing the plot into a story that makes sense on every level. My characters have complicated back stories and relationships and it's difficult to keep all of that straight. I'm using a program called “Scrivener” now and I think it's going to help in the organizing process, though there's definitely a learning curve associated with it. If we as writers keep plugging away though, eventually we will write something good.