Sep 22, 2010

Brain Dump

First and foremost:
RobertaX has a sick kitty. Slinky passed away last week, and Tommy is having a rough time of it. Please send some good thoughts to Tommy, Roberta, and Tam.

Losing a long-time pet is one of the hardest things in life. To many of us, a pet can be even closer than a family member. Unconditional love is a powerful bond. One of my hesitations in getting a dog was knowing how attached I'd get to it ... hell, I already am. Dixie is only a year and a half old, so hopefully we've got lots of good years ahead.

On to the rest of the news...

In Madison, WI, a group of gun owners went out for dinner, open-carrying their pistols. This is entirely legal in the state of Wisconsin: they do not have any provisions for concealed carry in their laws, so if you want to carry a gun, it has to be open.

A passerby called 911 to report it, and officers were dispatched. Two of the folks having dinner declined to provide ID (as is their right in Wisconsin), and were subsequently (wrongfully) arrested for obstruction of justice.

Madison PD is now in a world of hurt. Not knowing the law is not an valid defense for you or I, nor is it a valid defense for an officer.

In this instance, there is audio recording of the incident - linked in the above post. Two of the folks having dinner chose to bring a recorder of some kind with them. It could be argued that they were looking for this kind of reaction. It could also be argued just as easily that while they weren't looking for trouble with the police, they wanted to make sure they had an unbiased "witness" if they were confronted.

I'm a supporter of recording the police. Not the media snippets and sound bites that cause riots, but "if you're on-duty, you are being recorded. Period." Audio at the minimum, and preferably audio and video. Knowing that anything you say could be subpoenaed and published on the front page of the local rag tends to keep you from saying things you will regret later. Before someone chimes in to say that I've no idea what that would be like ... you're 100% wrong. I work in a dispatch center, and everything I say on the phone or radio is recorded. You try very hard to never, ever, ever, say something you wouldn't say to your grandmother.

Having an unbiased recording of events can prevent a LOT of issues - from both sides of the badge. There is a video that was posted by the CATO Institute last week covering this exact topic. It's worth the ten minutes to watch it.

Also of note, from the update posted by Guns & Coffee:
Not a big deal really, however, as has happened several times in the past, the dispatcher has not simply told the caller that it is legal, and maybe had a squad drive past, but instead dispatched officers, who then unlawfully detained and charged individuals. Poor practice by MPD.
I don't know what the setup is for calltaking at MPD. Many municipalities have gone to a consolidated dispatch setup, wherein all 911 calls are routed to one central Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), and handled entirely within that center. A dispatcher working in such a PSAP is generally NOT a sworn officer, and does not have training in the finer points of law. They won't give legal advice. See above: it's ALL recorded.

Is it a bit of CYA? Absolutely. In our litigation-happy society, I will not be the one sitting on the stand while an attorney says, "Now, Mr. ZerCool, have you received any legal training? Are you qualified to provide advice on the legalities of carrying a pistol? Are you a sworn officer of the law? So would you care to explain why you told this caller that open-carrying a pistol was legal, just prior to the crazed maniac killing three people?"

Once the call has been received, there really isn't such a thing as "ha[ving] a squad drive past". The officers are going to be sent to a report of several subjects with guns, not brandishing or threatening, and caller feels the situation should be checked out. No metro police force in its right mind would send one or two officers into a situation with several known-armed subjects. When they arrive, they're going to assess things and handle it from there.

I'm not defending the actions of MPD after they arrived on scene: they stepped on the ol' crank. Big time. It's going to cost them. But I don't have issue with the initial handling of the call or the number of officers dispatched.

This headline on caught my eye:
"Georgia baby sitter, 11, charged in death"

Read the article for details, if you wish, but this sums it up:
An 11-year-old baby sitter in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, has been charged in the death of a 2-year-old, authorities said. [...] The baby sitter [...] was caring for Zyda White late Saturday.
You can not possibly tell me that the parent(s) of the infant are not partially culpable in this incident. I have NEVER met an ELEVEN YEAR OLD who is mature enough to be solely responsible for the care of a toddler. It's one thing to say "you're going to baby sit" and have the child keep an eye on a younger sibling while mom or dad does chores around the house. "Late Saturday" suggests that the parent(s) were out of the house, and the story as published seems to confirm it.

To further compound it, if I'm reading right, the baby sitter was caring for the toddler in the sitter's home - so where were HER parent(s)???

Eleven years old. Facing a felony murder charge. While I'm sure there will be naysayers who think the parent(s) have suffered enough, they are, IMHO, guilty of endangering the welfare of a child, and possibly some kind of negligence charges. Same goes for the parents of the sitter.

Jay, I have just spiked my rage-o-meter.


Weer'd Beard said...

Thanks for all the info on the Wisconsin Carry arrests. That's a real eye-opener!

Also I'm REALLY glad it happened, the recording is great and really shows (if the law is how I understand it) how in the wrong the police were.

Hopefully the word will get out and the police will educate their workers on how the law works.

Wally said...

I've met most of the deputies in my county as they have all responded to "shots fired" calls from neighbors of WallyWorld. Every one was professional and polite. Which is how it should be when we are not doing anything wrong...

Weer'd Beard said...

Michael Bane mentioned that in a recent podcast. His line was "I Was those Shots Fired" : ]