About Chief Kunkle

I’m the first to jump on incidents of bad behavior by individual police officers, and I hope no one takes what I say as an attack on them all. Especially the Dallas Police Department, given its challenge in a city like Big D. In my writing and on my blog I try to make a point that the behavior of one doesn’t reflect on all.

One thing I haven’t taken the time to do is give credit where it’s due.

The Dallas Police Department is fortunate to have a leader like Chief David Kunkle. I don’t know I’ve ever met a more gracious, conscientious public servant, especially one in uniform. He really seems to have that innate Sheriff Andy Taylor sense of humility, service, and concern for the public — be it the Taser policy, the no-chase policy, his earnestness in dealing with adversity and loss, his commitment to intelligent, effective crime fighting, or his willingness to weed out the bad apples that crop up from time to time under his command. Mark Davis’ column on the Moats/Powell incident has a money line today that sums it up:

Chief David Kunkle’s sincere apology and apparent revulsion at the infamous dash cam footage should show everyone that his department knows and cares when one of its own screws up.

If anything, that directive of “If we mess up, we ‘fess up” comes straight from the man at the top. It takes a big man to lead with that kind of candor and honesty.

Tuesday Roundup: Hotels, Eyewitness IDs, Bipartisan ‘Truths,’ Your Rights, and Other Things You Can’t Rely On

A month ago I placed the likelihood the bond market won’t reach the city of Dallas’ goal of 5.5 percent — which is what they need to make the city-owned convention center hotel happen — at 70 percent. Looks like I may have called it. Also — tax issues aside — thoughts on whether campaigning in churches on a Sunday is just plain tacky?

lineup-bigIf police chiefs and prosecutors are interested in justice, why is it they want to block attempts to change the use of a procedure that has been proven so horribly unreliable? (From the story: Faulty eyewitness IDs have been the leading cause of wrongful convictions. Eighteen of 19 exonerations in Dallas County involved a bad eyewitness identification, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found last year.)

I missed this Friday, but kudos to the DMN for running this: a deconstruction of some of the myths about health care that are disguised as truth, such as American health care underperforms the broken socialized medicine system of the UK, that prescriptions drive up health care costs, and so on. Couple these facts with the reality that the vast majority of the costly medical care problems in America are entirely driven by lifestyle — crappy, death row style diets (see below), booze, smoking, and lack of exercise — and you can see there’s not really a crisis at all.

Once and for all please someone explain to me: Why are constitutional rights and the rights guaranteed by Texas law suspended when you set foot on a college campus?

Three rules to live by: 1) Never, ever give consent to search your car or your home. 2) Never invite the police into your home without a warrant. 3) And as Robert Guest underscores, never, ever speak to the police without a lawyer. Guest explains in his own inimitable way, but the short answer why is: it can never help, and almost always hurts.

Just for — I don’t know, morbid curiosity? — here’s a list of the last meal requests for prisoners on Texas’ death row going back to 1982. It’s oddly compelling. What is it about French fries, by the way? Seems the most common request. So it makes me wonder — what would your last meal be?

Monday Roundup: Moats, Cuban, Nagin & Huh?

Ryan Moats and his wife will be speaking on Good Morning America today between 7-9 a.m. Meanwhile, in other Officer Powell news.

Not news: Mark Cuban fined $25,000 for talking trash after a game. News: On Twitter.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin may lose his Frisco home (wait, huh?) because he hasn’t paid his homeowner association dues. Thus ends Frisco’s attempt at becoming another Chocolate City?

I mentioned that dash cams exonerate officers more than they condemn them on Friday. Today, it’s a story in at least two Dallas outlets. Have I officially become show prep?

Friday Roundup: Rip Off at Bob’s, Ripped Off by Cameras, Keller’s Stumbling & More

Bob of Bob’s Chop House has been indicted for the theft of $300,000. Can I bring charges for the theft of $20 for a side dish of mediocre asparagus?

This story about how much green city red light cameras are generating (or losing, in a few places) doesn’t mention the lawsuit against the city of Dallas’ red light camera operator, which will likely result in their abolition in Dallas. Nor does it mention that there’s basically no penalty if you refuse to pay the $75 fine the cameras generate. (Hint, hint.)

Want to see some ironic justice? Take a look at Judge Sharon Keller’s sworn responses to charges by the Commission of Judicial Misconduct.

I’m not saying I don’t get the other side, but the city moved to the hunters, the hunters didn’t move to the city. And I’m suspicious of any legislation that comes with the plead of “Won’t you think of the children?”

Late Night Ramblings on the Infamous Traffic Stop, the Blue Wall of Silence, and All That

It’s late, so be warned — earnest posting ahead.

I got into an online conversation about The Moats Incident overnight with some cops on a police discussion forum. Some members were defending Officer Robert Powell while a few condemned him. (Note: not all members are cops, and it’s not an official DPD web site.)

This is what I ended up saying, with a few line edits here since the original I wrote from my iPhone.


Officer Douchebag

Officer Douchebag

I don’t think Officer Robert Powell would want to be treated like he treated Ryan Moats.

I don’t think anyone here would want a family member treated like that. Imagine you’re critically injured on duty, and a family member is rushing to your side, distraught enough not to think to tell the officer who stops him that the relative he’s rushing to see is a dying cop.

By the way, in this hypothetical, if the relative did have the presence of mind to tell the officer his brother is a mortally wounded cop, most here would put him in their unit and break land speed records to get that relative to a dying fellow cop’s hospital bed. Or in this case rush him into the hospital, sparing him lectures about attitude and red lights at empty intersections in the middle of the night. Tell me otherwise. I dare you.

Now remember that not everyone’s relative is a cop, but they love them just as much as any cop’s relative, and they deserve the same treatment and consideration as any other human being. Citizen or cop, that’s what we all are.

Moats didn’t endanger any lives, didn’t drive like a maniac, and he didn’t do anything more than act like anyone else here would with a dying relative. He’s not in this for a payday, and he didn’t even file a complaint. All he did was get in the sights of a greenhorn on a power trip, whose piss poor judgment now has people blaming all of DPD for his own actions. That public perception — unfair though it is — isn’t helped by the knee jerk closing of ranks among some officers here sticking up for him, bad mouthing the Plano officer, griping about dash cams (which exonerate officers far more often than they condemn them) and making up [expletive] about Moats’ actions that night.

Kudos to those officers here brave enough to call Powell out for what he is, by the way.

“My tribe first” has its place, but not when it violates basic decency and justice. You remember justice, right? And the second part of “protect and serve” right? Service, not mastery. Mutual respect, not demands for obedience.

You can blame command, the media, and anything else the victim’s mentality conjures up as a rationalization. But Powell put his own head in the noose that night by acting not like a committed, responsible peace officer, but like a punk control freak out to prove he had a bigger nightstick. Powell screwed himself with his own choices. The public Powell serves — that pays his salary and entrusts him with the most serious and honorable charge of upholding both the law and justice — that public has every right to judge him.

Or are you going to tell me that officers, too, have rejected personal responsibility as a virtue? I don’t believe officers have, and I don’t want to believe it. The kind of men it takes to do that job aren’t cut from that shabby, blame-everyone-else, poor-little-victim-me cloth.

You really want a guy with Powell’s judgment and temperament representing DPD? You really want to reinforce that unfair meme that all cops are louts, brutes, and petty little ticket writers?

Those who stand up for Powell, by cowardly silence endorse him, or by tribal instinct close ranks with him do more disservice to the badge than all the media reports and command press conferences combined.

You lie down with dogs, you’re gonna get up with fleas.

Props to every officer, here and offline, man enough to break ranks and show they know justice and decency, and that expecting slave-like submission from the people they serve is not proper for free men in a just society.

Starting with the Plano officer who refused to let this incident get swept under the rug. That’s the kind of officer who gives police a good name.

Say It Again, Ms. Council Member

At the hearing on a proposed new 16 and under daytime curfew that would give Dallas police the power to arrest youths out and about during the school day, Council Member Angela Hunt showed her tiger-style Kung Fu is superior.

Hunt asked police if the majority of daytime burglaries are committed by male juveniles. Yes, police officials responded – the vast majority.

“Then, if our idea is let’s get people off the street who might commit burglaries or might commit criminal acts, I’ve got an idea, guys: Let’s put down a law that is a daytime and a nighttime curfew for men,” Hunt said. “I mean, guys, this is a slippery slope.”

Say Again, Mr. Deputy Pro Tem?

I really like Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, but sometimes I’m really puzzled by some of the things he does and says. Of course, if he didn’t shoot from the hip, he’d be another boring city pol like two-thirds of the horseshoe. Still, Caraway’s candor is at once one of his most endearing qualities, while still something that makes me stop and ask “Really? Whiskey tango foxtrot?”

I’m not alone. My blog-mantic crush Bethany Anderson caught something Caraway said yesterday, which has both of us wondering what kind of black files (sorry JWP) dirty intel Caraway has on his fellow council members. Or maybe it was just the heat of the moment. I don’t know. Go read Bethany for details. Hie, I say.

By the way, I second what Bethany says: “…Caraway has done a lot of good for his constituents, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another council person so involved in his area of the city.” Still, this is one of those WTF? moments.

Thursday Roundup: Where Have You Gone, Sheriff Andy Taylor?

250px-hitler_1928At what point did police — especially the younger ones — lose sight of the fact that they’re supposed to be public servants, not public masters? This maddening incident involving a cop who had to be a dick to a people rushing to see their dying mother at the hospital seems all too typical of the attitude these days, especially among the younger ones brought up watching Cops. What ever happened to the Sheriff Andy Taylor style of law enforcement (common sense, respect for the public, peaceful resolution, humility, service) which you can still see among some of the older officers? (I know a few.) How did we get stuck with these underachieving, knuckle-dragging SA wannabes who think their state-issued costumes give them the right to humiliate free men and women when they don’t show the subservience proper to a slave? I don’t sound light-hearted and snarky? I don’t. I’m disgusted. The mother died at the hospital while this young thug was lecturing the driver. Disgraceful. (And apologies to one of my favorite online writers, William N. Grigg, for borrowing a few of his choicer phrases.)

Manhunt Under Way for Escaped Prisoner. One-armed man observed skulking near the scene. (And like that, the snark is back.)

I wonder if the real reason Santiago Calatrava was in town was to make sure none of his checks from the city of Dallas bounced. IJS.

Cue the chorus of racial breed profiling alarmists. They love these tragic events. (Looking at you, Celeste and Robberson.)

Apparently, Hank Hill is suspected of a double murder.

You know, I’m not religious, and I get the point of the people behind these billboards that are coming to North Texas, but…come on. They couldn’t come up with something wittier? Something to match the very clever “Let’s Meet At My House Sunday Before the Game – God” billboards the church ladies put out a few years back?

If some movie production company doesn’t take advantage of the coming demolition of the old Cowboys stadium, my suspicions about the double-digit IQ average among Hollywood producers will be verified. I may steal Zac Crain‘s idea and just go out there with a cam corder and get the standard “running away and blown into the air toward the camera” shot on demolition day.

My Big Fat Gay Thank You

I’m sitting here tonight humbled. As I noted earlier, my column in the April issue of D about how the Cedar Springs area is transforming along with the dynamics between straights and gays came under some fire today. Two prominent Dallas media personalities — Rawlins Gilliland and Jack E. Jett – came to my defense at the Dallas Voice blog and on Frontburner. These are two guys who on a lot of issues are worlds apart from me. And, not surprisingly, worlds apart from each other.

So I started thinking, yes, I am a supporter of gay marriage, or at least getting the state to treat all marriage contracts between consenting adults of any sort simply as contracts, and letting each church decide what, if any, blessing they each want to give. And I support gay adoption — some of the best parents I’ve met are gays. They’re not so likely to go leaving their kids in locked cars or abusing/neglecting them, given the hassle it takes for gays to adopt. The gays don’t just carelessly pop kids out like too many straights. (“I didn’t know I could get pregnant if we did it standing up.”) But I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever written about either subject at length, much less other gay rights issues.

I reckon my attitude on the subject has come through one way or the other. Enough to prompt those two guys to stand up for me, anyway.

So, from the heart of suburban, straight vanilla-land, thank you, gentlemen.

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That?

I think some folks got the wrong impression from my recent column in D on the great new ilume development, and the evolution of the Cedar Springs gayborhood.