Wednesday Roundup: “Take It Like A Man”

“Take it, take it,” yells a Dallas police sergeant as another officer jolts a handcuffed suspect with a stun gun, according to senior police officials who reviewed the dash-cam recordings.

“Take it like a man,” [another sergeant goads.]

Here we go again. And yeah, this one isn’t going to end well either. Question: Does “being a man” involve abusing suspects you have in custody? Looks like the tree needs more pruning.

The comments on the story about the atheist billboards around town are, generally speaking, a lot more clever than the billboards themselves.

Love the Dave, and clearly I think the city-owned convention center hotel is a horrible idea. But this is much ado about absolutely nothing — it’s a commercial. Who cares where the actors are from, or where it’s filmed? Same for the pro-hotel ads that are coming.

Really, Star-Telegram? This is the best you can do on April Fool’s Day? Really? Or is this from Boy’s Life, circa 1953? In fact, dear readers, let’s help them out with some real April Fool’s joke ideas.

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?

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.

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.

Monday Roundup: Leppert’s Pattern, Badge Behavior & More

Went running this morning, so the schedule is a little screwy. But we’re back in the groove. So, let’s get to it.

  • Mayor Leppert seems to be developing a pattern. Charge ahead despite serious concerns, contradicting facts, and the costs. This seems to be the case in the Trinity issue and with the convention center hotel. This doesn’t look good for his legacy.
  • Mixed feelings here on the proposed Texas shield law: On one hand, as a journalist I benefit from a shield law. On the other, why should my profession get special protection not afforded every other citizen?

Tuesday Roundup: Another Weird Day in North Texas

Look, I’m not saying that libertarians have the wrong message, but sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. The one libertarian in the U.S. House, Congressman Ron Paul, R-TX, doesn’t do the cause any favors in his cameo in the upcoming Sasha Baron Cohen movie. Oy vey.

As Dallas City Councilmember Angela Hunt already knows, no good deed goes unpunished.

“Man Accidentally Creates Toxic Gas.” And no, it wasn’t Tim Rogers this time.

I’ve thought for years that the best move for the Dallas Independent School District would be to break it up into five or six smaller ISDs. Now the Lege is considering doing just that.

“This isn’t Russia, Danny. Is this Russia?”

I have yet to understand why the Bill of Rights is void on college campuses.

Thursday Roundup: Justice, Injustice and Hat Crimes

Dallas Police have made another arrest in the bizarre, brutal smoke shop murder last year. Good job. I’d still love to know just what the hell was the motive here. (Not to self: pitch to Tim.)

I like this. A truly guilty rapist tries to abuse Dallas County’s new openness to re-examining DNA evidence, something which has freed nearly a score of men wrongly convicted. DNA evidence shows the convicted rapist is, indeed, the rapist. Now DA Craig Watkins wants to see if he can get the guy additional time. And he deserves it. There are few greater injustices than being wrongly convicted by the state. There are few lower than people who know they are guilty abusing the new system designed to ensure against wrongful convictions.

And speaking of injustice — one of the cops guilty in the fake drug scandal is getting just two years probation instead of time behind bars. I’m sorry if this offends, but police have to be held to higher standards, especially those who willfully, knowingly put innocent people behind bars.

I like this, too. Sikhs spread awareness with an innovative turban derby. I like it because I don’t like the kind of person who can’t tell the difference between a Sikh turban and a Muslim one. But it does raise the question — is this accidentally marginalizing Islam? And more importantly, what the hell is it with religions and hats?

“I Think I Crapped My Pants”

I don’t care who you are, this is funny. (Thanks to Homers On The Range.)

Wednesday Roundup: Roundhouse Kick to the Union, Curse of the Trinity River & More

Oh. My. God. It’s like someone built a machine to extract my very dreams: Texas seceding from the union, and Chuck Norris as its president.

Does anyone get the feeling the entire Trinity project is cursed? And exactly why weren’t they testing the ground where they wanted to build something before they started trying to build it? You know, for sand. Or Indian bones?

I’m not sure I buy the argument that voter fraud isn’t a problem, given that groups like ACORN are out there doing their level best to turn every election into a Chicago-style hoax fest. On the other hand…No, there really is no other hand. Seems to me voting is the one place where you should have to show some kind of ID.

Also up in the Lege and needing support — a bill to require written consent to search a car in a traffic stop. This is important because police, like potential date rapists, need it drilled into their heads that no means no.