Violent crime is higher in some places? No shit, Vince.

By the time the Denver Post landed on my driveway* this morning, Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca’s plan to replace policing with peacekeeping in Denver had already been thoroughly rejected by the city council.

That surprised no one. Still, columnist Vincent Carroll belittled the plan as “half-baked” and used nearly 800 words to explain some but not all of the disparities in arrest rates between the Black and White communities.

Pixabay image

He graciously gave us all permission to “dismiss the arrest statistics as additional evidence of racial bias,” so feel free to have at it. Here’s the column.

Carroll also felt compelled to tell us, while explaining some but not all of the aforementioned disparities, “The violent crime rate really is higher in some communities.”

No shit, Vince. It is what it is, you might as well have written.

That is not a reason to reject out of hand the very idea of rethinking and even replacing failed, seriously flawed police forces. Stop apologizing and excusing and start to think a little harder about the root causes of these life-and-death issues and how to deal with them.

Feel free to start with this concept:

When the pot of water starts to boil over, you don’t turn up the heat. You turn it down.


*We canceled our home delivery subscription a couple of months ago and went digital-only. The newspaper mysteriously began showing up here again a week or so ago, quickly followed by two unauthorized withdrawals from our checking account totaling just shy of $100. Repeated calls and complaints have yet to resolve the issue or get us a refund.

A few words about a murder trial

Imagine being plucked from your day-to-day routine and plunked down in a jury box for three weeks.

Imagine what you see and hear as prosecutors try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant murdered, disemboweled and dismembered the mother of his child, stuffed her headless, limbless torso into a suitcase, and dropped it in a dumpster in another state.

Suppose you can discuss this with no one, not even your fellow jurors, until the appointed time comes to deliberate.

That time came for me yesterday. The trial ended a few hours ago. The jury on which I served found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder and three other charges.

I leave the details to your imagination and the news media because for now I don’t have the words to describe the experience beyond this:

Whatever discomfort the jury felt, it was nothing compared to the horror that many others in that courtroom have been through and will remember with such pain and sorrow for the rest of their lives.

If I write about the experience again, in this space or elsewhere, it is simply my way of coping. Some questions are too difficult to discuss in person other than with my closest family and friends.

B.J.

 

‘Loaded gun in my purse? Silly me.’

Denver Post columnist Mario Nicolais writes here that officials made the right call by not pressing charges against Colorado State Rep. Lori Saine, who was caught carrying a concealed weapon through airport security.

I’m not so sure.

It was “an honest mistake,” writes Nicolais, who says he carries, too, and easily forgets that he’s doing so. He says the lawmaker shouldn’t have to defend herself in court for an honest, understandable episode of carelessness. Presumably he is now absolved, too, in advance.

Mistakes like Saine’s, however, aren’t much different from those that lead to the tragic deaths of children who find guns that parents or others forget to secure properly and safely.

Saine likely beat herself up inwardly, Nicolais said. Maybe even with expletives! He guesses that she asked herself within a second of being caught how she could be so careless.

Yes, how horrible that imaginary inner dialogue must have been for her.

An individual who is prone to forgetting he or she is carrying a deadly weapon should not be permitted to carry a deadly weapon, concealed or otherwise.

Still, forgetful Coloradans Saine and Nicolais could be carrying in any state soon if proponents of concealed carry reciprocity get their way.

 

I support law enforcement, but maybe not the way you do

A friend of mine, a fellow Navy veteran, shared this black-and-blue image the other day from a Facebook page called Police Lives Matter. 2016-10-03_1757

I didn’t share it.

Does that mean I’m afraid to share those four words? Does it mean I don’t believe police lives matter?

Not at all. I might actually share something akin to “I support law enforcement” under certain conditions:

  1. If I knew exactly what it meant.
  2. If the message didn’t insinuate that neglecting to share it marked me and other non-sharers as anti-cop America-haters.
  3. If it didn’t come from a page whose existence is so obviously in-your-face backlash against #BlackLivesMatter, as if police being held accountable were in some way equivalent to the oppression experienced by descendants of slaves.

“I support law enforcement” is so vague as to be meaningless unless you recognize it as shorthand for “the cops are always right.” If that’s not what you mean, you have to clarify and qualify before I will share it.

Here are some statements that  I will share:

I support law enforcement by paying my taxes.

I support the enforcement of just laws by honorable, competent public servants.

I respect individual law enforcement officers who treat me and other people with respect.

I’m sorry that took more than four words.

Feel free to share.

Des Moines is cool now? Art, food, politics and crime fiction

So Des Moines started getting cool a few short years after the Smiths moved to the starkly less cool Cedar Rapids? Sheer coincidence.

For what it’s worth, I thought my home town was always pretty cool, if not as slick as those snooty Twin Cities we supposedly looked up to back in the day.

Politico’s new story of how Des Moines went from “totally dysfunctional” to cool is an interesting read anyway. I haven’t thought about scooping the loop in years and had no idea that it was considered “a menace to society,” as columnist Rekha Basu says in the story.

I thought the menace was Roosevelt H.S. guys wanting to beat me up at the bus stop, or the guy on an inner-city street corner who wanted to kill me and a friend on our way to Dowling one morning. (We talked him out of it and walked away.)

Des Moines (4)Des Moines was also cool enough that it inspired me to write what has been called “a compelling, gut-wrenching thriller,” which takes place on those formerly mean, now-cool streets.

In one of my favorite parts of the story, Detective Red Shaw meets another key character in a sculpture park that wasn’t even there when we last lived in Des Moines.

Another takes place where caucus-covering reporters used to stay, and I suppose some still do:

“The Savery Hotel had been the Harrises’ favorite hangout since the days when its bar was crowded with reporters from across the country who were covering the Iowa caucuses. The newer Coda and BOS were OK, but Maura missed the old atmosphere.”

Sometimes I miss it a little, too, and it’s fun to visit family and friends in Iowa when we get the chance. Even Cedar Rapids is getting pretty cool, a trend that actually started before the Smiths went west.