Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My first fiction work

My first work of fiction will be available on Wild Child Publishing on October 27th. A woman police officer is faced with a crisis - what does she risk to do the right thing? Give it and the works of other WCP authors a chance.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nothing to Celebrate

The end of a life is rarely a celebratory event. Regardless of the person's lack of character or depths of depravity they often leave behind family as befuddled as the rest of us. Who among us can cast an eye through their own family and not find a member whose conduct has not been at least puzzling. Hence, you will not read anything here that gleefully recounts the demise of a former Grand Junction officer accused of criminal conduct. That his suicide ended the criminal case against him merely concludes the governmental inquiry into his actions. His friends, his family - those who are left wondering if they had failed him in some way - will struggle with his decisions always. Both the alledged criminal conduct and his decision to end his life did not occur in a vacuum. Good people surrounding him, who did nothing wrong, will recount the conversations and ask themselves if they could have intervened somehow.

While we're thinking of the other victims, including the young woman whose complaint began the chain of events that ended in a Jefferson County hotel room, let's remember the men and women in Grand Junction who acted to end his career. Don't think for a second that they look upon this outcome dispassionately. Taking steps to rid their organization of an employee who uses his authority improperly is one thing. That has to be done. But no one celebrates when the employee then takes their own life.

Here, in this space, I'm looking on with sorrow. He is at rest. His victims are left to wrestle with one of life's most unsettling imponderables - what could I have done to have avoided this whole thing. Those of us who are outside observing can assure them that the answer is - nothing.

And then we tell them that they are in our hearts and prayers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Just Another Bowl of Oatmeal

Mindlessly surfing the net, I came across a story that quoted the Secretary of Transportation's harangue about distracted drivers. He promised action! The administration is on it! No more texting while driving on this guy's watch. Etc.

Uh huh.

If I had a nickel for every accident I've investigated that resulted from distraction I wouldn't be dragging my dumb old ass to work at five every morning. I'd be sitting on a beach.

Distracted driving takes every form known to humankind. One of our officers was looking at an attractive jogger one sunny afternoon and plowed into the car in front of him. Spilled drinks, kids fighting, dogs, radios, CD's.... If a driver can think about it while driving, it has distracted someone enough to cause a wreck. So I understand the problem. Sign me up to be part of the solution.

But the Feds have no police powers over this kind of thing. Who's gonna enforce the Secretary's demand for action, the FBI? Special no texting police? Even if it was constitutional - it probably is not - the Feds would have to invent someone to write the tickets. Not that this group has much trouble doing that, but they already have someone out there. Me and mine.

If they do anything but talk, they will take a classic carrot and stick approach. They withhold highway dollars if a state doesn't hit some nonsensical target number of texting tickets, and then offer us thousands of borrowed dollars to set up checkpoints, to have officers come in on OT and other gimmicks that put numbers on the board but accomplish nothing longterm, sort of like a spring training game.

It's like the seatbelt campaign every year. No one argues that seat belts save lives. But - you'd be amazed how many people put their seatbelts on only when they perceive that the middle-aged man on the mountain bike is a uniformed police officer. That's after years of enforcement.

People will multi-task. It just is. When I was just starting my career in the late Seventies, I heard a sheriff's deputy tell a story. He was driving a marked patrol car one morning, minding his own business, and someone broadsided him. Plowed right into him. He got out to see if the other driver was hurt and saw all kinds of goo on the windshield. Figuring that the driver had hurled all over the car, he opened the door slowly.

It was oatmeal. The young driver had looked down into the bowl for another spoonful and...

I get it. When I see a driver texting I pull them over and write them a ticket. The Secretary of Transportation must have bigger fish to fry. He doesn't have to get into the weeds with us about distracted driving. We're the ones who see the accidents, the hurt and dead people, the destructive power of a motor vehicle. You had me at hello.

But you're arriving at a party that I've attended for years. Hey - thanks for your input. I'm doing the best I can balancing the needs of my community with the resources I have. Don't throw borrowed money at me so you can announce "mission accomplished" with a fistful of texting tickets. Not everything is solved when Washington suddenly discovers a problem and mandates solutions. To those guys, it's an epiphany. A crisis. Mobilize the power of the government.

To me, it's just another bowl of oatmeal.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not Ready for Winter

I hear it from many of my non-cop friends - don't you just love Fall?


As is traditional, Winter follows shortly thereafter. Here in Colorado, it often follows THE NEXT DAY, with mild temps on Tuesday and a foot of wet snow on Wednesday. Legend has it that Thursday can bring golf weather and that is often true. But...

There is still the day of snow to contend with. Icy roads, wet feet and in and out of the warm car to the point where my old, cranky body has no idea how to react. In the course of my career I've directed traffic for two straight hours in an October blizzard, worked in temperatures approaching 20 below and seen nearly three feet of snow accumulate from the time I got to work until the time I left for home.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Bitch, bitch bitch. A good cop never gets wet, cold and blah blah blah." Fine. Be that way.

I'm just saying - if you see me around, don't tell me how pretty Fall is and ask me if I'm ready for Winter. We'd have to be sitting on some beach somewhere for me to say yes.