The Police Quota System

read the manual

School bus stopThe Daily Show with Trevor Noah had a segment called The Police Quota System – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know. “Police officers give people tickets for speeding or running a stop sign, but there’s another reason that people are getting pulled over: It’s the dirty little secret called the quota system.”

Here’s a news story about the Daily Show segment. “Noah explains that police give people traffic tickets for multiple reasons, be it speeding or running a stop sign, or simply to generate ticket revenue. The quota system is illegal in a handful of states, like Florida, at which Noah quipped that if it’s illegal in Florida, ‘then it’s got to be really bad.'”

And the map shown indicated that quotas are likewise illegal in New York. But a friend of mine, a very good driver, I believe was caught up in one of those situations. I wasn’t present but heard all about it. And it’s what they WEREN’T charged with that really caught my attention.

CAUTION

In a small, rural community, there was a school bus riding down the road with its yellow lights flashing. My friend was driving on the other side of the road toward the bus. But since the bus never stopped, my friend slowed down but did not halt.

The local cop soon pulled over my friend. He said, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “No.” “Because you passed the bus. You should have come to a stop.” This is bogus.

From the NYS DMV manual: When a stopped school bus flashes its red light(s), traffic that approaches from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, must stop before it reaches the bus. You should stop at least 20 feet (6 m) away from the bus…

Before a school bus stops to load or discharge passengers, the driver will usually flash warning lights, which are located on the front and back of the bus near the roof. When you see them, decrease speed and be prepared to stop. Which is what happened, but the bus NEVER stopped.

Then the cop said he’d give my friend a pass on the bus charge and only give out a ticket for speeding. Unfortunately, this place is four hours away, because my friend would LOVE to see the alleged sign suggesting a lowered speed limit. So going back to challenge the ticket is not cost-effective, especially since my friend has not had a ticket in decades.

Chauvin is guilty, guilty, guilty- and now?

“We can be better than this”

Derek ChauvinBefore I heard that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter, I was sitting in front of my computer, waiting for about a half-hour. My wife was downstairs in front of the TV, likewise waiting. I’m sure my daughter was doing the same on her phone.

When I heard the news, I felt a little numb, to be honest. No fist pump. But I did exhale, as though I had been holding my breath. Maybe, unconsciously, I was.

Though I only watched bits and pieces of the trial, I felt distraught, primarily over the re-traumatization of the people who watched George Floyd die, afraid to interfere with four cops on the scene. And I was infuriated when the defense suggested that the gathering was a “distraction” to Chauvin.

To be honest, I decided that he’d be found guilty of the manslaughter charge. But finding a cop guilty of murder? Certainly, the prosecution made the case.

But this got me wondering what it means for the future. This was a case featuring about three dozen prosecution witnesses, including several police officers.

A change is gonna come?

I keep hearing this case is an “inflection point.” What the heck does that mean? “An event that results in a significant change in the progress of a company, industry, sector, economy, or geopolitical situation and can be considered a turning point after which a dramatic change, with either positive or negative results, is expected to result.”

So does this signal real change? Or is it a one-off, involving an act so egregious, and seen so widely, that the jury HAD to convict? And just wait for the appeals after sentencing. The alternate juror, speaking to CBS News, acknowledged that, at least in her mind, the violence from last summer, and the potential for more, was on her mind. Undoubtedly, Maxine Waters’ ill-timed remarks, made before the jury was sequestered, will surely be introduced as well.

I suppose I should appreciate the conviction as perhaps a small gain for police accountability. Still, as one advocate said, there are “no victories today,” for “justice would mean George Floyd is still with us.”

Nearly 29 years ago to the day, the streets of Los Angeles were filled with people rioting after the police officers who beat Rodney King were found not guilty.

The litany of unarmed black citizens injured or killed at the hand of police officers who were acquitted or never charged, just since then, is staggering. Do I need to repeat it?

Moreover, the verdict doesn’t erase the fear that “many of us, particularly Black people, have of interacting with police.” Put another way, being black isn’t exhausting;  racism is exhausting.

The verdict is in. The work continues.

Change the trajectory

Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian wrote this: “Until we find collective solutions, until we admit and grapple with our tortured racial history, we will continue to suffer the effects of this pernicious malignance consuming the soul of the nation. Now is not the time to shrink from the task, though, nor is it the time to give in to cynicism.

“It is the time to join with all who believe in the promise of America. It is the time to say, “we can be better than this.” It is time to redouble our efforts to build a more perfect union. Justice is so beautiful when it is applied fairly.”

Philando Castile homicide has wrecked me

‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless?’

In the roster of black men killed by police and available on video, the brutal, and totally unnecessary death of Philando Castile, and the acquital of the police officer who shot him, has hit me the hardest. As Trevor Noah said on the Daily Show, “I won’t lie to you, when I watched this video, it broke me.”

In case you can’t keep up with WHICH miscarriage of American justice this was:

“After Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez politely informs Castile that he’s been pulled over for a broken taillight and asks for Castile’s license and insurance, Castile calmly discloses that he has a firearm (Castile had a permit to carry the gun). Then the situation rapidly devolves. Yanez places his hand on his holster and tells Castile not to reach for the gun; within a few seconds, Yanez is yelling ‘Don’t pull it out!’ as Castile and his girlfriend try to assure Yanez that no one is grabbing for it. Then Yanez fires seven times into the car.”

Yes, watching videos of police brutality can traumatize you, especially if you’re black. “Research suggests that repeated viewing of terrorism news coverage can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Though Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, had previously streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live, the moment of the shooting itself was not made available to the public until this week.”

And then it gets surreal.

Moments after Yanez shot Castile, [Diamond Reynold’s] 4-year-old [daughter] climbed out of the back seat of the car in which Castile was shot…

Diamond Reynolds and her daughter were in the back of a squad car for “45 minutes until an officer drove them to a nearby police station for questioning…” While handcuffed there, “Reynolds shouted an expletive, and the girl said, ‘Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.'” The girl also wished they lived in a safer place.

I’m watching this with my teenaged daughter, and she’s crying, and I’m crying. We show it to my wife and watch it yet again, and she’s crying too.

And where’s the National Rifle Association in this? The NRA has shunned a Second Amendment martyr. “Philando Castile died because he exercised his right to bear arms.” Even the very conservative Hot Air thinks so.

“Part of the irony of this verdict, Noah explained, is that it comes after years of people saying that the solution to unwarranted police shootings is to require police to wear body cameras, to eliminate any doubt about what had happened. ‘Black people have already taken that initiative, all right?’ Thanks to cellphones, every black person has a body cam now’ — and for Castile, neither a dashcam nor a cellphone mattered.

“Even worse, Noah went on with palpable horror, is that the jury of Castile’s fellow citizens did see this footage, and concluded that Officer Yanez had reason to claim self-defense. ‘Forget race,’ Noah said. ‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless? People watched that video, and then voted to acquit?'”

The Philando Castile story hasn’t made me mad as hell. It has brought out a level of despair that even I, as melancholy as I can be, have not felt in a very long time.

Noisy neighbors

It’s 10 p.m. The Daughter and I are watching JEOPARDY! when the doorbell rings.

neighbors2You may recall an incident involving the second-floor apartment of our next-door neighbors. It’s been more fun.

OCTOBER 1 – it’s a three-day weekend for the college students on the second floor next door. The noise from the music was so loud, I went over there to ask them to turn it down around 11 p.m. It was so loud that when I was POUNDING on the door, it took about three minutes to be heard.

The music returns. The Daughter cannot sleep. I go out in front, talking to the neighbors on the front porch, warning them I would call the police if the music didn’t lessen. BTW, it wasn’t just music. It was loud and constant conversation, punctuated by occasional WOOs.

OCTOBER 2 – Redux. I call the police non-emergency number at the stroke of 11 p.m. Music diminishes, and I go to sleep. But at 12:30, music volume returns, and while I slept through it, The Wife awoke. Finally, at 1:15 a.m., she called the police. Neither of us knew that the other had called until morning.

OCTOBER 7- I’m home in the morning with a sick child. The doorbell rings. It’s a guy from the other side of the problem house. He wants to know if it was a problem for us (oh, YES), if we had called the police (yes, twice), and whether HE ought to call the police if he’s bothered by their noise (absolutely). I want it made clear that it is not just us who are inconvenienced, and TIRED.

OCTOBER 8 – It’s 10 p.m. The Daughter and I are watching JEOPARDY! when the doorbell rings; it’s the police. They had gotten a report of a loud party at OUR house, but it is instantly clear to them that this is not the case. I theorize that this may be in retaliation for our calls. The police go over to visit them.

Later, the music got a little loud, but not as bad as the other nights. It was soft enough that my white noise machine, which The Wife had purchased a couple of Christmases ago, blocked the noise.

OCTOBER 9 and 10 – The Wife and I, separately, see the absentee landlord and tell him of our woes. He told me that, as a result of my spouse’s conversation with him, he had had a chat with them.

It’s been OK since then. We have heard them talking at 4 a.m. occasionally, but not loudly enough to complain, usually when they’re in the rear of their building. The houses on both sides of us are longer (deeper) than ours, and The Wife theorizes that the noise leaves the back of the one house, bounces off the other building, and echoes even louder into ours.

Also, the midterms are approaching, and as the weather gets chillier, the windows tend to be closed more often.

Meanwhile:

OCTOBER 5 – The Wife parks in front of our house, and goes inside. The Daughter, tired from soccer practice, remains in the vehicle. The adult granddaughter of our other-side neighbors – she does not live there – is going to pull in front of our car. But she rushes, likely in response to a car barreling down our street too quickly, and clips the front corner on the driver’s side.

The Daughter runs into the house to tell her mother the car has been hit. The young woman was very apologetic, and she and the Wife discuss insurance and the like. The woman’s grandparents come out, concerned. They don’t see the damage at first -our car is white – but soon enough they do. The other car is worse for wear.

OCTOBER 6

I see the male neighbor and mention in passing that The Daughter’s OK after the accident. Very soon, the entire family’s at our door, concerned and actually angry with my spouse. Why didn’t she tell them our girl was in the car? She wasn’t hurt, and it wasn’t an issue.

The Wife dealt with at least two insurance companies, had a loaner car for three days, and as of OCTOBER 19 has her car back.

October rambling #1: Thoughts and Prayers App

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