A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Monday, December 31, 2007

D.B. Cooper

Thirty-six years ago, a man dubbed "D.B. Cooper" hijacked a plane, demanded $200,000 in cash and then jumped out of the plane over the Pacific Northwest. The FBI still has an open case on this incident.

Check out the site
. The FBI contends that someone knows who Mr. Cooper was. Maybe you are the one who can break the case.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Wish

During this holiday season, I wish you all happiness, prosperity and peace for 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FBI Reports Scams

The FBI has posted the most recent scam reports on their site. There is also an option for you to register to be notified by email if you are so inclined.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


As most of you know by now, I've accepted a new position in Kansas and will be relocating after the first of the year. Time will be short so excuse the limited number of posts that will be uploaded for a while.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Be Careful Out There

For those of you in the snow belt, be careful out there. I just got back from a meeting in St. Paul and the roads are starting to get slick and I saw several cars in the ditch as well as a number of crashes.

Take plenty of time to get where you need to go.

Be careful out there.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shooting in Omaha

Current information is that 9 are dead and about 5 wounded. Apparently the shooter took his own life.

A few postings ago, I mentioned about the increase of shooting of officers. I just received word from a friend that somebody shot up a number of people in an Omaha,NE Mall. Hopefully everyone is ok.

Ironically, President Bush was visiting Omaha earlier in the morning. It doesn't appear to be connected to his visit at this time.

This underscores the dangers faced not just by officers but the public as well.

My prayers and thoughts go out to the families of the victims and the victims.

Major Birthday Milestone

My son, Chris, turns 18 today. Here's a picture I took of him several years ago. It pretty much represents what Chris winds up doing on his birthday each year. Chris has helped out a lot since I've been out of commission. One big present was the notification of acceptance to his first choice college.

Chris, we are proud of you and love you!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lack of Action By Supreme Court Causes Ripples in Anonymous Sources Standing

A ten year old feud between two Congressmen has been shunned by the US Supreme Court according to this CNN article. The implication would appear to be that illegally obtained communications cannot be considered legitimate anonymous sources for news outlets. It will be interesting to see how the lack of action on behalf of the high court will impact reporters in the future.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ramsey's Work Begins in Philadelphia

Chief Charles Ramsey didn't waste much time after retiring from the DC Metro Police Department as chief to find another challenge. His tenure as Commissioner of police in Philadelphia has started as as outlined in this newspaper article, specuation has already started.

I had a chance to meet Chief Ramsey a few years ago at a conference in DC. He is a man of integrity and not afraid to rock the boat to make the changes necessary to meet the needs of his department members and the community. He has a reputation for taking on his bosses and elected officials when necessary. I respect him for that. It seems that those headlines tend to follow him more than the many successes he has accomplished in Chicago, DC and now I'm sure in Philadelphia.

In the article. Chief Ramsey speaks to issues of speculation he states, "Rumors always start," he said. "When I took over the Washington, D.C., police department, the first thing they thought was I was going to bring checkerboard caps like they have in Chicago. . . . We'll take a look at those kinds of things; those are minor tweaks. The biggest challenge I have to get my hands around first is crime-fighting strategies and how we're going to approach crime."

I agree with Chief Ramsey. The first thing a new chief must do is orient him/herself to the organization and community and then figure out how to approach the concerns of the community. I believe that reasonable people will look beyond the headlines and research the substance and integrity of the individual when making a final judgment.

I wish Chief Ramsey all the best in his endeavors in Philadelphia.

School Crime Rates Stable According to BJS

The Department of Justice issued this press release reporting a stable crime rate found in schools.

Gunsmoke, Presbyterians, Trains, a Hothead and a Priest

(This is a repeat of an earlier article that I was asked about so I moved it back up the list)

A recent incident happened the other day between some property owners who have difficulty getting along with each other that reminded me of a childhood memory. The two really don't have much to do with each other but perhaps that's the beauty of the comparison.

Anyway, here goes.

When I was in the Sixth Grade, in 1966, my Dad, the air traffic controller, got transferred to Dodge City, Kansas. It was a town of about 15,000 people. In those days the city was known for the 1960's TV western Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke was a mandatory watch program at our house and my grandparents house. Marshall Matt Dillon always got his man/woman and as the country western song says, "he never hung his hat at Miss Kitty's place." In other words, he was a gentleman.

There was a lot of conflict in that program between neighbors, ranchers and the bad guys. It always seemed that Marshall Dillon got the upper hand...one way or another....dead or alive. Yep, he was fast on the draw.

So imagine my mental visions as we drove into town. Imagine my disappointment when we got there and I discovered there were no gunfights on Front Street except those staged for the tourists held on the other "Front Street" down the road. You could go into the Longbranch Saloon, belly up to the bar and order....a sarsaparilla? Well when you are 12 years old, it's probably better than "redeye" anyway.

It was also my first attempt at activism. I became a one-person demonstration - sign and all- when I picketed the local newspaper, The Dodge City Globe but that's another story.

We rented a house in the heart of a very old neighborhood. It was owned by the lady next door who I swear was the old lady Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. I kept waiting for a young girl by the name of Estella to wander out of the house and call me "Pip." Across the street on one end of the street was the biggest Presbyterian Church a 12 year old ever saw. On the other end of the block was an even bigger Catholic Church. Since neither of these denominations suited my rural Nebraska parents, we drove clear across town to attend the Christian Church. They had a piano in our church, not just an organ so we really rocked! One of my best friends in the whole world for that year anyway, was the Presbyterian minister's son, Tim Birch. His family lived in the parsonage located inside the church . We used to play football inside the sanctuary until the janitor kicked us out and told us to stay off the grass outdoors too.

Tim also taught me that just because your dad is a minister, it doesn't automatically mean that holiness rubs off on the offspring. Tim got me in more trouble than I would care to remember. Tim also had the coolest set of electric trains down in the basement. We spent a lot of time down there so I guess the whole thing evened out. It was kind of a "Leave it to Beaver" type of experience. Until one Sunday morning.

We got up to go to church and and someone had parked in our driveway, not blocking it mind you, actually parked in our driveway. My dad was working and my Mom was determined we would make it to church. Being the sleuth she was, she deduced that the owner of the car was probably attending one of the church services. Since the Presbyterians were out for the day, that left the Catholics. I remember my mother calling the rectory and explaining to the priest our situation and asking that an announcement be made to have the car moved so we could attend church. Seemed simple enough until a guy showed up pounding on our front door. Through the screen he shouted some words that I added to my vocabulary that morning. He managed to curse at my Mom for a while and in between epithets, he expressed how we embarrassed him by calling him out of Mass. He seemed to feel that it was everyone's fault except his. It was bad enough that Mom called the police and they had to remove the guy. The excitement was over and we went on our way to church. I was proud of my mom. All five foot-three inches of her had stood her ground and she had remained unbelievably calm through the whole thing.

When we got to church, she reminded me that we needed to pray for the guy who had just yelled at us. You see, she declined to have the guy charged. She just asked the police to remove him from our porch and ask that he not come back anymore. Then she went to church and forgave him. It was a teaching moment.

The next day, we had a visit from a priest who had learned about what happened. For those of you who are younger, you may not appreciate the uniqueness of this moment. In the early 60's, the Catholic Faith carried a kind of mysticism in the eyes of Protestant kids. Especially when you had a Grandad who was a Methodist-Episcopalian - no kidding-who would tell anyone that Catholics were a threat to national security. I think it had something to do with my aunt running off and marrying a guy from California who was Catholic when she was younger.

There was something mysterious about women dressed in black and men with black "uniforms." The priest was a younger guy. He was cool. I found out that the nuns and the priests were just normal people with a calling. Looking back, I think that the effort taken by the priest was remarkable. It was an exercise in grace. Caring about one another. I know that it was an opportunity for growth and understanding on my part.

The rest of that year, I learned a lot more about Presbyterian folks, attending a few services and learning about "stuff" in their church. I also learned about Catholics, that they did speak English in their services..not just Latin and discovered that nuns bake remarkable cookies. Ironically, 16 years later, I found myself walking down the aisle of the First Presbyterian Church in Grand Island, Nebraska, getting married on a Big Red football Saturday, became an Elder in the church and eventually a Moderator of one of the Presbytery committees. Go figure.

By next spring, it wasn't uncommon to see the son of a Presbyterian minister and a kid who went to the Christian Church across town playing football with a priest in the front yard of a Catholic Church (This taught me a valuable lesson: the grass at the Catholic Church had to be tougher than the Presbyterians' because the janitor at the Catholic church didn't yell at us for playing football on it).

So the moral of the story is that a guy with a lousy sense of self and a limited vocabulary taught me a lot about forgiveness, grace and understanding. If a burst of anger can get a Presbyterian preacher's kid, a Christian Church kid and a priest together for a friendly game of touch football, I'll bet some less-than happy neighborhors (you know who you are) can be friends as well. How 'bout it?

Anybody up for a game of touch football?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Northfield Human Rights Commission

I received a call from Judy Dirks yesterday, who is the Chair of the Northfield Human Rights Commission. They are in the stages of planning for the observance of Martin Luther King Day and other events. It's been my honor to have been staff liaison to this group since my arrival in Northfield and I very much appreciate their time, talents, energy and dedication. The current members of the commission are:

  • DD Davison
  • Connie DeGrote
  • Judy Dirks
  • Helene Haapala
  • Daniel Lugo
  • Virginia Myers
  • Bonita Prawer
  • David Schlosser
  • Ameeta Sony
Thanks to all of the members for their hard work.

Officer Memorials

Deputy Sheriff Paul Rein, 76, of the Broward County, Florida Sheriff's Office was shot and killed by a prisoner he was transporting in a van to the county courthouse on November 7th.

Deputy Rein had served the agency for 20 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Officer Mark Bedard
, 34, of the Minneapolis Park Police Department was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while in foot pursuit of a suspect on November 1st. He succumbed to his injuries on November 9th.

Officer Bedard had served his agency for 12 years. He is survived by his wife and one child.

Officer John Miller, 32, of the California Highway Patrol was killed in an automobile accident on November 16th while searching for a reported drunk driver.

Officer Miller had served his agency for 1 year. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Deputy Sheriff Donta J. Manuel, 33, of the Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff's Office was struck and killed in an automobile accident on November 26th.

Deputy Manuel had served his agency for 13 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Deputy Sheriff Jonathan D. Wallace, 23, of the Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff's Office was killed in an automobile accident on November 28th.

Deputy Wallace had served his agency for over one year. He is survived by his fiancee.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Triplett, 48, of the Washington County, Missouri Sheriff's Office was killed in an automobile accident on November 29th.

Deputy Triplett had served his agency for 2 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Medical Marijuana Debate Continues

The use of marijuana for "medical" purposes with the feds saying there is no credible medical use and states saying otherwise. This recent California ruling outlined in this San Francisco article looks to set the stage for a final supreme court decision down the line.

Domestic Abuse Information Available On Line

As many of you know, I'm a strong supporter of domestic abuse prevention. The feds have recently made statistical information on line available that you can view in a number of venues. It's alarming at the number of deaths that still result from domestic abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, I urge you to seek out help from your local authorities or advocacy shelter. If you don't have that information, go to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline website.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

We lucked out and arrived home late Friday evening after learning about a pending storm ready to move into the upper Midwest. We got in late Friday. There was already a dusting of snow on the ground in Northfield. By early Saturday morning, I woke to hear the sound of freezing rain hitting the windows. By mid-afternoon, the snow was coming down in serious fashion. We were lucky that we learned about the serious weather and modified our travel plans.

It's a good reminder to pay attention to weather conditions this time of year. Shut off the Ipod and listen to the local radio channels. Have your winter survival kits and if the road conditions get bad, get off the road, get someplace safe and ride the storm out. Let others know your travel plans and keep people posted of where you are. A cell phone is a great tool to have with you but they aren't always working.

As the holiday season approaches and things get busy, remember to take extra time to get where you need to go and please be safe.