Political puriity   no comments

Posted at 9:59 pm in Public policy

I lost some friends tonight. They didn’t die, but I think I’m as good as dead to them.

This was a married couple I knew. I met the husband at a police training course I attended over 30 years ago. He was an instructor at the conference, and I was one of several hundred cops in attendance. But we both had a habit of snacking before we went to bed, and we kept meeting in the hotel coffee shop late in the evening, and got to know one another. A month after I returned home, I was involved in a critical incident where I could have easily died. Some of the things I learned at that course helped me get through it unharmed, and I wrote to my new friend and told him as much. We stayed in touch after that. Although I would see him only once or twice a year when our paths would cross at other police conferences, I thought of him—and after he married, his wife—as friends.

This couple is well-known in the police community, nationally and even internationally. These days, most of my contact with them is through Facebook, and it’s through Facebook we have had our falling out. My friend put up a post tonight to the effect that the election of any Democratic candidate would be a disaster for the United States, and that anyone who felt different would be shunned by him. His wife made a similar post a short time afterward.

I replied that I wasn’t thrilled with any of the Democratic candidates, but that the Republican candidates frightened me more. His reply as, in essence, “Goodbye.” His other Facebook friends, who tend to be of a similar conservative political persuasion, joined him in gleefully kicking me to the curb.

I’ll survive not counting this couple among my friends, but it occurred to me at the same time that I have never known political differences to be as divisive as they are now. I have always been a political moderate. I’ve voted both sides of the ticket, and seldom along party lines.

  • I’m pro-choice, but believe we should not tolerate or grant amnesty to illegal immigration.
  • I’m for expanded background checks, and I think people should have to demonstrate competency with a gun before they can have one. But qualified people should still be able to own and carry guns, if they like.
  • I think English should be our official language, but that public education also include instruction in a foreign language.
  • Public education ought to be free of religious influence. If you insist your child have a religious education, do it yourself, get it in church, or send them to parochial school.
  • Although I have problems with some of the things he did and the positions he has taken, I believe Barack Obama has been a good president. My biggest problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it didn’t go far enough.

Providing that others base their arguments on facts, rather than memes and stories from Fox News, I’m always open to a different point of view. I don’t believe that liberals have the exclusive market on good ideas, or that conservatives are all of inferior intelligence and morality.

Most of my conservative friends do not share my tolerance. They take the position that anyone who does not accept the full conservative agenda is a “libtard,” to use their term of art. Further, any position advanced by a non-conservative must also be faulty, presumably because conservatives are the only people imbued with good judgment. You can guess how the conservatives feel about global warming, no matter how much science might be behind it. If Al Gore believes it, it must be wrong.

A friend of mine describes this behavior as “political purity.” The conservative must be completely conservative, and not allow any of the poison that is liberal ideology contaminate their thinking. There can be no middle ground. Allowing even the hint of broad-minded thought is the nose of the camel, intruding into the tent’s interior. It will open the floodgates of hippie thought and permanently corrupt one’s mind.

Those same conservatives label President Obama as the most divisive chief executive in our history. I believe they ignore their own divisiveness, stemming from the outright rejection of any idea their role models didn’t endorse. I mostly discounted this trend as one of those that comes and goes with the years. I never thought it could destroy a 30-year friendship.

Written by Tim Dees on January 17th, 2016

Fifteen or twenty seconds of fame   no comments

This definitely doesn’t qualify for a full fifteen minutes of fame, but I had a couple of brief media moments a couple of weeks back.

On April 1, 2015, USA Today published an “opposing view” column to counter an editorial advocating greater controls on police use of force. My column appears here.

On April 4, 2015, NPR included a brief clip from an interview with me in a story on the use of quotas in law enforcement agencies. The interview can be played below. The “playpause” button isn’t terribly obvious–it’s just to the left of the clock on the left side of the sound bar.

Written by Tim Dees on April 11th, 2015

On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…   no comments

Posted at 3:24 am in Uncategorized

Answer by A Quora admin:

Neither program is especially realistic.

Chicago PD has one unit of five or six people involved in running gun battles and shooting multiple bad guys just about every week. That makes for exciting action sequences, but the entire Chicago Police Department (probably, all the police departments in Illinois) doesn't see that much action.

The sergeant in charge of the unit was in jail for making threats against a firefighter, before he cut a deal with Internal Affairs to spy on other cops. He takes in orphans who grow up to become cops and eventually come to work in his unit. He has a safe in his basement that contains hundreds of thousands of dollars procured from who-knows-where, along with other mysterious packages that are probably not the family china or really good chocolate.

The jail stint and extortion scheme alone would almost certainly mean the end of his career. If he did manage to make it back to the PD, he certainly wouldn't be running an elite team of cowboy gunfighters. He also wouldn't be allowed to have his former foster daughter working for him.

Blue Bloods portrays cops in a more favorable light, but not a true one. NYPD commissioners rarely rise up from the ranks. Commissioner  Frank Reagan often says he does not get involved with incidents involving his sons, but he is almost always involved with incidents involving his sons. I'm not certain that NYPD would allow the sons of a sitting commissioner to work at all, but that's speculation on my part. Certainly, the kids of the commissioner would be told to lie low, as any questionable incident involving them would be front page news.

Danny and Jamie Reagan (the sons) also seem to shoot a lot of people. A cop who is involved in one shooting is watched carefully. If a cop was to rack up two or more in a comparatively short time, he would be transferred to some isolated assignment in the third sub-basement of a building to get him out of the spotlight. He might never been seen again until he retired.

I also find it a little specious that a Harvard Law grad, even one from a legendary, multi-generational cop family, would decide to be a uniformed patrolman. He would have difficulty just making his student loan payments on a cop's salary, while he was passing up lawyer jobs paying 2-3X what a patrolman makes, and potentially millions as an eventual partner in a large law firm.

The Reagan daughter, Erin, is an assistant district attorney. The various DA's offices have hundreds of attorneys working for them. She would never be allowed to touch a case involving one of her immediate family, even though the TV character has this happening nearly every week.

Frank Reagan is the chief/commissioner every cop wishes he had. He spent time on the streets, has never forgotten his roots, meets personally with cops who are in difficult situations (sometimes to their benefit, sometimes not), and constantly stresses ethics and integrity, both for himself and his troops.

He's a little too good to be true, especially for a big city chief. The bigger the law enforcement agency, the more of a politician you have to be in order to run one. Guys like Bill Bratton, Ray Kelly, and Charles Moose are much better politicians than they are cops. I think Frank Reagan is too much of a boy scout. In an organization as large and complex as NYPD, he would be eaten alive.

Actual corruption, like cops taking bribes, stealing evidence, informing for mobsters, etc. is much more subtle than you see on Chicago PD. It has to be kept within a few people, because otherwise someone will get stupid or sloppy and ruin the scheme. In the few instances where I saw it happen, no one outside the inner circle had a clue about it.

Conversely, investigative work is not as straightforward as Blue Bloods or any other TV show makes it seem. The detectives on Blue Bloods work only one case at a time, and they're always resolved within a few days, at most. Actual detectives have many cases open at any moment, and have to divide their time. When they go to interview someone, they aren't at home, or they're out f town for two weeks. People move and don't leave a forwarding address. Your suspect does capers in other precincts, or even other cities and states, and you may not know about it. While there are truly dedicated and talented detectives (and patrol officers), most of their cases resolve over weeks and months, not days, and there are far more than a single two-detective team involved.

I watch and enjoy both programs, but TV is entertainment, not education. If you want to truly understand how things work, you need to go to the police academy and work the street for a while.

On TV series like Chicago PD and Blue Bloods, which are the most realistic in portraying the idealism and dedication, or, contrariwise, t…

Written by Tim Dees on January 3rd, 2015