4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the #USA: #brilliantideas

4 PERFECT #SOLUTIONS to #GUN #VIOLENCE in the USA: #brilliantideas

image from NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth [Jewish] https://nfty.org/take-action/gvp/

  1. Make it too expensive to have shootings:

    image from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

    Unfortunately, this country runs on money. We all know insurance companies run this country. And, most people’s families have a lot of influence and responsibility for their members.
    When gun violence becomes too expensive, insurance companies will move to change it quickly. When shooter’s embarrass and COST their families money, family members(parents, grandparents, spouses/partners, children) will move more quickly to prevent/shut those shooters down/report them BEFORE they go on rampages.

    So: charge each criminal shooter’s FAMILY and any insurance companies he [99% of shooters are male] uses FOR ANY REASON (car, house, boat, life, disability: whatever) to pay for the health care, recovery, rehab, burial, therapy, income losses, personal injury debilitation, PTSD and other costs associated with being shot at/shot.

  2. #NRA Lobbyists and Members must pay:

    image from http://EverytownResearch.org

    We all know that the NRA—National Rifle Association of America—and other gun association lobbyists have prevented the passage of reasonable gun safety laws. We must hold them ALL accountable NOW. For every dollar a lobbyist “donates,” s/he must provide the same amount to compensate victims and communities for gun violence. I promise: donations will disappear!

    SO: charge the NRA members EACH 10% of ALL gun violence costs not covered, above, for example: for all site clean up, hospital, ER, ambulance, policing, EMT expenses and other community costs associated with dealing with gun violence OF ANY KIND (domestic, hijackings, criminals, shooters, gangs, robberies, terrorists: whatever).

  3. Tax all profits:

    image and statistics from Mother Jones magazine

    Those who profit from any dangerous, harmful or otherwise socially destructive and/or unnecessary products have been made to pay for its consequences already via taxes in the USA (think: cigarettes, gasoline, luxury items like yachts, etc.). Why should gun and ammo profiteers be exempt?

    So: charge each gun show operator, gun shop owner, or owners/operators or profiteers of ANYWHERE that sells guns and/or ammunition, onsite OR ONLINE (pawn shops, hardware stores, “sports” stores, “hunting” stores, etc.) a VIOLENCE #TAX on EACH item sold that could be used to harm people. I think a 20% tax of each sale would be a sufficient disincentive both to purchase and to sell. That money shall go to cover the costs accrued in #1, 2, and 4 of this list as well AND gun safety classes, gun violence prevention seminars and other educational programs REQUIRED for ALL GUN OWNERS and USERS to attend ANNUALLY (this includes military, police and others who “legally” use guns).

  4. Pay until you do better:

    image of and quote from Gabrielle Giffords

    Our Congressional Representatives (those elected to either the House or Senate, federal and state legislatures) respond to only two kinds of pressure: money (donations, bribes, extortions) and non-election threats. Let’s use BOTH, here. They will change their votes or go broke (and probably get voted out as well). YAY!
    Make them pay out of their PERSONAL accounts (cannot use campaign, PAC or other non-personal monies to pay these fines)

    So: charge each Congressional Rep a FINE if s/he votes AGAINST gun safety, gun control, gun laws OF ANY KIND another 10% of the total costs, above, AND use these fines to cover FUTURE gun violence costs, such as extra policing, compensation to families of victims, compensation for employers/workplaces of victims, funds for repairs to venues where shootings occurred, compensations to property owners/users of sites where shootings occurred, compensation to neighborhoods in which decreasing property values occur because of being the sites or being NEAR the sites of gun violence, etc.

image from http://momsdemandaction.org

See how fast the gun laws change!

What do you think? Comment here.
NOTE: reasonable, constructive, useful suggestions/questions, ONLY; the rest will NOT be approved and will be deleted. Use: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

What Matters

What Matters

As I approach my 62nd birthday (August 22), I reflect on the news stories I see/hear almost daily, now, that corroborate and validate most of my life’s choices, values and beliefs. Sharing, now, so you don’t all have to re-invent the wheel. Mostly I/we were right. Get with it.

Interactions matter. Treating all humans with respect and meeting humans needs (food, clothing, shelter, meaningful and well-paid work, safety) properly are right. Equality, egalitarianism, acceptance, compassion, kindness and respect are the right ways to greet, treat and live with all others, regardless of perceived or actual differences among us and changes in circumstances. Ending oppression, discrimination, bias, prejudice and all forms of subjugation must occur.

image from http://www.tomvmorris.com

Government and economics matter. Democracy (when it works) and socialism are right: we must listen to and take care of each other.

Conflict resolution matters. War is wrong, especially war that only makes profits for a few corporations and individuals and ruins land, kills/maims people and destroys economies for everyone else. All the “police actions”/wars the USA has engaged in since World War II (and some of our actions during World War I and World War II) were/are horribly wrong. Millions have been harmed or died for NOTHING except to enrich a few. We must learn to communicate better, de-escalate, use diplomacy, engage in dialogue, compromise and yield.

image from http://www.popularresistance.org

Health matters. Eating healthfully and organically is right: better for us, better for the farmers, better for the environment. Contact sports that cause head injuries must end: change the rules or close down those sports completely for children and teens and give adults information that allows them to make educated choices about participation. Sugary foods and drinks, salty and fatty snacks and other negative-impact foods should be made less available and/or taxed very highly so fewer people can eat/get them so readily.

Other beings matter. Treating animals with respect at all times if we are going to use, eat (which some would argue is wrong), imprison and otherwise subjugate them (less stress and pain during and before slaughter, while being raised and during captivity of all kinds) is right.

Consumers’ choices matter. Choosing to purchase items that are made by people who are paid well, treated well and free to come and go is right. Choosing to purchase items whose production (harvest/manufacture/acquisition) does not harm or destroy the planet, the economy, or the people involved is right.

image from http://arabedrossian.org
Healthy planet

Parenting requires time, effort, knowledge, education and support to be done well. Childcare can be a positive aspect of young children’s lives as long as they also have good parenting.

Minds and bodies matter. Meditation, yoga, stress management, play, listening to each other better, being outdoors more and learning/listening to music/making art all help families, businesses, schools and individuals in every possible way. Beauty, nature and gratitude are important. Learn/include and do these. Drink a lot of clean water. Sleep more and in better conditions.

healthy body and mind
Healthy choices

Reproductive freedom and rights are integral to a woman’s dignity and independence and are the business of no one else besides each woman and her chosen medical team.

Religions whose leaders or principles restrict the freedom or impinge upon the safety of or intend to demean anyone, inspire divisiveness or hatred, or foment disrespect for non-believers or some members of their own sects because of gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristics are not to be tolerated any longer and must be ended.

image from http://www.patheos.com
Civil and personal rights

Facts are not subject to opinions. No one cares what anyone thinks about facts. Facts are not optional. People who misunderstand, misuse or misguide themselves or others regarding any facts (about the impacts of climate change, the dangers of fracking, etc.) are not to be given any credibility or listened to by anyone with even moderate intelligence.

Tyson quote
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ph.D., facts quote

Play time matters. Violence begets violence: video games, TV shows and films, music lyrics that demonstrate/engage users in repeated and frequent incidents of violence (personal, sexual, group) desensitize the viewers/players and generate much more violence overall in the culture. Games/shows that degrade women/girls and depict members of particular ethnic or other groups as “the enemy” or the objects of degradation cause users/viewers to adopt these perspectives and behave badly towards these individuals in actual encounters. Children’s and teens’ time using these games or watching these shows must be curtailed. Bring back more outdoor play, longer and better equipment for recess play indoors and outside. Sports and games that encourage coaches/leaders to discriminate among, exclude or otherwise demean participants or activities in training or play that cause players harm must be changed or stopped.


Excellence matters. Skills, talents, education and intelligence are not all equally distributed or acquired. We are not all the same even though we are to be treated with equal respect. Not everyone wins. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Not everyone can earn an “A.” 49.9% of any group is below average, by definition. Get used to it.

Collaboration matters. Governments, organizations/groups of all types and businesses of all sizes operate more successfully when they utilize collaborative, inclusive engagement rather than hierarchical, exclusionary dominance do better economically, have higher morale, have lower attrition/crime rates and better attendance/participation.

image from http://www.cptwebs.com

I could have provided a lot of research URLs to back up each of these claims, but I don’t need to, any longer. They are all true. YOU do the research.

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.: written in response to Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is not afraid to embrace who she is. by Kimberly Winston, August 05, 2015

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel relates that she “often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced.” She believes this is due to the fact that “she doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white.”

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, photo from TRICYCLE article in online Buddhist magazine, http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

She recently published: The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, known here as “her second book of dharma, or Buddhist teachings, published in February by Wisdom Publications. In it, Manuel, who follows the Zen tradition, calls on Buddhists not to ignore those ways they may be different, whether it’s because of their color, gender, or sexual orientation.”

She and others call this idea a “‘multiplicity of oneness’—–[which] is somewhat controversial within Buddhism, where the teachings have tended to focus on moving beyond the physical to find the spiritual. But Manuel and a handful of other Western Buddhists—–including a number of African-American teachers–—are embracing the idea as crucial to enlightenment, a state free from anxiety that is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.”

Manuel and I have a lot in common, so I felt moved to respond to this article about her and her teaching, her writing and her spiritual life. I resonate with some aspects; others are quite different for me.

Manuel is 62; I am about to be 61. That means we are contemporaries who are natives of the same country.

She reports that she “has had a multiplicity of lives, all of which inform her work.” My C.V.—my academic and total resume—is over seven pages long. I have also moved over thirty times, having lived in states on both coasts, the midwest and the southwest of the USA. These varied aspects of my professional and personal lives must constitute a “multiplicity,” don’t you think?

Her personal history includes “violence, poverty and prejudice,” which my life contains, also. Heavier on the violence and prejudice than the poverty, for me, but all were there.

Manuel states that she has “been an activist since the tumultuous 1970s”; I started being a vocal, active feminist activist while still in grade school, moved into anti-war and anti-nuclear power activism, continued with feminism and got into reproductive rights activism and other issues as well. I started earlier by about 10 years, but then we both kept on keeping on.

Manuel says that she “has also known fear and rejection because she is bisexual,” but I mostly do not have that experience, perhaps because I didn’t “come out” publicly as bisexual until the 1990s, when it seemed almost no one cared anymore and I was a confident adult with a supportive community and family. I did lose a female friend in college in the early 1970s when I clumsily invited her to be my lover, but usually I did not experience either rejection or fear due to my sexual orientation. Not everyone I approached agreed to be my lover, but their rejections had nothing to do with my being attracted to both genders. So, our lives diverged there significantly.

She “was raised a Christian but discovered Buddhism in 1988,” whereas I was raised Jewish and discovered Buddhist in the early 1980s. However, I had already been meditating in the Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) tradition since 1972. Similar, but not the same, here.

Mostly, though, we share significant components of our cultural, personal and historical location and background. The major difference is that she is Black and I am White/Anglo. Our other intersecting social identities create affinities that few other commonalities could, especially since our experiences led us both to become immersed seriously and deeply in Buddhist practice.

Appallingly, however, she had the misfortune to have had a couple of Zen teachers who “suggested if she ‘dropped the labels’ of ‘African-American,’ of ‘bisexual,’ of ‘woman,’ she would ‘be liberated.’ That is ridiculous and has nothing to do with authentic Buddhism. I’m sorry she had those teachers or allowed them to affect her. Obviously, by trying to accomplish this (the impossible), she was not “liberated.” Furthermore, these attempts did not ease her suffering; in fact, she reported that she became more unhappy.

Eventually, she discovered on her own what Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism (my tradition) has always taught: embrace everything, cling to nothing. While bushwhacking her own path through Zen traditions that were not friendly to her, she arrived at, in her words: “’complete tenderness’—–the experience of walking through her pain, knowing it, living with it, but not being controlled by it—–by confronting her suffering caused by her upbringing and identity as an African-American bisexual woman.”

I challenge this idea, though, that her suffering was “caused” by her identities at that point. I would conclude instead that her suffering was exacerbated early in her Zen journey by the ignorance and arrogance of those Zen teachers who misdirected her, then aggravated by her willingness to follow their misdirections for too long. It isn’t who she was that was the problem; it’s he ways a few teachers positioned who she was with respect to her spiritual path that caused her pain.

Despite being misled by some teachers, Manuel continued within Zen all the way to becoming ordained as a Zen Priest, when she was “given the name ‘Zenju,’ which means ‘complete tenderness.’” She now leads a small, all-female sangha that meets where she lives, in Oakland, California (near San Francisco), many of whom are also identifying as women of color.

I’m glad she found a way through all that, but it was so unnecessary. There are many USA-based Zen sanghas, some right near her that I am personally aware of, in which she would not have had those experiences. We could say it was her karma to have had those encounters, and we’d be correct, since everything we experience is always due to our karma.

But, it is not inherent to the nature of Zen or Buddhism to treat students in those ways. I need to emphasize this truth, since it appears from this Tricycle article and perhaps her book (I haven’t read it, so I’m not sure) that it is inevitable that students of backgrounds similar to hers will encounter prejudice and extreme difficulties due to their social identities everywhere they go in Buddhist communities. Simply not true.

I have observed, though, that too many Buddhist communities in the USA and Canada are populated by a disproportionate number of middle- and upper-class Whites/Anglos in comparison to the number of participants from other ethnicities and class backgrounds. I’m glad to say that these imbalances have been recognized by most leaders and other members: many sanghas are doing extensive outreach to rectify them.

I don’t know if Manuel’s Oakland Zen sitting group is deliberately all women or intentionally mostly women of color; perhaps it is open to everyone, but her being who she is, as the teacher, attracted more practitioners similar to her. That does happen, that spiritual teachers attract students who see themselves as similar to their teachers.

The only similarity that actually matters, though, is that we are all human and we all need to train our minds, develop more compassionate hearts, and liberate ourselves from delusions that cause suffering. Therefore, I believe deliberately segregating ourselves by gender, class, background or any other social identity is a mistake when it comes to creating and maintaining spiritual community. I know there are specific occasions when such segregation can be useful or necessary, but mostly, let’s not.

Clearly, the Buddhist path works well for Manuel and she believes it can work well for other women of color, bisexual or not. In that, we agree.

The Buddha supposedly taught over 84,000 types of meditation so that each individual who wants to practice will be able to find a path that works. In a large enough community with sufficient numbers of paths and teachers, I’m sure that is possible: everyone who wants to learn to meditate in the Buddhist tradition could do so.

Northern California, USA, is such a locale, with dozens or even hundreds of Buddhist teachers and sangha options scattered throughout the rural, suburban and urban areas, each slightly or very different from the other. I used to live there and I miss it a lot.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is not such a locale. It is not bereft entirely of Buddhists or Buddhist communities, but there is none in my exact tradition. I find that I am not so interested in attending the groups that are dissimilar. I enjoy meditating on my own just fine. I do miss my sangha and those important, guiding interactions, but not enough to join some other group, yet.

Meanwhile, this female, bisexual Buddhist who was raised Jewish and is White/Anglo is meditating and attempting to liberate in this lifetime alongside or including, but not despite, my social identities. I am lucky to have occasional conversations with my spiritual teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu, by telephone, and regular contact with geographically distant sangha members via SKYPE, social media and email.

May all beings benefit. I wish you all the best in your practices.

Buddha thinking creates happiness

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

changes 1


That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com

#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com

One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com

The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com

Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV

If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

It’s not just “one bad #cop”: My 5-Point Plan to Revamp USA #Policing

This post is longer than usual, but it includes personal experiences, research and citations, and my 5-Point Plan. If these topics interest you, well worth your time.

I’ve had it. I’m fed up.

And I know whereof I speak. Three brief, personal experience anecdotes of bad cops:

A) Long-standing problems of prejudice, brutality and out-of-control behaviors by police are rampant and supported by other officers.
I successfully sued my local police department back in the 1980s for false arrest, harassment and attempts to intimidate me out of making a police brutality complaint.
I caught local police officers beating up a juvenile for hanging out in a supermarket parking lot where I happened to be shopping (four: two hitting, two watching and doing nothing). After taking down all the officers’ names and badge numbers, which the abusive ones tried to prevent me from doing, I walked the one block over to the downtown center, where the police station and city park were.

I had just gone swimming with my family prior to shopping. My partner had taken our son to the city park while I shopped, agreeing to meet up after I was finished. The witnessing I had chosen to do had made me about a half-hour late, which is very long by baby standards. The park was right across from the police station, so I met up with my partner and our toddler. As we walked over together, I explained my mission. My son was very hungry and not too happy at my having been delayed in reuniting with him. I sat in the lobby area breastfeeding him, chatting with my partner while waiting to make my formal complaint.

One of the abusive officers happened to walk by as we sat there. When he saw me, he asked the desk officer why I was there. I could hear them talking. A few minutes later, he came toward me, looming over my chair where I sat nursing my son. He was screaming and yelling at me, saying that I was under arrest.

I laughed at him and told him he was out of line, thinking maybe this was a strange idea of a joke. But he insisted he was serious. I looked over at the desk officer, who shrugged, indicating that I had to go with this still-screaming officer.

I asked if I could take my baby, since he wasn’t finished eating, but the officer spit out an emphatic “NO!” Reluctantly, I handed our baby to his father and went with this insane man with a gun to the PD’s basement. What he had in mind, I had no idea, but I could scream very loudly and planned to do so. Having taught junior high school for several years prior to this and having had an extremely abusive father, it took a lot more than screaming to intimidate me.

When we got downstairs, he got out an old typewriter and began to beat out his arrest report, barking and yelling each question, until we got to my age. When I said “27,” he realised that I was not, as he had presumed from my youthful appearance, a teen mom, but was actually older than he was.

He immediately stopped yelling. However, he somehow still felt compelled to continue with this absurd arrest. He took my mug shots and fingerprinted me, then told me to go back upstairs.

With inked fingers, I went back to the lobby and continued to feed my baby. I told my partner what had happened, both of us incredulous and disgusted. The Lieutenant called me in. I told him that I had just been arrested while waiting to make a complaint about police brutality. He asked, “On what charges?” I told him what the officer had told me, not able to withhold my laughter: “‘Resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer, and intimidating a police officer’ were the charges,” I told him. Knowing that I am 5′ tall and the officer is well over 6′ tall, I assume that is the reason this Lieutenant looked startled.

The Lieutenant put his head in his hands and shook his head, apologizing. “That should not have happened,” he told me. He listened and took notes for my formal complaints, now plural.

I found a great lawyer who took my case on contingency and sued. I also testified on behalf of the juvenile and got his arrest expunged.

Due to my lawsuit, which we settled out of court for a sizable sum pending several conditions, these were met as follows: the two main brutalizing officers involved (one of whom arrested me) were fined, reprimanded and left the force; training and supervision for all patrol officers were improved and made mandatory even for veterans; the Lieutenant who balefully and with great chagrin received my actual complaint and acted on it was made Captain of the force, replacing the one who had been ignoring such behaviors by those he supervised.

B) Police do what owners and managers of businesses tell them to do regardless, of actual laws.
I walked out of another courtroom due to false arrest charges’ being thrown out.
Three years later, a manager of a local movie theatre had asked me to stand up while waiting in an ever-growing line, but I had explained, calmly, that I had a bad leg and couldn’t do that. He then asked me to move to the benches lining the walls, but I didn’t want to lose my place in line, so I politely refused. He threatened to call the police. I looked up from the magazine I was reading (happened to be MS.) and asked on what charge? He blustered a while, then yelped, “Trespassing.” I showed him my ticket and told him to go away, call the cops, do whatever he wanted, sure of my legality.

A not-very-assertive officer from this same police force showed up at his call. Despite my showing this officer my ticket and explaining about my disability, he apologetically arrested me. When asked, he told me the charge was “Trespassing,” but even as he said it, I knew he was aware of that charge’s being ridiculous.

As I was being led out by this officer, the manager hurriedly gave me a refund. As the box office worker reclaimed my ticket, the manager loudly claimed that NOW I was trespassing. I pointed out that at this moment, I was standing while apparently under arrest, so which did he want? Standing or leaving? He ordered me to leave.

I hired the same lawyer as in A, above, since our lawsuit had just barely settled at that point. He sent another attorney with me to the so-called trial (he explained the PD couldn’t just throw the case out because of my successful suit). However, the judge viewed the charge otherwise.

Because a contention of “Trespassing” was obviously idiotic and illegal, AND because, once I appeared in court, the judge knew who I was, the case was thrown out during the “testimony” of the theatre people. During the initial questioning, both the manager and the box officer clerk admitted that the theatre had no such “must stand up” rule (I have had many mobility problems and couldn’t stand up for very long at that time). They also agreed, when asked, that the ticket stated right on it: “ADMIT ONE,” which meant I had had the legal right to be in the lobby, waiting to enter the seating area, in whatever way I needed to be waiting (sitting or standing).

Since the case was thrown out, I dropped my suit. Every time I saw the arresting officer around town, he apologized.

C) Police are too-often poorly trained and supervised for making arrests and handing out citations.
A few years later, while I was still living in this same town, a patrol officer stopped me because he believed my car was overdue for the mandated semi-annual inspection. I told him that he was wrong and refused to get out of my car or stop because a 7-year-old friend of my son’s was meeting us after school at our house and, until I got there, no one was home. I told him, if he insisted on giving me a citation, he would have to follow me home (3 blocks away).

He did, and gave me a citation, which I told him was ridiculous. I told him that a new law had gone into effect at the beginning of this month so that motorists had until the end rather than the beginning of each anniversary month to comply, and this was mid-month. He insisted my car was “out of inspection” and must be cited.

A few weeks later, when this ill-informed officer had realized his mistake AND found out who I was (see A and B, above), he sent me a heartfelt, badly misspelled, handwritten apology, withdrawing the citation. In this letter, he claimed that, since officers had to purchase new manuals annually with their own money, he had not yet been able to afford one at the time of my citation. Since then, he assured me, he had done acquired a new manual and reviewed the new laws. He was now aware of the law’s change and told me I had been correct.

I wish my experiences were unique, to be viewed as quaint, cautionary tales from the bad, “olden” days of the last century. Not so.

Apparently, intelligent, educated police offers are BANNED from many jobs in law enforcement. I am not kidding. “…[F]ederal courts have ruled since 2000 that police departments can legally opt to not hire someone simply because he or she scores too high on an intelligence test….[T]hose who eventually become detectives and solve crimes are the same people who were initially allowed to become police officers at least partly because they did not score too high on an intelligence test.”

To make matters worse, here is a major website for advice and tips to help potential candidates pass the entrance exam for incoming police, nationwide, http://policelink.monster.com/education/articles/40799-ten-tips-for-the-police-entrance-exam.

Here is an exact quote from the “10 Tips”:
10) Proof read test. Before you turn in your test answer sheet, be sure to check it over. Test takers often leave answers blank and that impacts their final score. This also gives you a chance to go back and answer those hard to figure out answers.
Grade: C-
1) Missing hyphens (“test-takers,” “hard-to-figure-out answers”).
2) “Proof read” as two words.
3) Pronouns with no clear antecedent (“that” in sentence three; “This” starting the fourth sentence).
4) Ending a sentence with a preposition (“over” in second sentence).

Then, we have this site, purporting to provide a “Police Practice Test.” http://lawenforcementjock.com/police-practice-test/ This site’s home page has a typo/misspelling in its first paragraph: “Similar to that of the New York State Police, agency are now ranking applicants based entirely on their test scores.”

There is so much wrong with the following paragraph, same site, I don’t know where to start:

In my experience, a test can comprise true/false questions; fill in the blank; and essay. However, most police departments like the Seattle police department prefer to use multiple choice exams. Such tests are preferred because of their objectivity, allowing the examiner to access the candidate’s ability to perform the duties of a police officer. Furthermore” [their quotation mark at the end, not mine]

How can we expect incoming officers to be smarter than the people who are providing them special assistance for passing these tests? These helpers apparently have substandard vocabularies as well as minimal grasps of usage, common punctuation and sentence structure.

“All right,” you might say, “proper grammar, spelling and correct English aren’t the only signs of intelligence or fitness for being a law enforcement professional.”

I agree.

What about measurements of ethics, honesty, moral fibre, addiction, history of bullying or intimidation tactics used on weaker peers or others? Or, let’s check in on skill levels in key areas, such as problem-solving, decision-making, crisis response and management, communication (both listening and speaking), sensitivity and appropriateness with those unlike themselves: what do we find?

Abysmal performance across the board.

I am not the only one who believes we all need law enforcement officers’ predominantly low levels of skills and education to improve: “Research studies show that police officers with a college degree provide evidence of better overall job performance and better advancement opportunities then their colleagues without a college degree….[H]aving a college degree significantly reduces the likelihood that officers will use force as their first option when gaining compliance. The study also discovered evidence of officers with a higher education background also makes it more likely they will demonstrate the creativity and problem-solving skills needed to make a community-oriented policing model succeed.”

It’s not just “one bad cop.” There are now too many in too many places to keep track. I can’t remember all their names; can you?

bad cop 1
image from http://www.sentrymedicalgroup.org

I strongly recommend that all policing entities implement my 5-Point Plan to Revamp USA #policing: qualifications, training, supervision and accountability as well as record-keeping, ASAP.

Who’s with me?

Even that bastion of conservative moderateness, The Huffington Post, claimed last month (via occasional columnist, Tim Arnold) that “America has lost its soul” attributable to objectionably poor policing.

Another Huff Post writer, Jerry Ashton, reported last October on the call for a “National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality.” This day will be “[o]verseen by the October 22 Coalition[.] [T]he action is expected to be a historic condemnation of the Department of Justice for its 19-year history of failures to collect and share statistics on the use of excessive force by police officers, even though this action was mandated by ‘The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,’ the largest crime bill in U.S. history.”

My “last straw” landed when I heard about NYC’s Police Department’s former employee, Louis Scarcella. Recently, NYPD disclosed that Scarcella had been operating fraudulently and as an extreme racist for DECADES, framing innocent black men by violently coercing and purchasing witnesses and confessions from the innocent. Dozens (probably hundreds) of other cops knew about Scarcella (many helped him do these heinous acts), but turned a blind eye.

Unfortunately, this type of story is not even front page news any longer. In city after city, state after state, dozens, hundreds, thousands of cops have been abusing their authority, overusing their weapons and harming citizens to the point of death.

We can all see that the systems of policing and many of the individuals employed by them have been dysfunctional and dangerous for over a hundred years. Did they ever work well anywhere at all?

Police who HEAD the Ku Klux Klan.
Los Angeles.
St. Louis/Ferguson
New York City
and on and on, every metropolitan area.

Also, in almost every small town and unincorporated area, all over this country, law enforcement has been populated by a large number of former “jocks,” athletes past their glory days who did not go to college or barely made it through high school. These officers are not, by any stretch of the imagination, very capable or intelligent. Most of them have not been able to make well-considered decisions or have anyone else’s best interests at heart, particularly those they deem “other.”

bad cops 2
image from http://www.snapthepix.com

By what strange magnetic force are hundreds of thousands of these men drawn to careers in law enforcement, unsuitable as they are? How are they allowed to “graduate” from being their high schools’ resident bullies to earning money paid by our taxes to be community police? Most barely stop along the way to get any training as police, sheriffs, or marshals, excluding a possible stint in the US military (which makes EVERYTHING worse).

It is now very clear to most of us that law enforcement attracts a disproportionate number of bullies with short fuses who harbor racist and sexist beliefs and who exhibit a horrifying willingness to hurt those they are paid to protect.

There are many reasons for these officers to exhibit bad behaviors, but most do it to bolster their own pride and try to impress their buddies. These “public servants” are terrorizing their targets, many of whom have committed no crimes or may be guilt of very minor offenses.

Far from serving their communities, protecting as they are mandated to do, law enforcement officials are now seen as those who frequently catalyze public and individual resistance. These incidents, with the concomitant lack of oversight and judicial consequences, are tearing communities apart.

A vast number of individuals work within our corrupt legal systems to prop up and support bad law enforcement. “Not Guilty” verdicts abound, giving them license to continue their horrendous behaviors. We repeatedly see manifestations of poor discernment by the decisions of jurors and judges when these officers have clearly broken multiple laws. Our communities now also suffer by these leaders’ misdirecting jurors and other public “servants.”

We have too many police, sheriffs and marshals who are engaged in a reign of terror that has been escalating almost daily. What should we do about it?

Here is my 5-Point Plan to Improve USA Policing:

I. Better Background Checks.

II. Better Training.

III. Better Supervision.

IV. Better Accountability.

V. National Databases.

I. Better Background Checks.
I.- A. Refuse jobs in law enforcement to any candidates who have a history of bullying.
We do NOT want to give bullies weapons, authority and clout, ever again. Check school records, arrests and reports, even those for which complaints and accusations did not result in convictions or disciplinary action. Charges that are made but repeatedly dropped or “forgiven” are the telltale signs of successful serial abusers. Look for Restraining Orders. Check school detention and suspensions records. Check military records.

Remember how the Assistant Principal was always threatening that a bad behavior incident would go on our “permanent record” when s/he was trying to deter us? That threat was supposed to make us quake with fear and inspire us to change our ways. Well, THIS is a perfect use, an appropriate application of the contents of that permanent school record.

I.- B. Refuse jobs in law enforcement to any candidates who have a questionable psychological, biological or social history.
Public servants cannot belong to hate groups or who have engaged in behavior that encourages others to participate in hate crimes, harassment, threats or assault based on ethnicity, religion, assumed sexual orientation, age, occupation, disability or other differences, gendered appearances or creed.

Check all the places these records might exist, including the “permanent record” from secondary schools, social media’s and websites’ postings, rosters of memberships in groups and clubs. Check military records, colleges disciplinary actions, any accusations and dropped charges.

Expunge the candidates who do not come up “clean.”

THEN give “clean” candidates a thorough psychological assessment designed to weed out any who harbor such beliefs but who have not yet been acting on them or haven’t yet been caught in the act.

They should also be screened for tendencies to be or actual problems with being alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves, extortionists and other types of criminals as well as for vulnerability to being bribed or unduly influenced.

Police come into daily contact with stolen money, illegal drugs, underage and vulnerable sex workers and a variety of other “tempting” opportunities to behave badly. We must have police who can resist temptation, who are not already addicts, and who do not have the types of personalities that would ever lead them to believe that they are “above the law.”

II. Better Training.
II.- C. Prepare rookies more realistically for what they will face in the field. Rookies should always be accompanied by veterans with good records until they have faced, together, at least two of every type of common incident. If that means longer probation or training periods, so be it.

We should NEVER AGAIN have a cop on patrol who is not up to an appropriately high standard. Why do we ever have police who can’t tell the difference between a toy gun and a real one, who can’t admit when a potential suspect is NOT dangerous and leave them be, who harass someone playing music to the point of injury, who can’t determine when someone is legally blind or hearing impaired, who mistake his/her own gun for a taser, who abuse suspects, and who tamper with witnesses and evidence?

II.- D. Include anger management and extensive therapy as part of the training and ongoing support for officers.
These therapies and group or one-on-one educational sessions must occur at least once a week for a year, at their own expense (via health insurance and/or job training funding) as part of every type of law enforcement rookie’s training requirements. There should also be mandatory “check-ups,” and not just when a cop kills someone or seems to have obvious PTSD or “anger problems.”

Therapy, whether or not they show symptoms of needing it, should be an annual occurrence. Every law enforcement officer at every level should have at least three sessions/year.

If community police are not feeling angry, they’re not paying attention. It’s managing the anger that is at issue, not feeling the emotion.

Making both of these mandatory will weed out the psychopaths and sociopaths within the first twelve months because those candidates either will not agree to participate or will fail the therapeutic portions of the training and ongoing support.

Whoever fails in either of these (where “success” is to be determined by the credentialed leaders/therapists responsible for conducting these sessions) can never be hired as law enforcement. No extensions, no re-takes, no possibility of moving to another locale and starting over.

See V. National Databases, below.

III. Better Supervision.
III.- E. Hold supervisors accountable for their underlings’ mistakes.
Enforce this by making supervisors accountable for decisions that release rookies from probation/ ride-along status (see II, above) so that none is released “too soon” (as evidenced by making too many “rookie” mistakes) without there being repercussions upon the releasing supervisor.

III.- F. Make sure every officer and supervisor is consistently and reliably evaluated.
Written and in-person discussions of the written evaluations should occur without fail at least twice each year for veterans and monthly for rookies for the first 6 months or more, then bimonthly until they are no longer rookies.

Poor evaluations must have immediate, serious consequences. Officers who do poorly must be demoted or have their duties re-assigned until they show substantial improvement within a given time frame. Some must resign/be fired, depending upon how badly they do and how many bad evaluations they have had without improvement.

Guidelines for all of this must be clearly spelled out and followed.

IV. Better Accountability.
IV.- G. Harsher and more permanent penalties must be enacted for officers who break the rules and laws and/or who do not follow procedures and policies properly.
By the time they are released from rookie probation (see II), officers must be immediately and permanently held accountable. Possibly like this: ONE SERIOUS STRIKE and they’re out.

Examples: If they turn off their body or dashboard cameras or do not check to make sure the equipment is working prior to going on a call or on patrol, they are fired. If they are threatening to anyone for no legal reason, harassing and/or harming them, they are fired. If they break laws, do not follow procedures, interfere with fellow officers’ duties, steal or tamper with evidence or incur other serious charges, they are fired.

IV.- H. Reprimands and Sanctions Must Be Strict.
The type of work law enforcement officers do cannot allow for serious mistakes in judgment to happen without having the consequences of strict sanctions and reprimands.

What about like this? One such lapse or error results in temporary restriction or demotion.

If two or three lapses/errors in judgment occur, they’re docked in pay and the demotion is moved to long-term. If these occur twice in any 6-month period, they’re fired.

If these occur twice in any two -year period, they’re put on temporary restriction or demoted, with changes pending results of an investigation to determine fitness for duty.

IV.- I. Supervisors and Department Heads/Chiefs are Responsible for Departments’ Outcomes and Statistics
If outcomes are poor (meaning, officers are behaving in ways that get them sanctioned, reprimanded, arrested, fired and/or jailed, disproportionately to those in comparable geographic/demographic areas) for any six-month period, that manager is demoted or fired.

If poor stats occur in any other 6-month period within two years in that same department under new management, the manager and his/her supervisor are both fired.

V. National Databases.
V.- J. Develop and maintain national databases.
We must do better at collecting data. All individuals’ attempts at being hired in law enforcement must be centralized.

All actions of individuals working in law enforcement while hired must be tracked.

Every departments’ outcomes and patrol statistics must be logged and searchable.

V.- K. Data must be available to the public and to all types of law enforcement. Transparency is key. This occurs via body and dashboard cameras with both audio and video components and frequent checks of said equipment.

All data entry must be supervised and checked regularly.

Most importantly, what should already always be happening, is that good cops and others doing a good job who work in law enforcement should NOT hide, protect or collude with those colleagues who should be fired or jailed.

Bad cop 3

There are many sectors that do/do not support excellence in law enforcement officers. My post, here, recommends improvements in some key areas, but not all. Let others research and recommend further changes to address areas I have left out, please.

bad cops 4
from http://www.slideshare.net/icjia/il-exec-training2012pptfinal