Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumbledore Is Gay...

Sorry, I've been away for awhile, adjusting to a new day job (and probably have lost half my readers!), but I couldn't let this go by.

Before anyone accuses me of being homophobic, I'd like to weigh in on JK Rowling's US/Canadian tour, and her "huge" revelation that all this time, inspite of never mentioning it in her seven books, Dumbledore is/was gay and in love with Gellert the wizard.

How's that for a publicity stunt? Because, that's all it is - a way of shocking/stimulating people into talking about her books again, and hopefully, buying more to go back and read where she may have dropped "hints" about this so-called love relationship. I suspect she fought with her publisher over the idea of having the teacher/wizard gay relationship, and lost to them. Now, she's happy to spread the "news" that she really had gay characters all along, and stir up some much-needed publicity for Deathly Hallows.

I mean, PULLEEEZE! The woman is the richest author/woman in the world. Isn't that enough? She has to have the last word on her characters, despite the fact her publisher's made her deliriously wealthy?

The Toronto media is busy wasting ink and web space on this mighty revelation - wondering how it'll "affect" the children who've read the books, whether it'll bring a "new generation" into accepting homosexuality as a responsible lifestyle.

I can't wait to see Craig Ferguson (comic) make fun of JK in his monologue tonight. Anybody with any common sense can see this for the cheap trick it is, and how shallow it makes her seem. Because she's going for shock value - not true compassion about gay people - and she's trying to broaden her market to sell even more books.

I'm all for promotion and publicity - but it would be nice to see someone with her kind of success go for the high road, especially when she's dealing with the children's market. Just my humble opinion, of course!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Another Cop Killer on the Loose

All right, those of you who read me regularly (or fairly regularly!) will know I couldn't leave this death of a young Mountie alone. There were 40 comments on the Globe and Mail Forum regarding this senseless death, all armchair quarterbacks with political comments on the Canadian gun registry, the 3 strikes law, putting drug dealers in jail for life, etc. Nowhere did I read that putting cop killers in mandatory 25 years to life was a great option for reducing police officer shootings. Or perhaps bringing back the death penalty - which we used to have for cop killers and prison guard killers.

One idiot actually commented that the media was making too much of this, as firefighters and construction workers have just as dangerous jobs! And someone (who obviously thinks alot like I do) replied that the difference is no one is SHOOTING at firemen or construction workers while they're working.

Most of my readers know I'm an ex-police officer. I can tell you that at two times in my career I was in dire straits needing back-up that didn't come on time. Once I was in a life and death fight with a guy bigger than me, but hopped up on some drug that made him ten times stronger. I had a cadet with me, and between the two of us we couldn't subdue him. The dispatcher did the same thing as the dispatcher in this sad case: she continued to call "Car 3, what's your location? Car 3, what's your location?" for about ten minutes. Not as long as the 45 minutes this RCMP dispatcher kept calling Worden. I've no doubt she's got her butt in a sling for her stupidity.

In my case, it took cars over 20 minutes to reach me, and the guy nearly strangled me to death. If I hadn't been able to pull my gun, and have him realize in his drugged state that it actually *was* a gun, I have no doubt he'd have finished me off. Timing is everything. In a medium-sized city, ten minutes on the dispatcher and 20 minutes for my back-up to get there was not acceptable in terms of getting help to me. I only had a cadet with me because it was summer time - all other seasons we were one-man cars. Or in my case, one-woman cars.

Cst. Worden should've had back-up when going into a well-known drug and weapon-related area. The problem was, there wasn't any to be had. The Ontario Provincial Police operate in the same way in small towns and have large areas to cover in between them. It's not unusual for an OPP constable to be an hour or more away from another one.

Five a.m. is what we used to call "the twilight hour", even though it was in the morning. People who've been up all night drinking and doing drugs are at their most dangerous then. People who've been fighting all night with their domestic partners are their most dangerous then because they're over-loaded on adrenaline and short on sleep - not to mention, alcohol is usually a factor as well.

No doubt that apartment complex seemed quiet on an early morning at 5 a.m. Most cops don't go to the door of an "unknown" complaint with their guns drawn. If someone's waiting for you on the other side with his gun drawn, you've got exactly two seconds to draw and fire. In that two seconds, he'll have fired and the shot will be on it's way to you, unless you can duck and weave at the same time you're drawing and firing.

I doubt Cst. Worden had a chance. Even the fact that he was found beside a spruce tree "next" to the complex shows the suspect or others pulled him over to the tree and left him there to die. He might have been concious enough to hear his dispatcher "calling" him, on and on, but obviously couldn't respond. Or, we can hope he died instantly and didn't suffer.

If the person(s) who dragged him over to that spruce tree weren't the suspect...and they didn't call it in, I hope the RCMP find them and charge them as accessories after the fact.

The RCMP has a massive recruiting drive on right now. They need a minimum of 600 recruits per year for the next four years to compensate for the retirement attrition.
It's a wonderful career for someone who wants to "live on the edge", help their communities, and do some good. If you fall within the 19-35 age bracket, consider it as a valid choice. More cops live then die. We only hear about those tragic deaths, like this one; not about the quiet heros who go about their business keeping the rest of their communities safe.

May they find "Justin Elise" quickly and deal with him severely.

My sincere condolences to Cst. Worden's wife, daughter, family, and friends.

Friday, October 05, 2007

An Unknown Tragedy

Woman Arrested in Airport and later died in police custody

When I look at this video, the first thing I notice is that you can't see what the woman is doing to cause a commotion. No one's looking at her; people are walking by her with their suitcases; suddenly we see a couple of cops approach her and talk to her. This quickly turns into one grabbing her right arm, one her left arm, and before you know it, she's face down on the floor.

You'll also note that it takes about four officers to "subdue" her, before she's raised to her feet, in handcuffs, and taken off to "wherever" - likely a cruiser waiting outside. I also note with interest, how many airport security guards stood around and watched the police "arrest" her.

With no knowledge of what "disorderly" conduct the woman was doing at the time of her arrest (that was the reason given for her arrest), we can't tell if she was "high", intoxicated, suffering from a diabetic or epiletic seizure, or other health problem. That she was only in police cells for 6 to 8 minutes, allegedly yelling her head off, and it was only when things got quiet that a cop went to investigate why she'd suddenly shut up, is a very small amount of time to transpire.

The fact that officers were in the vicinity but not looking directly at her contravenes just about every normal police department protocol I've ever heard of - even back in 1984 we stationed an officer on a chair, within 3 feet of the person in the cell, in order to assure their safety. Later, video cameras where set up in the cell block, so that officers were protected from legal action in cases that were "he said/he said".

This report makes no mention of a video camera being used, and that is in itself suspicious. A police department the size of Phoenix should be able to afford video cameras, and not doubt the family's lawyer is busy asking the hard questions.

This should never have happened, and regardless of what life-saving measures were taken to save her, the autopsy results should prove interesting.

Having been an officer wearing a blue uniform and having to cuff a suspect facedown on the floor, I know that it frequently takes four or more people to subdue someone who doesn't want to be arrested. Did they check her over for health issues *before* putting her in the cell? Was she searched properly to see if she carried pills, small items to choke on like paper clips, pins, gum, small pieces of paper (you'd be surprised what people will swallow to bring attention to themselves)...you get the idea. My guess is neither was done, or not done well or according to procedure.

On the other side of the equasion, the officers involved will all be suffering from shock and fear concerning what happened. In a case like this, there are no good answers, and only the tragic early death of a woman who didn't even look like she needed to be arrested in the first place. Was she screaming obscenities? The video doesn't let us hear that - was she delirious? Delusional? Hallucinating?

If you ever use a similar situation in a MS, you can be sure that the human element of inaction, over-emotion, negligence, or officers relying on others to do what they should be doing in the first place, are all things that are realistic. On the other side, the fear and "what could I have done?" haunt most officers that find themselves in such a situation.

For the "suspect" who dies, their final moments haven't been seen, but we can only add our imaginations to what might have been, what did happen, and what should've happened.

Rest in Peace, Carol Anne...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Canadian, eh?

Well, it's official. There's a full-time cop patroling my kids high school hallways, and the city's putting full-time cops in most high schools across the city. What seemed to be an American phenomenon has finally reached our fair cities, and we now work with "lockdown" procedures in case of stabbings or shootings.

Last week, a student was stabbed in the chest with a butcher knife at a local high school. Over a girl, no less. Kids seem to be carrying knives, machetes, and brass knuckles as their weapons of choice - to "feel safe". Schools are clamping down on Facebook accounts, and cell phones for their picture-taking abilities. Kids bully other kids by setting up Facebook "groups" to target unfortunate kids, and put cell-phone pics on YouTube and the net in general, as bullying tactics.

A teenage girl was attacked in the bush are behind her school, by a 14 yrs old, 16 yrs old, and another 18 yrs old. They tortured her, and beat her face so badly she's almost unrecognizable. This also happened back in Barrie, Ontario when I was running the street crisis shelter for youth. That particular young teen was attacked at a "party" because she refused to take an Ecstasy pill. She was beaten to a pulp also.

I have no answers, only prayers that my kids, and all the kids at their high school will be safe.

When we put violence in our novels, it's imaginary, happening to characters who're fictional even if they seem "real" enough to us as writers.

When the violence reaches out to our kids, it becomes something different. It feels like a Steven King novel, except that every time you see your kids get on their bus, you know they're not "characters" in a fictional world. They're your kids, your flesh and blood, the ones you love more than anything in the world.

And violence takes on a whole new meaning.