Friday, March 29, 2013

Citizens first, hired help second.

"I have to realize every single day that I come to work that the decisions that I make -- you always have to say, how does this impact a patrol officer interacting with the community? " Roessler said. "I'm looking forward to the honor and the privilege to serve all the members of what I call the police family."
No, wrong. Decisions made by government officials should be based on how they affect the citizens who employ them. Not the other way around. Decisions should not be made on the impact they will have on employees hired by the citizens to run their government.
Citizens first, hired help second.
Artists concept of Roessler

Roessler is the latest in a long string of police executives who probably live in a bubble, a bubble that makes them fail to understand that the honor and privilege is in serving the citizens of the community and not the cops the community pays and pays and funds (And far above the national average, at that.)
It's our government, not theirs and so long as the county allows the vast majority of our well paid cops to live outside the county, it will never be their government.  Other counties have live in requirement for their police. We don’t. The cops have that kind of pull in your government.
Roessler appears to be part of, if not one of the architects of, the“us first” mentality that permeates the Fairfax County Police. But we can’t blame him. The cops have been out of control (and grossly over funded) for decades and the guilty finger for their arrogance and brutality should be directly pointed at us, the county residents, the owners of the government who keep reelecting the same old tread-mill thinking hustlers in slightly shiny suits who let the cops run rampant on our traffic jammed crowded roads (and ridiculously overcrowded schools.)
We don’t have the money for more roads (or more schools.)  But the cops have enough money to employ a dozen deputy chiefs, a navy and an air force that may or may not includes drones with a few bucks left over to hire even more cops and open even more police stations. Think about that while you sit on the beltway.
The policeman is not your friend. The Fairfax County Police Department holds its self-interest far above your wants and needs. In fact, the full time job of the several dozen assistant to the assistant chiefs of police we carry on the payroll, is to get you to trust the cops and not to ask too many questions. They need you to stay dumb. Trust us, the cops tell you, we don’t need police oversight in Fairfax County, we’ll handle it ourselves. Trust us.
Your elected officials agree with the cops. They don’t want police oversight because the hundreds of misdeeds, transgression and criminal actions the cops get involved in every year….on your dime….. would go public and citizens would be aware that the elected officials we pay to run government aren’t very good at what they do, and, proving the cops point, should not be trusted.
Trust us, the cops say. We’re hiring nine new cops this year because we need them. We won’t offer any proof, your elected officials won’t ask why, they trust us, why don’t you?
Local government, hell government in general, runs better and is more efficient in delivering services when it’s not trusted.  The cops know that and in their view,  as, long as citizens stay asleep, everything will be just fine.
Don’t trust the bastards, by not trusting them we not only empower ourselves and keep the collected elected sleaze on their toes, we give the hundreds of good, decent people who work in government, the ones who have nothing to hide, a boost up and a chance at running things, out in the open.
Roessler has been raised in the “trust me” culture of the Fairfax County Police and that form of leadership sets the tone for further abuse, mismanagement and secrecy by the police.
We need to hire a police chief not born and bred in the old south-redneck, good ole boy network that is the Fairfax County Police. It’s a new century. It's time to change things. We’ll need to look outside the Fairfax cops secrecy system, outside the county and probably outside the state to find someone capable to tear down the “trust me”-think mentality that runs the cops, someone who will attract more outsiders to the force, hiring fewer white boys with Nazi haircuts and mangers who are creative, committed to the community, and idealistic in their goals.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Now you can't say you didn't know: Mentally ill cops on the payroll

Former Washougal police officer convicted
A Clark County District Court judge Wednesday convicted and sentenced a former Washougal police officer for attacking a mentally ill man restrained in the backseat of a police cruiser.
In a bench ruling, Judge Sonya Langsdorf convicted Robert E. Ritchie, 53, of fourth-degree assault for a July incident in which he twice punched 26-year-old Tyler Lampman in the face after taking the man into custody. Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor.
Langsdorf sentenced Ritchie to two days of house arrest, a $100 fine and two years of bench probation, during which he’s to have no contact with Lampman.
In September, Ritchie was fired from the Washougal Police Department over the incident.
The defense had asked for a lenient sentence because of Ritchie’s 29-year career as a police officer.
Defense attorney Jaime Goldberg said although he expected a not guilty verdict, he was content with the judge’s sentence.
“The sentence was a fair one, given who he is,” Goldberg said. “Sometimes, they just treat people like they’re a piece of meat.”
He said Ritchie didn’t intend to hurt Lampman and was reacting to a threatening situation. Ritchie restrained himself after realizing he was going too far, Goldberg said.
Lampman was taken into custody on July 1 on suspicion of domestic violence against his mother and brother. After being restrained in the back of Ritchie’s patrol cruiser, Lampman began thrashing around, bashing his head into the plastic partition and spitting at Ritchie.
In court, Ritchie acknowledged he punched Lampman twice but said he held back further blows after realizing he had to stop. Witnesses gave inconsistent testimony on the number of times Ritchie punched Lampman, with numbers ranging from four to eight.
It also wasn’t the first time Ritchie’s actions had come under fire for being too extreme.
He was demoted from sergeant in 2004 for shooting Olga Rybak 27 times with a stun gun for failing to comply with dog regulations.
The police department concluded Ritchie had used excessive force.
The Rybak incident didn’t play a factor in Ritchie’s firing or sentencing, however.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


A journalist should report that the Fairfax County cops arrested 2,600 people for drunk driving last year.  That is what a journalist should do. The role of the press, after all, is to report issues that need attention.  But the role of the press is also to publicly hold government leaders accountable to the people and that can’t be done if government is using the media as a tool for its own self-praise or if individuals in government are using the press as a means of self-promotion to advance their career, to say, police chief as an example.
The other vital role the press plays in a free society is to educate citizens so they can make informed decisions on pertinent issues and this is done by asking questions. As an example, in regard to the drunk driving story, a good journalist will ask, “How many of those arrests resulted in conviction?” because Fairfax County cops justify themselves through a body count. A good journalist would also ask:
“In how many of those cases did the cop fail to show up in court?"
“And how many of those cases were simply tossed out of court?”  
“Who was stopped? White people? Black people? Asians? Latinos? ” 
The good journalist should examine that side of the issue because racial profiling by the police is a serious national issue. 
The good journalist would also put the arrests in perspective. There are about 5,600,000 people in the greater Washington DC Area and in one year Fairfax County police arrested 0.0004 of them for drunk driving.  In a county of 1,200,000 citizens, the 2600 arrests would total less than 0.002% of the population.
Drunk driving arrests are down 2.5 nationwide in 2011 and 2012.  In fact, in the past two decades drunk driving fatalities have declined by 35% in the general population and almost 60% in the teen driver population.
So with those facts in mind, facts that were not covered in the story,  why were there so many Fairfax cops trying to arrest drunk drivers on a recent Saturday night, enough so that “the lights atop Fairfax County Police Department cruisers along Leesburg Pike lit up the night sky like swarms of blue fireflies".
Poor management seems to be the answer. Shouldn't the cops be doing something more productive and less intrusive to the community?  (A community where less than 9% of the force lives.)
 The summation of the drunk driving story appeared to be one of two things; one that the story was that drunk driving is a non-issue because arrests for drunk driving are down.  So what was the point of reporting this story at all?
The other slant may have been a cop glorification feature piece which was based on the baseless claim by the Fairfax County Police that they lowered drunk driving in the county through sobriety checkpoints, directed patrols and business compliance checks.
The problem is that slant discounts reality based on the facts above.
But there was a story here if the journalist had taken it one step further, one step into the uncomfortable,  and had asked the cops (and thereby the reading public) if they see any danger in randomly stopping citizens to find out what they can be arrested for.
A journalist should ask if those random “sobriety checkpoints” touted by the Fairfax County cops,  have a place in a democratic society. Should cops be stopping people they suspect of committing a crime based on magical and slightly scary “sixth sense” as one cop claimed to have, when it comes to spotting drunk drivers?   
Even more disturbing than that is the fact that the cop in question has an engineering degreefrom Virginia Tech but would have to work the third shift in a bedroom community “sensing” drunks on the road.
The journalist could have asked the obvious question…..if drunk driving barely scratches the judicial surface then why are the cops turning out in force to address this secondary  issue.  This could have led to two very obvious answers, both are generally assumed to be true by the general public.  One is that the cops are bored and don’t have much else to do and the other is money.   Drunk driving fines range from $250 to $1,000, ($625 average fine  X 2600 fines=$1,625,000). All of that revenue is poured into the county coffers and eventually into the behemoth budget of the Fairfax County Police.
Is there any truth to this commonly held rumor? We don’t know because the reporter failed to go that far. However, we do know that the cop who would rather work nights has a “lucky flower” in the car's visor. 
Move over Carl Bernstein, there’s a new gunslinger in these here parts.
But it was Bernstein who said it best. The reporter’s job is to "achieve the best obtainable version of the truth" and, I would add, the best obtainable version of the truth for the public’s good and not for the benefit of the government’s profile. It is crucial that the press be an outsider and never, ever, under any circumstances share the same aims as government, the legislature, religion or commerce. The only responsibility the reporter has is to their own standards and ethics.  This is no small thing because the free press is part of a larger right of free expression, a right that the public assumes that the press will help to protect.  
So in that light, a good journalist would ask “Is this story free PR for cops at the expense of the free press?”  And if the answer, even vaguely, appears to be “yes” then that is a very serious infringement on the role of the press in a free society and should not be taken lightly, no matter how innocuous the story.
The craft of reporting, and it is a craft, is found in the reporter's ability to research, to ask questions, to observe, to sift through self –serving propaganda disguised as news and then to place it in context so that the public can evaluate where the truth is. All of that makes the reporter the  community's witness to the process of government. Crossing the line makes the reporter part of the government. So what was this drunk driver story?
The press is a powerful instrument which must exist independently from the other main centers of power in society because, among other things, it is often in the best interests of those other power centers to control or quash the press.
This rule of separation is especially true in dealing with the well-heeled Fairfax County Police Department, which is widely considered to be the least transparent law enforcement agency in the state of Virginia. The Fairfax County Police have failed, repeatedly, to show that they understand the simple truth that the free flow of information is a civic responsibility because information, even when it makes a department look bad, is the fuel of democracy. Instead, the department has mastered the art of avoiding public scrutiny by simply refusing to deal with the press….unless the press wants to do a fluff & kisses piece about them. And that’s what is wrong with plopping down the non-issue drunk driving feature piece.  Reporting balanced news is vital to the health and well-being of a democracy as is the cop’s responsibility to inform the public that pays them. When journalists start backsliding down that very slippery slope by writing glory stories when the cops don’t deserve it, it is dangerous, unethical and sets a very bad precedent.  
It’s about integrity. If the reporter loses their integrity they have lost everything and they have lost it forever, for themselves and their publication and it is easy to lose integrity because the damn thing about a free press is that the fight to keep the press free never ends.  Rather it is a battle that is never won because the prize is much too valuable for other powers not to want to control it and to manipulate it.   And those battles to keep the free press free are rarely epic, rather they are tiny skirmishes, say, as an example, a police department noted for playing a one sided game, trying to get a local reporter to skim over the facts and avoid the comfortable questions and write what they want to see in print.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Earlier this year, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reported an increase in crime across the Metro rail system.  This news has tossed Dan Janickey, grand imperial wizard, or something like that, of the unnecessary McLean Police Station to leap into action…..again.   He gives the sense that the opportunity to hire more cops with our money does for him what porn does for a pervert.
Increased crime on the metro has space commander Dan all aroused.  But increased crime from what? That’s the question. What are we talking here?  From no crime at all to 1 crime a year? Or, are we talking crime wave like from a Batman movie?
Where did the crime increase? Virginia? Maryland? DC?  Our immediate concern should be Northern Virginia.
And what sort of crime increased? Is it the sort of crime that a competent police force could hinder…calm down Janickey, I said competent…….See what too much sugar on your donuts does?

Artist rendering of Private Janickey on the day the metro opens

  Anyway, Supreme Field General of Overreaction Dan is all aflutter.
“We’re doubling the amount of stations we’ll have in Fairfax County,” he said, which begs the question…….what does he care about the rest of Fairfax County? He’s supposed to police McLean. Let the other guys worry about their end of the county.  Don’t worry about three other stations. Again, see what too much sugar on your donuts does?
Where the hell is Pear Head Morris when you need him? He’d be happy here. Mclean used to be an orchard. Shouldn’t he show up here five days a week……I refuse to use the word work in regard to the police….instead of the Mister Excitement they’ve sent us?
“It’s going to change the way we police.” Janickey said in what was either a question or perhaps a threat.  
Oh no it isn’t…….., enough with the drama already…’s just a fucking metro station, it won’t hurt you. Calm down, things change.  Relax. Go to the evidence room, have a Quaalude, put your feet up. Everything is going to be okay. 
Janickey said his “officers are ready to police the expanding area”….well I should fucking hope so.  Why do you think we pay you? To hand out self-aggrandizing awards to each other?  Oh by the way, the McLean cops gave cops 13 awards to themselves in one season. Thirteen.

Artist rendering of Corporal Janickey.  Interesting side note here, many say that originally the name Janickey meant “Don’t look at me, the cows are dying, that’s what causing the smell”

“They’re excited about it,” said Corporal Janickey of the police. “It’s going to be interesting to see how things go when the stations open.”
Yeah, their excited about it. Can you picture the Fairfax County Cops high fiving their donut laden hooves in the air shouting “Holy Moly!  We get to guard a railroad station! I knew that five years of high school would pay off!”
No, that didn’t happen and it’s not going to happen and if there is any cop anywhere in the world who is excited about guarding a metro station, we need to get that cop a new job with a sound medical plan.
Janickey also said the cops are “ready for anything”…..okay, that’s enough. Dude, get a fucking grip. Again…… IT’S A METRO STATION for God’s sakes not an invasion of hostile brain eating aliens from another galaxy out to destroy a boring suburb.

Artist’s rendering of Glorious Field Marshal Janickey preparing for metro Station opening 

No more coffee or war movies for Janickey and let’s keep him away from the microphones as well.
There were 157 crimes committed in 10 of Virginia’s 20 metro stations, or about 3 crimes a week that resulted in only 17 arrests in one year in those stations.
Not a hot spot of criminal activity.  There are only six metro stations in the county and none of the Metro stations with the most crimes overall are in Northern Virginia. Those stations are in DC or PG County.
Most of the crime increase on the Metro system, system wide, from 2011 to 2012 was attributable to an increase in theft of small electronic devices and from pickpockets, about 670 incidents in all.  The system covers over 1,500 miles that includes 150 miles of track. 
So what we have is 670 crimes, narrowed to specific places, during 215,000,000 passenger trips, policed by less than 500 transit cops. If Metro were a state, it would be the safest state in the union.  
Metro police are doing their job to decrease those crimes through a successful program that places undercover cops holding decoy electronic devices in order to become “victims” and make arrests. It’s working.  In 2012, undercover Metro cops made 149 arrests.  Paltry statistics for what is the second-busiest rapid transit system in the United States (in number of passenger trips) after the New York City Subway.
Fairfax County Cops will do the most good sitting outside a station staring off into space, but even there, Metro station parking lot crime reached a ten-year low in 2012.

There were 157 crimes committed in 10 of Virginia’s 20 metro stations, or about 3 crimes a week that resulted in only 17 arrests in one year in those stations.
The primary mission of the Fairfax County police is to increase the size of its already bloated force and incredibly lavish budget and that’s what this is all about. Let the Metro police handle the Metrorail. They know what they’re doing. Let the McLean station police sleep it off in the parks.