Archive for training

You're Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

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the poor

What's pleasantly surprising is that despite Republican efforts to stall any safe jobs bill, the economy has picked up. Unemployment dropped in the latest report to 7%, the lowest number in five years.

That's forty-five straight months of improved job numbers. Now that's a great streak, but when you start in such a deep hole, it's more of a continued improvement, but not a clean bill of health.  A healthy overall unemployment number should be somewhere in the two or three percent range. Despite GOP obstruction, the President's plans, along with those of the Fed, are yielding small and steady results. And that could end up being bad news.

Job growth is bad news? Leave it to the GOP to turn improvements into detriments for hundreds of thousands. The Republicans are moving to punish those who weren't lucky enough to grab onto a job and make them suffer even more. The GOP doesn't want to renew the extended unemployment coverage for millions after their state support runs out. And of course, timing is everything. As much as it's a time of "cheer," it's also the time of great despair and the highest numbers of suicide. Being destitute, devoid of hope is a major cause. This is not the time to cut aid to the poor. Food stamps and unemployment need to be continued.

If the GOP really cares -- not that anyone believes that -- but if there's a chance there's a compassionate soul trapped in the body of a Republican, think about working on a reasonable jobs bill. Think about helping with passing a version of the Senate immigration bill. Stop your war on women and healthcare for the poor. And please don't penalize the unemployed who are just trying to find one of the few jobs out there that you haven't found ways to defund or restrict with blockage in the House and Senate.

Being a Scrooge is not only a stigma you'll be able to easily shun, but a compassionate one that you need to shed.

You can't have it both ways. You can't fight job creation on every level, then because the President's plans seem to be working, albeit slowly, slap down the job hunters who haven't been as fortunate.

Find a jobs bill and then, when enough people are working, you might consider cutting back jobless benefits. But now's not the time. Remove people from unemployment with jobs. That's the healthy way. Then the reason to trim extended funding will follow. We're not there yet.

Republicans, if you're not prepared to confess to the world that the President and his party has ushered through some steady economic growth, don't take it out on the less fortunate by further victimizing the jobless, the hungry and those in need. Increasing jobs, decreases unemployment. Don't cut essential programs. It's that simple.

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Lax Background Checks On Law Enforcement Contribute To Innocent Shooting

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cop with gun

Is this just a tragic coincidence or a pattern of poor judgement? Either way, it's something that the public should be made aware of and perhaps demand an accounting of practices and procedures by law enforcement.

Yesterday there was this, according to MailOnline.

'Oh you're gonna shoot me?' The sarcastic last words of straight-A student shot dead by college cop after being stopped for speeding

University student Cameron Redus, 23, was shot and killed by a campus police officer
According to police, the officer tried to pull Redus over for driving erratically and speeding
The two pulled into the parking lot of Redus' apartment block
Minutes later, Redus was shot 'four to six times' by Carter
Redus was a straight-A student set to graduate in May
Alamo Heights police and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting
Carter is on administrative leave during the investigation

Now what is disturbing is how the Campus Officer was qualified to work for the school to start with, let alone carry a gun. Here's a bit of his background. See if you find any red flags here:

University officials describe him as having 'extensive law enforcement background.'

According to records viewed by My San Antonio, Carter has had nine jobs at eight different agencies over his eight-year law enforcement career.

He rarely stayed in any job for more than a year and the two years and seven months as a campus officer for UIW was the longest stint in his career.

The sketchy details in this story also include that this traffic stop happened off campus, on private property and the confrontation was verbal. Saying 'Oh, you gonna shoot me?' is not an invitation to actually shoot the honor student. Maybe the officer failed his class in Sarcasm 101. And to unload your gun into the unarmed student? Six bullets, four which hit their target at point blank range? Let's not even start with how trained he was in handling a firearm.

This might be a stand alone one-off incident. Something that happened in a small town but couple it with this LA TIMES article from last week:

police polygraph

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department hired dozens of officers even though background investigators found they had committed serious misconduct on or off duty, sheriff's files show.

The department made the hires in 2010 after taking over patrols of parks and government buildings from a little-known L.A. County police force. Officers from that agency were given first shot at new jobs with the Sheriff's Department. Investigators gave them lie detector tests and delved into their employment records and personal lives.

Serious misconduct found in these background check in a big city? A city that has thousands of applications every year? It's bound to happen. But here's one example that could be endemic to police thinking:

David McDonald was hired despite admitting to sheriff's investigators he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl whom he  kissed and groped. He was 28 at the time.

McDonald had been fired from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department amid allegations he used excessive force on prisoners. A fellow deputy told a supervisor that he didn't want to work with McDonald because he harassed inmates.

So committing sexual assault on a minor with an age difference of 14 years (there's three major felony crimes there alone) wasn't enough to get him disqualified?

This is where the problems are cultivating. The police must do a better job of policing their own. They must be like Hebrew National Hot Dogs -- "We report to a higher authority."

When they turn their back on major crimes within the ranks and let those people patrol us, aren't they contributing toward the further abuse for which this officer was finally dismissed?

Ultimately, about 280 county officers were given jobs, including applicants who had accidentally fired their weapons,  had sex at work and solicited prostitutes, the records show.

These candidates weren't weeded out? Safety on the streets means safety from those who provide it as well. Or so you'd think.

For nearly 100 hires, investigators discovered evidence of dishonesty, such as making untrue statements or falsifying police records. At least 15 were caught cheating on the department's own polygraph exams.

Twenty-nine of those given jobs had previously had been fired or pressured to resign from other law enforcement agencies over concerns about misconduct or workplace performance problems. Nearly 200 had been rejected from other agencies because of past misdeeds, failed entrance exams or other issues.

Now Sheriff Baca here in LA has a tough job, and I think he's done a pretty good one under the circumstances. He's lasted a long time, so he's either good or he knows where the bodies are buried -- literally. Yet with my high respect for him and his staff, you really have to wonder about putting people with dubious backgrounds in certain jobs -- especially when personal safety and carrying a gun is involved.

Anyone and everyone has made mistakes. And they shouldn't result lifetime sentences. I believe in second chances. But caution must be paid. Seemingly the ultimate price was paid in Texas for giving an 8th chance. Let's hope we learn from it and it ripples across the law enforcement community nationwide. Our safety is in your hands. Use good judgment. You'll be respected more and we'll be more greatly served.

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Time For A Little Girl Fun -- Inspiring

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Rube Goldberg machine

Okay, I don't, for a minute think these three young girls came up with this all on their own. And it doesn't matter. What does is fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 engineers are women. Why? Stereotyping? That's gotta stop. And this video is just the panacea.

Think of how much fun this must have been to build. Move over Rube Goldberg. Make way for Ruth Goldberg... and her friends.

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State Senator Says Arm Teachers, Then Shoots Armed Teacher, By Mistake

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jeremy-hutchinson-simulation-cropped-proto-custom_28

A story has been circulating around the internet about Arkansas State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R) (above, left with fellow Republican State Senator Kim Hammer) shooting a teacher back in January. It's almost reached the level of urban legend. How true is it?

I won't keep you hanging. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette covers the story in it's article: GOPer Calling For Armed Teachers Shoots Teacher.

A few weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, when talk of arming school personnel was at its height fueled by the National Rifle Association, Hutchinson was approached by Benton Akansas police chief, Kirk Lane.

They decided that there would be a demonstration to show how effective this desired arming of teachers would be. It was meant to reassure the doubters that the NRA was right. The only way to take down a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

“The first two simulations they were just all bad guys, and so we got used to running in, you’d go to the sound of the gunfire,” Hutchinson said. “And then they threw a twist in on the third one, where there was what appeared to be a bad guy in the hallway, shooting into the classroom. And so, just instinctively, I shot. And then I turned the corner and saw that the bad guy that I had just shot was actually shooting with another bad guy, which kind of blew my mind for a second.”

Afterwards, the police informed Hutchinson that he had shot a “teacher.”

With his eyes now opened wide and seeing the insanity of this proposal clear as day, Hutchinson tried to get this demonstration repeated at other schools, to show them the dangers or arming teachers. Sadly the NRA got involved and too many obstacles suddennly got in the way. So this has all been tamped down successfully... at least for now.

Wake up, people. Arming everyone is an invitation for more gun deaths. Don't we have enough already? Stop the madness.

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Florida Guns: Bad Law, Bad Decisions

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Guest post by my Anon friend the gun guy.

Florida Stand Your Ground Law

Since I first heard about the story I thought that George Zimmerman was ill-prepared to be carrying a firearm and made a series of bad decisions that led to him killing Trayvon Martin.

The requirements in the state of Florida to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon are some of the most minimal in the United States. As opposed to the state of Ohio which requires 12 hours of training including two hours of hands-on range time Florida requires that you take a firearms course of some sort. There is no specification as to the length of the course or what information and training it must contain.

Between 1992 and 1999 I taught private firearms classes in Florida. I I didn't teach anything shorter than an eight hour pistol class so when people inquired about getting a concealed weapons permit and learned that I had an eight hour class that was my minimum they would go elsewhere and find a two or four hour class.

If you have little to no experience with a mechanical device that requires physical manipulation and conscious awareness of a variety of safety rules, the bare minimum is not what you need.

In reality carrying a concealed firearm is more about when not to draw it, when not to fire it, where not to go, and how not to act. It's a constant exercise in judgment and although the vast majority of people who do carry a firearm will never be in a situation where they have to use it those who do and are not sufficiently prepared will make bad decisions.

Affirmative self-defense is typically tripartite in nature. This means that you cannot have been the cause of the situation which resulted in the death, that you must have had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm, and finally that you did not have a duty to retreat.

At the very least I don't believe that this case met the first requirement. The third requirement in the case of Florida is essentially nullified by the "stand your ground law". I believe it to be a flawed policy. Most states have what is known as Castle doctrine or Castle law which asserts that while in your own home, vehicle, or other place that could be considered your property you do not have a duty to retreat.

The concept of a duty to retreat should be clear enough that the "stand your ground law" is not necessary. It just makes a fairly black-and-white area into 100 shades of gray.

Sadly a young man is dead because someone else made bad decisions. I personally believe that at the very least a conviction for manslaughter was in order in this case. I hope that Florida will get rid of its "stand your ground" law and re-examine its training requirements to issue a concealed weapon license.

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Video Overnight Thread- An Incredibly Well Trained Dog

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Via Sullivan.

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Video Mid Day Distraction- Computer game can 'make your brain three years younger' in ten hours

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