SUICIDES KILL MORE THAN HOMICIDES

(This Op-Ed by yours truly was published in Florida Today, Monday, May 14, 2018.)

Most folks do not realize that homicide detectives spend more than half their time on the job investigating suicides, accidental deaths and even unexplained natural deaths, not just murder cases. That’s because any of those could be a homicide in disguise.

Sometimes, it hits home. As a Miami-Dade County homicide supervisor in the 1970s, I was routinely reviewing a stack of reports when I came across a suicide case where a 65-year-old man shot himself in the head and left a note: “I don’t want to suffer the cancer.” His name was Joe Strauss. My stepfather’s brother, he was “Uncle” Joe to me.

On another occasion, I visited the morgue to consult with the medical examiner, a frequent occurrence. As I passed by the array of bodies wearing nothing but toe-tags, I noticed a small person lying with a bullet hole in her temple. I gasped. I knew this girl, my wife’s niece, age 11. Alone in the house, she found her dad’s pistol, lay on the bed and elected to die.

Nationally, suicides comprise more than double the number of homicides, 44,965 compared to

Read full story Comments { 20 }

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “TULLY” – 8

“TULLY”  – 8

 

In a word: Deep

     This movie is pure drama, no guns, no car chases, no rampant sex, no heroes, no monsters. It’s all about domestic misery and stress and pure unadulterated unhappiness that many of us may have experienced, one time or another.

     Playing the role of Marlo, Charlize Theron gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a frazzled 40-year-old housewife and mother of two kids, with a baby in the oven ready to birth. Her husband is a decent provider, often traveling, but contributes little to allay her despair while he plays video games in most of his spare time. Meanwhile, she must give special attention to a special-needs (perhaps autistic), six-year-old boy who is being expelled from his school because of constant class disruptions.

     Along comes her wealthy brother who provides the money for a temporary rescue in the person of “Tully” a 26 year-old self-described nanny whose takes over night time care duties for the new baby thus giving Theron’s character a chance to gather herself from going insane. Deftly played by Mackenzie Davis, Tully proves out to be a personable and caring figure who appears to have intelligence and compassion far beyond her years.

Read full story Comments { 1 }

WHY ARMING TEACHERS IS A BAD IDEA

(This Op-Ed, by yours truly, appears in today’s issue of Florida Today newspaper, 4/30/2018)

 

I’m a supporter of Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. We are lucky to have such a capable and dedicated law enforcement leader in our midst. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he proposes.

I oppose the arming of staff within our public classrooms. It’s a bad idea. There are other solutions. If educators are armed statewide, it would increase the incidents of deadly encounters particularly with violence-prone students in volatile venues. Increasing the presence of firearms, en masse, inside school walls increases risks and could cause more problems than it solves.       

This is not only my opinion and that of many others. A recent Gallup Poll showed:

  • 73 percent of teachers oppose teachers and staff carrying guns in schools
  • 58 percent feel that carrying guns would make schools less safe
  • Only 18 percent claim they would be willing to carry guns in schools.

In Brevard, classroom teacher could not be armed because their union-negotiated contract doesn’t allow them to carry firearms. 

My opinion is based on experience as a 30-year law enforcement veteran in Miami-Dade, as well as an involved citizen, father, and grandfather

Read full story Comments { 28 }

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “CHAPPAQUIDDICK” – 8.5

“Chappaquiddick”  –  8.5

 

In a word:  CYA

     I know that’s not really one word, but it’s all in the definition, because that’s what the movie was all about: Covering Your Ass.

     What’s good about this docudrama is the authenticity injected by writers and the director. There were many opportunities to suggest or infer sensationalism, sexual activity, or even corruption at the highest levels of government, but the movie makers stuck to the facts as they were known without adding sugar and spice for effect.

     This is a true story about a car accident, the death of a young woman, and a powerful senator who, with the help of his top aides, did all they could to cover the truth. What came across stronger than any other emotion for the viewer, was then reality that the only thing that the self-absorbed senator cared about was himself and his political future.

     Most of us older folks will remember the tragic accident on July 18 of 1969 in which young Mary Jo Kopechne, age 28, died by drowning in a car driven by Senator Ted Kennedy around 11:30 p.m.  Kennedy got out, and swam to shore. Mary Jo perished. In the script,

Read full story Comments { 9 }

SANCTUARY CITIES AND ANARCHISM

Sanctuary cities and states that are advocating for the protection of criminal illegal aliens from federal law enforcement, has nothing to do with compassion and/or pro-immigration viewpoints.  It’s all about power.   

     Not long ago, leading Democrats and Republicans shared concerns about “illegal” immigration while vowing to take measures to control the border and dispatch law enforcement to deal with “illegal” activities.

     Many democrats of years passed have called for stricter measures against illegal immigration and much stronger border enforcement, even including expanding the wall along Mexico. 

     In his 1995 speech to congress, President Bill Clinton stated, “We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”

     Sound familiar? President Clinton actually initiated an enforcement campaign against employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens for American jobs.

     In 2010, President Obama made a speech, stating, “The presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are going through the process of immigrating legally. Indeed…the legal immigration system is as

Read full story Comments { 20 }

DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG DEALERS UNREALISTIC

This article, by yours truly, appears as an op-ed in the March 24, 2018 issue of Florida Today newspaper.

President Donald Trump is advocating for new sentencing laws applying capital punishment to drug dealers. Bad idea. Here’s why.

True, drug traffickers are among the scum of the earth, directly and indirectly contributing to addictions that affect millions of human beings, particularly youth. I would agree that they deserve the harshest of penalties, but not death.

It is only a matter of time before the death penalty is be out the door. Capital punishment is now banned in most all advanced and industrialized countries of the world. Only one-fourth of nearly 200 nations still retain the death penalty, which mostly include countries in Africa and the Middle East, thus putting the U.S. in such company as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan.

Most polls, including Gallup and Pew Research, reveal the popularity for executing criminals has waned to below 50 percent, the lowest in 45 years. Close to 100 executions per year took place in the late 1990s. Those numbers have declined significantly to under 30 each year nationwide.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), 2,817 prisoners currently occupy

Read full story Comments { 8 }

WAS THE PARKLAND COP A TRUE COWARD?

People said heads must roll. The chief of police? The cops? The NRA? The FBI? After all, there must be someone we can fault when things go wrong, particularly when life is lost.

    In the wake of the horrific slaughter of innocent people at Marjory Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, folks are anxious to cast blame on the most obvious culprits, guns and bad cops. This is reminiscent of Ferguson, Missouri, 2014, when Officer Darren Wilson was publicly scorned by citizens and media pundits for shooting a helpless “unarmed” teen to death before all the true facts were known. Never mind that the kid was 18, weighed 300 pounds, was charging the cop in a menacing fashion and had already assaulted the officer by trying to steal his gun.

     Fast forward to Deputy Scot Peterson, 54, the School Resource Officer at Parkland, Florida. This man served a stellar 33 year police career that ended sharply on February 14 when 17 people, mostly students, were murdered by a crazed, well-armed gunman inside the High School. We learned that Peterson was the officer outside the closed doors of the school when the shootings were happening and failed to enter and, perhaps,

Read full story Comments { 32 }