Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Police Beat: When Use of Deadly Force is acceptable

On Wednesday, Dec. 22 I attended the Dane County Sheriff’s Department Use of Force seminar at MATC West in Madison. Due to the high number of fatal shooting in the state this year (23), the Sheriff’s Department decided to hold the seminar to educate the general public about the decision process officers use and when to use deadly force.

According to Deputy Kelly Rehwoldt, officers can use five different modes to try and control a situation: officer presence, dialogue, control alternatives, protective alternatives and deadly force.

Rehwoldt said roughly 99 percent of the time, a situation can be brought under control through an officer presence or dialogue.

Control alternatives include empty hand control, pepper spray or a Taser, and are used to overcome active resistance or threats.

Protective alternatives are a step above control alternatives and are used to overcome continued resistance, assaultive behavior or threats. Alternatives include focused strikes, diffused strikes and batons.

Finally, officers may use firearms in deadly force when a suspect is exhibiting behavior which has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to the officer or another person(s). Appropriate instances include when a suspect has a firearm or is charging an officer with a knife.

Rehwoldt stressed that it is up to the officer(s) to determine what mode is appropriate to control the situation.

One part I found interesting was that officers have to make split-second decisions. I mean I know things happen fast, but Rehwoldt said there can be as little as 10 seconds between the time a police officer makes first contact and when the guy goes down in deadly force situations. And a lot can happen in those 10 seconds.

I know a lot of civilians think “oh, can’t the cop just shoot him in the arm or knee? Why kill the person?” I was guilty of thinking that exact thing. But Rehwoldt said an injured individual can still shoot from the ground, which is why officer don’t shoot to kill or harm, but to stop the threat.

The other thing to bear in mind is it takes longer for an officer to react than a suspect to act. So if a man pulls or is holding a gun and the officer perceives a threat, the officer can shoot him/her, because if he/she waits for the suspect to take first action, the officer or others might wind up dead or seriously injured.

Officers can also use deadly force if the suspect gets ahold of their Taser, which makes sense. I definitely wouldn’t want to have the bad guy shooting me with the Taser and taking my gun while I’m down.

Now onto the fun stuff....

After the presentation, we moved on to the participation part...beginning with the Taser. Initially the officers asked if anyone would volunteer to be shot with a Taser. Well since all the other media personnel in attendance were silent, I raised my hand and was like “I’ll do it.”

Course then when I was getting ready to sign a waiver, another guy said he would. Funny, he wasn’t dying to get shot earlier. My theory is he was like, dude, a chick is the only one getting hit with a Taser gun. I can’t let a chick show me up, I need to man up and do this. Course, that is just my opinion.

A couple other people went ahead with the alligator clips instead of the Taser. So those two had clips on their clothes and it lasted three seconds.

Myself and the other guy were actually shot with the Taser, which pierces through clothes, and it lasted five seconds. It’s hard to describe the sensation of a Taser. It was definitely the most painful experience of my life so far. It is like a complete shock to your whole body, a paralyzing pain. The electricity just resonates through your entire body.

Now I’ll admit, I would like to be able to say I was stoic, I was tough...but that would be a lie. I didn’t back out, I didn’t whimper, I didn’t cry, but there is quite a difference between saying you will man up and get shot with the Taser and when it is actually happening. I don’t remember the pain, it was like I was outside of my body, but I do remember screaming at the top of my lungs and yelling “Stop!” I wasn’t the only one who screamed or made noises, but I was definitely the loudest, lol.

And even though I screamed at the top of my lungs, that officer kept going. I asked him afterwards and he was like, “No, I didn’t stop. If I’m paying $25 for a cartridge, you’re getting the full experience.” Sounds cold, but I’m glad. It is a point of pride that I lasted the whole time, even if it did suck.

And afterwards? While once it is done, it’s done. If I had wanted to, I could have gotten back up and fought, not that I would want to. I also felt this tingling all the way in my toes for a good 15 seconds afterwards.

The second and final stage was this armed force simulation. We went into a separate room and they let us try our hand at the FireArms Training Simulator, or FATS.

The simulator is used for police training so trainees have a chance to experience the numerous scenarios and different actions a suspect may take.

For instance, in one simulation, an officer responded to a robbery in progress. When the officer arrived, a female and two male suspects emerged from a store. The female, in the lead, is carrying a gun, and after looking around, raised it to shoot, and the two male suspects dive to either side of her. After she is shot and goes down, the male suspect on the left turns, revealing a gun, and shoots.

The same simulation has two other endings. In one, both the female and the male suspect on the right have guns and fire shots. In the other, all three suspects give up and there is no need for the officer to shoot.

“This is the place where the mistakes should be made,” Rehwoldt said. “We'd rather have an officer see this scenario in training first, then encounter it on the street, rather than having never seen this type of situation before and encountering it for the first time of the street.”


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Warhawks Continue to Second Straight Title!

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks extended their winning streak to 30 straight games with a 31-21 victory over the Mount Union Raiders Saturday. Ironically, that score was the same when the Warhawks captured their first national title against the Raiders back in 2007.

The Hawks got off to an early lead and ended the first quarter 7-0 over the Raiders. The ‘Hawks then extended their lead 10-0 a couple minutes into the second quarter. Unfortunately the ‘Hawks hit a patch of bad luck, beginning with Hicks' removal from the game due to a torn ligament in his knee with 12:11 left in the quarter.

The Raiders then continued on a three touchdown streak, making the score 21-10 with a little over six minutes left in the game. But when push comes to shove, the Warhawks have proved they are capable of buckling down, and despite Aaron Rusch also being temporarily removed due to an ankle injury, the Hawks responded by scoring two touchdown, making the score 24-21 Hawks at the end of the half.

Although the second half of the game proceeded with multiple interceptions from both sides, as well as a Mount Union fumble, both sides proved to have difficulty capitalizing on turnovers. Finally, the Warhawks managed to score another touchdown with 2:34 left in the game, making the score 31-21 Hawks.

The Hawks secured their win with an interception with 1:01 left in the game, and sent the Raiders home packing for the second year in a row. In addition to a second straight national title, and their third overall, the Hawks’ Levell Coppage was named game MVP. Coppage led the team with 299 yard rushing.

Game Stats:

Whitewater: 121 Mount Union yards passed: 323

Whitewater: 312 Mount Union yards rushed: 45

Whitewater: 4 Mount Union interceptions: 3

Possession time:

1st quarter Whitewater: 6:46 Mount Union: 8:14

2nd quarter Whitewater: 9:05 Mount Union: 5:55

3rd quarter Whitewater: 8:32 Mount Union: 6:28

4th quarter Whitewater: 6:45 Mount Union: 8:15

Strip Club Owner says "No Negros Allowed"

Please sir, may I have some more?

Alright, alright, I admit, it’s not quite saying that we are on our way back to forcing African Americans into slavery and submission, but it’s heading that way.

To bring you up to speed, an Abbotsford business owner, Mark Prior, recently posted a sign in the building that will be his future strip club that reads “No Negros Allowed.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought the year was 2010, not 1961. Has my time machine worked?

The owner said that he has had problems in the past with African Americans, and he has a right to serve who he wants. Well, that is a point. Correct me if I am wrong, but that rule applies to disorderly customers, or people who are causing problems or making others uncomfortable, but should NOT be used to generalize across an entire race. If said patrons are being disruly, then I belive the owner has every right to bar them from his establishment and even post signs saying not to serve said individuals, but to put a sign up permanently barring all African Americans is plain wrong, and illegal, and I for one am glad segregation is dead.

I think it will be quite interesting to see the direction his actions will take, and if his establishment will even be around in the upcoming months. I personally think the entire African American community has a right to sue Prior, and if he doesn’t admit wrongdoing and change his policy, I can see the legal fees and litigation sending him on his way to financial ruin.

Another question that crossed my mind when reading this was, so has he never had an issues with whiteys? Because if you are going to bar complete races due to the bad actions of a few, well pretty soon you won’t have any customers.

Another interesting thing to keep an eye on will be if he decides to hire any African American employees. Because if not, there will also be justification to sue based on the claim of discrimination of race in the job market. You’re on a slippery slope mister. Better watch your footage before you slip and completely wipe out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas really does bring out the best in people....

So last night, I was ringing bells for the Salvation Army in the middle of the blizzard. There I was, with numb fingers and toes, shaking those bells with a huge grin on my face. And even though I was standing outside Walmart in the middle of it, I was actually OK with it. And I’ll admit, my heart just about broke when a little girl, looked no older than three, came up to me and gave me $1 to put in the kettle. She has definitely been nice this year, so Santa better bring her a whole bunch of toys!

And the manager of the store was nice as well, and lent me a pair of gloves when mine were soaked through from the cold and snow.

Even though it was quite chilly, and I needed sufficient time to warm up afterwards, I’m glad I finally found a good use for my cold-bloodedness. Anyway, Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Four Loko: Actual Concern or Too Much Government Control?

You guys have probably be hearing recently about the whole Four Loko thing. The drink is a combination of alcohol and caffeine and people are putting up a stink saying it is dangerous because people are more wide awake and think they are OK to drive - the caffeine makes them make bad decisions. Well, the drink will be pulled off the shelves Dec. 13, so in one week.

Now, my question is, do you guys think it is more dangerous than other drinks, or is the government trying to overstep and micromanage companies? How is it any different than making a mixed drink with Monster, or any other energy drink for that matter? Anytime you have alcohol, it can be dangerous. My own opinion is you need to hold the individuals accountable. When someone shoots and kills someone with a gun, do you go after the individual that did the shooting, or the company that made the gun? Or even if you make the argument that yes, it is more dangerous than other alcoholic beverages, should it be completely banned and pulled, or perhaps place a warning label on the bottles?

And according to one of my coworkers, we can expect the same thing with the new (and seems pretty hot and ingenious to me) alcohol infused whipped cream. That’s right, alcoholic whipped cream, now does that seem fun or what? But it’s in a shiny, youthful can, and it can be abused...well so can a lot of things. I mean you have to show your license to prove you are 18 to buy a can of compressed air because teens have been using it to get high. There aren’t many things that can’t be abused if you put your mind to it.

So feel free to post on here and let me know what you think. I’d love to get some input.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Great Balancing Act

While in college I wrote an article for a class called “The Great Balancing Act.” It was about a classmate of mine, who was balacing going to college, working, and raising a child with his long-time girlfriend. When talking with him, it made me realize that in order to succeed, we need to prioritize. And not just with our time, but money as well.

It’s quite funny, actually. When I was in college, my electric bill was all I had to worry about paying, and a $250 debt on my bank credit card seemed like a huge deal. Now, here I am, six months laptop I had for five years started crackling and breaking down, and I had to buy a new one. I’m paying for all my bills, and have $1,300 still to pay off on my new computer, which will hopefully last me for at least another five years.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, $1,300 in debt for my new computer, need to save up for a car, and the skydiving certification I desperately want will cost another $2,700 and take me weeks...but at least I can do it on the weekend. At least the skydiving is seasonal, and I don’t even need to think about that again for another five months. Then once you take into account half of my income is used for rent, well, there is not a whole lot left for “fun” spending money. I actually crunched the numbers last week, and figured out that after taxes and rent, I’ll have about $8,000 a year to spend on gas for the car, my electric bill, food and spending money. Bigger job, bigger paycheck...but bigger bills.

Priorities. Priorities. Priorities.

And even though I’m sure my mom wasn’t too crazy on my many, MANY extra-curriculars growing up, it sure has come in handy lately, since my schedule is so crazy. For instance, Monday I work 8-5, and then have just enough time to chance, eat and watch a little TV before hopping in the car around 7 to head to Whitewater for Karate Club.

Then on the average Tuesday I work from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. As a matter of fact, if you are looking for me during the week, you’ll usually be able to find me at one of four places: The Star, covering city meetings at the municipal building, UW-Whitewater in either the gymnastics or wrestling room, or at my asleep.

Every week is kind of the same, with small variations, but just as insane. And I’ll admit, I don’t always make it to club, sometimes if I have just worked a long day or am tired, I take it upon myself to skip the one-hour commute there and back again.

So for all you guys out there who are fooling yourself into thinking the real world will be less hectic and crazy than your college’s not. It’s just as crazy, just as insane...but at least you are getting paid.

Well, got to go. Time to hop into the car and join those amazingly insane guys in Whitewater to practice the art of ass-kicking. Kihap!