Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Working Dogs

For the last 30 years, I've lived in a place where working stock dogs are commonplace.
So, when I saw a cell phone video of a coyote running among a herd of cattle, I hit 'play'.

I thought about sharing the video, because it was literal "sheepdogs" at work (okay, they were cow dogs, but whatever). Most people have never actually seen what they do---fun videos of border collies working flocks through gates, set to music , yes, but not the hard work of guarding the babies and the bred moms.

The driver of the truck told his wife, who had the cell phone, "Send him! Send him!" , when he saw the coyote in his pasture.
The McNab next to her whined and snarled and barked.
With the truck still in motion , she popped the door and turned that dog loose.

The dog hit the ground running, went through the barbed wire like it wasn't there, and gave chase. The coyote flattened out.
Then another black and white dog streaked into the camera frame, from the right.
And another. And another. And another.
All those dogs had a single goal: get to that coyote before he could harm the babies, and end him.
And they did.
The camera cut out just as the coyote hit the ground rolling, and seven black and white dogs got their bite.

I decided not to share it; it wasn't pretty.
It would upset viewers.

What predators do to the calves and lambs who can't fight, and can't outrun them, isn't pretty.
Neither is the work it takes to protect the babies.
And that's really the problem: everyone wants the babies to be safe, but no one wants to know, really, how that happens.
And when they see it, they feel sorry for the wrong one.
We are here, because we know the difference.
Maybe the coyote can't help himself. It's how he's made.
But the babies can't protect themselves--and the sheepdog can't help himself, either.
He'll do whatever it takes to protect the helpless, because that's how he's made.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

You Can't Elect a Friend

In this post-election cycle, I'm reading a lot of apocalyptic predictions from one side and a lot of gloating and 'I told you so' from the other.
Just a reminder: NO politician is your friend. None.
It's all about money, and power.
You, my friend, are a pawn, and you cost money.
One side ties your hands and demonizes your profession,
and the other sees you only as a tool and investment, measurable in credit and debit columns, and prone to discard the tool when it costs too much.
Or when it's broken. Or old.

I'm reading things about proposals for changes to benefits and retirements at federal levels, modeled on Wisconsin's sacking of their public employees system.
That's not going to be a morale booster, or recruiting asset, and believe me, where the federal model goes in cost-cutting, Republican statehouses will follow suit.

I've had officers from 'conservative' states, especially those that are right -to-work states and adhere only to federal OSHA standards (read: exempting government agencies from OSHA's own regulations....I'm just learning about that) tell me of
management abuses:
from failing to provide safety equipment, and basic vehicle maintenance, to officers being explicitly instructed *not* to record overtime, to some who have worked 30 days and more without a day off.
In every state, by the way, failure to accurately record work hours violates many, MANY laws.
But who will hold them accountable?

It is no coincidence that new federal overtime rules for non-exempt employees were scheduled to go into effect shortly, and yesterday, were blocked---
by a Texas judge.
Texas, I love the way you look at freedoms, and law and order.
I'm not so impressed with the way you treat the officers you say you love.
Prove me wrong, y'all. I'm watching.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Might Be a Rural Badge #1


If you've ever had a formal complaint filed because you didn't wave back, you might be a rural badge.

If your kid goes to the same school as the kids of everyone you've arrested in the last three years, because it's the *only* school, you might be a rural badge.

If you blow out your last pair of uniform trousers and it's a 90 mile trip---one way--to get fitted for another pair for tonight's shift, you might be a rural badge.

If you pack a lunch for every shift, not because some minimum wage tweaker might spit in your burger, but because nothing is open after 5 pm in your town anyway, you might be a rural badge.

If you've kicked in a door and cleared a three thousand square foot house solo, because you were the only one patrolling for a hundred miles, you might be a rural badge.

If the back of your rig has not just your patrol rifle, but also a case of MREs and another of water, you might be a rural badge.

If you called for backup, waited an hour for it, and when it got there it included two Forest Service officers and a game warden, you might be a rural badge.



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mayberry's a Myth

UPSHOT: 8 of the 15 LE deaths by gunfire this year, as of March 23, 2016, have been in small towns and rural areas. That's a solid 53%.

Let's break that down.
Mayberry never was real, and the bedtime story is getting ugly.
The photo is from last month's incident in Park County, CO.

This is long; but it is irrefutable evidence that the 'war on police' extends to rural life.
**Disclaimer-- this is a VERY rough analysis of the information LESMA provided, based on info publicly available to me. It's intended only to provide some perspective and context for the raw numbers.**
I've been combing through the table of shooting statistics LESMA shared as of 3/23/2016, and as far as I can tell, this is a basic breakdown of the relevance for rural policing.

According to the spreadsheet, so far in 2016, 68 officers have been shot ,representing 50 agencies, 54 separate incidents, in 27 states.

15 of those officers died.
Of the total, 19 shootings took place in areas with populations of less than 30,000 residents (about 35%).
11 had fewer than 10,000 residents (about 20%).

26 of the total 68 officers were shot in incidents that took place in areas smaller than 30,000 residents (about 38%).

On three occasions, multiple officers were shot in small, rural areas in the same incident.
In each one of these, there was one officer fatality (Iuka, MS pop. 3011, Bailey, CO pop. 8859 and Russiaville, IN pop. 1085 ).
In Iuka and Bailey, at least one other officer was critically wounded.
*shooting scene in Iuka, MS*

*In 2016 officer deaths by gunfire so far, small towns and rural areas account for 8 of the 15 fatalities through 3/23/2016 (about 53%). *
( I always wonder how much effect distance from advanced trauma care has on this result.)

Notable facts about some of these rural shootings:
--Danville OH pop. 1020 : an ambush murder, as indicated by a 911 call from a frightened significant other warning dispatch the shooter was armed and looking for cops to kill.
--Mountain Pine AR pop 775 : a police chief from a one -man agency responded alone. The shooter was possibly an anti-gov activist.
--Seaside OR pop 6453 : attempted warrant arrest results in fatal shooting of a police sergeant. He tried to use his TASER first.
--Mesa CO, Fruitvale area pop. 7675 : Officer fatally shot by a juvenile suspect. Officer attempted to use his TASER when juvenile was noncompliant.
--Clarksdale, MS pop 17, 282 : officer shot in the head by robbery suspect, still hospitalized after more than a month
--Iuka, MS pop 3011 : four officers shot in a hostage standoff situation, one fatally, one critically, two others requiring hospitalization but wounds not life-threatening.
--Lawrenceville IL pop 4316 : save by ballistic vest
--Bailey CO pop. 8859 : Three officers shot, one fatally, one critically wounded on a contested eviction enforcement with an anti-government activist .
--Russiaville IN pop. 1085 : two officers shot, one fatally during an attempted warrant arrest.