You Can’t See Poop In The Dark

Last Saturday I attended a fund-raiser at a friend’s farm. I got to run the grill with the able, and appreciated, help of Max Aristide. He’s the best. Between us, we managed to feed the whole crowd and have a few laughs over a VERY hot grill.

Me and Max – a great team.

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After we’d fed them all, and I ate way more than I should, there was a bit of speechifing and such, then my wife and I went home to spring the dog. It was almost full-dark when we got to our car, and a young father was asked by his kids if they could go see the animals. His response was yes. But as they ran off, he reminded them that “You can’t see poop in the dark.”

Now that I’ve quit laughing, I’ve found a pretty deep message in that line. Especially in light of the events last weekend in Virginia.

None of us can see poop in the dark. We stumble around in our blindness and hope to see a light that will guide our way, and illuminate our path. Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, it’s through Jesus. That’s how I found my friend Max. My life is good, and guided from above with that light that only Heaven can provide.

But for some, both left and right, black and white (and every other hue of skin as well), there’s an eternal darkness surrounding their soul. They are bitter, and full of hatred and … all of it. Every sin you can find that one uses against another is there in some form. So they point fingers and call names and punch old women in the head and … no punctuation on that run, as in real life it’s nonstop and sickening.

Maybe the worst part of it, to me, is the demand that you become ever more outraged and violent over these things. Frankly, after seeing a death camp in person I’ve pegged the outrage meter. So if you expect me to violate my friends based on skin color, or political affiliation, because I’m supposed to be more disgusted than I am, it will be a long wait. Yup. I can be disdainful, sarcastic, filled with loathing, and you will never realize it because you aren’t in my skin. Just assume that I find it distasteful and horrible as well.

Now that we’ve established that, what can we do to move forward? Let’s go back to the very first thing I wrote about in this blog today: love. I love Max. He’s my friend. We grew up in different countries, different cultures, speak different languages in our homes (his English is way better than my Creole) and have different outlooks. But what I know is that Max and I both love people based on the teachings of Christ.

Doesn’t make me better than anyone else. Doesn’t make me less ignorant on a whole host of topics. But it does fill me with joy, light, and the presence of God during difficult times.

Let’s pray for our country. Let’s work to get along with each other. Let’s quit pointing fingers if someone else isn’t sufficiently outraged in our opinion. Most of all, let’s get ready for the ultimate judge of our character. That time apparently isn’t too far off.

See ya soon.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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Law Enforcement – The Daily Grind Is Done With Excellent People

Long before some of you were born, I squeezed into a patrol car for a year of my life. I loved it at times, feared it at times, respected it always. I worked with some great people, some adequate people, and a couple of awful people. No doubt, some of my colleagues put me in a category as above. I hope it was at least the adequate one.

Over the last four decades, law enforcement has changed its methods of training and operation. It’s a lot more dangerous than it was (for most cops) today. People don’t think twice about being belligerent, actively resisting, and daring the officers to do their job. There are a lot more racial slurs dished out to the officers. And not as you might think. I talked to more than a few cops in my research this summer (for a book and for a seminar I’m teaching) and the casual racism the public subjects them to is utterly awful.

Nope. Not talking about just black officers, but I’m more than sure they get their share based on other inputs. I’m talking about Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic officers who take an unbelievable amount of crap from the public. Most of it is minority subjects (of a group other than the one the officer belongs to) trying to interject a race component and get the cop to back off and not do their job. Trust me, it just annoys the officers, and most of it causes ulcers, not prevents arrests.

If you think that cops are targeting people based on race, go on a ride-along. If you can’t go on a ride along, do this simple test: Put a lawn chair on the sidewalk at a busy intersection. When a car comes by that fails to signal a turn, or has a burned out light, or looks drunk, or any other infraction, write down the plate number and the description of the driver and passengers. You’re a better man than I, Charlie Brown, if you can do that in the daytime on a consistent basis, and at night it is virtually impossible. So just chuck that profiling thing away. I write this only because it damages the reputation of good people when this accusation is thrown about to avoid the results of illegal activity. It harms the souls of good people who know better, but are not allowed to fight the charges in the public domain.

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Now that I’ve kicked the soapbox out of the way, let me tell you what it is you expect your officers to do in an 8 hour shift. Not just today, but every day. The answer is anything you call and ask them to do. Yes, they’re called “first-responders” for a reason: they are the first ones you call.

During the ride-alongs I did this summer, I was blessed to be with sworn officers from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bloomington Police Department. I was given an inside look from before roll call to end of the shift. I was an observer, not an actor. I did, in full disclosure, get pulled in to a few events, mainly because nobody my size is invisible. I wore civilian clothes and stayed on the perimeter of the action. But some citizens and suspects wanted me to act, or get clear of the scene. I think this had a minimal impact on the officers and deputies I was around. I did make sure to watch their backs. That is just who I am. But no weapons or force on my part, just eyes.

I was deeply impressed with the professionalism and quality of equipment and deportment both departments showed me. I was even more impressed by the fact that the sense of humor, and the good attitude of the officers on the street, is undiminished in the face of modern threats to their safety. Cops will be cops in the briefing room, and the humor is not different at all from the military. They can take a joke. And the gallows humor is the same as it was decades ago.

So what do we expect our officers to do? Here’s a typical list of a shift:

Inspect car, make sure you have Narcan so you can save overdosed opiate users, long gun and weapons, computer functioning properly, radio working, lights, sirens, vehicle lights, emergency flares, road cones, and first aid bags to bring inside before the ambulance gets there.

Briefing: get a list of people that are a danger to the community and are wanted, businesses that need close attention (prostitution, drugs, or likely to be robbed based on some intelligence the department has obtained), unusual items such as a parked car that bears watching – it may or may not be an issue, but neighbors complain that it might be abandoned – and a host of minutiae including payroll issues. Usually a cursory inspection of uniforms and weapons is done as well, but since all the cops I saw looked “squared away” it was just a glance by the Sgt. as they did the briefing.

In the next 8 hours (this is a combined list from both ride-alongs, but pretty accurate for that time span. No names, I signed an NDA, and am making these just generic enough not to specifically identify the people involved) we:

Detained and sent to detox a violent drunk who was scaring people at a retail store. This call was waiting when we cleared the station. The officers were very cool and calm, and the suspect wrote his own ticket into handcuffs with his threatening and violent behavior.

Responded to a series of parking complaints. None of them justified.

Responded to a man who was wandering the streets, incoherent, had soiled himself, and had no idea where he was. We returned him to his home where the caretaker was waiting.

Searched for a homicide suspect thought to be in the area.

Responded to a fire call where a gas leak had made a house dangerous. We waited for the homeowners to explain why the fire department had to be let in by a neighbor, and what they needed to do next.

Responded to a dead body in a residence. They were. Wait until Coroner arrives or supervisor releases you. But getting there you have to drive like crazy because it comes in as an unresponsive subject who isn’t breathing. You want to get there in time to help. Sometimes it’s already too late.

Respond to a domestic disturbance. Everybody is drunk and stupid. It’s one heck of a combination. No arrests.

Pull over a drunk driver. They’re on the edge of the limit so they get to go home. Wifey drives.

Long, involved domestic where everybody is sober, everybody has an old axe to grind, and nobody is telling the truth. Everyone wants the other one to go to jail. Nobody goes to jail. The police, I promise, will be back there a few more times before Christmas.

That’s in 8 hours. Every day. So the officers were marriage counselors, professional wrestlers, sobriety counselors, traffic wardens, building evacuators, referees, consolers of loved ones, and filmed repeatedly by every citizen who they came in contact with that night.

Oh, yeah: we did get dinner one night, a hot dog. We paid for our own meal. We never stopped for coffee, or donuts. Bathroom break was at a fire station.

Never stopped to just talk or hang out, always eyeing what was going on, checking plates for stolen cars, checking people’s identification for warrants, answering questions about natural gas leaks, and generally working extremely hard to serve the public.

The Bloomington Police Department and Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office were both excellent to deal with on those occasions. Polite, smart, compassionate, and real. I have left out the two calls that would rip your hearts out, but in both cases the officers went above and beyond their public charge to help citizens with major problems in their lives.

In short, the cops on the beat work hard and deserve your faith. I was impressed, and very grateful to both departments for the opportunity to see them in action.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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Providence & Saint Paul’s Crime Problem

My wife and I often state that there are no coincidences, only “Godincidences” in our lives. Monday was a prime example of that theory in action. I had plans on where to be at 1830, God had other plans.

Saint Paul, the city of my birth and residence, has a growing problem with violent, mentally ill, and intoxicated homeless people taking over the streets. I think I can get away with that statement given that I’ve spent more than a tad bit of time in ministry to the homeless over the last dozen years. Saint Paul, like a lot of liberal democrat cities has taken the approach that if we focus on the big crimes like overtime parking in business districts, bulbs in liquor store signs being 100 Watt versus 80, making sure that protesters get a fluffy pillow every night, and protecting those that block freeways we will have a place where every illegal immigrant that seeks sanctuary will feel comfortable.

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The second paragraph isn’t much of an exaggeration. Most of the downtown area, particularly the part closest to the main homeless shelter, has been thrown open with no enforcement (that I can see) of the laws regarding pooping on the sidewalk, and harassing people for money. The homeless have always been among us, but a new contingent have cropped up in the last year (predating Donald Trump, so don’t bother blaming him) and they are far more aggressive and violent than I’ve ever seen. Some of the “old-timers” are afraid as a result. They are preyed upon by the younger ones, and violence is very common.

Monday I was moving as fast as I could to get home and run an errand for my wife. When I got to the intersection where my bus arrives I saw a guy I have known for years get slung to the ground by a younger man. I moved as fast as I could to get there, having lost sight of them when they went behind a wall.

Rounding the corner, there it was: the younger man straddling the old guy, wailing on him with his fists. I don’t know about you, but that won’t stand in my universe. (Thank you, Mom, for the kind part of my heart. Thank you, Dad, for the instruction on dishing it out.) I used my very best command voice and ordered him off. He didn’t get off, but he did slow down on the punches. I reached down and pushed him off his victim. Now I’m the focus of this dude.

He’s high. No doubt about it. The glazed eyes, clenched fists and jaw, the aggressive body posture. I got in between him and his target and told him to move back. He’s not getting the cues until I explain, in my very best sailor talk, that he’s going to have bigger problems if he doesn’t stop right now. The standoff is in progress at this point.

Two things to point out here: not one person on the plaza came to my aid to put this jerk down. One guy moved behind the bad guy, but I wasn’t sure if he’d be any help. Furthermore, nobody called the cops. Not a cell phone in sight. No indications of help on the way. So I called 911 while backing this idiot off.

The second thing was Erin came to shield Robbie (the victim) from his attacker. This business woman got off a bus that had pulled up when she saw what was happening, ran over, and shielded Robbie with her own body, ordering the attacker to back away. This woman had more guts than anyone else on the plaza. (Later I found out that the bus driver did call for the police. But that doesn’t excuse the dozen or so people who didn’t help me (and Erin) from their behavior.)

Eventually the attacker left. I was on the horn with 911, and provided a description and direction of travel. He had told me that I was next. Sure enough, before the squads got there he had gone around the block and came back into view. Seeing me, he skirted the area, but didn’t leave. That led to his arrest a few minutes later when the police got there.

After a check by the ambulance, Robbie and Erin were taken to identify the suspect (but this isn’t “COPS” and I’m telling you the jerk is guilty without a trial). Once done with that, the story had a happy ending: Erin walked with Robbie to a nearby diner and bought him dinner. It was kind of sweet.

So, Saint Paul City Leaders, when are you going to address the issue with the dozens of aggressive pan-handling, violent, intoxicated, mentally ill people roaming the public spaces in this city? You need cops downtown all the time. You need foot patrols and motor units in the core of downtown. I bear no ill toward the officers that responded, but that it took that long for a responding unit is unacceptable. More cops, more patrols, more arrests.

Let’s get real, Saint Paul: your pie-in-the-sky development plans are all for naught if people are afraid to be downtown after five in the afternoon. We’re at that point.

Thanks, Erin. You were the bomb. Next time you see me down at the bus stop, say hi. Send me a message in the comments, I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you.

The rest of you? Get involved. Call the police when that stuff kicks off, and step in to defend the helpless. If you cower, and just get on your bus, you have failed the rest of humanity. “But I wasn’t involved.” True. Neither was I. And the next time I might not be there to help when it is you. Wouldn’t you want others to come to your aid?

If you want to see time stretch to infinity, find yourself on the ground with some maniac beating your head against the cobblestones. Robbie can attest to what that was like on Monday. I stopped it. Erin stopped it. If not me, who? If not now, when?

My point is that things are out of control in Saint Paul, and if we don’t defend ourselves and each other terrible things will continue to happen. Remember the old saying, “When you need a cop right now, there’s one just minutes away.” As a former cop I can vouch for that. They react. But increasing their presence downtown will help more than a little.

Saint Paul, I love you. But you’re going to hell at this point. Turn it around.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in evil, government, law enforcement, political, popular culture, safety tip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Ain’t Much Of A Blog Today

Just wanted to say a word or two so you didn’t think I was dead.

I have three (3) really good blogs coming up, but reality stepped in and stopped me up short.

So hang in there a day, or two, and I’ll be back on Wednesday or Thursday.

In the meantime, Erin, you are one brave and gutsy woman. More in the brass balls department than about 20 men in the same neighborhood. I hope we meet again soon – your story is the first one to be told this week.

That ought to intrigue some of you.

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That’s A Mighty Fine Brain You’re Hiding There.

Today’s blog will be relatively short. It’s not so much a missive, as a challenge for all of my readers.

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This past Saturday I taught a 5 hour seminar for young people – fourth grade through college – on creative writing. It was a labor of love, mainly because I’ve been sitting in other people’s classes for the last decade (roughly) and may have picked up a few things along the way. It seemed to me that I should return that favor, and help some new writers get their start.

For five hours I talked, listened, coached, ate burgers, and shared a brand-new room in my church with some of the most amazing writers I’ve ever met. I was the one who learned the most on Saturday.

I’ve worked a lot with children over the last two decades as Santa. But it is humbling to spend time intellectually with my betters, especially when I’m two feet taller, and forty years older, than most of them.

Each child had a gift. I asked for them to write a story at one point, gave them the topic and 20 minutes. They each developed a unique approach to the topic, hammered me with writing that was beautiful and elegant, and wowed me with the level of insight into the topic.

I’m thinking really hard about doing these workshops professionally for other civic groups. As in charging a fee. But I’ll need to up my game quite a bit to do so without guilt.

God blessed me with some skills. I returned a little bit to the community Saturday. And I found that we don’t have to worry about the next generation as much as we need to help them.

That’s my challenge to all of you: Take that special skill that God gave you, and teach it to someone else. Work with your church to teach writing. Or carpentry. Perhaps your amazing skills as a pastry chef. Or just give a class on basic auto mechanics to a bunch of youngsters getting their licenses. Save them from the blown engine, the flat tire, and the rip-off artist garage.

Do it for the right reasons. Volunteer now and again. Charge if there’s a market – but make sure that you do it with God’s work in mind. Give back before you close your fist over that pile of cash.

Next week I’m teaching the adults. I am giddy with anticipation to unlock the creative people who have been going to work as security officers, nurses, real estate agents, and attorneys. I know God’s going to bless me with another great group.

Take that as your challenge: get out and share your God-given gifts with another this week.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is available here. Just click this link!

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

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