I was forced to use a sick day today. My lower back has been buggin' me of late, and the only way to get it to behave is a day of inactivity and icepacks. My breakfast today? Two Rolling Rocks and a few pills.
I managed to climb out of bed without assistance, came downstairs here on turned on WILK just as Nancy & Kevin were donning their headsets. Much to my surprise, Wilkes-Barre was getting bashed and not Karl Rove. Go figure.
Check these quotes from today's Wilkes-Barre bashfest in response to our police chief's comments published in the Times Leader yesterday:
I think it shows a real disregard for the people of Wilkes-Barre.--Nancy Kman
This poor guy needs to find a new job.--Kevin Lynn
We didn't hire the chief to go around deciding which crimes he'd investigate and which ones he wouldn't.--Kev again
I have warned you people so many times, and still you continue to speak your minds in public. Remember, if you dare to judge others you will be judged very harshly.
To put things in perspective, Kevin Lynn is always eager to bash Wilkes-Barre. Give him a negative headline and he's jumping up and down waiting for the chance to pile on. And he even spins yarns that have no basis in fact. Yup, he was the guy that said over the radio airwaves that the '05 St. Patty's Day parade in Wilkes-Barre was attended by a "few hundred people," despite the fact that he did not attend the parade. If you were there, you know how far off the mark he was with that assessment of the parade.
And I imagine he recently got his ears pinned back by our mayor. Where he used to rip into Tom Leighton every chance he got, now he starts his usual tirades about all things Wilkes-Barre by stating, I like Tom Leighton, but...
But what? But Wilkes-Barre still sucks. Right, Kev? This is what we get from one of those folks that ran away and hid in a budding gated community. Let's be serious, shall we? At Harveys Lake, the only crimes perpetrated against humanfolk are committed by the lawless and maurading chipmunks. Who better than Kevin is there to preach from his soapbox about how an 80-strong police force in a city of 42,000 residents should be managed? When we run across those 10-94, and 10-82 chipmunks, we'll be on the cutting edge of law enforcement rodent control techniques. And we will never, ever shoot any menacing looking turtles on his watch.
This boy ought to really think about security work.--Kev again
Boy? Boy??? Wow! Who you callin' boy, tough guy? Time for a BOLO alert on a beat up Mercedes, no? Wait. Nevermind. Kev couldn't be caught dead in Wilkes-Barre. He reminds us every chance he gets. He's a fraidy cat. Down here in the big city, we grow our chipmunks big.
Our police chief has been shot at, shot, and he's shot back on a few occasions. If lead could set off a metal detector, you'd never want this guy in front of you at the airport boarding gate. Boy??? Listen to Kevin tell it!!!
And he stopped just...just short of playing the usual race card by suggesting that the folks living in "the projects" are not worthy of police protection according to our top cop. Nothing could be further from the truth of the matter, but why allow the facts to get in the way when another chance to bust Wilkes-Barre's balls presents itself? When the Kingston cops bust some drug dealers, that's reported as good news. But when the Wilkes-Barre cops bust a few narco terrorists, that is portrayed as proof that Wilkes-Barre is worse than Beirut. Quite frankly, I'm a bit fed up with the local media in this respect. And Kevin Lynn's flapping lips annoy me the most.
If you are an easily offended political correctness convert, do not read the Leader story I posted below.
Posted on Sun, Jul. 24, 2005
W-B chief: All victims not equal
Dessoye distinguishes “true” victims from victims “involved or have the intent to be involved in illegal activity.”
By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER email@example.com
“I’m fed up trying to be politically correct with every statement I make about crime and crime victims. The politically incorrect fact is if you’re out at 3 a.m. on South Main Street looking to commit a crime, and something bad happens to you, it’s too bad.”
Gerry Dessoye Wilkes-Barre police chief
WILKES-BARRE – When it comes to violent crime there are “true” victims, and those who put themselves in harm’s way, says Police Chief Gerry Dessoye.
It’s the people in that second category, he said, who are driving up crime statistics in the city, making the situation look far worse than it is.
Dessoye stressed that point repeatedly as he was pressed to explain a recently released report showing a 39 percent increase in violent crime in the city in the first six months of 2005.
In making the comments, the chief acknowledged he’s making judgments about victims based on where they alleged they were victimized – for instance in a high-crime area – and by time of day the crime was committed. But he insisted that type of information must be considered in order to get a true picture of crime.
“I’m fed up trying to be politically correct with every statement I make about crime and crime victims,” Dessoye said. “The politically incorrect fact is if you’re out at 3 a.m. on South Main Street looking to commit a crime, and something bad happens to you, it’s too bad.”
“We’ll investigate, but I’m sure the taxpayers of Wilkes-Barre would rather we take that time and put it into solving a true victim crime, like a person on vacation whose house was burglarized.”
Violent crime is defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Dessoye refused to allow a reporter to review the offense reports associated with the city’s 108 violent crimes reported through June, saying they were investigative documents. He agreed to review the reports to provide a synopsis of the cases.
In his interpretation, many of the victims were not “true” victims, which he defined as “someone who doesn’t do anything to put themselves in the position to have a crime committed against them.”
Far more frequently, he said, victims were engaged in some high-risk behavior – sometimes criminal activity – that ended up turning on them. In other cases they were victimized by someone they know – a crime Dessoye said police cannot prevent.
“I’m not saying we don’t investigate those crimes. I’m just saying there are two kinds of victims out there,” Dessoye said. “People who are involved or have the intent to be involved in illegal activity ... are not a true victim. They’re part of the problem, and part of the reason the crime statistics are skewed so that people think they’re going to be robbed while walking on South Main Street to Boscov’s.”
While insisting all crimes get the same attention no matter who the victim, Dessoye said his focus is on ensuring law-abiding taxpayers are protected.
“Once we do that, then if we can prevent criminals from committing crimes against other criminals, we’d like to be able to do that. But our primary duty is to protect the innocent.”
He believes the crime stats show the department is doing just that.
Dessoye said of the 61 robberies reported in first six months of 2005, he believed about 25 that were clearly “true victim cases.” They included 15 robberies of convenience stores, two bank robberies and three robberies of taxi drivers. Other “true victims” included several strong-arm robberies in which people were knocked to the ground and money taken from them.
But there were many other cases where it appears the victims played a role in his or her misfortune, including six drug-related robberies.
Others in which the chief questioned the conduct of victims included: a man robbed of a cell phone about 1 a.m. outside a housing complex known for drug activity, a prostitute who said a customer stole her wallet, several cases in which the victim and alleged perpetrator knew each other, a store clerk who claimed he was robbed of his night deposit but was later charged with the crime, the robbery of a man who stepped into a building at an area housing complex with people he did not know, a man robbed of $20 at 10:30 p.m. on a city street known for illegal activity, and a woman whose purse was snatched, but did not stick around to talk to police.
Asked about 31 aggravated assaults reported as part of the crime increase, Dessoye said none involved random acts on average citizens.
In eight of the cases, police officers were the victims. The others included drug-related shootings (7), confirmed or suspected domestic violence (7), bar room fights (3) or fights among people who knew each other.
Dessoye stressed he’s not saying those people weren’t victims. He said he cited the cases to illustrate his point that many crimes – particularly those committed by people against people they know – are not impacting average citizens.
He offered a similar argument about the most alarming statistic – the increase in reported rapes from six to 14.
Of the reported rapes, he said only one involved a stranger on stranger situation – a young woman who alleged she was pulled into a car. Of the other cases, two involved a victim and alleged perpetrator who were related, two involved allegations of date rape, three involved juveniles in a single incident, four were believed to be drug-related, one woman went willingly with a man in a car, and another woman recanted her allegation.
In the drug-related rapes, Dessoye said the four women alleged the assaults occurred inside known drug houses. Police suspect the women had gone there to buy drugs. “We can’t determine if they were really raped or if they were trading sex for drugs and decided to claim they were raped,” he said.
Dessoye said his intent is not to diminish what happened to the alleged victims, but to point out that in all but one of the cases, there was little police could do to prevent the crimes from happening.
“I can’t guard you from your family and I can’t guard you from date rape. If you’re walking down a street and get pulled into a car, that’s something, as a police officer, it’s my job to try to preserve that safety aspect.”
Dessoye said he realizes his comments might be construed as blaming the victim, but he insists that is not the case.
“I am not blaming the victim. I’m advising the victim that a change in their habits could prevent this crime. If a female goes to buy drugs in a drug house, chances are something bad is going to happen to you eventually. You’ll get raped, stabbed, shot, overdose or get ripped off.”
If his comments sound harsh, Dessoye said he doesn’t care.
“Our efforts are to make the city safe for law-abiding residents and visitors. I’m not going to offer escorts into high-drug areas so an addict can come in from out of town and buy their dope. ... I’m more concerned about making sure the college girl can walk safely between classes and up South Main Street and have nothing happen to her.”
Terrie Morgan-Besecker, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7179
If we remember correctly, I rode around the city with our two-man anti-crime unit early last year and those police officers sought out our high crime areas for the entire eight hours. No one in the Wilkes-Barre Police Department picks and chooses which victims of crime, or which areas of the city receive police protection. Quite the opposite is true. As a matter of fact, when recounting what I encountered that night, I pointed out that if I was a police officer in this city I'd get myself fired. Why? Because there is no way I could be so consistently professional while dealing with the worst that humanity has to offer.
“I’m not saying we don’t investigate those crimes. I’m just saying there are two kinds of victims out there,” Dessoye said. “People who are involved or have the intent to be involved in illegal activity ... are not a true victim. They’re part of the problem, and part of the reason the crime statistics are skewed so that people think they’re going to be robbed while walking on South Main Street to Boscov’s.”--Chief Dessoye
He is absolutely correct. No matter how much sensationalizing the Times Leader attempts with their "negativity sells" approach to news reporting, our police department treats the innocents and the not so innocents exactly the same if they become the victims of a crime. And during my eight hour-plus ride in a semi-marked police car, I encountered nothing but people that were more than willing to run with the fast and loose crowd. There were no senior citizens being assaulted. There were no high school cheerleaders being bound and gagged. There were no soccer moms being threatened. Nope, quite the opposite was the case. I encountered those selling drugs and those hoping to buy some drugs. I met an under-aged girl groping around with a drunk adult male in a parked vehicle. I met a kid from Jamaica, Queens that decided his pregnant girlfriend needed a beating. I met the ugliest hooker this side of Bangkok. I met the chick that rented the stash house down the street a ways after she damn near rammed our car while sipping on a glass of vodka and orange juice. And I met lots of folks that the cops knew on a first name basis. Priors, no? And the field interviews tended to be a hoot. What are you doing loitering around on S. Main Street at 1 o'clock in the morning? Ah, you're looking for a forty-ouncer with a known prostitute. Gotcha.
Asked about 31 aggravated assaults reported as part of the crime increase, Dessoye said none involved random acts on average citizens.
Again, he is 100% right on the mark. A drug dealer walks into a bar and shoots a rival drug dealer. A hooker gets ripped off. And folks that tend to loiter around the city at 3 AM occasionally get their clocks cleaned, or their undies yanked down. If a person willingly engages in high-risk behaviors and cares not about their immediate surroundings, take a wild guess as to what might happen to them. This is pretty easy to follow for this wayward idiot. If you don't want to meet the cops, don't hang out with the robbers. And if you'd prefer not to need the cops, do like normal people do and get some shuteye long after the sun goes down.
Crime is up 39%? Really? And who is being affected by it? For the most part, it's the criminals themselves being affected.
Big frickin' whoop!
I snagged the following from the city's web site.
WILKES-BARRE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Department itself is commanded by the Chief of Police who has overall responsibility for all divisions. Also, the Chief reserves a special unit comprised of several highly motivated officers used in both uniform and non-uniform capacity for crime suppression in high crime areas.
Also, the Chief reserves a special unit comprised of several highly motivated officers used in both uniform and non-uniform capacity for crime suppression in high crime areas.
Those would be the highly motivated "boys" I rode with. And as far as I'm concerned, knowing that self-motivated and professional law enforcement officers of that caliber are 10-23 after dark makes it much, much easier for me to sleep at night.
Unlike that 10-82 subject flappin' his gums on local talk radio, I wholeheartedly support my police chief and his entire department. Not only do I happen to reside in this city, I own a scanner and I know full well what our cops go through. It's a dirty, often thankless job, but somebody has to do it.
They do it and they do it well.
"I ain't sayin' nothin' man. I ain't gettin' shot for this sh*t."--One of those fine, upstanding folks I met.
Know what? I wanna do another ride-along. I'll find that freakin' Mercedes.