1-14-2006 Where's Superman when we need him?

"The police screwed this up!"--Kevin Lynn of WILK commenting on the murdered informant in Wilkes-Barre.

While there's no denying that this city has suffered a rash of extremely violent incidents over the past month or so, typically, these sorts of crime waves are totally sporadic, if not cyclical in nature at times. Ask a cop about full moons, or the nights immediately following the delivery of welfare checks.

I liken crime waves to sales. Sometimes you have a big month. Sometimes you don't. But you gotta keep plying your skills and hope for the best.

The biggest differences between a bad sales month and a bad crime month are 1. Violent crime gets people hurt or worse and 2., Violent crime scares the hell out of the populace. In sales, too many bad months usually results in the folks you answer to terminating your employment. As it pertains to crime, the same principle still applies, but votes have to be cast before anyone starts collecting unemployment compensation. But in both respects, you have to be aggressive to achieve your goals.

So we've had stabbings, shootings, a savage murder and a criminal shot dead by a city cop. And with all of that comes the resulting media scrutiny, and the howlings from those who generally know not of which they howl. And that goes with the territory. I guess it's fair to wonder what the heck is going on and what's being done about it. But when some members of the media address the situation in totally accusatory tones, and those with a political axe to grind start working their lack of magic; that's when I start getting a little hot under the collar. Then again, I rarely wear anything other than tank tops, so I'm not really sure where I'm getting all hot and bothered.

Case in point, Friday at 6:11 AM. The place? WILK. The big local story was the informant getting stabbed all over while under police surveillance. I expected two things from Chia Kev and he not disappoint. Despite his constant reminders that he absolutely loves police officers everywhere, he bashes their brains in every single chance he gets. Hence the "The police screwed this up!" gibberish coming from that sphincter of his that got confused with a pie-hole. As if professing your undying love for police officers everywhere will get you off the hook when your blood-alcohol content is high enough to melt the windshield. What a freakin' maroon.

The second thing in play was that Chia Kev looks for reasons to bash Wilkes-Barre. If you listen to him long enough, you'll come to believe that Wilkes-Barre is the only city this side of the Grotto Sports Bar that has a pothole. And he likes it that way. He's muted his numerous and oft-unfair criticisms of Tom Leighton of late, but he still manages to get his digs in.

And while he railed against "the police" for three hours because they "screwed this up," he very cleverly failed to mention the fact that the big drug bust gone bad was not undertaken by the Wilkes-Barre Police Department. And neither did his partner in what-ifs. That just happened to be the Luzerne County Drug Task Force's sting, but why point that out when you've got Wilkes-Barre primed and ready for a thorough beating on talk radio?

And another thing that Chia Kev and lil' Miss What-if got completely wrong. Where is it written in their one-sided stack of stuff that police informants involved in sting operations should not be, nor are they ever out of the direct line of sight of the trailing police officers? That's complete hogwash. That's bunkum. That's bilge. But that's what happens when you go to hacking nuts on the radio without having a clue as to what you're goobering on and on about.

Now, I realize that these two experts in every aspect of criminal justice decided to live where crime amounts to having your mailbox knocked over by kids every five years or so, so I'll cut them some slack in these respects. Sure, they've both experienced crime in their bucolic neighborhoods, but not since NYPD Blue was cancelled. When chipmunks start packin' some serious heat, maybe then I'll vaule their opinion whereas policing is concerned. Probably not.

The hysterical callers were a hoot, even if they were phonies to a large degree. I wonder if Chia Kev even realized that the first two callers to the show ranting and raving away about how they fear for our safety were both city employees that got fired by the city? I doubt it. Then again, even if he did know, he wouldn't let that get in the way of his big chance to bash Wilkes-Barre yet again.

Remember, this is the same troll that told his listening audience that nobody showed up at last year's St. Patty's Day parade, even though he was not in attendance. Even Nancy had to call him out on that bald-faced lie.

And even if the county's drug task force guys were in charge of that drug buy gone horribly wrong, and not the Wilkes-Barre cops, that is in no way proof that they "screwed this up." When you're dealing with the lowest common denominator that puts zero value on human lives, sh*t does happen. I'm not summarily dismissing the fact that someone lost their life, but predicting the next move when you're playing one criminal against the next can be an imprecise science. We were told all along that when the drug market started getting squeezed in this city, a reaction to that action should be expected. For the most part, we've been seeing criminal on criminal violence. And if that trend continues, it sure beats criminal on resident violent crime. Whatever.

I truly believe we've got the best trained, best equipped and most motivated police department in this entire county. I've put my trust in their hands and they'll do me proud. And I'm not gonna get all weak-kneed just because Chia Kev sez I should. Besides, what does he know about Wilkes-Barre other than what he reads in the newspaper, and what some fired city employees with axes to grind told him?

"It looks like the mayor is painting a rosy picture of a very bad situation."--Nancy Kman

I snagged these quotes from a Voice story after the drug bust went bad. They are all attributable to Mayor Tom Leighton. And they got Nancy to going zone on the mayor.

"We will win this battle," Leighton said at a council meeting. "It takes time. Police have done a fabulous job. They're sticking to the game plan. You're going to have incidents. I'm very thankful none of our officers have been injured."

"You're going to have situations where people get injured and that's unfortunate," Leighton said. "But these individuals who are getting hurt are putting themselves in a position they shouldn't be in." "If you look where all these crimes are being committed, it's just a matter of time before we keep shrinking it and shrinking it," Leighton said. "The crimes are being committed in the same neighborhoods."

"There have been stabbings, beatings and problems at other nightclubs throughout the Wyoming Valley that never makes front page news," Leighton said. "Because it happened in downtown Wilkes-Barre and it happened among people who look different than the people sitting here, it made front page news."

Nancy's immediate response to Leighton's comments?

What about Mary Leo?

What an infuriating dolt! She's starting to sound just like her half-witted callers.

What about Mary Leo, Nancy? Do you really think Tom Leighton forgot all about her? Nobody in this city has forgotten about what happened to her. Thing is, what happened to her could easily happen all over again. But it'll barely grace your radar screen unless it happens in Wilkes-Barre.

What you suggested to your listeners is that there is no actual game plan in place. And your mocking of the mayor over his reference to the fourth quarter was a low-brow cheap shot at best. If memory serves, you were the media person making the most noise about how Leighton's decision to raise the emergency services tax by $42 and hire ten new police officers unfairly affected the residents you now claim to be so utterly frightened for. He planned to hire a freakin' platoon worth of new cops, but..Oh, no!!! Chief Nancy didn't like that f>cking plan. And now that the druggies are being squeezed and reacting very violently...Oh, no!!! Chief Nancy doesn't even see an actual plan in place. It's no wonder the great majority of her regular callers are so factually bankrupt with the lack of insight she offers as lead-ins.

"When you live anywhere near that it affects your life."--Nancy again

How in the f>ck would she know? Wasn't she born-and-raised in the Mayonnaise farm belt? Experienced much violent crime up there on Ski Slope Mountain lately? Did somebody steal the mirror off of the John Deere? Lemme guess: You read about violent crime and it's visual aftereffects on the internet? Whatever. Make sure you lower the gate when you leave the compound.


Let's take a stab at Mr. I-Stand-Corrected, Walter Griffith, as reported by the Voice yesterday.

Thomas also defended his comments at a work session Tuesday that convenience stores such as Turkey Hill should hire their own security guards.

Former city council candidate Walter Griffith Jr. criticized Thomas' suggestion, saying it is unfair to penalize a place where there is excessive crime.

"They pay their fair share of taxes. They should be entitled to police protection the same as anybody else," Griffith said. Schiel's Market in South Wilkes-Barre hired an off-duty police officer as a security guard and had very few problems, Thomas said. He feels it's favorable to have a police officer or security guard "standing at your door."

"It is my obligation to say things in public that no one else wants to say," Thomas said. "No one will stop me."

Sorry, there Walter, but Tony Thomas was absolutely correct. Once again, you stand corrected. Listen to me tell it: Convenience stores such as Turkey Hill should hire their own security guards.

You are welcome, Tony.

These days, with drug addicts knocking off Turkey Hills faster than you can refuse to pay for the wrong copies you requested at city hall, how much sense does it make to leave a 20-year-old girl all alone on the midnight shift in a retail concern? Is that not a frickin' invite to be robbed? See? You stand corrected. What else is new?

"They pay their fair share of taxes. They should be entitled to police protection the same as anybody else," Griffith said.

Some people just can't help themselves. It's really sad to watch.

Um, Walt...try to follow me here. I know it's hard, but try anyway. You see, security guards do not have the powers of arrest. They can grab you, and pin you, and maybe even twist your arm behind your back until you sob like a girlie--but they are not police officers.

And Tony Thomas Jr. did not suggest that those firms opting to employ security guards would no longer be receiving police protection. It's people like you that make republicans in this county totally unelectable. Would you vote for a guy like you?

And is it really unfair to penalize a place where there is excessive crime? Sure it is, if they decide that being robbed is all a part of doing business, while one employee sits their with a bullseye on their body all alone, all night. Well after dark, Turkeys Hills are crying out to passersby: Rob me. Rob me. There's less than $50 bucks in the register. But it's yours for the asking. Wanna catch a buzz? Then rob me.

Back when I was attending to 192 seats filled with the bar crowd, it got to the point where I was spending more time dealing with drunken assholes than I was managing the restaurant. That puts undue stress on the employees. It puts the law-abiding customers at risk. And it can lead to damage to the physical plant, theft of service, etc., etc., etc.

At some point, my higher-ups decided to introduce a security guard into the mix, and what a security guard he was. He was a former three-year starting linebacker at Oklahoma State, and trust me--we had us some good, good fun at the drunken idiots expense. I could re-live some of those exploits here, but I'm worried about the statute of limitations, and other suchlike legalese that sounds like mutated Eubonics to me.

But there was this one East-ender that looked like David Bowie. And when we got done with him on the side of the building...

Walter, I don't care how many times you've managed to get your name published in the newspapers--you're f>cking flat-out wrong. I'm about to tell you why, so grab a pencil and paper and learn yerself. Assuming you can read and write, it won't hurt. I promise. Here we go.

When business-as-usual results in robbery after robbery, it's high time that the internal policies of Turkey Hill come under closer scrutiny, if not outright suspicion. They've had employees injured during robberies, and if they keep with the status quo, they are going to get somebody who least deserves it killed. Some like a plan, Walt? Is there anything there that raises a red flag for you?

Another thing. How many man-hours has the WBPD had to devote to their robbery investigations, and their gas drive-offs over the years? How much has the Turkey Hill outfit cost this city all because they deem a loss of fifty dollars to be an acceptable loss in a high mark-up environment? If they put security guards in every single store, how much might the resulting savings amount to for the municipalities involved?

Try this on for size, Walt. See how it fits. Would you allow your 20-year-old daughter to work the 11 PM-7 AM shift at the nearby Turkey Hill? Would you?

No? That's what I f>cking thought. Pipe down until you've got something intelligent to say.

"It is my obligation to say things in public that no one else wants to say," Thomas said. "No one will stop me."

Hey! He's startin' to sound like me.

Is that a good thing?

This is from today's Times Leader:

WILKES-BARRE – Seconds after robbing a Carey Avenue convenience store, a gun-toting Paul Appnel stormed out of the store, but was confronted by a police officer.

Appnel, 42, ignored veteran officer Brett Smith’s commands to stop, pointing his pistol at Smith and running up Division Street toward a stashed vehicle, according to investigators.

Then Smith gave chase.

A defiant Appnel kept turning at Smith, pointing his pistol at him. It led to Smith firing 10 shots at Appnel as he reached his vehicle on Keith Street in Hanover Township. Appnel sped off.

He didn’t make it far.

I met Brett Smith once, and he seems like a thoroughly likeable dude. I can't say I know him, therefore I don't want to give the false impression that I have any idea what his present state of mind might be. As far as I'm concerned, he should be feeling upbeat and content in the knowledge that he did his job to the best of his abilities. It's not an easy job, especially when the question of whether to shoot or not to shoot enters into an already dangerous job.

Cops know what they face when they don their vests, and they know that their mission is "to serve and protect" a mostly defensive general public. But while going about their charged duties, they also want to be able to go home at the end of each and every shift. And while we may fantasize about what it must be like to carry a gun for living, with that gun comes enormous responsibilty.

On average, most cops probably get through an entire work year without having to remove their firearms from their holsters. And those who do rarely if ever have to fire them. I imagine a fairly high percentage of cops get through their entire careers without having to discharge their firearms. And for those who are forced to squeeze of a shot or two, I figure most of them probably retire without being forced to end someone else's life in defense of their own. But not all.

But for a cop, there is probably no tougher decision they will face than whether or not to fire their guns. It's not something to be taken lightly when you consider that immediately after doing so they wll be subjected to intense internal, media and public strutiny. And if they make a bad decision, their career might be over because of that muzzle flash.

The problem being, in most cases, they have but a nanosecond to decide whether lethal force indeed needs to be applied in a given situation. When a drunk and adrenalized wife-beater emerges from the house with a weapon in his hand, whats a cop to do? Talk to him? Give him a second or two to calm down? And what if his gun hand starts raising skyward? Should the cop still give pause and keep working towards a peaceful outcome? Or does he protect himself by getting the first shot off? That moment, that nanosecond might determine whether the drunk's wife, or the cop's wife have to be told that their spouse will not be coming home again. Then again, that pause might result in a happy ending for everyone involved.

So, let's say the cop takes that first shot, the drunk dies on the operating table, and the resulting investigation concludes that the shooting was completely justified. Then what?

Then that cop that was provided with a fleeting nanosecond to make a life-and-death decision has no shortage of time to anguish over what had transpired--no shortage of time to second-guess himself.

Then again, what if the drunk was trying to point a BB pistol at the cop involved? What if it turns out the cop shot him for nothing? The shooting would still be justified in most folks minds, but then the cop has forever to anguish over his decision--forever to second-guess himself. It's weighty stuff, folks.

If I had to guess, I'd say most cops that die in the line of duty do so only because they hesitate rather than making a mistake. And in doing so, they make the mistake of getting themselves killed. The drunk gets to live for another day, but then the cop's wife has to explain to the kiddies why daddy won't ever be coming home again. And all of this is the result of an altercation that is over just about as fast as it is started. Scary.

It is for the above reasons that I will never overreact when a cop decides to take the first shot. Yes, the shooting incident needs to be fully investigated. And, yes, the scrutiny is well-deserved. Yes, the newspapers will look for an angle to cause some unrest and sell some more papers. The cop was a racist. The cop was trigger-happy. Whatever works.

But if you don't even have time to think when a gun battle is likely to erupt, I'm thinking it's human nature to want to get that first shot off. I think I would.

In my mind, Brett Smith deserves our support.

Finally! Despite all of the hand-wringing, the second-guessing and all of the Leighton bashing, somebody upped and nailed it.

Citizens' Voice

Crime watch head: City needs more police officers

By Robert Kalinowski, Staff Writer 01/14/2006

WILKES-BARRE - When Charlotte Raup heard a city police officer on routine patrol had positioned himself to potentially nab an armed robbery suspect at the Carey Avenue Turkey Hill early Friday, it strengthened her belief in two things: patrols help prevent crime and the addition of more cops would make those patrols more frequent.

"Our cops are doing a wonderful job. They are arresting people left and right. But how many of them are there on the road? Maybe six," Raup, the leader of the city crime watch, said Friday. "I think everybody in the city knows we need more cops. We could never have too many, but we definitely need more."

The officer in the Turkey Hill incident, Brett Smith, used deadly force when the suspect fled the store and continually pointed a gun at Smith while fleeing, police said.

Wilkes-Barre City Council President Tony Thomas said the incident reinforces controversial statements he made the evening before the shooting that convenience stores like Turkey Hill should have their own security.

"It's stopping a lot of the critics, who said I shouldn't have said what I said," Thomas said Friday. "I got a lot of calls today, saying 'My God, you're right.'

"I look at it not as a positive, but as a tool maybe to get them doing what Schiel's (Family Market) is doing and what other stores are doing," Thomas said.

Schiel's Market in South Wilkes-Barre hired an off-duty police officer to be a security guard outside the store.

It's been effective, Thomas said.

"I don't like to see anyone put in that situation. The poor clerk at Turkey Hill had to be crazy after it. Our police officer has to be traumatized."

"Our cops are doing a wonderful job. They are arresting people left and right. But how many of them are there on the road? Maybe six," Raup, the leader of the city crime watch, said Friday. "I think everybody in the city knows we need more cops. We could never have too many, but we definitely need more."

We need more cops. Goll-danged right we do.

The question is, how do we pay for more cops? Is anybody up for a tax increase? Are we on board for a tax increase and ten new cops? Or are we just gonna keep biting people's ankles?

Somebody call Walter. He f>ckin' knows everything.

I gotta go watch the Seahawks go down in flames.

Where's Superman when we need him? Is he still doing talk radio?