Coffee and Donuts: Trayvon, War on Drugs, Zombies, the gun lobby

Coming to you today from Hot-Lanta and in the words of Jermaine Dupri

Welcome to Atlanta where the playas play
And we ride on them things like every day
Big beats, hit streets, see gangstas roamin’
And parties dont stop til’ eight in the mornin

Those are his words not mine. The days of partying “til eight in the mornin” are over for me due to my age, a 3 year old, a 10 week old, and a beautiful wife who’s a lot younger than I am.

Trayvon Martin Case Spotlights Florida Town’s History Of ‘Sloppy’ Police Work

You know what makes Detectives good at what it is that they do? There are obvious qualities that one must possess, and maybe I’ll go over them in a little bit more detail in a future post. But if I were able to chose a detective to investigate my own homicide, I would pick one that’s been around the block a few times. And not one from a department who handles only one or two homicides a year. The number one factor that has the greatest effect on the quality and success of a homicide investigation is the combined experience of those doing the investigating. Having a prosecutor who doesn’t long to be a detective also helps. The bottom line is that if you’re constantly around people who have been murdered, you will become good at discovering what happened and who did the murdering.

‘War on drugs’ has failed, say Latin American leaders

In the words of Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Latin American leaders have known for a long time what the US needs to finally admit to: that what we are currently doing in the ‘war on drugs’, and the amount of money we are spending doing it, is not working.

Gun Sales Booming: Doomsday, Obama or Zombies?

Maybe what some people are really afraid of is that secretly President Obama is a Zombie. Not just any Zombie, but a socialist Zombie. He not only wants to eat you, but he wants to share you with his ‘herd’ of flesh eating socialist Zombies. Maybe we can submit a script to a few socialist Hollywood producers. Any suggestions for a title? How about “Obama the Muslim Christian Eater”?


Mayor Bloomberg: Washington needs to stop cowering before the gun lobby

I’m not a fan of Mayor Bloomberg, but I do admire the fact that he takes on Washington and the gun lobby. I know that this is his last term and some may say that he has nothing to lose by taking on the NRA. In all fairness, he has always been an advocate for gun control and has never been afraid to challenge those who are directly responsible for the proliferation of illegal guns on the streets of our cities. Why aren’t more politicians as outspoken as he is on issues of gun control? Is it because he’s a billionaire and does not have to be beholden to the NRA for votes and campaign contributions? Here’s a novel idea. Let’s elevate the salaries of our elected officials in Washington to billionaire status. This way they wouldn’t have to sell their souls, asses, and votes to the lobbyists.

NYPD cops should be treated like heroes, not perps

My brothers in the blue on NYPD were really lucky this past Sunday. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was Easter Sunday and the good Lord decided they were not going to lose their lives on this ‘watch’. I don’t agree totally with what Denis Hamill wrote in his piece. But if we are going to publicly condemn and crucify cops when they do wrong, then we need to publicly acknowledge and praise them when they come so close to losing their lives doing good.

Black: the color of the month

Coming to you today from sunny Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. A beautiful place to visit and live, but not for me. That is, it’s not a community where I think I would feel comfortable living. Having lived in New York City, the melting pot of the world, and the culturally diverse D.C. Metro area, at times I can feel a little out of place when I notice that no matter where I go, I’m the only person of color. I also lived in Atlanta, Ga where blacks and whites appeared to get along, they just don’t live in the same neighborhoods. Where it seemed that every single Hispanic person in the metro area lived off of Buford Highway in Northeast Atlanta. In Siesta Key, the only place where I feel like I belong is at the beach where you can find a lot of people baking in the sun trying to get as brown as I am year round.

Now that we are on the topic of color – it seems that’s all that’s been on everyone’s mind for the last few weeks – is anyone out there familiar with the tragic death of Kenneth Chamberlain? Before I begin, I want to make a few things clear before the attacks begin by those that will accuse me of morphing into a cop hating, tree hugging, nigger loving liberal since my retirement. At the time of my retirement, I had been a cop for more than half of my life. I loved being a cop, and I still love my former and current brothers and sisters in blue. I have nothing but great admiration and respect for what it is that they do every day. Not many individuals can truly understand what being a cop is all about. I will always side with the cops when they are doing the right thing, even if in doing the right thing a mistake is made. Regardless of what some may think, cops are humans, and as a result, are sometimes fallible. Am I saying that cops who err while trying to do the right thing should not be punished? Of course not.

On the other hand, I refuse to defend cops who abuse their power and authority. I refuse to defend cops whose treatment of others is affected by bigotry and prejudice. I refuse to defend cops who commit crimes and miscarriages of justice against the same individuals who they have sworn to protect and to serve. The fact that we once wore the same uniform will not automatically shield you from my condemnations when your behavior and actions are suspect. You will receive no mercy nor quarter from me.

With that said, the preliminary information that I have been reading on the this case leads me to conclude so far that the conduct of the police in this incident is suspect to say the least. It’s one thing for someone like George Zimmerman to refer to a black person as a “fucking coon”. It’s another when the police refer to someone they are supposed to be helping as a “nigger”. I’m just curious to know how Kenneth Chamberlain, the man the police were called to help, turned into Kenneth Chamberlain the dangerous criminal. Please don’t tell me it was the moment when he refused to open the door for the police. He was within his legal rights to do so. Or was it when he allegedly charged at them with a knife in his hand?

I can’t help but think that like the Trayvon Martin case, there were some people who thought that the Kenneth Chamberlain case had also gone out with the trash. And I can’t help but think that the only reason the mainstream media is reporting on it now is that it’s the flavor of the month. Whatever the reason why, we should thank the ‘left wing’ websites for ensuring that these two cases get the prominence they rightfully deserve. If not for them, these cases would have been hauled off to the dump where the cases of people who have been murdered and don’t matter go to die.

Coffee and Donuts: Zimmerman, Rape Trial, Batman

Police video shows George Zimmerman shortly after Trayvon Martin shooting

I don’t know about you, but to me it appears that George Zimmerman is in pretty decent shape for a person who just a little while before this video was taken, was involved in a life or death struggle with Trayvon Martin. Or maybe, as according to his attorney, he just heals fast. Whatever the case, I’m hoping that the Sanford Police Department documented the extent and severity of his injuries with some photographs. Taking photographs of a suspect’s or victim’s injuries is covered in criminal investigations 101. Hopefully someone on the Sanford Police Department took that class.

George Zimmerman lost job as party security guard for being too aggressive, ex-co-worker says

Could George Zimmerman have anger management issues? One of his former coworkers had this to say about him: “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When the dude snapped, he snapped.” Fighting with cops, throwing women to the ground, shooting an unarmed young man. His lawyer may decide to trash the ‘Stand your ground’ defense and instead claim temporary insanity.


Mistrial declared after Manhattan jury deadlocked on rape charge against newly canned NYPD cop Michael Pena

I just don’t know what a victim of a rape needs to do to be believed by a jury these days. How could this victim possibly remember being penetrated by a rapist if she can’t remember something as simple as the color of a car? I, for one, would think that a mature, adult woman would know when her vagina is being forcibly penetrated by a rapist’s penis. This just bolsters my argument that verdicts in criminal cases should be decided by majority rule and not unanimous verdicts. The judicial tenet of beyond a reasonable doubt is an admirable standard that sounds good in theory but many times it is untenable in courtrooms throughout our country. And as a result, victims do not receive the justice they seek and deserve.

Batman pulled over

In the dangerous, chaotic, and crazy world of police work, it’s the humorous moments like this and the people that you shared them with that you will always remember.

Coffee and Donuts: Trayvon, DSK

Trayvon Martin Investigator Wanted Manslaughter Charge

Just when I started to lose faith in some of my brothers and sisters in blue, ABC news runs a story that restores it. Seems like the lead Investigator in the Trayvon Martin case wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter. Looks like Investigator Chris Serino adheres to same rule of criminal investigations that I do: the one about if something looks like shit smells like shit… Apparently Investigator Serino believed that George Zimmerman was, well, full of shit. Thank you Investigator Serino for trying to do the right thing. My question now is who overruled him and why?


Blacks, Bias and Marijuana: Did Drug Stigma Contribute to Trayvon Martin’s Death?

A good article in Time magazine written by Maia Szalavitz. I’m of the opinion that good writing is thought provoking, and this one certainly has me thinking. Not just about Trayvon Martin but about our failed and unwinnable so called war on drugs. There are a lot of people making a lot of money off of this war on drugs, and I’m not just talking about the bad guys.

Strauss-Kahn Charged in Prostitution Case

I think that DSK should have a music video produced. He would be cast as the featured Lothario a la Rudolph Valentino (for those of you who don’t know who Rudolph Valentino is, Google it). He would be surrounded by beautiful women dressed as maids, reporters and prostitutes singing “I didn’t do it,” to the music of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.”

Dear Trayvon’s Mom

My wife emailed this letter today. To say that it is well written and touching would be an understatement on my part. In an eloquent manner, Jen Hatmaker expresses the sentiment that a lot of us share when we think of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. If a lot more Jen Hatmakers stepped forward, it could be the beginning of an honest, respectful, and constructive dialogue on racism and race relations.

MAD MEN RETURN……..they never left

The murder of Trayvon Martin continues to garner headlines in much of the national media, as it should. I, for one, would like to see this tragedy pave the way for some positive headway made into establishing a long awaited, and overdue national dialogue on race relations in this country. I taught a course in cultural diversity to baby-faced recruits when I was assigned to the police academy. In my opening comments, I would mention how if it were up to me, they would teach this course in our schools starting in the first grade, if not Pre-K. As Roland Martin from CNN puts it, will the death of Trayvon Martin be a “moment or a movement”?

A bit of blame has been cast on just about everyone involved in this tragedy. From George Zimmerman who pulled the trigger to the Sanford Police Department who many accuse, myself included, of conducting a questionable investigation. You may have even heard Geraldo Rivera blaming Trayvon for his own death because he was wearing a hoodie (the same Geraldo who as the president of the Young Lords vehemently fought for justice for those who couldn’t.) One group that has virtually skated so far in the blame game are the Mad Men. No, not the characters of the AMC hit show, but the members of the Florida legislature who enacted the “stand your ground” law. Trust me when I say that I’m not attempting to be humorous when I ask WTF was the Florida legislature thinking. And not just the Florida legislature but also the 20 or so states that have enacted similar legislation.

Maybe they should have just called it the ‘vigilantes r us’ law. Even police officers, who are constantly in the cross hairs of violence, have to abide by laws and departmental regulations on when they can use deadly physical force. Law enforcement professionals are schooled in the use of force continuum. A standard that provides law enforcement officials & security officers with guidelines as to how much may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. A layman’s explanation on the continuum of force would be that cops could bring guns to a knife fight, but not to a fist fight. If every cop ever punched in the face by a dirt bag were legally allowed to shoot that dirt bag, well just use your imagination. We place stringent restrictions on the use of deadly physical force on police officers to prevent and curtail the abuse of power by those who society already entrusts with so much power. In a civilized and law abiding society we don’t want our police officers to also play the role of judge and executioner. Why, then, do states like Florida pass legislation that allows an average citizen to do that which those that we entrust with our safety can’t? Why does the National Rifle Association, which prides itself on its support for law enforcement agencies, endorse legislation which these same agencies are vehemently opposed to? Hmm…I wonder if it has anything to do with gun sales and the hefty contributions that gun manufacturers make to the NRA….

We must ensure and demand that the Trayvon Martins of society get their chance to be heard – even if their own voices can’t be heard. We must also strive to ensure that his tragic and avoidable death become a movement in our hearts and minds and not just a moment, like so many others that have been forgotten.

Let’s Stand Our Ground

The last thing that I want to do is to sound like that ex Green Bay Packers quarterback who kept saying that he was retired, only to come back and give it one more shot again and again. Or like Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3 who said, “Just when I thought I was out….they pull me back in”. The truth is I haven’t gone anywhere, nor have I thrown in the towel. But, I have been encouraged by some of my readers to continue to throw my two cents into the black hole of blogs. This seemed like an appropriate topic to return with.

In wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, America is soul-searching

How or where do I even begin to write about the terrible tragedy that befell 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and his family? I think about my own son who is only two years older than Trayvon, and all of the other mothers and fathers with teenage sons – especially those who are labeled as suspicious by individuals like George Zimmerman simply because of the color of their skin. It’s so saddening for me to think how I am thankful that my son didn’t inherit my complexion, particularly if we were living in one of those states that have adopted what I refer to as “if they’re brown, prone them out” legislation (I’m looking at you, Arizona).

Cops, like most sports fans, are guilty of ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’. We read or hear about crimes and we are quick to form an opinion on the ‘alleged’ perpetrators guilt or innocence. We are also quick to criticize the actions of police officers and their departments as well as to how investigations are handled. With that in mind, I will refer to my holy tenet of criminal investigations – the one about things looking or smelling like shit. That tenet certainly applies in this case. I, along with many outraged citizens, just have a few questions for the Sanford Police Department on how this investigation was handled.

For example: why did Trayvon’s body sit in the morgue unidentified when his cell phone was found on him? That’s like finding a victim’s wallet in his pocket, but not opening it up to see if there’s ID inside. They couldn’t have called back the last number? There wasn’t a “Mom” or “Dad” in the contacts list? Did they fail to identify him because they were too incompetent to think of using his phone to figure out his identity, or because they just didn’t really care who he was or who might be missing him? And if it was that they were too incompetent, how can we have confidence in the quality of the investigation that they conducted?

I am often forced to watch old episodes of Law and Order (I really do like the show, it’s just that my wife enjoys it more). This avoidable tragedy got me to thinking about the words that the narrator opens with, “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I ask: who represented Trayvon Martin? Was it the Sanford Police Department who, in my opinion, were more interested in the vindication of George Zimmerman than they were in obtaining justice for the kid that he shot dead? George Zimmerman the obvious aggressor and instigator in this incident, in who’s eyes Trayvon Martin was acting suspiciously simply because of the fact that he was black and wearing a hoodie. The same police department who didn’t – or wouldn’t – use Trayvon’s cell phone to assist in identifying him or notifying his parents? Or was it the prosecutor’s office who didn’t think that his murder justified a response to crime scene and instead adjudicated the matter over the phone?

The above cause me to reflect on a multiple homicide that I assisted with in Jackson Heights, Queens, many years ago. Two groups of rival Hispanic drug dealers got into an altercation while at a restaurant/club. Words were exchanged, guns were drawn, and shots were fired. When the shooting ended, 12 men and women had been shot, 7 of them fatally. Several of those who had been shot were innocent victims who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the conclusion of a debriefing on the case for the brass, a Detective/Sgt. stood up and nonchalantly said, “So what we have is a bunch of dead spics, who cares?” It seemed to me then that not much had changed in the context of racial prejudice and racism. And it seems to me today that much is still the same.

America, Murder Inc.

At least I know that my blog title isn’t the most offensive or insensitive commentary on this Troy Davis story. That infamous honor goes to Ann Coulter. And while we mention her, let us not forget about the ‘closeted’ Ann Coulters of the world. They are just as responsible for the murder of Troy Davis, with their blood thirst for revenge and vengeance which they clothed under the guise of justice, as those which had the power to save his life, but failed to act.  America was once again on the national and world stage, as it always seems to be. The performers for the most recent show were the late Mr. Troy Davis and every single agency, office and court of law in our country which failed to act on his behalf, and which horribly failed to do the right thing. 

As a young cop, I was a strong advocate of the death penalty, so much so that I would have been willing to be the judge, jury, and executioner of men like Troy Davis. That was back when the only colors that I saw were black and white. Or at least I let myself  believe that it was that simple. As I became more exposed to the brutalities and realities of life, I began to see the shades of grey that were not visible to my closed eyes.  As I became more aware of the greys, I began to see how inherently wrong it was to take another’s life in the name of justice, especially when that justice we so vehemently seek and believe in can be so easily corrupted.

I don’t know if the state of Georgia executed an innocent or guilty man for the murder of Police Officer Mark McPhail. The travesties  of this story for me will always be the needless deaths of two men and the lingering doubt that will haunt will us forever.  I wonder if the rest of the world thinks less of us today for killing a man in the name of justice even though enough substantial doubt existed that commuting his sentence to life in prison would have justified doing “the right thing”.

If there is anything that the headline cases (DSK, Casey Anthony, NYPD Cops Mata and Moreno) of the past several months have shown us or taught is that “Liberty and Justice for all” does not always prevail.