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When Toy Guns Equal Real Bullets

If a lack of remorse and accountability are an ailment, America has an epidemic and sadly it is spreading within the ranks of those who are sworn to protect us.

How many of you have heard about 13-year-old Andy Lopez?

Probably not as many of you as there should be.

On October 22, 2013, this Santa Rosa, California teen was walking down the street carrying an “airsoft” rifle when he was stopped by 48-year-old Deputy Sheriff, Erick Gelhaus, who ultimately fired-off eight rounds after allegedly asking Lopez to, “drop the gun”.

Seven of those eight bullets found their close-range target leaving a family and a community outraged in the puddle of blood that once gave this child life.

With ever-increasing reports of unnecessary violence, brutality and murder committed by America’s law enforcement officials, the growing angst over the burgeoning police state is at a tipping point.

How many women will have their faces smashed?

How many other parents will bury their children?

How many other lives will we allow this epidemic to claim?

Supporting The People Who Are Trying To Help…

The name Cindy Sheehan may also be familiar to some of you, after all, she has been fighting for accountability and justice over the death of her own son Casey. Played-out on America’s media stage for years, maybe you know her as the, “Peace Mom“; or from hearing sound-bytes about things like “Camp Casey“; or maybe, it was her heart-wrenching question,”For what purpose did my son die?” that first brought her to your attention…

cindy-sheehan-governor

Image Source: Cindy Sheehan

What you may not know, is that she is currently running for California State Governor against incumbent Jerry Brown. Running on the “Peace and Freedom” ticket, some — including Sheehan herself, say she is running as a “socialist”. The term “socialist” is intrinsically — and wrongly, tied to “communism” and it’s gotten a bad rap. You can learn more about her platform on her site www.Cindy2014.org.

What makes me bring her up while discussing the topic of police brutality and the death of Andy Lopez is the fact this woman is going out of her way to not only advocate for meaningful and effective reforms, but has initiated a wonderful conversation about implementing psychological tests for all law enforcement candidates during their application process and vetting period. These tests are an important step in curing the epidemic of police violence spreading across the nation and can be especially helpful for applicants that are combat veterans, as was the case of Deputy Sheriff Gelhaus.

In addition, Sheehan is proposing citizen review boards of local law enforcement. I am unaware of any candidate anywhere that is seeking these changes including our current Governor who has avoided the topic and is instead too busy accepting environmental awards — which I might add is quite a rip-off in my opinion considering he is known as the California Fracking King.

As a California resident I am happy to support the changes Sheehan is seeking. Our officials should make us feel safe and protected, instead they appear to be a trigger-pull away from taking our lives. You can see her press release on this topic here.

Cops To The Rescue?

The problem is so out of control that former law enforcement officials are banding together and speaking out.

RenegadePoPo is an organization dedicated to exposing the realities and causes of police brutality and other abuses while seeking effective ways to combat it.

In their words, on their website, they hope to, “appeal to your sense of justice, imagination and heart” while educating about the roots of these problems.

renegadepopo-police-violence

Image Source: RenegadePoPo screenshot

According to the RenegadePoPo website,

“Issues like how PTSD can lead to police misconduct, suicide, reckless behavior and promiscuity. Issues like the value of gay police officers, what happens to overweight officers, the impact of shootings, how the police personality undermines what officers do, what makes a good cop’s marriage work, what job-related issues may lead to divorce, confidentiality, fitness for duty evaluations, lying to departmental shrinks, over-controlling attitudes, domestic abuse, the impact of your police work on your children, drug use by police officers, alcoholism, women in policing, the impact of scandal on police officers and their families, eating disorders and much more.”

And, according to the California Innocence Project,

Police misconduct statistics gathered by the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project confirm that around 1% of all police officers commit police misconduct in a given year and that the consequences of such misconduct are grim.  Keith Findley from the Wisconsin Innocence Project conducted a study and found that police misconduct was a factor in as many as 50% of wrongful convictions involving DNA evidence.  ” And they note, “In most police misconduct cases, the misconduct is more subtle than torture.  Often times police simply push the envelope in order to obtain a witness statement. 

That’s just misconduct…

Statistically Appalling

With the help of technology there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of citizen videos on Youtube.com that expose all manners of incidents of police misconduct and the numbers and abuses are staggering.

The Cato Institute tracks and charts reported police misconduct cases and in their 2010 assessment sate,

“Of the 6,613 law enforcement officers involved in reported allegations of misconduct that met NPMSRP criteria for tracking purposes, 1,575 were involved in excessive force reports, which were the most prominent type of report at 23.8% of all reports. This was followed by sexual misconduct complaints at 9.3% of officers reported then theft/fraud/robbery allegations involving 7.2% of all officers reported. ” And breaks that down further with, “Of all 1,575 officers involved in reported excessive force complaints, 897 (56.9%) were involved in cases of physical use of force complaints which include fist strikes, throws, choke holds, baton strikes, and other physical attacks. 232 officers (14.7%) were involved in firearm-related excessive force complaints, 166 (10.6%) were involved in taser-related cases, and the remaining officers were involved in other cases involving a combination of force types (13.21%), use of police dogs (1.7%), police vehicles (0.4%), and chemical weapons (2.4%).”

police-misscondect-violence

Image Source: Cato Institute (fair use)

You can peruse the 2010 complaint map to see how these numbers played out in your region and check out CopBlock.org to learn how many of these offenders were convicted.

No Singular Answer

While the diagnosis is apparent, there is no singular “cure” to the epidemic facing us. There is however, an abundance of power — by way of the people, that can tip the scale so that the “powers that be” do not leave us, “powerless”.

ACTION ALERT: Join Jailhouse 4 Gelhaus Tuesday, November, 5th, 2013 at 1:30 pm for a march to the D.A.’s office demanding an indictment of Erick Gelhaus for the murder of 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

DAY #3 OF NaBloPoMoBlogHer,  yeah right and NanoPoblano

nablopomo

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10 comments on “When Toy Guns Equal Real Bullets

  1. ajmacdonaldjr
    November 3, 2013

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams

    “An immoral and irreligious people require the tyranny of a police state.” ~ Me

    Like

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  4. rarasaur
    November 4, 2013

    The stories were heart-wrenching, Cheri. Poor families.

    Like

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  6. crookedeyebrows
    November 4, 2013

    This is almost like any third world country police force being exposed ……………

    Like

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  9. Marcus Ampe
    June 18, 2014

    Though retired I also work part-time in the safety industry and I can tell you we encounter enough ‘synthetic weapons’ which are real enough to hurt and even kill others.

    It is wrong to give people an idea that only ‘metal’ weapons can kill. There are many more dangerous tools security officers are confronted with and should take care they do not stay in the wrong hands.

    It can also happen no difference can be made on first sight if it is a real dangerous weapon or bomb. In such case the officer has to take the right measures but also has to take very quick decisions. When wrong reactions are noted this can trigger also very dangerous reactions on both sites of the front, the person carrying the weapon and the people seeing him or her carrying it.

    Parents should know they should not give any sort of weapon, be it a toy or real to their kids. Weapons are no playthings. Real or fake children should not learn to kill.

    Like

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