A call to action

A call to action
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Thursday, March 11, 2010


One police officer should not get his police training from Dick Wolf. In the Columbia Tribune, T. J. Greaney wrote in his colum that:

"And yet the system fails at an alarming rate. In California, a sociopath named Phillip Garrido was somehow able to hold a girl captive in a network of tents and sheds for 18 years without notice. Garrido, a registered sex offender, built this backyard prison in plain view for neighbors and his state caseworker to see. So why didn’t anyone catch him? He was on the list. He was compliant. Nobody felt the need to ask any further questions.

"On the other side of the coin, I think about the times I’ve heard of young children barred from flights because they happen to share the name of someone on the Department of State’s famous 'no-fly list.' Parents go red-faced as they try to plead and reason their way onto planes and are stonewalled by a bureaucracy.

“'Our hands are tied,' say the TSA officials. 'Little Timmy is on the list.'

"These are cases when too much reliance on computerized data leads to worse decisions, not better ones. People shut off their critical reasoning and rely solely on checking the correct boxes in the correct databases. Other examples include: the AAA ratings of faltering banks up until the market crash, regulators who ignored Bernie Madoff’s impossible return on investments and the engineers who didn’t connect the dots on Toyota’s accelerator problems.

"So what does that have to do with Ms. Beaver’s classroom? I have a theory that people who have had to slog along and memorize things using mnemonic methods have more mastery of that data later in life than someone who simply has it uploaded. That’s because they’ve had to work for it. I believe the child who does all his figures by long division is more likely to spot the 'red flag' data point on the ledger sheet than the child who does his equations with a TI-85 calculator. I think these children are the same ones who, as adults, are more likely to pick the Garridos and Madoffs out of the crowd.

"It’s just a theory, and I could be wrong, but more and more I see troubling headlines that back it up."

The problem with cases like Garrido is that parole officers are not people who used only stuff that's uploaded. In overall life, schools should still teach kids how to tell time on the hand clock and their times tables. More importantly, they should teach kids how to write essays, or otherwise, they will not succeed in college.

However, California parole officers are not taught common sense, nor the fine points of law. On Episodes of Law & Order, and it's variants of SVU, Criminal Intent, and the late Trial by Jury, a normal police officer appears before a Judge, raises his or her right hand, swears to tell the truth, and explains why there is probable cause to search the premises. There is a major exception to the law. If the suspect is on Probation or Parole, there is no need for a judge to stop his law clerk from finding the code book, playing his poker game, commenting on his wife's dress, or banging his secretary. The Parole Officers can invite the police, sheriff's, Highway Patrol, FBI, Secret Service, DEA, ATF, ICE (formerly the INS), to the property and ransack the premises, enter into sheds, invade bathrooms, and in some cases, invite code enforcement over to search for structures not up to code, things built without pulled permits, abandoned vehicles, etc. Why? I know they look like assholes, but once a defendant accepts Probation or Parole, the Fourth Amendment is waived and thrown out the window. Clearly, these Parole Officers should have been trained that aspect of law, but not in the Garrido Case.

A "failure to train" is considered a "policy" in pleading and proving civil rights cases. When Garrido's parole officers didn't bother checking the backyard or notice wires leading to the backyard, it comes under the category of "whoda thunked it?" The victims of this "failure to train" include Jaycee Dugard, her two daughters, Carl and Terri Probyn, who worried and cried for 18 years, and of course, the taxpayers of the United States and of the State of California, whose Parole Officers let Garrido run loose for 18 years. 

It takes common sense and correct training principles. None of which was done in the Garrido or other cases. 

Maybe kids should learn to sing the names of Presidents more than learning to pass a scan-tron test?   

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