Monday, June 29, 2009

Hate Crimes

I saw this article on CNN today, and it got me irritated. It's a commentary piece on Hate Crimes. The laws that apply to them, and how we're making better laws against hate crimes.


I think hate crime legislation is some of the most insidious stuff we have. If it's wrong to beat someone, or kidnap someone, or torture someone, or kill someone, then it's just plain wrong. However, if you called them a pejorative name while doing it, then it's extra bad, and you'll get to do some extra time for that crime.

What the hate crime legislation is doing is attempting to control what people think. If it's wrong to commit a certain crime, then it should be wrong regardless of why you commit it. It's shouldn't be worse because you have a negative view of the person or persons you commit the crime against. Heck, if you felt all sorts of fluffy-bunny-luv for them, you wouldn't be committing crimes against them in the first place!!

Proponents of hate crime legislation say it's there to protect the rights of gays/lesbians/Jews/Asians/Hispanics/(take your pic). However, hate crime legislation does nothing to protect anyone. The only thing hate crime legislation does, is enhance the penalties a person can suffer if convicted of a real crime, based solely on that person's thoughts and ideas.

That's basic thought control there. Tell them not to do something(the law) then tell them that while it's a free country, and you can think whatever you like, if you express those thoughts before, during, or after committing a crime, we're going to make things even worse for you, based solely on your thoughts and motivations.

Is the act, in and of itself, a crime? If so, then that should be the end of it. Your motivation for committing that crime shouldn't come into play at all. It's the crime that's illegal, not your thoughts or motivations for committing the crime. Unless of course, it's against a 'protected' group, and then maybe it is a crime to have thoughts that don't lock-step with what 'They' think you should be thinking.


PS - Ironically though, when a local chapter or set of a gang decides that it's going to initiate a new member in by having them go after a cop, that never gets looked at as a hate crime. Even though the reason they target a person is based solely on clothing and job choice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Interagency frustrations

You know, working for a state law enforcement agency can be extremely frustrating. There are so many other agencies that you have to interact with, and none of you use the same identifiers. We use a State Identification Number for each offender in our agency, SID for short. You'd think that would be universal, at least across the state agencies. You'd be wrong. State Corrections uses a totally different number, and who knows where they got that from. If you look hard enough at the DOC forms, you can find the SID number, usually not as prominent as their own SCID number, but there nonetheless.

Then enter into the Federal system. You'd think, that if someone is actively being supervised by a state officer, if someone else decided to pick them up, say on federal charges, you'd get notified of that. Once again, you'd be wrong. Unless of course, when the feds pick them up, they happen to hold them, however briefly, in the county jail. If that happens, then when one of our admin staff is going through the list of those newly booked into the jail to see if any of them are under supervision, you might get lucky and get a hit on it. Depending of course, on how they book them in.

I'm currently trying to track one through Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Seems he was released directly to them, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Now the Feds, have their own ID number system, but even within that, ICE has it's own special ID number system. Unless you're on very good terms with a local ICE agent, who's good at tracking through their computer system, you can't hardly find out anything about someone they're dealing with, unless you already have that special ICE ID number. Which they can't give you, unless you can identify the subject you're looking for. Which they're going to need that number to identify him. Vicious circle eh?

You occasionally get lucky, and can find that number listed on paperwork from SCDC, if they passed through there with the ICE detainer on them. It's not called the ICE ID number, or anything easy like that, but if you've seen a few of them, you realize that they're all in the same format, and can usually pick it out of the morass of jumbled letters and numbers that adorn their discharge paperwork. If of course, your lucky enough to get a copy of that paperwork. If not, then you have to get on the phone, and cajole someone in state records to sift through the paperwork, looking for a string of characters that begins with a specific letter, and has a certain number of numerals after it. Of course, if you want someone in state records, which is under the DOC to find something, you've got to be able to give them their version of the ID number so they can track it down.

Suffice it to say that I've spent the last few hours chasing down numbers and getting them all organized, just so that I can ask ICE what they've done with my guy. Of course, now that I'm ready, ICE is not. So I'll patiently wait to see if anyone calls me back, or if I have to start the wheedling again tomorrow....


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I the moment...

First, a bit of background. I work in law enforcement. In the past, I have worked for County Forensics. Doing a variety of things, from taking fingerprints inside the jail, to working Crime Scenes, to actually working in the Crime Lab for a time. I loved my time in the lab, but consider it a lesson learned about trusting people more concerned with politics than with doing the job. I took a position funded by a Federal Grant, under the assurance that the position would most certainly be picked up when the grant was finished. I guess we know how that turned out :p

In any event, I currently work with Probation and Parole here in Carolina. Now, Probation and Parole mean different things to different people, and the roles vary from state to state. In some states, they're not much more than glorified social workers, there to assist the offender with integration back into society. In Carolina, however, we are Class 1 law enforcement officers. We attend the Criminal Justice Academy, and receive the exact same training as any Deputy or Officer on the road, and carry much of the same gear. While we do make some effort to see that offenders get certain services, our main objective is to enforce the dictates of the Court and the Parole Board. If an offender can't abide by the rules, then we write out a warrant for their arrest, and do what we can to track them down, arrest them, and get them in front of Judge. If we're lucky, and we get a good Judge, they go to prison to serve the sentence that was originally imposed on them, and then suspended in favor of Probation.

Needless to say, they generally didn't get on Probation or Parole, because they were good at following rules in the first place. Subsequently, we spend a lot of time writing out arrest warrants for offenders. I've written three so far this week. Now, if we each went off on our own, and tried to arrest people, we probably wouldn't get very far. There's just too many of them. So what we do is form Warrant Teams. Several times each month, teams of five to eight agents go out, and attempt to serve arrest warrants for which we think we might have a good address.

Now when these teams reach a possible arrest point, we deploy out around the perimeter, in case we get a runner, and still have at least a two to three people ready for entry. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, or on TV, especially on COPS, there really isn't much drama involved in these things. The people on the perimeter, are really there as a Just In Case kind of thing. I can't remember the last time one of our Warrant Teams had to chase somebody down. Nine times out of ten, if not ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we knock on the door, ask for so and so to step out, and hook him up. We generally ask if there's anything he would like to leave at the house, or anything he would like to take to jail with him. If you treat people right, they generally do right by you. Heck, last week, as I was hooking someone, he said to me "Mr. Casey, I'm sorry you had to come out and get me like this." Now, while having someone apologize, for making you arrest them, isn't an every day occurrence, it's not that rare in this line of work, as long as you're professional, and don't make a jerk out of yourself. There's a fine line between being a cop, and doing your job, which a lot of people will respect, even if they don't like it, and being a jerk, just because you can be one and get away with it.

On the rare occasion, there is some drama involved.....enter the manly fun :) I'm out on a recent warrant team, one we're conducting in partnership with several different agencies, serving our warrants and theirs. We'd had a good morning, and picked up eight different people, no muss, no fuss. About six of us were enjoying lunch at a local diner, when we got a call from one of the head guys. Get our butts in gear and get to meeting place X in 20 minutes, there's a high threat warrant to be served, and S.W.A.T. is involved. We start over towards meeting place X, all wondering why we're headed there. If the SWAT guys are involved, there's just no way they need us, I mean, those guys are good at what they do, and we'd probably just be in their way. We get to the briefing, and it turns out that there are multiple targets. SWAT is taking the primary residence, while our team and another are securing a secondary residence, and everyone else, including K-9's, are securing a perimeter.

Whoa...butterflies in the belly time. This is not what we do. We're told that a firefight is a distinct possibility, as the primary suspect is armed and violent. There are also likely to be in excess of twenty people at the two residences, with an unknown number of weapons.

Did I mention the butterflies? Seems that these aren't your everyday, nectar slurping butterflies, nooooo...these are some sort of mutant carnivorous butterflies trying to eat their way out of your belly. Kind of like the critters in Alien, only with wings.

Anyway, we're all loaded up, and rolling out. The whole way I'm thinking to myself..."What the heck am I doing here. This is not what I do. I'm Mr. Laid-Back." About that time, the driver slams on the brakes, and someone is shouting "GO!GO!GO!" I can only assume that the carnivorous butterflies are unable to exist outside of a patrol car, because I never noticed them after my feet hit the pavement. The adrenaline is flowing hard as I come around the nose of the Vic and head across the street, drawing my gun and ordering people to the ground.

About that time, maybe twenty-five feet away, SWAT is making entry, and the Concussion Grenades(Flash/Bangs) start going off. Let me tell you, if you've never seen a good SWAT team make a high threat entry, you've missed something amazing. These guys were good, and moving like a well oiled machine. Well, actually, it wasn't a machine they brought to mind, so much as an amoeba of sorts. They were all clustered at the entry, and after the breach, and the bang, they just sort of flowed into the building. No wasted motion, no jostling or anything, they just seemed to pour though the doorway.

Drag eyeballs back to what I'm doing. We've got everyone that was outside of the building we were on secured. This is one of those times where everyone gets hooked up, and we sort it all out after the guns are put away. I'm on a corner, pressed hard up against the house, covering the guys who are covering the front entrance. I glance over my shoulder behind me, and K-9, several SWAT guys, and a few others have got the rear entrance covered and locked down. All of the sudden, here comes that SWAT beast again, flowing across the yard, up the steps, across the porch, and into the open front entrance. It's a thing of beauty to watch these guys work.

OK. So that's the fun stuff. Most of the work is pretty dull. Meeting with anywhere from 25 to 75 offenders a week, usually crammed into a single day, to try and keep up with what they're doing. A mind-numbing amount of paperwork. I do mean, absolutely mind-numbing. Even with so much of what we do being handled electronically, through e-mails, or our programs specifically designed for our jobs, I'm pretty sure that in the couple of years I've been doing this, I personally have caused the de-forestation of a small, South American country. Dealing with the everyday drama of being involved in other peoples lives. Also, there are home visits. You have to go out, and visit your peoples homes, to make sure they don't have bazookas on the wall, meth-labs in the bath tub, or dead things in the house. You'd be surprised just what we find. Also, I think the vast majority of people would be absolutely shocked at how disgustingly nasty some folks live. I've been in houses that were like a minefield of dog crap. Literally piles of dog crap, all through the house, including the fresh pile in front of the fridge, and all they can do is roll their eyes and say "That damn dog!"

Well, I know this has run on a bit, and rambled from topic to topic, but this is the short form of what I'm currently doing. I don't know how long I'll be doing this, or what I'll be doing next. I'm pretty decent at this job, except some of the paperwork, but I can feel that this is not what I'm 'meant' to be doing. I'll figure that out at some point I assume. I guess the most important thing to to find some aspect of what you are doing, and find a way to enjoy it. I'm lucky in that aspect, as there are several things about the job that I not only enjoy, I really love doing. So, as long as I can keep my butt from getting in further in the sling over paperwork, I should be pretty good here for a while.

Hope you're enjoying your work as well...



So, it's been a week and two days since the collision. The Deputy that was in the car is probably pushing things a bit, but I'm given to understand he's already back at work. Two of our agents are recovering at home. Currently no ETA for them to return to work. The last agent was finally able to have surgery done yesterday. It took a bit over four hours, and they did all sorts of stuff that I don't even feel qualified to relate. However, I can relate that she came through it with flying colors. It went so well, that she didn't even have to go to ICU after the recovery room, and was able to go straight to a private room. This is, of course, just the beginning on a long road to recovery, but so far, we're starting out great.

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. They mean more than you'll know.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hospital Etiquette...

Or....What not to say...

So I head over to the hospital yesterday to check on my co-worker. I wander in, get directions to the Intensive Care Unit, and once there, directions to the waiting area for the Neuro-Trauma ward within the ICU.

There's a 'Hostess' stationed within to help people figure out if they're in the right place, or offer them directions, that sort of thing. I step up to the desk, an await my turn. It comes, and I step up and ask where I can find the family members of my co-worker.

She looks at me, cocks her head to one side just a little, frowns just a little, and says...

"I'm sorry sir.....she's gone."

I may have caused a little bit of a scene, what with my mild freak-out and loud exclamations and questions along the lines of "OMG!!"... "What Happened?!"...."When?!"

At which point, the 'Hostess', does her best to calm me down, and explain that what she meant, was that my co-worker had been moved out of the ICU, and into a private room one floor below us.

Seriously? As I'm making my way down to the new location, I'm stuck wondering what genius places a person in the ICU, who responds to inquiries like that? They almost need to keep a crash cart near on stand-by, for all the heart attacks that woman is likely to cause...

On the upside, my co-worker is out of the ICU, resting a bit better, and scheduled for surgery in a few days....


Friday, June 19, 2009

Scotch Eggs

So I was at the Highland games the other weekend, and got a little rumbly in my tumbly. I'm guiding the family through the food vendors section. Hot Dogs for the kids, and even for the wife, I, however, am a more adventurous sort. I always enjoy trying something new, especially if it's ethnically appropriate to the venue. Since I enjoy wearing a kilt to various Scottish events, I'm often eating haggis, meat pies, sausage rolls, or something of the sort. This year however, several vendors were advertising Scotch Eggs for sale. Now, the prices seemed a little high to me, $4.00-$5.50 depending on the vendor, but I figured I'd give it a try. After all, Tam often goes on about the lusciousness that are the Scotch Eggs served at her local brew-pub.

Well, I was absolutely hooked after the first bite. A boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, crusted with bread crumbs, and deep fried. What's not to like? I spent way too much money on those eggs at the games. The next day, I was still hungering for more, and no way to purchase any, as we don't have a pub selling Scotch Eggs in the area, at least we don't that I know of.

I tried to distract myself with some light blog reading, however, as usual, I end up perusing my favorites, one of which is Brigid's blog, liberally sprinkled with delicious pictures and recipes.

So I think to myself, how hard can this be, and go surfing the net for a simple recipe, and then plundering the fridge and pantry, looking to see if I have the makings. Half an hour later, I've got a pound of venison sausage from last winter thawing in the sink, and a half dozen eggs at a simmering boil on the stove. My wife had made some bread crumbs for a recipe of hers several days previously, so I had those ready to go. I used the suggestion for ingredients to add to the sausage that I found online, a bit of salt and pepper, some thyme, and a splash of worchestire(sp?) with a spoon full of all purpose flower. Mix well, then spread it out into a thin patty, plop the peeled egg in the middle, fold and seal it around the egg, and pinch of the excess. It did say to make sure you squeezed out any air bubbles. I suppose this would be very important when deep frying. At this point, I dipped it in a beaten egg, and coated it in bread crumbs.

I decided against deep frying(I know, that's a sin down here) mainly because I'm not set up for deep frying much of anything. so I placed the eggs on a cooling rack, on a cookie sheet, and popped them into a 325 degree oven for about 40 minutes. The results looked like this.

I was quite proud of my first effort at Scotch Eggs, and no doubt will make them again. Though now I'm out of venison sausage, and will have to resort to pork.

Try something new the next time you're out, and you might find a new family favorite :)


North Carolina....WTH?!?!

So....we just got screwed by the good folks in North Carolina. No offense to any officers up that way, but seriously, we just got screwed.

We have a guy on the run. We issue a warrant, and place it out on NCIC. Subject gets picked up, in NC, based on the NCIC hit for our warrant. We get the hit returned to us, and promptly contact the arresting agency to find out exactly where they are, and what their fax number is so that we can fax a copy of the warrant to act as a detainer, until we can get there and extradite him back south. We get the info, fax the copy, and try to arrange for extradition. We get the message that the subject in question is not yet ready for pick-up.

This is where it gets screwy. How can he not be ready for pick-up? The only thing he's arrested on is our warrant. No new charges pending, or disposed requiring him to serve a sentence, however, he's not ready for pick-up.

Turns out that there is some screwy loophole in North Carolina law. I won't go into the details of the loophole itself, but once knucklehead gets through the loophole, this is what happens. It allows a local officer, to take our faxed detainer, and serve it on the subject, as if it were an actual, notorized warrant. Which in turn, allows a local magistrate, not even a circuit court level judge, but a local magistrate, to set a bond on an out of state warrant.

First off, they don't even haev a valid warrant!! It's an electronically transmitted fascimile. It can be used as a detainer, but it's not valid for service in any state of the Union, except apparently, for North Carolina. Secondly, even if it were a valid warrant, a local, municipal officer doesn't have the authority to serve an out of state warrant, unless specifically empowered to do so by the issuing state, that's why the first thing we have to do when we pick someone up on an extradition, is serve teh warrant on them!! Thirdly, a local magistrate has no jurisdiction to set bond on a state level charge from another state, even if it were a valid warrant, which it's not.

Lastly, thanks to this bit of chicanery, they have released this guy, the one we've been looking for for a year and a half or more, because he was able to post the $1,000.00 bond the local set for him.[mind-boggle] What do you think the likelihood is of him toddling on down here to turn himself in to the proper authorities? I believe I have a better chance of seeing unicorns fart rainbows and crap pots of gold, to steal a turn of phrase from Tam.

I really don't get it. We generally extradite from NC with no problem. Get the call, fax the detainer, hop on over the border, and bring them back. This time though, we're screwed.

To be honest, I really hope this knucklehead doesn't go an a spree, or frenzy, or anything of the sort, because if he does, it's going to come back and bite that agency and that magistrate right on the keester. Our warrant is still active, and after this fiasco, will most likely be placed right back on NCIC, and we'll just have to hope he gets pulled over in another jurisdiction next time.

Hope your Friday is going better than mine today.


PS- looks like another of our agents is going to get released from the hospital today to recuperate at home. That will leave just one in ICU, and we got the word that she is more stable and comfortable today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers

This is a little odd for me, but I'm going to ask for your thoughts and prayers for several of my co-workers.

We were participating in a joint operation today, when one of our teams was involved in a pretty bad wreck. A Sheriff's Deputy, and one of our Agents were treated and released from the hospital today, however, we have two more Agents still in the hospital. One in ICU under close observation, and the other in a drug induced coma until such time as the surgeons think they can actually get in there and do something. All because someone thought they had enough room to make that left-hand turn against oncoming traffic.

I'd like to ask not only for your thoughts and prayers for the Agents still in the hospital, and their families, but for the Agent and Deputy who were released, who were able to walk away, while their fellow officers were not. God help me, but I hope not never have to go through what the driver of the unit is going through now. Questioning whether or not something could have been done to prevent the two being in the hospital right now.

I had some posts I'd been working on, but right now just doesn't seem like a good time for them. I hope everyone out there stays safe, and for Pete's sake, turn the cell phone off and focus on what you're doing when you're on the road.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


So I'm headed to let the dogs out one last time before I go to bed this evening, and what do you think I find when I step out of the front door?

I'm not even going to give you a guess...

Laying across my smoking table no less!! Well, it used to be just my smoking table, as can be attested to by the several pipes, and butts of cigarettes in the ashtray. Don't get excited, I've been rolling my own cigarettes for longer than most of our interns have been alive, those a butts, not roaches. However, one might also note the bottle of bubble blowing stuff, as well as a big blue bubble blower thingie. My smoking table is quickly being taken over by my two year old. No doubt I'll have to find a new place for my various, tobacco-related paraphernalia, just to keep little hands out of it.

I really don't know what this snake's deal is. I can only assume it's trying to get higher, to get closer to the hanging fern basket that has the little baby birds in it. The Wrens actually chose a nice spot in the fern basket, as I don't think the snake can get to it at all, and it's sheltered from rain and direct sunlight. However, the snake is starting to get on my nerves. It's extremely disconcerting to reach for a lighter and come within a few inches of grabbing several feet of snake.

I do enjoy having the black snake around, just not quite so in my face.

Oh well, I guess no snake-free day today.


PS- I do actually blog about things other than snakes. I had a really great experience today that I intend to relate. Very manly. Lots of adrenaline, testosterone, guys with guns and even an explosion or two. I just need time to get it sorted out, maybe I can get a few snake free days to sit down and collect my thoughts in the near future.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Seriously?!? W...T...H?!?!?!

I know you've got to be getting sick of snake stories, and honestly, I do blog about other things, but it seems to be snake season here at casa_de_Casey.

This evening, it's about 2200 hours, and I step outside for a smoke. After events of the last couple of weeks, I don't step outside without turning on the porch light. So I flip on the light, step outside, and guess what I see? Go ahead....take a wild guess. Yep....another frikkin snake!! Of course, this one is no foot-long juvenile, this sucker is easily four and a half feet long, half on the patio, half off, and kind of laying around a flower pot. Fortunately, copperheads don't generally grow to that size, and we don't have that any poisonous snakes that grow to that size in our area...generally speaking. Now I have seen Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes, much longer than that down at my grandfather's place in the piedmont area of the state, and I have seen Cottonmouth Water Moccasins that size, though much thicker bodied, down in the wetlands along the coast. However, up in our neck of the woods, we're pretty much limited to Copperheads, Timber Rattlesnakes, and Pygmy Rattlesnakes. I don't know that I've ever seen a Pygmy Rattler, though I have seen Timber Rattlers on the rare occasion. In any event, none of them grow much over about two to two and a half feet long.

So, seeing a four and a half foot long snake, while causing an instant pucker, accompanied by major adrenaline rush, doesn't cause quite the freak-out that a smaller snake might. So I take another look at this sucker, to get an idea of more than just the length, and it appears to be a common Black Rat Snake. Non-poisonous, and generally beneficial, eating critters that I don't really care for anyway. Of course, beneficial or not, I don't want him(or her) on my patio when I'm trying to have a smoke. Freak-out reasons aside, we have big Boston Ferns hanging out on the porch, one of which is withering and dying, because a pair of Carolina Wrens has made a nest of it, which currently has at least four little hatchlings in it, and Blackie, is hanging out right underneath them.

Which makes me wonder, do snakes have some sort of sixth sense that they can just know when baby birds are getting close to trying to learn how to fly, and hang out looking for the ones that don't get it on the first try?

Anyway, I step over towards the back end of this critter, and give it a little nudge. Thinking of course, that it will meander on its way, and leave me porch. Once again, No Joy. That sucker coiled up on itself quicker than you can say "YYYaaaiiieeeee!!!!" with about 10 inches or so of it's front end, lifted up and across the coils, in a quite aggressive "I'm going to bite you now" pose.

Even though I'm fairly sure that this is a benign snake, I have to admit, my pucker factor went up a notch or three at that. So I start looking for something to nudge it along with, other than my hand. Since I'm in the front yard, what's handiest, is my daughter's toys. Specifically the bright red, three foot long, plastic rake that goes in the sandbox.

So here I am, poking at the four and a half foot long snake, with a three foot long plastic rake belonging to my two year old, on my front porch at ten o'clock at night, when I hear my Wife's voice behind me....

"You're really afraid of snakes!"

"I'm not afraid of them, I just don't care for them...especially on my porch at night."

"You're afraid of them!" (gleeful snicker)

"Is that a spider behind you?"

"EEK!" (disappears inside)

I finish up, by manfully shooing the snake off of my porch and finish my smoke...all the times keeping my eyes peeled for more snakes, and only high stepping once, when something brushed against the back of my ankle.

Signing off for now, apparently from snake Shangi-La....