Re: On January 28th, Criminals No Longer Another Face in theTampaStadium Crowd

From: Michael Lorrey (
Date: Thu Feb 01 2001 - 16:16:19 MST

Chris Russo wrote:
> > > What's the difference between this system and being in a small town,
> >> where the local police officers know who the typical "trouble makers"
> >> are?
> >
> >The difference is that in a small town people KNOW each other. They pass
> >each other on the street and say hi several times a week. They risk their
> >lives together when there's an emergency such as a flood or major fire. And
> >so forth. There's a HUGE difference between being arrested by someone to
> >whom you're just a generic criminal and being arrested by someone whose kid
> >you took to the hospital the time he fell from a tree and broke his arm.
> What does knowing someone have to do with prosecuting them as a
> lawbreaker? Are you implying that someone should get special
> leniency or treatment because he knows the police who caught him?

No, small towns are just different. My family moved to NH when I was 9
from Lowell, Mass. In Lowell, the kids ten blocks over were the enemy,
cops were scary people who treated everyone equally, just like crap, and
scary stories kids told each other camping in tree houses didn't need to
be fabricated, they came right off the front page of the Lowell Sun.

In Lebanon, NH, (pop 12,000), kids from all over town would hang out
together, most kids knew at least one or two cops personally (and they
knew those cops knew their parents as well), and old biddies all over
town would sometimes call my parents (or the parents of other kids I
hung out with) letting them know where we were, especially if we looked
like we were up to no good (which was frequently). Getting pulled over
by a cop as a teenager was not bad, since when they called your name
over the radio to check on your ID, usually another cop would get on the
horn and say,"that's such and so's kid". Cops are part of the community
in a small town, and treat people they come in contact with as
neighbors, not as enemy soldiers. In such a community, police are 'our
cops', not 'those cops'.

Our neighboring town, Hanover, just had its first murders in ten years
(the last one before that was in 1939), a husband/wife couple of
Dartmouth professors were stabbed to death in their homes, apparently by
a Dartmouth student (i.e. not native to the area) they had mentored and
who has dissapeared. I was actually surprised that national media has
flocked into town to cover the story (likely they want their bosses to
pay for skiing trips), and the police and state AG's office is being so
mum about the case that the national and out of state media is getting
really pissed off. I think they were more ticked off that no guns were

> > > What's the difference between this system and having a large team of
> >> police officers, who have thoroughly studied hundreds of photos of
> >> felons and wanted criminals, watching near the gate?
> >
> >Not much difference here. And not much difference from situations where
> >people are encouraged (or frightened) into spying on their neighbors and
> >reporting them to the cops.
> Yikes, what a non-sequitur. "Frightened"? You're implying that
> having some intelligent surveillance cameras or plenty of ready
> officers on hand is like cops bullying people into ratting on their
> neighbors? Doesn't that ignore the poor ethics of the cops in
> bullying someone to the point of fear?

No, its like having a high cop to citizen ratio, however small
communities are the way they are because citizens watch out for their
community too, so the 'cop' population is even higher. Having
surveillance cameras in the big city is like having hundreds and
thousands of little old ladies with a permanent line to 911.

> >But there's something wrong with all those
> >pictures. A society that needs that sort of observation of its members in
> >order to enforce its rules must have some structural flaws.
> Uh... Yes? Are you saying that our society lacks structural flaws?
> A society that needs *any* observation of its members in order to
> enforce its rules must have some structural flaws - it's just a
> matter of minimizing the impact of those flaws upon the law-abiding
> members of our society.

I don't think it structural, its more a systemic failing, partly induced
by insufficient acclimatization of immigrants, partly induced by
communalist tendencies and ideologies denigrating the individual.

> Personally, I'm not satisfied with the safety level in our society.
> In the last ten years or so, I've had my car stolen, my car broken
> into and valuable items stolen, a friend who was mugged and slashed
> in broad daylight downtown, etc. Those issues are fresh in my mind
> and impact my life quite often - affecting where I go and what I do.

Last time I was victimized by crime was when I was assaulted in
Burlington Vermont by some acid-head picking a fight. The time before
that was when my truck was broken into in San Francisco. City events.

> To contrast that, I've never had law enforcement agents take my
> property or make me feel like I might lose my life. I can't think of
> any friends or friends of friends who've had serious encounters with
> law enforcement that they didn't bring upon themselves. I'm not
> always enamored with policemen. Sometimes they can be a bit haughty,
> but give me an asshole cop writing me a ticket versus someone
> stealing my car from IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE any day.

Tell me: how many of the crimes you cite have actually been investigated
and/or solved? I'll bet none of them. The break-in in SF that happened
to me was never solved, not that they actually put much effort into it,
(the guy who assaulted me got busted because he was so high that he
flagged down the cop for me ;-)). I'll bet if you had used a gun to
restrain the guy who stole your car, you'd have been arrested for
brandishing and assault with a deadly weapon.

In Lebanon, I've been a witness to an assault, a DWI, and an instance of
destruction of town property and submitted statements which nabbed the
bad guy in every instance. Unlike city dwellers, I didn't say "I'm not
involved, so I didn't see anything." I knew the guy who committed the
assault that I witnessed and fled the scene, so I and other witnesses
could not only describe the guy, but give his name and parent's address.
That doesn't happen in the city. People know me in this community. Bad
guys know who I am, that I am as likely as not armed, so consequently
not much bad stuff happens around me. The more private citizens that are
likely to be armed creates a blanket of security over a small town that
a big city can't match. Most all crime that occurs up here is committed
by people that are either drunk or high or both, such that they forget
about that blanket of security and the eyes of their neighbors.

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