Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Flying blind in Broward County

Jerry Stratton, February 28, 2018

Shielding criminals

We are beginning to see what went wrong in Parkland, and how badly. It is looking ugly, and incomprehensible, just how badly local and federal law enforcement screwed up. Last week I wrote about the parent who said:

It seems inconceivable that he was allowed to legally buy the gun and that he was able to get access to the school.

And it does seem inconceivable. We have a National Instant Criminal Background Check System specifically to stop exactly this kind of killer. The school had a deputy on campus specifically to keep this kind of killer off of school grounds. It seems even more inconceivable that Broward County had a program in place that specifically helped the killer bypass the NICS.

In Florida, one of the nation’s largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system.

It’s a move away from so-called “zero tolerance” policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a “school to prison pipeline.”

Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.

Under a new program adopted by the Broward County School District, non-violent misdemeanors—even those that involve alcohol, marijuana or drug paraphernalia—will now be handled by the schools instead of the police.

The problem with this is that, of course, if the local police don’t know about it—or, more likely, know about it but let the school deal with it—other police in other locales can’t know about it; and since the crimes are never prosecuted, they are never entered into the NICS. The other problem is system creep. It seemed to rapidly evolve to keep even violent crimes hidden, to the point that the deputy on campus apparently not only didn’t stop the killer but refused to share information that would have put the killer in the NICS.

The existence of this program does not prove that the killer was let off because of the program; nor does it exonerate the police, who had numerous run-ins with him on their own, nor the FBI, who should have investigated a clear threat. But it does raise the likelihood that each individual organization was running with blinders.

Combined with basic psychology, it was almost inevitable that this blindness would mean law enforcement at every level would let the killer go until he killed.

But, even worse, it looks like this blindness was deliberate at least within Broward County. It appears that the school colluded with the sheriff’s office to keep arrest rates down by simply not arresting people for seriously criminal behavior. Now that their malfeasance has turned deadly, they’re trying to divert attention away from their self-inflicted blindness by blaming people who weren’t there and who didn’t do it.

The more we learn about the reality of what Democrat politics has wrought in Broward County the more infuriating it is.

Destruction of evidence. Corruption of data. Criminal negligence. Defrauding the Federal government. All to continue the illusion of their perfect little leftist potemkin village, even if it results in the slaughter of innocents. And there are hundreds of school districts in this country with the same policies.

There is evidence in the news reports that did get out that the program worked exactly as described. There are a lot of reports about police in the area being called because he “used a gun against people before” and “put the gun to other’s heads in the past”. That’s going well beyond a minor scuffle in which the police can leave because the participants “hugged and reconciled”. And yet as far as we can tell he was never even arrested, let alone treated in a manner that would keep his behavior from escalating.

This is inconceivable.

Back in 2015 I wrote about a poorly-thought analogy claiming gun owners want to give every kid a rock rather than ban rock-collecting:

After last week’s shooting, for example, the left wants to punish law-abiding gun owners. Well, that’s no surprise, they always want to punish law-abiding gun owners. They don’t like putting more criminals in jail, or even, sometimes, calling criminals criminals. Those are hard choices. It’s a lot easier to target non-criminals; they are once again literally discussing banning all guns.

What’s noticeably missing is any sense that they care about keeping the one kid from throwing rocks: no detention, no suspension, and despite the crazy zero tolerance at schools nowadays no punishment for that one kid.

Shielding criminals from consequences ensures that the consequences are borne by their victims. In cases like this it doesn’t even help the criminal. Of course if we reward seriously illegal behavior with acquiescence, that behavior will escalate. Of course if everyone is kept in the dark, then no individual agency will realize just how deadly a situation they’re creating.

From the FBI to Broward County to Palm Beach County to the local schools, a perfect storm of greed and corruption had developed that didn’t just allow the killer to kill, it practically urged him on. It ensured that the FBI wouldn’t take a serious threat to shoot up schools seriously, it ensured that psychologists would not commit him to treatment, it ensured that no one would be notified when the killer bought firearms, and it ensured that when the killer walked onto campus with his firearms, the officer on duty would ignore him.

That appears to have been the job given him by the school and the sheriff’s office: to ignore crimes.

This is insane. It is insane on every side. It is insane to think the community is best served by ignoring violent crimes. But it is also insane to think that a seemingly psychologically-impaired kid and later adult is best served by ignoring his escalating and increasingly deadly and violent threats.

There is no sense that their so-called “Promise” program even cares about the kid it is supposedly helping, let alone the kids that he victimized before he graduated to mass murder.

It is inconceivable that anyone thinks not enforcing the law will mean more respect for the law. Not enforcing the law means that criminals realize they can get away with more. And not enforcing the law means that non-criminals will realize that law enforcement not only cannot protect them, but will refuse to enforce the law after the fact, too.

Because this is not the only domain where this is happening.

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it is OK to shield undocumented immigrants who drive drunk from federal authorities if it does not “lead to any other negative outcome.”

The problem, of course, is that negative outcomes always happen after you “shield” criminals from other authorities. Such as this, in California,

The man charged with killing a father and two sons on a San Francisco street last month was one of the youths who benefited from the city’s long-standing practice of shielding illegal immigrant juveniles who committed felonies from possible deportation, The Chronicle has learned.

It’s a common complaint that the problem in America is that nobody is talking to anyone else. It’s a real problem when law enforcement not only isn’t talking to anyone else, but is actively hiding the evidence of crimes from other levels of law enforcement. Of course it escalates into murder. How could it not? Who’s going to stop it? And why would you be surprised that people want to be able to effectively defend themselves when law enforcement is deliberately blindfolding themselves throughout the country?

Why did just about everyone fail to do their job in Parkland? I mentioned diffusion of responsibility in last week’s post, and I think there may be a lot to it. Everyone thought they could get away with a substandard job because there were so many other eyes on it. And each thought that their dereliction didn’t matter because they only saw part of the picture.

One of the findings that leads into diffusion of responsibility is the somewhat non-intuitive result that the more people looking on when an individual has trouble, the less likely the individual is going to be helped. The bigger the crowd, the less any individual action seems to matter.1

Does this mean we should just put everything in the hands of the FBI, at the national level? Probably not, because diffusion of responsibility goes both ways.2 The more people you’re responsible for, the less any one of them matters. There are things to do at the national level, though, and one of them is to stop rewarding local agencies for cooking the books on crime rates. It sounds like that program was a huge factor in allowing this killer to continue his progression to mass murder.

Ultimately, though, responsibility for stopping this kind of crime has to be at the local level.

If I were a thief, and I had robbed some people’s houses, I would love nothing better than for the local community to organize a series of protests to call for a national law to make it more difficult for thieves to get away with thievery. The last thing in the world I’d want them to do, though, is to lock their doors. I wouldn’t want them to put their money in safes. I wouldn’t want them to protect themselves, I’d want them to have theoretical discussions and legislative discussions about things that could be done at some distance in time and place in order for me to continue my activity. — Scott Ott (Can We Just Get to the Heart of the Matter?)

We have to hold local law enforcement responsible when they screw up, and not let them pass the blame to people who had nothing to do with it. Now, I am not going to join the crusade against the deputies who did not immediately risk their lives to save students. I’d like to think I would have done differently, but it’s hard to predict how you’re going to act when lives are in danger. It’s hard to blame someone for not risking their lives. But that was their reason for being at the school. If they aren’t going to protect the kids they’ve been hired to protect, we need to better equip the men and women who are willing to risk their lives.

Coach Aaron Feis was a gun owner, and should have been allowed to use his skills to save the students around him and whoever was killed after he died. We know he would have acted, because he did. He was brave enough to try to shield students while unarmed; he died doing so. we should have allowed him more effective tools so that he didn’t have to die to protect those students. Coach Feis didn’t shield criminals; he shielded their victims. And he’s dead because we only let criminals carry firearms in schools.

Any federal reward programs must ensure that they reward stopping crime rather than ignoring crime. This is difficult to do without corruption: federal bureaucrats will always be easy to fool by corrupt local agencies, both because they can’t see what’s happening at the local level and because they have so many communities to keep an eye on that no individual community matters as much. It may be best to leave rewards to the local community’s voters, who are best equipped to see any success or failure, and vote their leaders in or out, punishing them depending on what they see.

You may have noticed that I’m asking more questions than I’m answering here. But they are critical questions. No law matters if laws aren’t enforced, and laws won’t be enforced if we reward non enforcement. Even if you believe banning guns is a good idea, who is going to enforce that law? It is completely insane to think that the FBI, police, and sheriff’s department that failed to enforce the law in Broward County will enforce new gun laws any better than they enforced any other laws.

There may not be easy answers here, but these are critical problems. If we can’t reform law enforcement to enforce the law, no one is safe—except the criminals we shield from justice. And sometimes not even them.

In response to The Vicious Cycle of Mass Murders: We now know what went wrong. Let’s ignore the ghouls on Facebook and fix it.

  1. An odd example of that came up because of Trump’s claim that he would have run in to stop the shooter. That prompted a news report from 1991 in which Trump apparently did just that, albeit with a baseball-bat-wielding mugger. Someone was being beaten by a baseball bat while a crowd of apparently normal people looked on, and did nothing, until Trump happened to be going by and got out of his car to, he says, do something about it.

  2. I am at this point generalizing the term diffusion of responsibility beyond its limited meaning as a psychology term.

  1. Showboat killers ->