Multiple Victims of Militarized Police

Yesterday the local police ran over and killed a 4 year old who was on the sidewalk of a local high school. It is a terrible thing for everyone involved.

The little girl’s parents are obviously devastated, losing a child will have life long impact. One can only imagine their grief, something no parent should go through.

The officer who inadvertently ran over the little girl is also a victim. She must now live the rest of her life with this on her conscience. Imagine that you had to live with the knowledge that you had snuffed the life out of an innocent child.

Here is news coverage of the accident incident.
Here is the Highway Patrol’s initial accident crash report.

The child, her parents, the officer–all victims.

So who is to blame?

I would argue that the blame should rests with the decline in police officer standards and the militarization of the police. Before we continue, watch the following short video.

This video features the officer involved. There are a few things that can be gleaned from the video.

First, she is very petite. When faced with an adversary, say a drunken college student, her only option is a weapon with the potential for serious injury or death. The officer then becomes judge, jury and executioner solely due to falling police standards. This isn’t to argue against female police, simply to state that there should be some minimal standards for police, male or female. At the 2 minute mark of the video notice her gait, not only is she small but she has a physical handicap.

Second, even though we live in a city, the police insist on driving SUVs, and very large ones at that. Every single police car on our streets is an interceptor with built in battering rams. It is not mountainous here, there are no forest service trails to patrol; hell, we don’t even have dirt roads. There isn’t a rational reason why the police all need to drive giant SUVs (except, of course, to project dominance over the populace.) At the 15 second mark of the above video it is clearly evident that the officer can’t see over the hood of the vehicle.

And that in short is why a little girl is dead today. The militarization of the police is to blame. They insist on driving tanks in the city, WTF? Add to that the fact that the police have become adversaries of the general public, basically enemies of the people. No one sane wants to be cop, police departments are left to hire anyone they can, whether qualified or not.

So it was this woman’s dream to be a cop. Ask her today, if given a choice, would she have rather been told that she did not qualify physically to join the police or have to live with this child’s death on her conscience for the rest of her life which she would choose. I can only imagine that she would rather have been politely declined for the position.

The time has come for the police to get back in the business of protecting and serving the community. Until that happens they will struggle for recruits and terrible things like this little girl’s death will continue. It would be great if Columbia could be the start of that change.

Advertisements

Form Over Function, Poor Curation of the Local Library

Today I visited our local public library, an imposing and vast edifice, a marvel of modern architecture. Since architecture is not my forte, here is a description of the building from Missouri Life:

Built in 2002, the Columbia Public Library is a noteworthy design by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. The 102,000-square-foot library is housed within a dynamic, dramatic cylindrical form. The design is a prime example of the architecture firm’s approach: collages of styles, colliding forms, and superimposing one plan idea onto another to yield geometric and dramatic interior spaces. Large skylights are “carved” from the curved, masonry cylinder to introduce abundant natural light. Shifted grids, diagonals, and a range of materials, colors, and textures result in a more informal and humanistic architecture. The corner site at Broadway and Garth Avenue is also arranged in a highly geometric plan, with the building’s crescent shaped plan and half-circle parking lot forming a complete circle. Paving patterns emanate outward from the building and its entry.

The building is as imposing and wonderful as the description makes it sound. There are computers, a massive video collection, a vast selection of music…I guess that with all of this pomp and excess that there just wasn’t any money left over for books.

This library has such a shoddy collection of books that it should be ashamed to even call itself a library. I did a keyword search for “epicureanism” it had not a single book available to checkout and take home. There were audio books and ebooks and just a couple of dead tree books that I could have gotten on a waiting list to check out. Surely this could not be. So I tried “Epicurean” to see if they just had a weak key word system, same result. Perhaps the curators are biased against Epicureans, I tried “Stoicism”, same result. “Stoic”, same result. WTF? Let’s broaden our terms, “Hellenistic Philosophy”, same result. OK, ancient philosophy is not this library’s strong suit, lets change subjects. “Kropotkin”, same result. “Emma Goldman”, same result. Really?

It is nice that the library system (Daniel Boone Regional Library) subscribes to a fairly large collection of digital books. Some of the ebooks are created from Project Gutenberg books which are public domain and created by volunteers. There are multiple problems with the way that these books are implemented for lending. First, why make one sign in to download a book that is in the public domain? Secondly, why check them out for a limited time, why not just let the user download a drm free ebook that they can keep? Thirdly, and most egregious, the library violates the Project Gutenberg license in multiple ways. In direct violation of the license the ebooks are stripped of the license, the library also utilizes Project Gutenberg’s trademarks without license compliance.

All in all the Columbia Public Library is a perfect example of putting form above function. Truly sad to have such a grand building and to have inept curators and administration.