The police chief has disbanded his force "until things calm down"
September 3, 2009 10:41 PM   Subscribe

JERICHO, Ark. — It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn't hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps. The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.
posted by finite (151 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: linking police funding to enforcement was a terrible mistake. This is exactly where the proliferation of SWAT teams, speed traps, and other money-before-public-safety disasters come from. It's like paying the fireman a bounty for each fire he puts out -- nothing good will come of it.
posted by vorfeed at 10:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [47 favorites]


Seven officers for a town with a population of 174 souls.

How exactly did that seem like a good idea?
posted by lekvar at 10:59 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]




You take away a little thing like bread and people really get out of hand.

Vorfeed is right, of course. I wonder what would happen if police funding was linked to overall college matriculation rates in a given area. What would that do?
posted by SinisterPurpose at 10:59 PM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Guess that's what happens when a fire chief yells "Fire" in a crowded courtroom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 PM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


More striking that the prosecutor doesn't plan on filing charges. This-Chinatown-in-Mayberry trip startles you then makes you numb. Somebody's got that place wired. But Patrick Swayze and Billy Jack ain't real. Shame.
posted by Diablevert at 11:05 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just pass a law that says proceeds from traffic citations go towards drivers' education and projects that enhance traffic safety instead of the police.

I think I've read on the blue of similar proposals killing speeding camera plans.
posted by floam at 11:10 PM on September 3, 2009


Holy shitballs. That town needs a reluctant sheriff fighting for justice soooooo bad. And some gulpin' whiskey. And a whore with a golden heart. And an alcoholic priest. And some golden pantaloons, cause they just seem to make everyone happy.
posted by smoke at 11:15 PM on September 3, 2009 [23 favorites]


Sound the trumpets.
posted by tellurian at 11:15 PM on September 3, 2009


America's heartland is dying. This episode is a symptom of that rapidly encroaching death.

Look at this map. Population growth across the midwest and northeast is stagnant. People are actually fleeing rural areas (North Dakota) and urban centers (New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore) in droves.

The people who stay behind are getting older, sicker and poorer. Look at this map of Arkansas. While Jericho is still in a "growth" county (although just barely), it looks like about half the counties in the state are hemorrhaging citizens.

There is virtually no opportunity for advancement for those who are left behind. There is little money to be made outside of odd jobs, selling drugs or government. We shouldn't be surprised that citizens are turning their local governments into thinly-disguised crime syndicates. They literally have no other means to support themselves except fleecing one another.

Our country is in the middle of a massive demographic shift and the people being left behind in their decrepit rural (and sometimes urban) wastelands will increasingly turn to crime and graft to support themselves until we can get some kind of solution figured out. Until then, expect to see more stories like this.
posted by Avenger at 11:25 PM on September 3, 2009 [26 favorites]


"The frequent ticketing apparently led to the vandalization of the cruisers, and the department took to parking the cars overnight at the sheriff's department eight miles away."

HAHAHA. It's like when you see a dog that is so fixed with its toy that you could have a marching band of squirrels tossing cats circling and all the dog thinks is, "Y-Y-You gonna throw it? Huh? Now? Now!?! I'm ready! Now?"
posted by iamkimiam at 11:26 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just pass a law that says proceeds from traffic citations go towards drivers' education and projects that enhance traffic safety instead of the police.

I think I've read on the blue of similar proposals killing speeding camera plans.


A senior police officer in New Zealand offered to trade fines for license points on speed cameras. Suddenly the whiners shut up awful quickly.
posted by rodgerd at 11:28 PM on September 3, 2009


"What am I supposed to do? I lost my shit because of you."
posted by dirigibleman at 11:28 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, the townspeople should get neighboring Clarkedale and James Mill to build a giant hi-speed circular freeway around Jericho, and give it like 8 exits, with awesome shops on the outer rim, and make it so you have to leave town to get on the freeway.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:32 PM on September 3, 2009


rodgerd: Who are the whiners? And to be clear, a speeding ticket in NZ normally doesn't affect your driving record? Or is this a different meaning of license points?

Sorry, the whole thing basically failed to parse for me.
posted by floam at 11:33 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


And people are astounded that the citizenry loses its respect for the law and its officers. All the good that law enforcement does is undermined by this sort of cheapjack chicanery. They milk us like cash cows, and shoot us or throw us in cages if we protest.

No money from speeding tickets should ever go to the enforcing department, ever. Period. Anywhere. No governmental official or representative should be able to effectively print money for themselves by hassling the populace. These same "law enforcement officers" probably pride themselves on their patriotism and love of America, even as they rot it from within.
posted by umberto at 11:34 PM on September 3, 2009 [26 favorites]


Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said Thursday that he didn't plan to file any felony charges against the officer or Payne. Fairley, reached at his home, said Payne could face a misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle, but that would be up to the city's judge. He said he didn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

So, not only is the cop who shot an unarmed firefighter in the back in a court of law not going to be punished, but the unarmed firefighter who was shot in the back might get charged with a misdemeanor. Cute.

Awaiting police apologists...5...4...3...

Wow, five minutes.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Growing up in the DC area it was an open secret that parking tickets were the only "money maker" for the District itself. That doesn't make it right, but this shit has been going on for decades, even in larger cities.
posted by bardic at 12:01 AM on September 4, 2009


Look at this map. Population growth across the midwest and northeast is stagnant. People are actually fleeing rural areas (North Dakota) and urban centers (New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore) in droves.

That map is from 2000-2009. I think New Orleans might be what you call a special case.
posted by furiousthought at 12:01 AM on September 4, 2009


2008, sorry.
posted by furiousthought at 12:02 AM on September 4, 2009


rodgerd: "A senior police officer in New Zealand offered to trade fines for license points on speed cameras. Suddenly the whiners shut up awful quickly."

So, let me get this straight. You're saying that when citizens were further threatened presumably by someone on a power trip, they no longer felt it was worth it to continue voicing their concerns for fear of escalating the situation? Incredible! He really showed those whiners!
posted by spiderskull at 12:16 AM on September 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


I don't know how it is in New Zealand, but in Australia the revenue from speed cameras doesn't go to the police - it goes to the state governments and isn't earmarked for anything in particular and just goes into consolidated revenue. It's a huge source of government income.

And because of that, talkback radio and newspaper letters pages invariably attract people complaining that speed cameras are nothing more than a revenue raising tactic. The implicit suggestion is that it's not really about reducing speeding and so therefore is unjust.

The problem I have with this argument is that the whiners overlook the main point - you only get a ticket if you're speeding. If you're so angry about this "revenue raising exercise" don't speed and your money will stay out of the hands of government. But no-one ever talks about that - it's really weird. It's as if people feel like they are entitled to go over the speed limit.

So when the NZ police officer points out that instead of taking money off you he could be taking your license, I don't think he's making a threat. It's more of an observation that there are many ways to police the law, and if you really feel that fining people is unjust because of what I mentioned above, then fine, but be aware of the consequences. At which point everyone thinks carefully about how much they speed and what they would do without a driver's license.
posted by awfurby at 12:31 AM on September 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Real nice police station you got there. It'd be a real shame if it caught fire one of these days, what with the Fire Chief all laid up in the hospital and all.
posted by benzenedream at 12:41 AM on September 4, 2009 [44 favorites]


awfurby: I'm going to assert that overzealous ticketing is unfair. The horribly high fees and negative impact they have on your insurance rates is in light of the fact that it's normally very hard to get caught. It's sort of punishing you for the other 1,500 times you were speeding but nobody noticed. It's fair.

But when a city decides to go overboard and set up a speed trap and hand out ten times as many tickets, people are getting fucked. If we had magic cars that fined us every time the speedometer went over the limit, the only fee structure that'd be fair would be micropayments of a few cents per incident.

Also, there's the fact that a lot of these small town speed-traps will nail you for going over even a couple MPH. That's not even speeding in my book.
posted by floam at 12:43 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


awfurby: Also, at least in the US, these small towns that overticket people passing through are often known to set ludicrously low speed limits that make no sense. In the context of this discussion, the speeders aren't the jerks flying down residential streets at 60MPH.

Maybe .au is nicer and your hard-line "speeders are bad" point of view makes more sense there, I don't know.
posted by floam at 12:49 AM on September 4, 2009


The problem I have with this argument is that the whiners overlook the main point - you only get a ticket if you're speeding.

I agree with you completely - the people who complain about speeding tickets are basically saying "Hey, I break the law and I want to keep doing it!". However, having experienced speed cameras in three Australian cities over many years, there is something very suspicious about where they place them. At the bottom of hills, pointing up the slope. At the point where 80kph zones turn into 60kph zones. At state borders where the 110kph zone in one state turns into a 100kph zone in the next.

Almost never at any of the advertised "black spots" where people, you know, actually die. It's just a bit suspicious.
posted by Jimbob at 12:51 AM on September 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's sort of punishing you for the other 1,500 times you were speeding but nobody noticed. It's fair.

I should not be punished for any of the times when I am speeding - regardless of whether I am caught. And I'm not kidding about that. Speed limits are preposterous.

the people who complain about speeding tickets are basically saying "Hey, I break the law and I want to keep doing it!"

What, you don't speed? Or you do speed, but you really don't want to speed anymore, and you just cannot control your car well enough to stop speeding?
posted by The World Famous at 1:22 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speed limits are preposterous.

Heh. You're funny.
posted by Jimbob at 1:35 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyway, I'll trust these folk more than you. Let me guess, you'll also fight for your right not to have to wear a seatbelt?
posted by Jimbob at 1:38 AM on September 4, 2009


7 policemen for 147 officers? That's a 1:15 cop-to-citizen ratio. What's the cop:citizen ratio in... I don't know... North Korea?
posted by PenDevil at 1:49 AM on September 4, 2009


Jimbob: One could argue that an increase in speed limits is not the same thing as not having speed limits.

To me it's kind of analogous to increasing the drinking age instead of not controlling the substance. There's data to suggest that places without speed limits, like the Autobahn, are quite safe.
posted by floam at 1:55 AM on September 4, 2009


You may be interested in reading about shared space. Basically, by removing a lot of traffic control devices, regulations, people drive safer and pay closer attention, and there's a net win in safety. The opposite of the well-documented effect where people with ABS simply adjust their driving to be able to be more aggressive and rely on it.
posted by floam at 2:01 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


As a Canadian I find this delicious. You see there are all kinds of towns in the US that have speed traps set up just for us when we drive to Florida to visit our grandparents. This has been going on for at least 35 years.
posted by srboisvert at 2:14 AM on September 4, 2009


rodgerd: Who are the whiners? And to be clear, a speeding ticket in NZ normally doesn't affect your driving record? Or is this a different meaning of license points?

Not 100% on the situation rodgerd was referring to, but in NZ tickets from a speed camera do not have demerit points associated with them. Only tickets issued by a police officer (for various offenses) include the points.

I assume it was people saying "it's all about the money with speed cameras" to which a senior police officer probably suggested the police would drop the fines, but replace with demerit points, proving it wasn't about the money. Of course people would rather pay than lose their license, so I guess that shut them up.

In general my feelings about tickets is pretty much - you know the rules, break them at your peril. I do sometimes, and I will take the consequences if I do. Although that doesn't include being shot by megalomanic cops.
posted by sycophant at 2:29 AM on September 4, 2009


Well I hope everyone got the indignation out of their system.

This whole situation isn't really surprising. The town had no way to make money, so they used the ticketing system to try to raise revenue. It's not even surprising that an officer discharged his firearm at basically a defenseless target since I doubt he had any formal training what so ever.

And while I've always thought it was odd about the tint of libertarianism that comes when most people talk about speed limits, and I think there are a lot of points to be made, trying to simply things by pointing out that the autobahn doesn't have a speed limit (when it's a highway) really does not help add to the argument at all.

If anything I think we should definitely get rid of speed limits on the high way system, and put much more enforcement on speed limits in the area that people actually live. Also while we're at it let's make it so that if you get a DUI you'll never be able to operate a vehicle again and those caught speeding in a school zone during school hours will have to take a refresher course on driving.

Or we can whine and bitch about the POLICE and how all they do is take our money and shoot us or lock us in cages or even both.
posted by Allan Gordon at 2:56 AM on September 4, 2009


I wish there was some system that punished all of the jerks that think traffic is some kind of obstacle course and that they'll get to their destination soooo much faster if they go 45 mph instead of 35 or whatever. And then after watching them weave in and out of traffic you approach a red light and there they are! They sure beat you to the light! You just can't impress on people that they're driving a dangerous weapon and that the flow of traffic dictates how much time they'll spend on the road, so stop fighting it, dammit. But they'd rather get to work 20 minutes late than 25 even if it means someone dies. Jerks!

Also, that is a weird town.
posted by palidor at 3:12 AM on September 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


Also while we're at it let's make it so that if you get a DUI you'll never be able to operate a vehicle again.

Uhh, yeah, how about we start with requiring ignition interlocks for first time offenders first?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:15 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


...are turning their local governments into thinly-disguised crime syndicates

All governments are thinly disguised crime syndicates. How are these hillbilly cops so different from the IRS? In fact, I doubt that even these brazen bullies wouldn't have the nerve to enter your home without a warrant, search and seize your private papers, and confiscate your wealth at their discretion, IRS-style. I'm sure they don't force their 174 citizens to incriminate themselves as the IRS asks us all to do every April 15. Government is a shakedown operation. Now I'm not saying we should get rid of it. It's the nature of humanity that some big powerful thug or gang of thugs will always rule us. But we shouldn't have illusions about it, and when government shows its true face in a brazen way it does in the case of speed traps, we shouldn't act too outraged. (By the way, what's wrong with journalists nowadays that this hasn't been called "the battle of Jericho?'")
posted by Faze at 3:36 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also while we're at it let's make it so that if you get a DUI you'll never be able to operate a vehicle again

Oh, come on. That's ridiculously severe. Yes, okay, if a drunk driver kills someone, fine, no more driving, but to permanently revoke somebody's license for one DUI, with no related crime? That's a bit lacking in perspective.
posted by maqsarian at 3:50 AM on September 4, 2009


"After the shooting, Martin said police chief Willie Frazier told the sheriff's department he was disbanding the police force "until things calm down."

I would feel a bit better about this if he had fired himself too, in the process.

174 residents, and seven police officers... plus a prosecutor who lets the shooter get off without so much as a slap on the wrist, and a mayor, who's scoping out new police equipment... and presumably, more police officers to raise additional revenue.

The judge who threw out all the tickets before resigning had it right. This is a town with no businesses and jobs worth mentioning, run like an extortion racket / criminal conspiracy.

Oh, and it turns out that the ticket the fire chief was contesting was written by Jericho police while the victim was not only outside of city limits, but in another town entirely. Oh... and the fire chief who was shot is black.

Crittenden County Sheriff's Department is investigating the Jericho Police Department for writing tickets for things that are not crimes and for writing tickets outside their jurisdiction.

Another interesting tidbit... the town was audited recently. The audit randomly selected 15 traffic tickets, and traced them to the court docket and receipt of payment, issuance of a warrant, etc., only to find that five of the tickets appeared to be "off-the-books", with no trace in the court system. The audit found the police chief violated several Arkansas state codes, in dealing with tickets.

The audit found that the mayor received $4000 in unauthorized compensation, and another $1250 in undocumented funds.
posted by markkraft at 3:51 AM on September 4, 2009 [18 favorites]


My problem with speed enforcement is that it's so random. When you have a stretch of highway like the GCP that pushes a bajillion cars a day at 70+ and a posted speed limit of 50 it's very hard to take those signs as anything further than a polite joke. Virtually all traffic is at least 5mph over the limit except in traffic so you get to play this psychological game with the police: ooh will I get a ticket for 75 if I'm passing the guy in front of me who's swerving (true story)? Or maybe the cop is lazy and will only grab that psychopath who tore past me at a buck ten? Or maybe it's quota day and I'm going to get a ticket just for following the flow of traffic.

Set the speed limits to the maximum safe speed and ticket everyone going over it and anyone not following lane discipline or driving aggressively. Otherwise it's so inconsistently enforced that all it does is piss people off.
posted by Skorgu at 4:01 AM on September 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


In the next scenes, the Fire Chief's hot daughter contacts Face, and the doctor turning up in his hospital room turns out to be Hannibal in disguise. A plan comes together which results in the destruction of the police force's entire car fleet, as well as the mayor's car and house, by an improvised tank built by BA on the basis of the fire truck, helped out by a crop-spraying plane piloted by Murdock.

Why can't life be a bit more like the "A-Team"?
posted by Skeptic at 4:10 AM on September 4, 2009 [26 favorites]


To those mentioning the Autobahn -- you should know that "Autobahn" just means "highway", it doesn't refer to the entire road system. There is no speed limit on a German highway, unless it happens to be passing through a residential area, in which case you can be damn sure there is a speed limit. Also, the driver's license exam is much stricter here and costs a fair bit more, and Germans, in general, are very orderly people with none of our cowboy mentality. The behavior of the German cars on the highway is very predictable, in my experience. I'm not sure which is the chicken here and which the egg -- whether the orderly nature of German car behavior makes it possible to do without speed limits, or doing without speed limits makes car behavior more orderly -- but I really don't think you could just undo all speed limits in America and then pat yourself on the back. America is full of people like Faze who think that any time they have to adapt to a collective will it's tyranny. By contrast, in Germany, outside of Berlin, people will loudly try to shame you for jaywalking. This is the ridiculous side of the German mentality; the good side is that you can drive 150 mph and not worry about some jackass cutting you off.
posted by creasy boy at 4:22 AM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm too lazy to dig up citations right now, but wasn't there a study a couple years ago that indicated people tend to drive at or near a road's (engineered) design speed, regardless of the (politically-decided) speed limit?
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 4:24 AM on September 4, 2009


Also while we're at it let's make it so that if you get a DUI you'll never be able to operate a vehicle again

As a few other people have said, that is too severe. I dated someone who had, five or six years before I met him, got pulled over on a routine R.I.D.E. check and failed the breathalyzer test. He spent the night in jail, lost his license for six months, was fined $1000, and acquired a criminal record.

He said he came to be actually glad he was pulled over, because he did a lot of thinking that night in jail and realized he'd been drinking too much and acting like an asshole. The incident was a wake-up call, after which he made some changes. I think the penalties he got were enough for a first time offender, especially when he hadn't actually been driving erratically let alone caused any accidents.
posted by orange swan at 4:29 AM on September 4, 2009


The funniest part, actually, is that the police chief feels free to just disband the police force. Isn't this basically an admission that they weren't necessary in the first place?
posted by creasy boy at 4:43 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently one guy got a ticket for going 58 miles per hour in his own yard.

That's a bit much.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:01 AM on September 4, 2009


Not completely related to this particular story, but the police in general are out there doing some heavy-duty ticketing these days. I assume that's because of the recession and falling tax revenues. I hardly ever get a ticket, but they got me a couple of months ago, going 39 in a 20. Sounds bad, but it was a dead-end street, one block from home, in an area where I know the location of every pothole and dip, 30 minutes into rush hour -- in other words, he was staked out waiting to bust someone coming home from work on a 20 mph dead-end street. My car idles forward faster than that. That's just being a dick. My significant other got one too, about a month ago, when they surreptitiously added a new traffic sign nearby then waited across the street from it to bust people. Considering we drive a combined 4000 miles per year, two tickets in two months is pretty crazy.

Anyone else noticed this increase in ticketing over the last year?
posted by jamstigator at 5:08 AM on September 4, 2009


Why can't life be a bit more like the "A-Team"?

Because all the cool vans are gone.
posted by bigmusic at 5:09 AM on September 4, 2009


Seven officers for a town with a population of 174 souls.

How exactly did that seem like a good idea?
How many should a small town like that have?

Seven officers working forty hour weeks is less than two officers on duty at any given time, on average. So unless the answer is "zero", or perhaps "one or two on call for emergencies but not expected to work unless it's an emergency", I don't really understand how the answer can be much less than seven, no matter what the size of the town.

I'm not claiming that the answer is not "zero" or "one or two emergency-only officers", but it's simply not clear to me that the answer is one of those.

(in any case, it sure seems like it shouldn't be these seven)
posted by Flunkie at 5:11 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


> More striking that the prosecutor doesn't plan on filing charges.

The guy's still got to drive to work.
posted by ardgedee at 5:38 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let me guess, you'll also fight for your right not to have to wear a seatbelt?

What the hell? What does that have to do with speed limits?
posted by Greg Nog at 5:38 AM on September 4, 2009


Q: Why do you rob banks?
A: Because that's where the money is.

Q: Why do you put speed traps at the bottoms of hills?
A: Because that's where people speed the most.

Yea, I know. All kinds of reasons why it really isn't fair, or reasonable. Like cruise control on the freeway. Of course you go a bit faster, down hill. The damn thing doesn't do the brakes for you. Using breaks uses more gasoline. And you know you weren't being reckless, so wtf? Oh, revenue, that's what. (and yes, I got popped exactly like that once).

But reading about this small town makes me wonder, where else is this happening, but, since no one is shooting fire chiefs in court rooms, it's not reported.

Someone up-thread suggested that local government in these small towns are turning in to little crime syndicates. Well, why would anyone find that surprising, or shocking? America has been turned in to a global crime syndicate, so it's just repeating the pattern.

Uncle Sam has been torturing, rendering and disappearing folks. Waging illegal wars, violating treaties. Trampling the constitution and violating civil rights all over the place, even the most sacred right of free political speech. In short, morally bankrupt, criminal, organized.

Did people think that supporting that crap on the national level would somehow not find it's way down to the local level? Surprise, it does! Now pay your fine, citizen, and STFU before we shoot your ass, too. Oh, you're not the fire chief? Okay then. In that case, we'll see how you like our new back room. The one with no windows. It has a bitchin' sound system though! No one will hear your screams.
posted by Goofyy at 5:40 AM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


to permanently revoke somebody's license for one DUI, with no related crime?

Oooohh, I just have to call that out here - no related crime? Dude, that's just a lottery they happened to win that night. Drinking and driving is playing russian roulette with your own, and someone else's life. It is a crime in and of itself.

Again I don't know what it's like in the states (I find it so weird that cops don't carry breathalysers there, and instead make you say the alphabet backwards or whatever. Weird), but in Australia, unless you're literally staggering drunk, the penalities are low that you can repeat offend many, many times. And people do.

When something like this happens where six teens get killed and then you see that the person involved had been already booked twice for drink driving, then yeah, I think drink drivers should have their licences revoked. It's not that hard to drive sober, but it's even easier to thoughtlessly and uncontrollably kill someone.
posted by smoke at 5:42 AM on September 4, 2009


While driving in Hawai'i recently I couldn't help but notice the speed limit kept changing, and not just on the curvy roads where a reduction was necessary.

On a straight highway it'd be 55, then suddenly 45, then 55, then 25, then 55, then 35, then 55 again. Granted, some of it was obviously due to road construction, but in other places there was not a thing going on and it made no sense.

The signs seemed so close together; I'd just adjust speed and then I'd have to change it again. I constantly spotted state cops either driving or off to the side of the road, just waiting to pounce.

If I didn't know better I'd almost swear they set it up that way on purpose.
posted by bwg at 5:50 AM on September 4, 2009


Anyone here having flashbacks of Roscoe P. Coltrane with his handy remote-controlled speed-limit sign switcher?
posted by bwg at 5:51 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm too lazy to dig up citations right now, but wasn't there a study a couple years ago that indicated people tend to drive at or near a road's (engineered) design speed, regardless of the (politically-decided) speed limit?

I've read that somewhere, but have also read that people will tend to settle around 70-75mph with no other limits, but with a somewhat windy road to prevent boredom and inattention. (on arrow-straight roads, apparently they get pretty insane, a la Autobahn.) I'm not sure which is actually true. It may simply be that the roads are engineered for 70-75mph, meaning both things are true.

Speed alone hardly ever causes accidents. It's virtually always reckless driving. You can do 110 perfectly safely under some circumstances, if your car and tires are excellent and there isn't much traffic. Other times, it's not safe to do the speed limit.

If we did remove all legislated limits on freeways, we'd probably see a decrease in the number of accidents. There was a fairly significant drop when the 55mph national speed limit was lifted. However, the fewer accidents that DID happen would be much deadlier.
posted by Malor at 5:54 AM on September 4, 2009


yeah, the seven seems reasonable -- if you want 24/7 coverage, that's about how many people you need at a minimum.

but, man, this is all kinds of fucked up right here.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:56 AM on September 4, 2009


Flunkie - according to the U. S. Army(PDF),
to maintain security in peaceful countries, the proper ratio of policemen to population is somewhere between 1 and 4 officers per 1,000 citizens, with cities needing higher levels than other areas. (The U.S. has approximately 2.3 police officers per 1,000 residents.) By contrast, analysis of successful 20th-century nation-building and stability operations suggests that a much higher ratio—between 13.26 and 20 troops/policemen per 1,000 civilians—is neces-sary to establish security in strife-torn countries. That figure climbs above 20 when the situation involved outside intervention.
so I think "zero" or "one or two emergency-only officers" can't be that far off the mark...
posted by russm at 6:05 AM on September 4, 2009


Ah, Crittenden County. They won't release the officer's name because that might, like, embarrass him. They also have had a wonderful scam where they would confiscate money from passersby cars and then make you prove that you got the money legally.
A police captain in Marion (second largest city) resigned because of embezzling money from the Little League. The head of Special Operations Unit (drug task force) resigned after being caught sending obscene text messages to a minor (using the police phone), trying to extort sex, and terroristic threatening. And, of course, there is the West Memphis Three case.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:07 AM on September 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


How many should a small town like that have?

none - that's why counties have sheriff departments and why rural citizens tend to keep a gun around - it's not just ridiculous for them to have 7 police officers it's absurd for them to have a government
posted by pyramid termite at 6:15 AM on September 4, 2009 [6 favorites]




Why can't life be a bit more like the "A-Team"?

Because all the cool vans are gone.


Damn cash for clunkers program!
posted by TedW at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2009


yeah, the seven seems reasonable -- if you want 24/7 coverage, that's about how many people you need at a minimum.

More people live in my apartment complex than live in that town. They don't need a police department. They already had coverage from the county before getting their own PD. Now that they've disbanded the police they are back to using the county services. If the reason for forming a police department is so you can skim more of the loot, you shouldn't have a police department.

And the reason the fire chief got shot is because the town police didn't get a homeland security grant to buy tasers.
posted by birdherder at 6:33 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why can't life be a bit more like the "A-Team"?

Because all the cool vans are gone.
posted by bigmusic


Come on down to south Minneapolis.
posted by COBRA! at 6:42 AM on September 4, 2009


As someone who grew up in a town of 300 (albeit in Canada), let me say that having seven police officers is completely insane.

The town that I lived in had no police force at all. We had a volunteer fire department that could be expected to be the first responder to any 911 call and then we had a county contract with the police department of the much larger neighbouring town half an hour away to provide policing when necessary.

Except in the case of the tremendously rare emergencies, the police presence amounted to a speed trap on one of the roads into town about once every couple of months, just enough to remind people that there were in fact speed limits.

Now, I understand that some of these small towns in the States don't have a convenient larger center as close as my hometown did. But, even so, the urban idea of having officers on duty 24/7 is both unnecessary and unreasonable. If a town that size needs a police force at all, it needs at most two officers. They can work regular office hours and one of them can be on call the rest of the time.

If it ends up that the officer on call gets called in more than a few times a year, then the town has big problems.
posted by 256 at 6:46 AM on September 4, 2009


In Texas the rule is that if a municipality gets more than 50% of total revenue from traffic tickets, then half of that money goes to the state. This has significantly reduced the number of small towns that run speed traps, and has bankrupted a few that ignored the law.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:46 AM on September 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Apparently one guy got a ticket for going 58 miles per hour in his own yard.

That's a bit much.


Well, maybe he shouldn't have been backing out so fast.
posted by albrecht at 6:51 AM on September 4, 2009


I care less about the amount of police presence than the fact that one of the cops was clearly STUPID enough to fire a shot in a courtroom just because he was mad and couldn't act like an adult and maybe use words to defend himself.

And apparently I see the discussion in this thread is cynical enough that nobody even acts mildly disturbed about this.
posted by kldickson at 7:03 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]



I care less about the amount of police presence than the fact that one of the cops was clearly STUPID enough to fire a shot in a courtroom


Yeah -- I'm a bit weirded out by the fact that a cop shot a man in a courtroom over a traffic offense and most people are using it as a springboard to complain about speeding tickets. WTF?
posted by Shepherd at 7:07 AM on September 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Then again, this is Arkansas, where 15% of the country can't legally defend themselves in a courtroom. Including me.

Which is why it is the only state I will never set foot in.
posted by kldickson at 7:12 AM on September 4, 2009


And then after watching them weave in and out of traffic you approach a red light and there they are!

Of course, they wouldn't have to weave if you got out of their fucking way.

But noooo… in America it's your Goddamned Right to drive as slowly as you like in the passing lane.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2009


kldickson: I care less about the amount of police presence than the fact that one of the cops was clearly STUPID enough to fire a shot in a courtroom just because he was mad and couldn't act like an adult and maybe use words to defend himself.

And apparently I see the discussion in this thread is cynical enough that nobody even acts mildly disturbed about this.



The thing is that they are intricately intertwined:

1. A town that small really doesn't need seven police officers.

2. They have seven police officers, however, because the more police officers they have the more traffic fine money they can raise.

3. As a result of (2.), the town has an armed bully force that is more than large enough to rule the place like warlords.

4. This results in officers who feel that they are a sufficiently ultimate authority that they can pull out a gun and shoot the fire chief, in a court of law, for impugning their honor.
posted by 256 at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also notice how all seven officers were in court when the fire marshall went to contest the ticket. Without the presence of the entire police force on the streets it must've been a replay of the LA riots out there.
posted by PenDevil at 7:15 AM on September 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


★ Back the Badge ★ Respect the Law ★ The Police are Here to Help ★
posted by porn in the woods at 7:17 AM on September 4, 2009


256 - they probably are intricately intertwined, but they hired people who don't know how to act like adults? So what if there's a lot of police officers? It's incumbent on THEM to not shoot people. You'd think they'd have some restraint, but nooooo, they're so fucking will-less and unable to rein in their own anger and greed that they shoot people in a courtroom.

Then again, they ARE cops, in backasswards Arkansas to boot.
posted by kldickson at 7:19 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm guessing the Policeman's Ball in these parts is not very popular.
posted by brain_drain at 7:19 AM on September 4, 2009


As others have stated, anyone hearing that a town of 174 people had seven police officers should have known something very wrong was going on. There are towns in South Carolina with twice that many people that are just patrolled by Sheriff's deputies.

Someone above talked about America's heartland dying, but this story puts into stark relief for me what is happening specifically to small towns. For over a hundred years, anyone with any drive or ambition or smarts has left the small town and headed for the greater opportunity and freedom offered by the city. Each generation the population of a small town gets poorer, older and dumber. The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. Yet we talk about "small town values" and "America's heartland" and act like these people are what is great about America. In fact we have an entire political party who, despite not doing anything to benefit them, pins its electoral success on pandering to the prejudices and ignorance of small town and rural voters. These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.
posted by ND¢ at 7:21 AM on September 4, 2009 [21 favorites]


I'm a bit weirded out by the fact that a cop shot a man in a courtroom over a traffic offense and most people are using it as a springboard…

Not just any man, mind you, but a firefighter. An unarmed firefighter. In the back. In a COURTROOM! And no charges filed.

That's just jaw-hanging open, crickets-chirping, WTF-kind-of dumbfounding.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:21 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.

This. They act like children.

When can the rest of America perhaps hold up reasoned restraint, civility, nongreed, critical thinking, and intelligence as the important things they are? This rampant anti-intellectualism is one of the things that factors in my decision to get out of the country as soon as possible - I may be able to get out by the time I go to graduate school if I can go to graduate school abroad.
posted by kldickson at 7:26 AM on September 4, 2009


I will celebrate when America's 'heartland' dies.
posted by kldickson at 7:28 AM on September 4, 2009


But noooo… in America it's your Goddamned Right to drive as slowly as you like in the passing lane.

Come to Boston, where drivers will flash their high beams at ambulances in the passing lane.
posted by Spatch at 7:31 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm a bit weirded out by the fact that a cop shot a man in a courtroom over a traffic offense and most people are using it as a springboard…

Not just any man, mind you, but a firefighter. An unarmed firefighter. In the back. In a COURTROOM! And no charges filed.

That's just jaw-hanging open, crickets-chirping, WTF-kind-of dumbfounding.


In fact, my jokey reference to the A-Team is because this kind of dastardly villanous, corrupt posse used to be found only in '80s TV series with cheap production values and a lot of explosions, like the A-Team, Knight Rider, Charlie's Angels or the Greatest American Hero. It was meant to be (over the top) fiction, not a how-to guide to public governance and law enforcement.
posted by Skeptic at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then again, this is Arkansas, where 15% of the country can't legally defend themselves in a courtroom. Including me.

Huh?
posted by grouse at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2009


My initial reaction was "hurf durf West Memphis", but there are speed traps in Central Illinois. I've gotten tickets on US 24 twice; the road is a tempting shortcut for people driving between Peoria and Chicago, but there are two towns (Chenoa at the 24/I-55 intersection and Leroy at the 24/I-39 intersection) where the cops apparently get their entire budget from writing tickets. Now, I absolutely refuse to drive US 24, in the hopes that without the ticket money these towns will dry up and blow away and therefore remove any need to slow down. Sometimes, small towns deserve to die.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2009


Then again, this is Arkansas, where 15% of the country can't legally defend themselves in a courtroom. Including me.

Huh?


I think he's referring to the Arkansas statute that no person who denies the existence of God is allowed to serve as a witness in a court of law (or hold a government job).

The law has been ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court, but it's still on the books.
posted by 256 at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm a bit weirded out by the fact that a cop shot a man in a courtroom over a traffic offense and most people are using it as a springboard…

Not just any man, mind you, but a firefighter. An unarmed firefighter. In the back. In a COURTROOM! And no charges filed.

That's just jaw-hanging open, crickets-chirping, WTF-kind-of dumbfounding.


I spent about five minutes wrestling with which parts of "a cop shot a man in a courtroom over a traffic offense" to put in bold.

Cop, because it's insane that a police officer would discharge a firearm in a court of law on an unarmed man, so the fact that it was a cop is the most astonishing fact?

Shot, because it's a reaction so ridiculously out of proportion to the offense under scrutiny?

A man, because another human was shot in a fit of (presumably) rage rather than a desk, a chair, the ceiling?

Courtroom, because of all the places that should be held sacrosanct by an officer of the law, the very place that the law is upheld should be chief among them?

Traffic offense, because it's probably the most trivial thing one can be called into court to defend against, with the possible exception of disturbing the peace?

So I bolded the whole thing, and then I got stuck on italics, because surely there must be even crazier parts inside this crazy to emphasize how truly crazy this crazy is.

But what can you italicize in a sentence like that? It's like a cascade of nuttiness, spiraling ever upwards. Each word doesn't add to the insanity, it compounds it.

I'd need font colours, the blink tag, and a dictionary to determine how to rank "cop," "shot," "man," "courtroom" and "traffic offense" in order of insanity. And that's not even factoring in "fireman," "unarmed," and "in the back."
posted by Shepherd at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2009 [12 favorites]


Sheperd: What the 'marquee' tag not good enough for you?
posted by PenDevil at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2009


Extinction, people. Get used to it. We are barrelling headlong into irrelevance... in a car, with no brakes, at over 120MPH. This is but one examples of the death throes of the United States... it will look somewhat differently elsewhere... but more people are realizing that the game is fixed... and we all stand to lose.

We were clever... nothing more.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:46 AM on September 4, 2009


Apparently one guy got a ticket for going 58 miles per hour in his own yard.

What he said was:

"When I first moved out here, they wrote me a ticket for going 58 mph in my driveway," 75-year-old retiree Albert Beebe said.

What probably happened was:

"They wrote me a ticket in my driveway for having gone 58 mph."

I am not a police apologist, but I've seen this sort of misconception frequently. It doesn't matter what speed you were doing when you were pulled over; it matters only what speed you were doing when you were clocked.

Obviously he wasn't going 58 mph in his driveway.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:50 AM on September 4, 2009


brain_drain: I'm guessing the Policeman's Ball in these parts is not very popular.

Popular, no. But trust me, you do not want to be the only sucker in town to not buy a handful of tickets.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:54 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So the cops start a fight with the firefighter, and presumably it took all seven cops to wrestle him to the ground, and then they shot him for, I don't know, fun? because they could? Even though Jericho is in some small ways a special case, this sort of behavior isn't. We need to start holding cops accountable, and it just never happens, from the smallest town to the largest city. And I just had the depressing realization it'll never happen, because just under half of all Americans like it this way. Most of us want to live in Jericho, where the biggest asshole with the most guns and the fewest scruples is the all-powerful warlord.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:55 AM on September 4, 2009


This whole situation isn't really surprising. The town had no way to make money, so they used the ticketing system to try to raise revenue.

I'm sorry, no. There is nothing "inevitable" about police officers taking over a town and shooting people in a court of law, apparently with impunity (why isn't that officer in county jail awaiting trial?)

There are at a guess hundreds of towns in economic crisis, but most of them do not turn into Thunderdome.

However, if Arkansas does not step up (or be forced to by the big fat lawsuit that fireman is going to bring) then yes, it will become more common.
posted by emjaybee at 8:00 AM on September 4, 2009


Ah yes, Arkansas. We spent five years there beginning in 1989. This was the place where the local sheriff stood in a puddle of gasoline at an accident site and lit a cigarette. We met some brilliant and wonderful people there, so I'm generally not one to look down on people for being from one particular locale, but I have to say that the place represents something of a withered limb of a state in many respects. And that common depiction of the state as a hotbed of inbreeding? No matter how open minded you are when you go there you'll still find that there's more than a little truth to it. There's no better way to have your assumptions kicked out from beneth you than to have them unexpectedly validated through first hand experience.

Deliverance? It was a documentary (yeah, wrong state, but it still applies.)

So this story doesn't come as much of a surprise.
posted by metagnathous at 8:00 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


"You can't even buy a loaf of bread, but we've got seven police officers," said former resident Larry Harris, who left town because he said the police harassment became unbearable.

Sounds like ex-Khmer Rouge in northern Cambodia, late 90's/early 00's -- men with guns and no other means of supporting themselves.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:06 AM on September 4, 2009


Wow. I guess I don't fully understand this 'small towns should die' mentality that seems to be becoming more pronounced and a little hateful the farther we go down this thread. Undoubtedly I was rubbed the worst by ND¢'s comment but some of the other throwaways seem pretty bad, too.

I grew up in a town of 300 people. I left it, yes, but I could see myself moving back there. I'm just not really suited for small-town living at my current stage in life. But this...

...anyone with any drive or ambition or smarts has left the small town... Each generation the population of a small town gets poorer, older and dumber. The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. ...they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child.

Really? Seriously? Are these sorts of generalizations okay now? Was I really uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, and an inbred halfwit until I left for the city? Did magically leaving a rural area somehow change me? Are all the people who choose to stay invariably all of these things?

Of course there are going to be these sorts of people present in small towns. They're everywhere. Worst, they're vocal. They like attention. But they aren't representative of everyone in every small town.

It's hard to live in a small town. There are speed traps, there can be corruption, there are the same issues everyone has everywhere except with the added bonus of having to drive 30 minutes to get to a grocery store and farther for any other service. But if we're going to keep relying on farming the way we are, this is how it is going to be. I'd love improvements to be made, but in the meantime I'd prefer not to be called (and have my family called) inbred halfwits just because of the place they live. And I'm not convinced that small towns should die, either, and a link to Salem's Lot (did you know that was fiction?) isn't very convincing to me, either.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:07 AM on September 4, 2009 [29 favorites]


They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.

Contempt for the individual's ability to take responsibility for most facets of their life is SOP for both parties already. Still, I'd honestly love to see the Town Hall meetings where the above program is explained to patient crowds.
posted by codswallop at 8:14 AM on September 4, 2009


I lived in a small town in Ohio for two years, 4,500 residents, two police cars, not quite sure how many cops, but probably 10 at the most. Maybe 12. The town was a nice place, large enough to have two pizza shops, a hospital and two pharmacies (one was a Radio Shack cum Christian Bookstore cum Pharmacy).

My point is that small towns aren't all this bad. They are dying, and I won't mourn when they do die, but to hold this up as an example of a typical small town is ridiculous. The people don't need to be disenfranchised, etc. What they need is to come up with a remedy for their system that was built before the interstates were created.
posted by Hactar at 8:15 AM on September 4, 2009


Or, on lack of preview, what six-or-six-thirty said..
posted by Hactar at 8:17 AM on September 4, 2009


The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. Yet we talk about "small town values" and "America's heartland" and act like these people are what is great about America. In fact we have an entire political party who, despite not doing anything to benefit them, pins its electoral success on pandering to the prejudices and ignorance of small town and rural voters. These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.


MetaFilter at it's very worst.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2009 [20 favorites]


MetaFilter at it's very worst.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:32 AM on September 4


Oh, I think "gypsies are inhuman vermin" is probably a little worse than that. Give credit where credit is due.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:43 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. Bigotry is running rampant in this thread. It's shameful. Stop it all of you.
posted by hippybear at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. Yet we talk about "small town values" and "America's heartland" and act like these people are what is great about America. In fact we have an entire political party who, despite not doing anything to benefit them, pins its electoral success on pandering to the prejudices and ignorance of small town and rural voters. These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.


MetaFilter at it's very worst.


Seriously. Tell us how you REALLY feel. I mean it describes some of my in-laws almost exactly, but their neighbors are pretty nice, well grounded people.
posted by Big_B at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2009


Don't be hating on small towns. I understand your frustration, but there are many vital small towns in America and elsewhere that are doing just fine, thank you. Many of those small towns also have a disproportionately large of people with college degrees, are racially integrated, safe, stable, and pleasant communities.

These bizarre kinds of shenanigans happen in small towns, not because urban dwellers are superior, but because urban communities can support local media outlets, and these things can't go unnoticed by other authorities. Small towns are easier for local authorities to terrorize, and the population keeps silent, because they are afraid.
posted by Xoebe at 9:06 AM on September 4, 2009


The police chief has disbanded his force "until things calm down"

I can't put my finger on what exactly it is about this that most frustrates me. Maybe that it sounds like something a corrupt military junta would do while waiting for the heat to pass, or that it demonstrates that the force itself is mostly unnecessary if it can be turned on and off without the area falling into chaos.

And since these guys were acting in an official law enforcement agency capacity, I'd love to see the federal government step in and launch a full investigation.

This could be a great opportunity to send a message to other law enforcement agencies that this kind of shit will be not be tolerated. Their existence is predicated on supporting their communities, not providing illicit profits to corrupt individuals.
posted by quin at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. Yet we talk about "small town values" and "America's heartland" and act like these people are what is great about America. In fact we have an entire political party who, despite not doing anything to benefit them, pins its electoral success on pandering to the prejudices and ignorance of small town and rural voters. These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.

Let's see here:
Sweeping generalizations about entire populations? Check.
Class and/or race-based assumptions? Check.
Eliminationist yearnings and/or prescriptions? Check.

Just switch a few words here and there (e.g. "urban ghettos" for "small towns," "urban minorities" for "small town and rural voters") and you have a ready-to-post Free Republic gem.
posted by chicxulub at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


For over a hundred years, anyone with any drive or ambition or smarts has left the small town and headed for the greater opportunity and freedom offered by the city. Each generation the population of a small town gets poorer, older and dumber. The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns.

and you wonder why people complain about "liberal elites" when you come up with ignorant, bigoted bullshit like this
posted by pyramid termite at 9:15 AM on September 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Obviously he wasn't going 58 mph in his driveway."

I wouldn't say that's quite as obvious as you may think at first blush. A lot of homes in rural areas have extremely long private driveways (usually dirt or gravel). My wife's grandparents lived in a tiny burg in southern Idaho on several thousand acres of farm land, and it was quite easy to hit 60 MPH in their driveway.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2009


Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.

Because there's nothing worse for a democracy than letting people govern themselves? I'm no more a fan of small-town "values" than you are, ND¢, but I don't see how the feelings expressed in your little rant have anything to do with the ideals of a free and just democratic society.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2009


Yep, send those rubes up here to New Jersey and we'll show them how well a big city government works.
posted by digsrus at 9:22 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter at it's very worst.

and you wonder why people complain about "liberal elites" when you come up with ignorant, bigoted bullshit like this


Pshaw. That was nothing. You should have heard me in the first Palin thread.
posted by ND¢ at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2009


In my tiny hometown, we had a couple of cops, the county sheriff's deputies, and nightwatchmen. My dad was a nightwatchman. At night, he would walk along our main business area watching, and drive through some of the other more built-up areas. That's all he did all night. Watch. If he saw something happening, he called the Sheriff's office or the cops (if they were in), as he was unarmed and not an actual law enforcement officer. All he had was a flashlight and a two-way radio. They kept this system well into the 80's, though he transferred to working at the park before then, because they wanted him to carry a firearm and he didn't want to do that.

Worked great. He thwarted a few attempted robberies by people passing through who thought it was a sleepy enough little town that no one would notice anyone getting into a store (there were never any sort of LEO patrols at night - just the watchmen), reported a few scuffles and traffic accidents, and caught a fire or two before anyone else noticed. He dealt with unruly teens himself and often suggested to people doing something stupid (drinking and driving for example) that perhaps it would be best if they just went home to bed. Everyone knew the nightwatchmen, and it made us all feel safe to know that someone was keeping an eye on what was going on along the major highway that passed through our little burg.

That was a town with a few thousand people. I can't imagine a town of 174 needs more than the couple of cops we had on call plus sheriff's deputies rolling through town too. Even though my hometown is now twice the size it used to be (and is a big tourist location), they still barely have any law enforcement officers and crime is still incredibly low.

Also, as to getting a ticket in one's driveway: when you live in the sticks, it's entirely possible your house isn't near the road at all and there's a long dirt road which is the "driveway" from house to highway/city road. Getting a ticket on your own private drive would be ludicrous, and I suspect that's what the man in the article was talking about.
posted by Orb at 9:31 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was nothing.

at least we're agreed on that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2009


The thing about the seven cops "being needed to cover all the shifts"... doesn't the article specifically say that ALL SEVEN of them were present in the courtroom for this man's trial?

That doesn't sound to me like they were being used to cover shifts. Sounds to me like an armed gang.
posted by hippybear at 9:49 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the big difference, ND¢, is that there you were talking about an individual. Maybe unfairly, but at least you had focus. Here you decided to drop a bomb on anyone who doesn't live in a major city.

Poor, ignorant white trash exists, Sarah Palin might belong in the category. But outright stating that every single person who lives in a rural or smalltown area belongs in that category too isn't very classy. Not that your other post was, but we're talking about degrees.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2009


The very dregs of society are what are left in small towns. Yet we talk about "small town values" and "America's heartland" and act like these people are what is great about America. In fact we have an entire political party who, despite not doing anything to benefit them, pins its electoral success on pandering to the prejudices and ignorance of small town and rural voters. These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.

Democracy, psaw. Why you would expect the combined voice of the rabble to be a sensible one, I'll never know.

America, when you are ready to embrace me, I stand ready to rule as your God-King.
posted by atrazine at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


in other words, he was staked out waiting to bust someone coming home from work on a 20 mph dead-end street.

Usually police stake out an area like that at a time like that because residents of the area have called in with complaints that people are speeding through the area at that time.
posted by flug at 10:18 AM on September 4, 2009


The thing about the seven cops "being needed to cover all the shifts"... doesn't the article specifically say that ALL SEVEN of them were present in the courtroom for this man's trial?

That doesn't sound to me like they were being used to cover shifts. Sounds to me like an armed gang.
That's really completely beside the point.

That this particular obviously-fucked-up police force did not have anyone patrolling the streets and did not have anyone manning the station does not have anything to do with whether or not a police force should have someone patrolling the streets and someone manning the station.

It's certainly more evidence that they're totally fucked up, but we're not lacking in evidence for that theory.
posted by Flunkie at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2009


Pshaw. That was nothing. You should have heard me in the first Palin thread.
That wasn't the first Palin thread. The first Palin thread was The Thread, and I accuse you of heresy against The Thread.

The Thread shall never die! Long live The Thread!
posted by Flunkie at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2009


And what with seven cops descending en masse to confront the fire chief, it's no wonder the prosecutor couldn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot. That's just too many people to keep track of!
posted by Spatch at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2009


All governments are thinly disguised crime syndicates.

This is the attitude that leads directly to corrupt government. It is the reason the Republican Party is corrupt at its heart. If you believe government is innately bad, you will do nothing about bad government, you will be the natural constituency for corrupt politicians, and your party will be filled with corrupt politicians.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:53 AM on September 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


I lived and grew up in a rural town where the population was more than eighty times Jericho's, and there wasn't a full-time resident police force. There was a volunteer fire department and EMS (the "rescue squad"), but if you called the police they'd dispatch a state trooper from the barracks down the highway. Never heard any real complaints about the arrangement.

The idea that a town of less than 200 people needs a full-time police force is ludicrous.

It sounds like the place has been taken over by a gang, and that the entire local government is a cover for what's effectively organized crime.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


but they got me a couple of months ago, going 39 in a 20. Sounds bad,

Yeah, I'd be pretty happy if a some of the people driving twice the speed limit on my quiet (but not quite dead end) street got tickets. Maybe someone on your street called in a complaint.
posted by mikepop at 12:28 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loved the A-Team stuff above but this is starting to sound like a set-up for a different pulp series.
posted by Shepherd at 12:31 PM on September 4, 2009


wait- Patrick Swayze isn't real?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:00 PM on September 4, 2009


If they could just shoot the rest of the fire department, the whole town could burn to the ground and then they would be forced to move somewhere decent.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:33 PM on September 4, 2009


I see that Jericho has outsourced its policing to Phil Constantino.
posted by oaf at 2:29 PM on September 4, 2009


and you wonder why people complain about "liberal elites" when you come up with ignorant, bigoted bullshit like this

I think there is a tit-for-tat going on here. Urbanites can only be called "godless," "sinful," "amoral," "perverts," "socialists," "terrorists," "unpatriotic," "queers," "liberals," "babykillers," and a variety of other racial and sexual epithets before "ignorant," "uneducated," "white trash," "red neck," "hillbillies" and other bile come to the tongue. Rural folks feel condescended to. Urbanites feel unjustly hated. Both sides feel misunderstood, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
posted by Hollow at 3:12 PM on September 4, 2009


Urbanites can only be called "godless," "sinful," "amoral," "perverts," "socialists," "terrorists," "unpatriotic," "queers," "liberals," "babykillers," and a variety of other racial and sexual epithets before "ignorant," "uneducated," "white trash," "red neck," "hillbillies" and other bile come to the tongue.

Except I'm pretty certain that only one of those sets of adjectives has appeared in this thread.
posted by hippybear at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2009


Civil_Disobedient: That's just jaw-hanging open, crickets-chirping, WTF-kind-of dumbfounding.

I can understand that the county or even state authorities might be so hopelessly corrupt as to allow this, but where the hell is the FBI? This is pretty obviously organized crime masquerading as a police force.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:28 PM on September 4, 2009


MetaFilter at it's very worst.

That is grammar at its very worst.
posted by bwg at 4:54 PM on September 4, 2009


MetaFilter at it's very worst.

That is grammar at its very worst.


Touche.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:14 PM on September 4, 2009


Touche.

Just having a bit of sport.

I'm only pedantic sometimes.
posted by bwg at 5:22 PM on September 4, 2009


I'm from the country. Heck, during third grade, I went to a one room schoolhouse that had nine other students and one teacher (I was 50% of third grade. There was no forth grade). So, knock off this anti-country BS here. Seriously. I love the city, but there was good out there too.

Anyway, the town of 1000 or so people in Minnesota where my family lives, they have one full time police chief and two part time officers and I don't think there are any crime sprees occurring due to lack of protection. 'Nuff Said.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:01 PM on September 4, 2009


"godless," "sinful," "amoral," "perverts," "socialists," "terrorists," "unpatriotic," "queers," "liberals," "babykillers"

I want to make this into an "are you an urbanite" ugly facebook quiz
posted by kathrineg at 6:50 PM on September 4, 2009


The problem I have with this argument is that the whiners overlook the main point - you only get a ticket if you're speeding.

That's stunningly naive.

You will get an in-person from-a-cop ticket anytime a cop feels like giving you one. And then, unless you can somehow prove you weren't speeding or there's an important error on the ticket, you were speeding even if you weren't.

You will get a ticket from a speed camera anytime the software gives you a ticket.

The only thing at all that prevents you from getting a ticket if you were not speeding in both cases is the complete, utterly unimpeachable integrity of your law enforcement community. That, and unicorns.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:37 PM on September 4, 2009


That's stunningly naive.

You will get an in-person from-a-cop ticket anytime a cop feels like giving you one. And then, unless you can somehow prove you weren't speeding or there's an important error on the ticket, you were speeding even if you weren't.

You will get a ticket from a speed camera anytime the software gives you a ticket.

The only thing at all that prevents you from getting a ticket if you were not speeding in both cases is the complete, utterly unimpeachable integrity of your law enforcement community. That, and unicorns.


Well, mine must be pretty good then because I've never received a speeding ticket from either a uniformed police officer OR a speed camera. But meanwhile wtf? Things happen or they don't happen and I don't have any control over it, ergo I am stunningly naive?
posted by awfurby at 11:02 PM on September 4, 2009


Yeah, I've never gotten a speeding ticket in my life either, which up until now I'd attributed to not speeding. Silly old me.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:38 PM on September 4, 2009


"he was staked out waiting to bust someone coming home from work on a 20 mph dead-end street. My car idles forward faster than that."

Even at a 1000 rpm that's some pretty long gearing for first.

"What the 'marquee' tag not good enough for you?"

Alas it's been disabled.
posted by Mitheral at 12:11 AM on September 5, 2009


But the thing is, hippybear, a whole lot of them actually are ignorant, uneducated rednecks, and these are actually bad things, whereas a lot of the epithets that the ignorant uneducated idiots fling toward us liberals are not actually bad things, such as socialism or being an atheist or being pro-choice, or are misapplied, such as calling us liberals amoral or labeling ALL of us and not just some of us as gay people.

Do you see the difference here?
posted by kldickson at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2009


The only difference I see is a blanket dismissal and grouping of people who don't happen to live in an acceptable urban center as belonging to a class of people which is unliked and perhaps sub-par, while dismissing the potential for demographic diversity which should, by any rights, show an equal or greater number of people with the same likely mentality would exist in the aforementioned acceptable urban centers.

Bigotry is ugly whether it comes from "my side" or the "other side", and your justification of it does not increase my estimation of you in my mind.

What do you have against gay people, anyway?
posted by hippybear at 12:40 PM on September 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't have anything against gay people. I said it was misapplied because not everybody is gay. I probably should have added that in addition, it is not a bad thing. It falls under both points against the ignorant uneducated idiots' epithets!
posted by kldickson at 1:39 PM on September 5, 2009


It's not so much the fact that they don't live in an urban center as the fact that for some reason, idiots just tend to not congregate in cities.
posted by kldickson at 1:39 PM on September 5, 2009


Though that certainly doesn't mean that there aren't idiots in cities.
posted by kldickson at 1:40 PM on September 5, 2009


I think you should perhaps stop while you're even marginally ahead.
posted by hippybear at 1:52 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But the thing is, hippybear, a whole lot of them actually are ignorant, uneducated rednecks, and these are actually bad things, whereas a lot of the epithets that the ignorant uneducated idiots fling toward us liberals are not actually bad things, such as socialism or being an atheist or being pro-choice, or are misapplied, such as calling us liberals amoral or labeling ALL of us and not just some of us as gay people."

kldickson, I do think there is a lot more texture and variety out there in the US population in terms of beliefs, values, etc. than you're acknowledging.

For a datapoint, it seemed to me that several folks from Georgia (when I lived there) were fact proud to be considered a 'redneck'. There were a number of connotations and associations with the word redneck, that implied qualities that I would define as 'positive', such as a love for family, community, etc. Also, quite a few graduated from a fine sampling of universities, if that's what we're defining as 'educated' around here. Some dropped serious knowledge on me on an amazing scope of topics, regardless of whether they had attended college or not. And come to think of it, that said, I've had great experiences abroad as well, but they were tempered with all sorts of ignorance. Cant *begin* to tell you how many non-US men I met during that time who were disappointed that our dating experience wasn't going to mirror some 'black woman in a gangsta video' fantasy that they had going. Many came from nations with fine pro-choice, universal health care having, pro-atheist, socialist leanings. So, just know that you may be looking to leave the country for a better experience, but YMMV.

Anyway, back to the point. I'm not sure if you're just using a 'uneducated, ignorant redneck', caricature to make a point, but it's hard to go anywhere with that.

Besides, I'd miss the south/midwest if it wasn't around. It's mean spirited prejudice based on fear and a limited data set that I wouldn't miss, and it seems that it's a quality sprinkled liberally all over the 50 states, like jimmies on a chocolate donut. (Does anyone out there still call them that?)
posted by anitanita at 4:02 AM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not so much the fact that they don't live in an urban center as the fact that for some reason, idiots just tend to not congregate in cities.

that's why urban idiots have to go online to display their idiocy, right, kl?

---

I think you should perhaps stop while you're even marginally ahead.

she can't - it's almost labor day and she's got to make the most of that white angel costume while it's still allowed
posted by pyramid termite at 7:29 AM on September 6, 2009


What is so strange to me is that the some of the most cohesive white nationalist groups and racialist organizations are based in the sacrosanct Northeast corridor. One has to be willfully obtuse to ignore them, as I've learned in my ten years on the East Coast. Hate groups and bigots are active and out there for all to see, but the "intellectual elite" who want to scurry off to Europe "where there is no bigotry" fail to notice the shit in their own backyard.

Of the groups active on the East Coast (Philly, NJ, NY) Keystone United is probably best organized and best known. New Jersey has an Italian-American White Nationalist Militia. New York, CT and MA are another story altogether. All it takes is open eyes and intellectual curiosity to discover that "flyover states," Texas, Florida and the "South" are hardly the centers of concerted white nationalist power, and that those problems exist on the East Coast perhaps in even larger numbers and startling forms.

Upper class New Jersey, minutes away from poverty circling these enclaves (Same for Philly) ignores the threat of these movements wholly and focus on denigrating "flyover states." Attitudes among these cultured people toward Texas, my home state, never cease to amaze. What about the violence and bigotry in one's own backyard?

I'm not going to link to white nationalist pages because anyone who cares can find them easily enough with google or in the regional section of Stormfront. Every one who thinks their state is a special snowflake of tolerance should be required to do that search. It would lead to a lot less cliched bashing of certain areas of the US.

And for the Europhiles, go to the international section of Stormfront and see how racist-free Europe is.
posted by vincele at 12:16 PM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


But the thing is, hippybear, a whole lot of them actually are ignorant, uneducated rednecks, and these are actually bad things, whereas a lot of the epithets that the ignorant uneducated idiots fling toward us liberals are not actually bad things, such as socialism or being an atheist or being pro-choice, or are misapplied, such as calling us liberals amoral or labeling ALL of us and not just some of us as gay people.

The bad thing™ is binary thinking: good/bad, sacred/evil, us/them, win/lose, all/nothing that sets up artificial choices and false dilemmas. This has been a hallmark of conservative politics since Reagan, and it's not any better when liberals and progressives indulge in it. It oversimplifies and ignores the reality that most of us live in the gray areas, in nuance and flow and contradiction.

You say "ignorant, uneducated rednecks, and these are actually bad things." Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Uneducated means lacking in quality education. Neither of those contains an element of willfulness, and it's mighty classist of you to assume that 1) the ignorant or uneducated are necessarily that way by choice, rather than by circumstance, 2) the uneducated, by your standards of education, are ignorant when they may well be autodidacts or deeply conversants with subjects of which you may have only the shallowest familiarity, and 3) the subjects of your education are inherently more valuable than the subjects of theirs.

Additionally, "redneck" is a label applied broadly to any number of populations, some of whom claim it proudly and others reject it. "Redneck" can variously mean "Southern white person," "rural white person," "NASCAR fan," "white Christian," "member of the good ol' boy network," "farmer or farmhand," "racist asshole," "traditionalist," "country or bluegrass music fan," "pickup truck driver," "hunter or fisher," or any number of other groups. As anitaanita pointed out, there's a good deal of positive associations with the term for some people who think "family-oriented," "clean-living," "supportive of their community," etc., when they hear "redneck."

Being ignorant, uneducated, or a redneck does not inherently mean having less value than being liberal, socialist, atheist, pro-choice, or any other label that gets flung around. Just as there is no value difference between being gay or not-gay, there is no value difference between people with differing levels of formal education or differing political party affiliation from yours.

Your apparent black-and-white thinking and frequent resorting to ad hominem attacks (on individuals or groups) aren't helping you or anyone else. You will miss out on a lot of fantastic people and learning opportunities if you insist on rejecting out of hand everyone outside your echo chamber.
posted by notashroom at 3:48 PM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


There has been much discussion in this MeTa thread, so perhaps we can move the discussion about the potential fitness or non- of people who live in places which are not large cities there, and let this thread go back to being about the fire chief who was shot in a courtroom.
posted by hippybear at 4:03 PM on September 6, 2009


The Jericho Fire Chief has been fired by the mayor Yes, you read that right-- the Fire Chief NOT the Police Chief.
"Dear Mr. Don Payne, please be advised that this letter serves as a letter of termination. It has come to my attention of the improper behavior that you have displayed," Don Payne read the termination letter from Mayor Helen Adams.

Prosecutors say they intend to charge Payne with battery on a police officer. The officer faces no charges
The rest of the town's volunteer firefighters have resigned in protest, leaving the town without a fire department even though in 2005 a man burned to death in his home because fire department doors were locked up and "no one had a key". Presumably that is when the town decided they needed a fire department.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:53 AM on September 22, 2009


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