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Jack Dunphy's Posts

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It Was Not a Time to Wait

 

My most recent piece over at PJ Media deals with the May 24 horrors of Uvalde, more specifically what the police did and did not do when alerted to the gunman’s presence at the school. When I first learned of the massacre and the timeline originally disseminated, I assumed the first reports were in error, as first reports often are. I reasoned it couldn’t possibly have taken police more than an hour to locate and neutralize the shooter. Then, as more details emerged, the timeline remained largely unchanged. I waited until Friday to write about it in the expectation some justification for the delay would be revealed. None was, nor has it been since.

I remain aghast that the gunman was not shot until 80 minutes had elapsed from the first 911 call, and though I have no knowledge of the incident beyond what has been published in news reports, I do have some insight into how police supervisors cope when they find themselves suddenly thrust into a crisis. Some can handle it, too many others cannot. It would appear that Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief, falls into the latter category.

Dave Chappelle and the Death of Free Speech

 

With apologies for my prolonged absence from Ricochet, I wanted to call the members’ attention to my most recent contribution at The Pipeline, in which I address the Dave Chappelle incident at the Hollywood Bowl and the death of free speech. An excerpt:

In comedy’s long history, practitioners of the trade have been cloaked with what was once known as the “jester’s privilege,” a certain license that protected them from consequences when they made an observation that, from another’s lips, would have been viewed as transgressive. As should now be obvious to all, the jester’s privilege is dead.

Who Killed Ashli Babbitt, and Why?

 

Greetings, Ricochetti. With apologies for my long absence from the site, I return today to bring your attention to a piece I’ve written for The Pipeline, “Who Killed Ashli Babbitt?” You’ll recall that Babbitt was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during the so-called insurrection of Jan. 6. She was unarmed and did not appear to pose a threat to anyone at the time she was shot.

In a time when police shootings far more justifiable than this one are endlessly scrutinized in the press, how is it that Babbitt’s death has escaped even a fraction of the coverage devoted to other police killings? Here’s a sample from the piece:

The (Much Less) Dismal Choice

 

Four years ago, on the eve of our last presidential election, I posted here on Ricochet a piece I called “The Dismal Choice,” in which I lamented having to choose between two candidates who, each for different reasons, were in my view unfit for the job.

In deciding to vote for Donald Trump, I reasoned thus:

Don’t Rebuild Those Burned-Out Businesses Just Yet

 

Over at PJ Media today, I offer the recommendation that people hold off on rebuilding any burned-out business in Minneapolis and elsewhere. Body camera footage from two of the officers charged in George Floyd’s death has been leaked to the Daily Mail, and it does not inspire confidence in the prosecutors’ case. A month ago, writing at National Review Online, I speculated on why Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison had not released the body camera footage to the public. “Could it be,” I asked, “that it has been withheld because it does not bolster the case against the defendants?”

With the leak of the surreptitiously recorded video copies, this appears this is the case. The videos show Floyd’s resistance to being put in a police car after being arrested, and they reveal how many times Floyd claimed he could not breathe despite clear evidence that he could. “The criminal charges in this case,” I write in the PJ Media column, “stem from the officers’ inability to divine when Floyd’s feigned distress, including the earlier claims he could not breathe, became real. Even if they had realized Floyd had suffered a heart attack and begun CPR immediately, there will be a divergence of medical opinions as to whether Floyd could have survived.”

(Over)Policing the Pandemic

 

I have a new column over at PJ Media, again lamenting that police officers have been impressed into service as the enforcers of whatever restrictions some governor, mayor, or local health official feels necessary to stem the coronavirus. As expected things have gotten worse since I last raised the issue. An excerpt from the latest column:

Since [my previous column] was posted, we have seen police officers issuing $500 citations for the crime of attending a drive-in church service, and others arresting an Idaho woman who dared take her kids to a closed playground. Indeed, social media is awash with similar tales, which are all the more insulting to the average citizen when accompanied by stories of criminals released from jail only to re-offend within hours.

Policing the Pandemic

 

I have a new piece up over at PJ Media in which I discuss some of the more bizarre incidents of overzealous law enforcement going on across Southern California in the name of keeping us “safe” from the coronavirus. I’m sure members of the Ricochetti across the country can describe similar happenings in their own cities and towns.

I do not discount the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, I am of a sufficiently advanced age to be considered a high-risk patient if I were to contract the disease. But neither do I discount the genuine threat to liberty posed by the various orders, decrees, edicts, and mandates lately imposed by the nation’s governors, mayors, health commissioners, and every other sort of government functionary exercising their newly discovered power to limit the freedom of their fellow citizens. In the case of the people being hassled for watching the sunset, cited above, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department was so proud of this exercise of authority that they made it their pinned tweet on their Twitter account.

Police Pursuits: What Would You Do?

 

My fellow Ricochetti, I invite you to imagine yourself as a police officer on patrol. While driving in your squad car you hear a radio broadcast of a robbery that has just occurred, one in which the suspect shot the victim. You are supplied with a description of the suspect and his getaway car, and moments later you spot him driving. You radio for backup and continue to follow at a distance, and when your backup arrives you try to pull the suspect over. Rather than stop, he accelerates away and a pursuit begins.

Conditions for the chase are relatively safe at the outset, with light traffic and no outrageously erratic driving by the suspect. But as the suspect’s desperation increases, so too does his recklessness, and before long he sideswipes a car, drives on a sidewalk, and does other things indicating he will try anything to escape. You are informed the car the suspect is driving in stolen, offering you no clue as to the suspect’s identity.

The Jussie Smollett Show Lives On

 

Jussie Smollett / Shutterstock.com


Jussie Smollett’s acting career may not have ended after all. No, he will not be appearing in the final season of Empire, the show whose cancellation is due at least in part to his misbehavior. And no, he has not been cast in any new productions coming to screens large or small. But, owing to a Friday ruling by a Cook County judge, the Jussie Smollett Reality Show, which was far more compelling and widely watched than Empire on its best day, and which came to an abrupt and bizarre conclusion with the dismissing of all charges against him, will continue.

Recall that the saga began last January when Smollett, who in the small hours of a frigid Chicago night was walking home after purchasing a sandwich, was set upon by two men, both wearing MAGA hats, who beat and poured noxious liquid on him, verbally assaulted him with racist and homophobic epithets, and, in a final gratuitous insult, placed a noose around his head.
 
Or so he claimed.

Mohammed Noor Guilty of Murder, Manslaughter in Death of Justine Damond

 

To the surprise of no one who followed the case, former Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor was found guilty yesterday in the killing of Justine Damond. Recall that in July 2017, Noor was one of two police officers to respond to Damond’s 911 call regarding a possible sexual assault in progress near her home. After the police car passed down the alley behind her home, Damond approached the officers as they sat in their car. Noor, startled by Damond’s sudden appearance, shot her.

As I wrote at the time on PJ Media, I could not imagine any jury entertaining the suggestion that Noor had a reasonable fear for his safety, the standard governing police use of deadly force established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor. As I anticipated, Noor’s defense relied on the testimony of a police use-of-force “expert” who tried to persuade the jury that Noor’s fatal response to Damond’s surprise approach was reasonable. A quote from my PJ Media piece:

On ‘Saint’ Nipsey Hussle, an Alternative View

 

My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns what I believe to be the inordinate adulation shown to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. Hussle, whose true name was Ermias Asghedom, was shot to death on March 31 outside the clothing store he owned in Los Angeles. Eric Holder (no, not that one) has been arrested and charged with murder in the case.

On April 11, Hussle’s funeral was held before an audience of 21,000 in LA’s Staples Center, making him the second person so honored. (The first was Michael Jackson; make of that what you will.) After the funeral, Hussle’s hearse led a chaotic procession on a 25-mile tour of South Los Angeles, a tour which, as I noted in the piece, scarcely passed a single block that hadn’t been the scene of at least one murder in the last 20 years. LAPD brass called the event a success when only four people were shot (one fatally) and only four police cars were vandalized.

South Los Angeles is policed by four patrol divisions within the LAPD, Southwest, 77th Street, Southeast, and Newton, and at various times in my career with the department I worked at all of these stations. It was in these assignments that I became familiar with the gang culture that prevails in the area, a culture that has sown more death and misery than I can come close to describing. I can’t possibly count all the murder scenes I went to, to say nothing of the more frequent non-fatal shootings. During my time working in South LA, I responded to at least one shooting every night and at least one murder every week. The utter waste of young life I witnessed continues to haunt me.

On the End of the Weekly Standard (and Other Stuff)

 

In the small hours of November 9, 2016, when it became clear that the improbable had come to pass, I tweeted out the following question: “Whose hard-core supporters will be harder to live with now, Trump’s or Hillary’s?” Two years on, this remains an open question, one that is all the more pressing in light of recent events.

Wednesday’s mail delivery brought the final issue of The Weekly Standard. This was later than usual, but of course, there’s little use in complaining about it now. (And to whom would I complain?) With this issue came the lame appeal on behalf of the new weekly version of the Washington Examiner, which will fulfill the Standard’s remaining subscription obligations. Whatever the merits of this new magazine, I have declined the offer and await my payment for the balance of my subscription, with which I hope to buy lunch someday.

The shuttering of The Weekly Standard has been welcomed in some quarters, most notably by President Trump, who celebrated the magazine’s demise in a typically graceless tweet. (And who would have expected anything less?) But anyone joining in this celebration in the belief that it marks a Trump triumph over Bill Kristol, one of the magazine’s founders and an unrepentant never-Trumper, are mistaken. A comprehensive post-mortem analysis of the Standard’s waning days was supplied by John Podhoretz in Monday’s Commentary Magazine podcast, and a more succinct version can be found in David Brooks’s Dec. 15 column in the New York Times, but both can be summed up by saying the magazine was killed not because of its opposition to Mr. Trump, but rather for more mundane reasons attendant to the business of conservative opinion journalism.

Burned by a Hot Mic

 

My most recent piece over at PJ Media concerns a police incident that occurred last April in Roswell, GA, outside Atlanta. Please read the column, but I can summarize it here by saying that a Roswell police officer caught a woman driving recklessly and arrested her, but not before conferring with a colleague about the option of giving the woman a ticket and releasing her.

On an apparent lark, the two officers used a smartphone “coin-toss” app to aid in the decision.  When the app suggested they release the woman, they disregarded it and arrested her anyway.  Dashboard and body camera footage of the incident was leaked to a local news station, which aired it as though it had uncovered a major scandal. In the end, the two involved cops were fired, the reckless driver had her case dismissed, and the chief of the Roswell Police Department went in full grovel mode, hiring an outside consultant to do an assessment of the agency.

In the piece I argue that the firing was excessive, and that the officers deserved no more than a talking-to from their sergeant about being circumspect in their speech when the mics are hot.  You may find it shocking, but there can be a number of factors an officer weighs before deciding to make an arrest and no cop wants the deliberations made public.

After Santa Fe Shooting, Houston’s Police Chief Plays Politics

 

My most recent column over at PJ Media concerns Art Acevedo, chief of the Houston Police Department, who has risen to national attention in the wake of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The night of the shooting, Acevedo took to Facebook and posted an impassioned plea for “action” from lawmakers to address gun violence. What this action should be he did not specify, neither in the post nor in the many media appearances he has made since, except to call for a law requiring secure storage of firearms when children are present.

Such a law has been on the books in Texas since 1995 (scroll down to section 46.13), so it’s still unclear what recommendations Chief Acevedo would make. What is clear is that he is enjoying his moment in the sun, having been covered in glowing terms by CBS, the New York Times, and Rolling Stone, among many others.

The point of my PJ Media piece was not ridicule Chief Acevedo, but merely to point out that he, as a police chief, does not necessarily speak for his officers when making pronouncements on public policy. Sadly, that is what he has tried to do in a Twitter spat he’s had with the National Rifle Association’s Dana Loesch, during which he claimed to stand with rank-and-file officers on issues related to gun control. Worse, from the perspective of his officers, Acevedo’s tweets at the NRA were embarrassingly sophomoric for a man in his position. (And, for a man in his position, he’s pretty thin-skinned; he has blocked me on Twitter over a very mild challenge to his opinions.)

David French vs. Jack Dunphy on the Stephon Clark Shooting

 

Over at National Review Online this week, I’ve been involved in a polite but pointed debate with David French over the Stephon Clark police shooting in Sacramento.  On March 29, Mr. French wrote a column in which he called the incident “deeply disturbing and problematic.”  Among my objections to Mr. French’s piece was his assertion that police officers consider the “background level of risk” in a situation before deciding on a course of action.  “According to the City of Sacramento,” he wrote, “it’s been almost 20 years since a cop was shot and killed in the line of duty.”

I found it astounding that Mr. French would have that expectation of police officers, and said so in a March 30 post at NRO’s “The Corner.”  Mr. French responded to me in an April 4 piece on NR, to which I replied yesterday.

Sheriff Israel Has Failed His Department and His Community

 

Over at PJ Media today, I join the growing chorus of people calling for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to be ousted from his job. It has been revealed that the department he leads failed on many levels, both before and during the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Compounding those failures has been Israel’s preening for the cameras, most obnoxiously at CNN’s town hall, at which students, parents, and teachers from the school gathered to hector Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. Remarkably, Sheriff Israel came to be a crowd favorite, echoing the crowd’s anti-gun sentiments and fueling the passions of the youthful mob.

But now we know a few more details about the shooting and the events that led up to it, such as the many times Broward Sheriff’s deputies had contact with the shooter, and the fact that as many as four deputies waited outside the school as children and school staff members were being shot inside.

A Year Aboard the Trump Train: A View from the Caboose

 

A few days before the 2016 presidential election, I posted a piece here on Ricochet titled “The Dismal Choice,” in which I lamented having to choose between two candidates so manifestly deficient in traits I believed essential to the position. But faced with that choice, I voted for Mr. Trump, reasoning that in a Trump presidency there was at least a sliver of a chance that some conservative principles might be advanced, while the alternative offered no such hope. I compared the decision to that facing a driver heading down a mountain road when his brakes fail. He can steer into the mountainside or drive off the cliff, with the former offering certain death and the latter offering a chance, however slight, of surviving the fall.

Now, here we are, 13 months into a Trump administration. I confess to still having the occasional moment of panic when I see a headline or hear a report on the radio and say to myself, “Oh, dear Lord, Donald Trump is President of the United States.” But those moments pass quickly and I say to myself, “Thank you, God, that Hillary Clinton is not President of the United States.”

President Trump’s election has ignited something of a civil war among conservatives, even to the point of disagreement of what makes a person “conservative.” To me, a conservative is one who works to advance conservative principles. The precise definition of which may be somewhat elastic, but if in the fall of 2016 there had been a poll among people who identified as conservatives and they were asked if they would support a candidate who, in his first year in office, would cut taxes, improve military readiness, support law enforcement, appoint originalist judges to the federal courts, slash regulation of business, rout ISIS from its territory, announce the movement of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and get rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate, my guess is that such a candidate would have found wide support.

A Few Words About the Nunez Memo

 

With apologies once again for a prolonged absence, I return to our little island of the Internet, an island of calm and reasoned debate surrounded by a frothing maelstrom of invective and ignorance.  I call your attention to my most recent contribution over at PJ Media, in which I discuss the troubling implications raised by the Nunez Memo.

Please read the whole thing, but I can summarize the piece here by saying it seems to me that Christopher Steele “played” his handlers at the FBI, whose willingness, even eagerness, to believe the worst about Donald Trump blinded them to what should have been obvious defects in the information Steele was providing.

Dueling Losers in Charlottesville

 

My most recent contribution over at PJ Media concerns, as you might expect, the recent events in Charlottesville, specifically the apparent failure of the police to prepare for and respond to the violence they should have known was coming. In that piece I recount a memory of my youth (it was in or about 1970) in which I witnessed the LAPD deal very effectively with a group of neo-Nazis who appeared intent on disrupting a large demonstration against the Vietnam war. A sample:

After an awkward standoff of a few minutes, the Nazis began marching east on Wilshire, with the cops marching right alongside. Upon reaching the east end of the park, at Alvarado Street, the Nazis turned around and marched back to Park View, again matched step for step by the same 50 cops.

The President and the Police

 

I have a new column up today over at PJ Media, in which I reject the criticisms of President Trump’s recent speech to police officers in Brentwood, New York. A sample:

In the course of that speech, the president made an unscripted aside in which he made light of police officers being “rough” with people arrested for violent crimes. Borrowing from comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Mr. Trump admonished his audience not to worry about someone arrested for murder hitting his head while getting into a police car. The cops in attendance laughed and applauded, as did I and most cops who watched the speech.

Jack Dunphy

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