A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Apr 19, 2017

Face reality instead of facing off against Facebook

courtesy google images

Use extreme caution before taxing Facebook with a moral responsibility to censor its content, be it offensive or otherwise. 

Facebook content is frequently the only evidence that a crime has been committed, is the window for now millions of eye witnesses, and is a treasure trove of forensic evidence. In fact, the worst thing you can do when you see a crime on Facebook is to report it to Facebook, because they take it down and it's gone. The best thing to do is to report it to law enforcement which allows the page to be preserved before it's taken down thus saving the evidence of the crime and its attendant forensics. spcaLA frequently is involved in this arena as animal cruelty is often live streamed or posted on that site.

Blaming Facebook for the content is like blaming Major League Baseball for giving out bats on Bat Day. It's not the bat or the event that is problematic, but rather the idiot that hits someone with said bat that needs dealing with. Crimes, by choice, are typically committed in secret unless the criminal is narcissistic, bragging, or feels invisible on the internet. Many "he said she said" crimes streamed by a victim or third party would never be prosecuted were it not for Facebook evidence. What is the difference between watching the crime on Facebook or a gruesome cell phone video played on the news in an endless loop. The answer is, again, censorship responsibility. The editors in a newsroom decide what we should see and how often rather than us. We should not be choosing our censors, we should be using the information to right a wrong.

I don't want any misguided puritanical ideologue, self-righteous editor, or a questionably virtuous CEO telling me what I can and cannot see and deciding when to protect my sensibilities from unpleasant things. 

Don't be fooled by the "oh my god the children" argument either.  They see everything now whether it's on the internet, television or in video games. It is up to us to mentor and actively instill in them a moral core and help them develop critical thinking skills from day one. Whether they just saw a crazed murder or a police officer shoot someone through a car window, they will have questions and deserve the respect of answers and respectful dialogue so they can become discerning individuals.

Picking on Facebook is the proverbial slippery slope problem. Would you prefer seeing only rainbows and unicorns while permitting bad actors to remain at large, and the hiding of unpleasant images, or using our technology to face the truth and deal with it?

Finally, asking Facebook to immediately preserve and forward such posts to the authorities would be useful. Asking them to destroy the evidence would be the real crime here. 

Apr 5, 2017

Family pet gunned down by Garden Grove Police - Call for Video

Inaugural Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement Class
in Hawthorne 2015-Google Images/Daily Breeze
Once again a family pet was gunned down.   

Yesterday, March 29th a Garden Grove police officer shot and killed Jax, a 2-year-old Pit Bull Terrier, the family pet of Steve Pudiquet, while they were at his residence executing a search warrant for illegal drugs.

They knew in advance that there would be a dog, Jax, on the scene and brought a fire extinguisher and catch pole with them to handle him. 

First, despite the fact that some self-proclaimed experts suggest a fire extinguisher in this instance, most real experts disagree. Spraying the dog often enrages him and could cause him to race, blinded by the chemicals, in all directions, out of control, and endanger all in the vicinity including passersby. Frequently, the officers spray and blind each other instead. More important, this could set up a need to use lethal force not present at the outset.

Second, a catch pole requires a lot of training and constant practice to use effectively. 

Third, just as you would not send officers to a drug raid with only one or two guns to share, sending a group with one tool does not help the other officers at the scene should they need to defend themselves. Training ALL officers in appropriate canine threat assessment and adapting a command presence that is more appropriate for dogs is essential for them to minimize the need for lethal force. 

There is a POST certified course, offered by spcaLA that does just that.  “Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement.” was developed specifically with law enforcement in mind, and offers real-life scenarios to meet the needs of officers. “Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement” is certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) which gives participants continuing education credits for course completion. The course is reinforced with the most current and credible information available from an array of recognized, respected leaders in animal science fields.

The Garden Grove police department needs to enroll.

There are questions here that need answering.  

Why did they not ask our humane officers or animal control officers to accompany them for the sole purpose of expertly handling the dog? They had the luxury of time to plan as this was a warrant execution unlike a surprise encounter. A bad plan doesn't count.

Did one officer shoot five times or did five officers shoot once? Approximately five bullets were shot into the dog. Shooting that many shots is a threat to the public and each other as they can miss or the bullets can ricochet and wound an innocent bystander of another officer. A bullet might also injure the dog but not stop him from becoming angry and more dangerous. When they retrieve the bullets during the necropsy we will know the answer to this question.

There are times that an officer must use lethal force to protect him or herself. Nobody is quarreling with that. Where the officers find themselves criminally and civilly liable is when the justification for lethal force is not present. When this happens an otherwise righteous law enforcement action becomes a payday for a criminal and everyone suffers. Hence my last question - why don't they help themselves?

If anyone out there has video of the actual shooting event please send it to us at info@spcaLA.com. We would love to analyze it and incorporated into the training class.

 Pet lives matter.