Thursday, July 28, 2011

Murl Harpham's EPD

[UPDATE Below]
Murl Harprham's Eureka Police Department – A Lesson In Toughness
A little over three weeks ago, Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham in an open letter to the citizens of Eureka published in the Times-Standard newspaper titled: Preserving law and order, enforcing the laws, protecting and serving all citizens. At that time he had just replaced the recent firing of Garr Nielsen  (without cause). To reassure everyone, he laid down a rather vague, but tacit baseline for how his officers would conduct themselves as they served the community and enforced the law.

How does the latest police incident measure up? On Monday, July 25, 2011, at about 5:00 p.m. there was a reported shooting at 14th and H streets in Eureka. According to the Time-Standard report,
"Shortly before 7 p.m., EPD received a report of a silver car parked on H Street with its back windshield busted out. Responding officers parked on Eight Street and seemed to be keeping watch on the H Street apartment building, calling for backup. By 8 p.m., EPD had closed H Street to traffic and set up a perimeter around the three-block section. The Sheriff's Office SWAT team had mobilized and was standing by in a nearby parking lot before approaching at 11:30 p.m." And, “EPD and SWAT team members moved in on an apartment on the 800 block of H Street at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, after spotting Nelson's Mercury sedan parked on the street. Police began evacuating residents a 11:45 p.m. Police evacuated 16 people from their apartments.” *** “Nelson was not home when law enforcement forced their way into his apartment with a flash-bang device at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday.  EPD and SWAT team members ended their operation at 2:05 a.m. Tuesday without apprehending the suspect.” [Emphasis added to show disparity in Thadeus Greenson's reporting.]
The next day he turned himself in to the Sheriff's Department.

The newspaper reports are rather convoluted if not rambling accounts. The timeline involving the police response is there, you just have look for it. One thing seems sure, the Eureka Police officers didn't shirk from responding. Also they clearly demonstrated their toughness. Unfortunately, Chief Harpham's definition revolved around a singular, individual “tough cop.” Someone I would consider able and capable of serving the people's best interests as well as enforcing law because of their personal authority based upon and empowered by their singular, individual legitimacy. Not as gang of elite officers, a militarized squad comparable to the U.S. military's Special Operations “Hunter Killer Squads” whose first priority is to serve themselves.

The real message here, from my vantage point anyway, is that aggressive people, drivers, neighbors or anyone else should take to heart what happened here the next time they think to bully someone around. The right to self-defense is still a right in this country and in this state. Even though the only one's that seem to believe they actually possess that right are the police.

Lets not forget, from the newspaper report, I was wondering what happened to that "olive branch of peace"? Did it become a "flash-bang device"?

[UPDATE :: Monday, August 1, 2011]

Notice in the Times-Standard today about: Eureka Council to start police chief hiring process – The empty process of listening to your constituents.

Side Note: Heraldo over at the Humboldt Herald has a decent post on this subject. As usual a lot of moronic comments, salted with a few thoughtful ones thrown in, but a worthwhile read nevertheless. Heraldo's sentiments:
The forums will cost around $3,000 and will be “professionally moderated.” This must mean forum goers will look at faces that appear to be listening rather than the usual smirk à la Councilman Mike Newman.

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