Last week I noted Rep. Jim Stalzer's (R-11/Sioux Falls) insult to college students in defense of his dying guns-on-campus bill on the House floor. Evidently, Rep. Stalzer insulted cops, too:

Mike Walsh, South Dakota’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said Rep. Jim Stalzer’s, R-Sioux Falls, comment that concealed weapons carriers are more law-abiding than law enforcement officers was “irresponsible” and “disturbing.”

...Walsh said he challenges any legislator to find a state with fewer law enforcement members who have been discharged from duty or charged with a crime.

Walsh said that during a hearing for House Bill 1206, which would have authorized the concealed carry of pistols on public university campuses under certain circumstances, Stalzer said that calling 911 was like calling “dial a prayer”.

“My first thought was that it’s unprofessional to make statements like that to begin with and to base it on something other than actual real data is irresponsible,” Walsh said. “He’s making comments about law enforcement that are completely unjustified. I think law enforcement in South Dakota deserves an apology from him” [Mark Walker, "Police Group Wants Apology from State Lawmaker," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.02.25].

Let me check: if students are mad at Stalzer, and if police are mad at Stalzer, it should be pretty easy to beat Stalzer in 2016, right? And Stalzer should be backpedaling, right?

Stalzer, reached by phone Wednesday, said he will not apologize for his comments. He said his argument was based a report from the Crime Prevention Research Center.

“My intention was not to slam police officers, but rather to compare the honesty and integrity of concealed and carry permit holder to police officers,” Stalzer said. “Unless the report is proven false, I don’t think I have anything to apologize for” [Walker, 2015.02.25].

Rep. Stalzer, you pretty much said it all at "I don't think." If a legislator shoots his mouth off with so little regard for his targets, maybe we should hesitate to let him carry a gun.

Also not needing to apologize will be any District 11 candidate who takes out ads against Stalzer saying, "Stalzer says police lack honesty and integrity." Or heck, just shorten that to "Stalzer hates cops." Unless that statement is proven false, you don't have anything to apologize for.

For the record, here is the offending portion of Rep. Stalzer's February 19 floor speech:

This is "Concealed Permit Holders Across the United States" by the Crime Prevention Research Center which was founded by Dr. John Lott. In Florida they have issued 2.6 million permits over 25 years, and tey've had to rescind 168 of them for some kind of a firearms violation. But it's getting better. From January 2008 to May of 2014 they've only had to rvoke four permits out of the almost 900,000 that are currently in effect. Actually in Florida police officers have more firearms violations than concealed carry permit holders.

In Texas there are over 600,000 permits and they've had 120 where there was a conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony, very few of which involved firearms. And with all due respect to our colleague who is a police officer, the crime rate for police officers is higher than the crime rate for concealed carry permit holders.

[Booing is heard in background; Stalzer laughs nervously].

In Texas it's six times higher, and in Florida it's ten times higher. I do not believe our colleague falls in that category [Rep. Jim Stalzer, remarks on House Bill 1206, South Dakota House, 2015.02.19, timestamp 44:23].

The report Stalzer cites comes from gun advocate John Lott, a "perpetual misinformation machine" for the gun lobby. He was exposed over a decade ago as having based a major pro-gun study on error and fraud, but that hasn't stopped the NRA and gun nuts like Rep. Stalzer from providing a market for Lott's product. Media Matters neatly and linkily dismisses Lott's research:

Lott's research on gun issues, including his famous "more guns, less crime" theory, has been discredited in academic circles and he has faced credible accusations of data manipulation and fabrication. He often twists statistics on gun violence in order to advance a pro-gun agenda [links in original; Timothy Johnson, "NRA-Friendly Washington Times Turns To Discredited Gun Researcher John Lott," Media Matters, 2014.10.10].

Another article notes that Lott himself, writing under a pseudonym, once contended that we should completely dismiss the arguments of an academic who engaged in the above behavior. That article then applies that same standard to Lott:

Time and time again Lott has abused his academic credentials to peddle falsehoods. Instead of soberly presenting evidence, and letting the research speak for itself, Lott instead authored his own fan-base, fabricated evidence, manipulated models, mischaracterized data, and then attempted to bulldoze anybody that dared question the authenticity of his research. This is not the behavior of someone who is interested in truth-seeking; it is the behavior of an ideologue who is concerned only with making his opinions as loud and virulent as possible [Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes, "Shooting Down the Gun Lobby's Favorite 'Academic': A Lott of Lies," Armed with Reason, 2014.12.01].

You ready to apologize yet, Rep. Stalzer?

The report itself looks like another exercise in cherry-picking. Lott cites Florida concealed weapons permit revocation rates for firearms violations. That's far from the overall crime rate. That's not even the full list of crimes that could provoke revocation of a concealed weapons permit, like domestic abuse or possession of controlled substances.

Lott also cherry-picks dates, looking at Florida police firearms violations from 2005 to 2007 while peddling the concealed weapons permit revocation numbers from 1987 to 2014 and emphasizing those numbers from 2008 to 2014. You can't draw conclusions from differing crime rates over different populations in different eras to guide policy right now.

Comparing firearms violations among police and civilians also seems prone to a fatal statistical flaw. Suppose we were looking at nail gun violations (if there were such a thing). I imagine we would find more nail gun violations (accidental discharge, improperly stowing the device or its ammunition) among carpenters, who carry and use nail guns every day for work, than we would among weekend warriors who have nail guns in their garage but only use them for occasional home improvement projects. Ditto for comparing armed police and concealed weapons permit holders: police have their guns every day, every hour on duty. Concealed weapons permit holders do not train as much and do not carry and handle their weapons as frequently and as openly as police officers.

And like our legislators, forgetful or rebellious concealed weapons permit holders sneak their weapons into gun-free zones unnoticed on a regular basis, but those violations won't appear in Lott's warped statistics or any others.

Interestingly, when the question turns from concealed weapons permits to racism, Lott musters his mathematical legerdemain to dismiss as distortions accusations that police improperly use their weapons. Lott alternately defends and attacks police, as it suits his political agenda. Lott's "reports" should be taken as political propaganda, not as reliable scientific research.

Rep. Jim Stalzer should apologize for disguising his attack on the honesty and integrity on South Dakota's police as objective research. The lack of honesty and integrity is Rep. Stalzer's, and citizens of all stripes (police, students, etc.) should work to remove him from office.

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Senator Greenfield Calls Trooper Political Lackey

South Dakota Highway Patrol Major Dana Svendsen testified against Senate Bill 162 Thursday. That bill was Senator Brock Greenfield's (R-2/Clark) attempt to allow certain trained legislators to carry weapons in the South Dakota Capitol during Session as a back-up security force.

Major Svendsen has been in charge of security at the Capitol since 2002, during which time no legislator has suffered an assault or other crime that I know of on Capitol grounds. Major Svendsen testified (starting at 19:10 in this SDPB archived audio) that Senate Bill 162 had numerous flaws. On the technical side, he said SB 162 appeared to have been prepared without consultation with the Attorney General (and Senator Greenfield subsequently confirmed that he had not discussed the bill with the AG or with the Department of Public Safety, of which the HP is a part). Major Svendsen said the bill did not contain funding for the Attorney General's office to administer the training program.

Moving to the heart of the Highway Patrol's concerns, Major Svendsen said SB 162 posed a grave security risk by keeping secret from law enforcement the identity of armed legislators. Officers moving into an active-shooter situation who see unknown civilians firing weapons have to make a split-second decision about those shooters' intent. "This scenario has the potential to end very badly," said the Highway Patrol major. Major Svendsen did not directly address Senator Greenfield's comment earlier in the hearing that he knows multiple legislators who illegally carry guns in the Capitol, but it would appear Major Svendsen and his troopers already face that very dangerous scenario.

Major Svendsen said that the Highway Patrol takes its responsibility for Capitol security very seriously and that it would be a mistake to pass that duty off to legislators. "Anyone can hit a target when they're not under stress," said Major Svendsen, who called into question whether the training called for in SB 162 would be sufficient to address the threats Senator Greenfield targeted. Major Svendsen said troopers undergo continual training, not just target practice, but training in shoot-don't-shoot situations and in dealing with unstable people. Troopers are trained to be constantly mindful of the fact that every situation they enter has a gun involved, since they carry guns into every situation. "Bad people will try to take that gun away from you and use it against you," warned Major Svendsen. "If a person isn't trained for that or trained to have that mindset, who knows what could happen."

To these valid administrative and security concerns, Senator Greenfield rebutted thus:

The gentleman who just came forward has a job to do, and that job is to create doubt about... a bill that the administration doesn't agree with [Senator Brock Greenfield, rebuttal, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, South Dakota State Legislature, Pierre, South Dakota, 2015.02.12, timestamp 23:30].

Senator Greenfield hears practical security concerns from the man who has successfully managed Capitol security for over a decade and dismisses them as mere political lackeyism.

Senator Greenfield proceeded in his rebuttal to ignore most of the points Major Svendsen raised. The Senator said he would be happy to consult with the Attorney General, but whined (I don't think that verb exaggerates) that he didn't hear any opposition to SB 162 until after 4 p.m. the day before this hearing, leaving "no time for me to work with them." Senator Greenfield claimed that since the Department of Public Safety didn't take a position on the school gunslinger bill in 2013, he could reasonably assume that the Department of Public Safety wouldn't take a position against a bill arming civilians in a building over which they have direct responsibility for security.

Senate Judiciary wisely killed this ill-thought-out bill Thursday. Senator Greenfield showed not just a thoughtless disregard for expert opinion but a serious and selfish disrespect for the law enforcement officers who will risk their lives to keep him safe.

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The accusation that racist thugs in a VIP box threw insults and beer at kids from the American Horse School at a Rapid City Rush hockey game Saturday appears all the more substantive and serious. The Rapid City Police Department is gearing up to throw the book at the alleged malefactors:

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said his officers know the identity of at least one person whose conduct was "scorching of your soul" when he insulted and threw beer on a group of Native American students at the Rush hockey game last Saturday at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Police Chief Karl Jegeris made the announcement at a press conference that followed a 2 1/2-hour closed-door meeting that included parents of the children, American Horse School officials, Oglala Sioux Tribal representatives, Mayor Sam Kooiker, police and the Pennington County State's Attorney's office.

"We're going to be looking at assault. We're going to look at the hate crimes statutes. We will look at the child abuse statutes. And, we will look at any other relevant statutes," Jergeris said of charges that may be filed against the person or people who participated in the harassment of the students [Andrea J. Cook, "Jegeris: Police Have Identified One Person Suspected of Insulting Native American Students," Rapid City Journal, 2015.01.28].

Chief Jegeris caught some grief last month over what seemed to be an effort to hinder a Lakota protest downtown, but turned out to be seeking dialogue working in the best interest of the protestors and public safety. On this case of racist bullying of children, he seems to making clear that he will stand for equal treatment under the law for all residents and visitors.

And on top of racist piggery, who did these brutish hockey fans think they were to pick on children, who'd earned their trip to the big-town hockey game as a reward for their work at school? As Mato Standing High, attorney for four of the harassed children's parents says, this behavior should outrage all parents:

"They're your children, too. If you live in South Dakota, these are your children," he said. "It doesn't matter where they live. It doesn't matter what color their skin is. If they live in South Dakota, they are your children, too" [Cook, 2015.01.28].

Chief Jegeris appears to take that message to heart. Rapid City has some ugly bullies. It also appears to have a police chief who is prepared to shut those bullies down.

111 comments

Patrolman Dan Kaiser evidently wants fewer calls at work. The Aberdeen policeman, who also happens to be one of District 3's two Republican Representatives, has filed House Bill 1074, which would raise the property damage threshold for reporting automobile accidents. Right now, if you bend fenders, SDCL 32-34-7 requires that you call the police if it looks like you've done a thousand dollars or more in damage to any one person's property or two thousand dollars or more in total damage for all parties involved in the accident. HB 1074 doubles those numbers: two thousand or more per person, four thousand or more per accident.

Think of it this way: pass HB 1074, then spin your truck out on the ice, hit another car, and put a $1,600 crease in your fender, and you don't have to bother Officer Kaiser. If the car you hit also incurs $1,600 in damage, still no call. But if the crash slides you both into Mayor Levsen's yard and you crush his $1,000 decorative mailbox, that's $4,200 in damage for all parties concerned, and you need to call Officer Kaiser.

Doubling the damage threshold is a pretty big jump. The last revision in these reporting thresholds came fifteen years ago, when that year's HB 1203 doubled the damage thresholds to the current amounts. But adjust the $1,000 individual damage limit for each year's inflation rate from 2000 to 2014, and you get $1,421. Rep. Kaiser thus appears to have an eye on reducing paperwork for his Legislative colleagues as well, overshooting the inflation adjustment and thus putting off by several more years the need to revisit this statute with further legislation.

The Kaiser Paperwork Reduction Act does not change the requirement to notify the police immediately of an automobile accident that injures or kills any person. HB 1074 goes before House Judiciary Wednesday morning.

4 comments

Oh, fuss and feathers! We got all hot and bothered here on the blog about the Rapid City Police Department's denial of a permit to American Indian activists who want to stage a protest against police brutality during the Lakota Nation Invitational. But Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris was serious when he said he was working with organizers to accommodate their First Amendment rights. The protest is on for this afternoon!

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has authorized a special event permit for this march and rally from 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19, in Memorial Park, Legacy Commons and the Promenade.

“I am thankful that we came to an agreement to address the public safety concerns,” Jegeris said.

The Rapid City Police Department will be present during the event to ensure the public safety of all residents and visitors ["Rapid City Police Chief Approves Protest Rally for Friday," KOTA-TV, 2014.12.18].

Kevin Woster explains that a big part of Chief Jegeris's initial rejection of the permit was timing:

Protesters had wanted to have the protest rally and March from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. They would have marched from the east parking lot of the civic center south a few blocks to Main Street, then west on Main for three blocks to Mount Rushmore. From there they were to march back to the west parking lot of the civic center.

Those are some of the busiest streets in Rapid City, especially when there’s an event at the civic center and Rapid City Central – just across the street – is releasing students for the day.

Add in approaching darkness and the protest plan was an unacceptable danger to LNI attendee, Central students, the general public and protesters and the police, Jegeris said.

“The time frame would be just about dark and getting dark,” he said. “And there’s just so many safety considerations that I just have to put safety first” [Kevin Woster, "RC Chief Approves Permit After Initial Rejection," KELOLand.com, 2014.12.18].

See? Chief Jegeris is no brute; he's actually helping the protesters shine more daylight on their message.

So Larry, still want to move LNI out of Rapid City?

77 comments

Uh oh, Chief—looks like we got a case of speaking while Indian.

Cody Hall, Anthony Bordeaux, and other American Indian activists want to hold a march against police brutality in Rapid City Friday in conjunction with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a big basketball (and knowledge bowl, business plan, archery, language...) tournament that will bring lots of Natives and maybe some wasicu to town. Organizers want to march from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center (site of LNI) to Main Street and back. Seems like a good opportunity to reach a larger audience and do some organizing, right?

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has denied a permit for this march, saying these organizers couldn't keep their crowd under control the last time they raised a ruckus in Rapid:

The event was proposed to take place on Friday December 19th, beginning at 3pm. Since that time, the event has been advertised as a March/Rally on social media and indicators show that well over 100 people plan to attend. This was proposed to occur during the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI), an event that is expected to draw approximately 2500 youth and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The same event organizers were involved in the May 2012 March/Rally involving Rapid City Regional Hospital. That event drew hundreds of demonstrators. Although the event was promoted as peaceful, numerous public safety issues arose including; disruption of traffic, obstruction of police, threat to occupy the hospital, threat of arson to the hospital, and other issues that placed the demonstrators, law enforcement, and the general public at risk. This demonstrates the organizers' lack of ability to provide adequate supervision to the event, and demonstrates the great risk that would be posed to the LNI.

"The LNI is a positive youth event, and the public safety of our youth and families is the number one priority. The City of Rapid City and the Rapid City Police Department have worked hard over the past 38 years to support and ensure the highest degree of Public Safety possible for the LNI," said Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris. It is for this reason that the March/Rally/Walk be kept separate from the LNI [Rapid City Police Department, press release, 2014.12.16].

Safety first—yup, that's the recipe for authoritarianism that our country has embraced too willingly since September 11, 2001.

Chief Jegeris hasn't completely shut the door on the protesters' exercise of the First Amendment:

The Rapid City Police Department is committed to protecting all Constitutional Rights of residents and visitors, including the Right to Assemble and Freedom of Speech," said Chief Jegeris. It is for that reason that Chief Jegeris has offered to meet with the event organizers to make arrangements to accommodate an alternative date and/or location [RCPD, 2014.12.16].

I'm pleased the chief is still offering an alternative, but will he end up offering organizers some out-of-the-way "free speech zone" like we've seen at national political conventions?

Refresh me on this question: why do we need a permit system for public assembly and protest? Why do the police get any check over the exercise of First Amendment rights? Assembling to speak is not a prosecutable crime; should you or I or an Indian in Rapid City have to ask the government's permission to do so?

If the police see a crowd of people making noise, they should certainly mosey over to see what's the hubbub, but should they have the authority to exercise any restraint before the crowd even assemble, let alone before anyone in the crowd commits a crime?

Organizers, in Rapid City, it's time to rebrand from "We Can't Breathe" to "We Can't Speak."

110 comments

P&R Miscellany echoes a position voiced by Fox News and Senator Rand Paul: Eric Garner, the New York man who died last July after a physically forceful arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes, was killed in part by the nanny state:

Government, if it is to be just and not tyrannically oppressive, must be limited. This was the seminal fact that guided our founding fathers in drafting the Constitution (and the Articles of Confederation before that). We must accept the fact that there are problems and difficulties which government cannot solve. In fact, it can solve none of them. At best, government can lessen the severity of these evils - it can restrain them - but it cannot eliminate them. A government so persuaded of its own powers that it thinks it can eliminate them very quickly becomes one of those very evils governments were instituted to restrain ["A More Properly Limited Government Would Have Saved Mr. Garner," P&R Miscellany, 2014.12.05].

P&R seems to be arguing on the fringes of practical policy outcomes. Garner had been arrested over thirty times since 1980, and the nanny state didn't kill him in any of those instances. NYPD made 228,000 misdemeanor arrests in 2013, and none of those arrests resulted in death by nanny state. If the nanny state is a killer, it's not trying very hard.

The comment section doesn't need my encouragement to discuss Garner's arrest and the Staten Island grand jury's refusal to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo. But I'd like to shine a little light at P&R's reference to the Articles of Confederation to show the weakness of P&R's argument.

P&R says government can't solve problems. But the swift abandonment of the failing Articles of Confederation in favor of the bigger-government Constitution shows our Founding Fathers learned otherwise from experience. They tried the weaker, decentralized confederate form of government and found it a miserable way to run a country. In less than a decade, they scrapped that plan and adopted the stronger, centralized, federalist government of the Constitution. That new federal model, a real grandmammy compared to the niggling nanny-state measures, fixed all sorts of problems, including...

  1. economic chaos from unregulated trade,
  2. non-uniform and unstable currency,
  3. unpredictable federal revenue stream due to lack of taxation power (oh, wait: I forget that some of P&R's conservative friends don't think that's a problem),
  4. lack of an independent judiciary,
  5. lack of clear direction of foreign affairs,
  6. military impotence, and
  7. legislative inefficiency (again, not a problem in some arch-conservative minds... and a problem that, 225 years out, Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell have happily brought back).

Stronger government lifted America from mediocrity and set the stage for thirteen rebellious, isolated colonies to become a global superpower and a beacon of democratic success.

Debate rages (the verb is used quite accurately here) over Garner's death and the legal and moral culpability therefor. But to say that Garner's death is an object lesson in the undesirability of government ignores practical results and our own history.

13 comments

The Rapid City Council will approve Mayor Sam Kooiker's new police chief tomorrow night... maybe. Mayor Kooiker announced last week that he wants to promote theologian-turned-cop Elias Diaz from the department accreditation desk to the chief's office. Diaz faces a council vote tomorrow night, and a number of councilors are signaling they don't like the Mayor's choice:

"I have concerns about his lack of command experience," wrote Alderwoman Bonny Petersen in an email. "The Police Department has been ran well and is improving. They are recovering from the loss of our fine policemen, at the same time violent crime is rising."

...Alderwoman Amanda Scott... said she's received more than 20 messages from constituents questioning the selection. Scott and others are upset that the public and council had no opportunity to weigh in on the recommendation prior to the final vote on Monday [Joe O'Sullivan, "Police Chief Vote Likely to Be Close: Some Council Members Unsure of Lt. Diaz," Rapid City Journal, 2014.06.15].

Retired police chief Steve Allender wrote a recommendation for another candidate, his second-in-command and interim Chief Karl Jegeris. Allender's predecessor, now State Senator Craig Tieszen, says Jegeris is more experienced and Diaz isn't ready to run the department.

Returning to the blogosphere from a health hiatus, Rapid City statesman Stanford Adelstein says Mayor Kooiker has deviated from a long-standing process for choosing city officials:

Over 30 years ago Mayor Art LaCroix and Chief Tom Hennies established a method of preparing for future leadership changes in city government.

The process involved careful evaluation of every member of the police force to identify future leaders. From the results, a careful plan of promotion, mentoring, and training prepared some for future professional police leadership positions. Thus the next Chief was chosen with care and without personal prejudice or intervention.

The process has worked incredibly well, giving us effective leaders like Chief Tiezen and Chief Allender.

Sadly, Mayor Kooiker has chosen to violate the process, and it has had the predictable effect of reducing morale, embarrassing his appointee and, for that matter, embarrassing the whole police force [Stanford Adelstein, "The Mayor's Folly," A Way to Go, 2014.06.14].

Adelstein sees railroadery in tomorrow night's City Council agenda, with Mayor Kooiker placing the Chief vote near the top of the meeting, then scheduling a recess to allow what Adelstein calls a "party" for the new chief:

Evidently the plan is to intimidate the council to approve the nominee, lest there be awkward moments with his friends and family waiting in the room for the ice cream, cookies and punch, or whatever they are having.

It’s a tacky trick and I doubt the council will fall for it, no matter how awkward it may be [Adelstein, 2014.06.14].

The council and the public will have a chance to weigh in prior to the vote, as the agenda includes an executive session and the open public comment period. Having worked in the public sector, I can sympathize with Officer Diaz: having one's résumé questioned in the press is no fun. But Mayor Kooiker appears to have brought this trouble upon his friend by circumventing past practice in picking a police chief.

8 comments

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