It would appear the scene where Officer Bisard killed one man and critically injured two others was very quickly crawling with high-ranking police officials, including Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ron Hicks and Homeland Security Commander John Conley. They are, we're informed, less high-ranking now, knocked down one entire step to Lieutenant.
Yeah, that'll bring the dead guy back and make the injured ones whole, won't it?
The amount of tap-dancing around the truth, kiester-covering, fan-dances and just plain sleight-of-mind that has surrounded this mess, predictable though it is, still amazes me.
Let's stop a minute and talk about drunks and drink; like crime and guns, the presence of the second in no way implies the first. The number of individuals who enjoy a drink before or after dinner, or who have a few beers on a hot afternoon -- or a chilly one -- vastly outmatches the folks who can't face the day (or the night or the sunlight or...) without a drink or twelve. Alas, the vast majority of alcoholics I have known were functional alcoholics, in one case very high-achieving, and in a simpler time, if they could be kept away from the few examples of heavy machinery, most of them were not a danger to anyone but themselves. These days, "heavy machinery" is as common as, well, cars and the guy or gal with alcohol-slowed reflexes might as well be sweeping muzzle across all around them, finger on the trigger.
We need to treat drinking the same way we treat shooting. We need, not only to practice bottle safety ourselves but to call others on it, the same way you'd take a friend to task for careless gun-handling. Yes, "it isn't loaded," and neither is your pal; at least he doesn't look it and don't most people have three beers for breakfast? Like bad habits with firearms, alcoholism can sneak up on you, even if you're not the one doin' it, "Oh, that's just Uncle Fred, don't worry, he's been doing that for years," and he hasn't shot a hole in the basement ceiling or plowed his car into a tree yet; he hasn't toasted his liver or put an ND into the guy at the next lane...as far as you know.
Officer Brisard's family, friends, co-workers, what did they know? Did they say, "Dave's got a stressful job," did they see him always drinking but rarely if ever appearing drunk? We don't know; I do know that everyone I have known who was tripped up by a drinking problem -- including an insanely lucky wrong-way freeway driver -- was known to those around them as a serious drinker, but never really called on it.
And that's not a good way to deal with it. The folks I've known who were drunks? One fired; one in serious trouble with the law and fired; one dead, killed by pickling his own liver against medical advice. One stopped drinking before he screwed up his life (y'know what sucks? Havin' some poor slob of a friend sit ya down and do the whole embarrassing AA making-amends thing, pretty much strippin' parts of his soul bare nekkid right there at your kitchen table and the only even slightly useful thing you can do about it is sit there and listen) and one, one, decided drinking all day was a bad plan, cut way back and is now a highly successful senior executive something-or-another; way back when, I'd often seen him unsteady enough I wanted to stop him driving but I didn't want to make a scene: I let that guy drive off, unofficially tipsy as, well, Officer Brisard, and hey, he and everyone else along his route got lucky.
Maybe we'd better put a little less trust in luck. Maybe it would be better to speak up before things go badly wrong.
1. A term that continues to give me cold chills. For those who still don't get it, one of the prime goals of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction in the targeted entity, which will, by its negative impact on the public, greatly amplify the initial act. Mission accomplished, ya miserable bastids. What was he doing there, anyway, investigating the dire security threat motorcyclists pose to the Homeland?
2. Yuck. YMMV.
3 weeks ago