Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Convenience Store Clerks Killed In Algona, Humboldt

As everyone knows, a feckless teen from Minnesota shot and killed two convenience store clerks in two separate incidents in Kossuth and Humboldt counties the other night.

It is said that he shot the clerks-two middle aged women-to prevent them from identifying him should he be arrested for the robberies he committed.

The victims were blameless, hard working women with kids and grandkids who worked hard providing a necessary and welcome service to travelers. That makes this all the more difficult to wrap our heads around.

What's surprising about the offender-this person who seems to think it's all very funny-is from a reputable middle class home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota who had a few brushes with the law-nothing unusual there.

There's not much we can bring to the table as far as prevention through education of potential offenders is concerned. Detection and remediation is nice but we'll never know if it works-just when it doesn't as in this case. I don't have any good ideas there except that whatever we do we should do it well on the off chance that it may head off another incident like this-we can't afford not to.

But maybe what we can do is take a few minutes out of our day to talk to the people who work in that most thankless and hazardous of jobs making the coffee and manning the register at late hours, and give them the benefit of our knowledge and training in self defense and personal protection and what we've learned about human nature-although nobody could have prepared for this.

That sure can't hurt.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I always feel like somebody's watching me.

The Los Angeles Times today reminds us of the dangers of retailing confidential law enforcement information.

Parenthetically, it also reminds us that all of us are constantly being tested and evaluated whether we like it or not. It points out that some people must just be born stupid or have forgotten that loose lips do, indeed, sink ships.

Lastly, the old adage here applies: If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.

It seems that rookie LAPD officer Gabriel Morales had a romantic relationship and the brother of his girlfriend, one Matthew Turner, had recently been convicted of murder in a gang related drive by shooting in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Former officer Morales took it upon himself to access law enforcement data bases to gain information on two witnesses who had testified for the prosecution.

While listening in on Turner's telephone conversations from jail, LAPD murder police heard Morales' name mentioned in connection with the witnesses.

Two days after Turner had been convicted, he told his father that "Gabriel is running their names (and is) supposed to bring me their names today, where their locations at, so we can get ahold of them." It is also supposed that Morales had accessed police databases to locate a third witness who testified in the case.

There are several takehomes here. First of all, information requests leave a trail. Second of all, criminals cannot keep their mouths shut. Third of all, jail telephone calls are monitored and recorded and they tell you that before you pick up the phone.

I've been tempted myself a few times.

Don't do it.