You have to get up early these days to see the pre-dawn color, which offers the advantage, along with the light show, of encountering very little traffic.
The half-moon was bright and the eastern sky was edged in scarlet when Koko and I went walking on this warm, soft morning. The summits of the interior mountains were obscured, but the slopes of Waialaeale were not, and they served as a sort of reflecting pool for the orange-pinkness of the clouds that floated above them.
Ran into my neighbor Andy, and we chatted on subjects ranging from the height and size of 19th Century Hawaiians to relationships that span decades before I headed home, passing both the garbage truck and the biggest rat I’ve ever seen, flattened in the road, which made me glad I was not walking in the dark in slippers, as I have been known to frequently do.
It was nice, over the long weekend that honors the many American soldiers left dead by our endless warring, to take a major break from both the computer and the process of articulating my thoughts, but of course, others continued on in the never-sleeping cyber world.
In my in-basket, there’s been a small flurry of email about a commentary written by Juan Wilson in Saturday’s Garden Island, and yesterday’s response by police Chief Darryl Perry. I noticed there’s yet another perspective presented on the issue in the paper today by Police Commissioner Tom Iannucci.
In one of the emails, the chief was criticized for saying he hadn’t read Juan’s entire commentary before responding, but to tell you the truth, Juan lost me along the way, too.
While Juan did raise a few good points about the need for “aloha spirit” in the department’s mission statement — which seems to have already been addressed by the Chief, according to Iannucci’s commentary — Juan lost credibility, at least with me, and most likely many others, when he started out by saying the cops should give up their guns and cars and use “sporty electric golf carts,” bicycles and horse patrols.
That was before he morphed into a conspiracy bit about the cops “providing speculators security for unwanted development” and “protecting the pesticide spraying of GMO corporations on the Westside.” Huh?
When you come from an extreme premise like that, it’s easy to be discredited and dismissed, which both the chief and Iannucci did in their responses. And in the process, the legitimate concerns about the further militarization of police that Juan also raised go unexamined.
Then I saw other emails about Jonathan Jay’s plans to do a radio show featuring the Chief and Juan, although apparently not in the studio together. While I’d love to hear the chief on the radio answering questions from the public, why put him in a point-counterpoint position with Juan? What useful purpose could that possibly serve? Juan has already blown his wad with the cops, and he’s not going to get anywhere with them from here. He has lost all effectiveness, if he ever had any, as a spokesman on this issue.
I was talking to a friend on Oahu about this issue this morning, and he said, “That’s something the extreme left and extreme right have in common: distrust of the jackbooted paramilitary cops we have.”
There's tremendous distrust, for good reason, of bad Kauai cops. A lot needs to be done to open up and reform the department, increase its accountability to the public and decrease the trend toward militarization.
The question now is, what’s the best way to achieve those goals? Working with the chief, who at least says he is pushing toward reform, to make sure that public concerns are on his radar? Or digging into polarized us against them positions and advancing fanciful solutions that don’t have a prayer of prevailing?
I believe those of us who want to see substantial change in the department have an opening with this new Chief. Let's plan our strategy carefully to make the most of it. It would be easy right now to back him into a corner. But what good will that do in solving the many serious problems at hand?