Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Musings: Outnumbered

The moon — yellow, and losing its fullness fast — guided Koko, Paele and me as we headed mauka in that ethereal time when the sights and sounds of day replace those of night. On our return, when I could see things more clearly, I spotted a mound of mist in the middle of a pasture, perfectly formed into a dome, like some ephemeral outdoor sculpture. I could see Venus, pale white in a brightening sky, but clouds that shone red through the coconut palms caused me to miss the other players in the great planetary conjunction that continues into next month.

A Neighborhood Watch meeting where I work caused me to miss the KIUC dog and pony show last night, and thus the opportunity to assess the mood of co-op members who came to collect a free bag of rice. But all was not lost, as I did learn a few things, like KPD has just two beat cops on duty between Kalaheo and Polihale during each shift, and only three officers patrolling the beat that encompasses the area between Maluhia (Tree Tunnel) Road in Koloa and Kukui Road in downtown Kapaa.

“So when I see three cop cars respond to a situation here, that means we’ve got all your available manpower locked up?” I asked.

“Pretty much,” the sergeant replied.

It’s amazing to think such a small force is able to respond to all the calls that come in — so many of them small-kine stuff that people should be able to work out themselves — and also issue a whopping 20,282 citations last year.

Sometimes the chronic staff shortages result in tense situations, as apparently was the case recently in Nawiliwili, when the cruise ship came in and the passengers and crew headed for the harbor area bars. Before long, a fight broke out and soon two guys were beating on each other. The cops used their Tasers to subdue the perps and were preparing to handcuff them and take them away when the 80 or so drunk onlookers started to move in, prompting the badly outnumbered cops to pull out their pepper spray.

That tale left me thinking again of how tourism is such a double-edged sword. Yes, the boat people are out spending money in Lihue, but certainly not without some public cost. Maybe the cruise ships should have to provide onshore security.

It also got me thinking of how unlikely such a scenario would be if those people had been smoking cannabis instead of drinking alcohol. Yet the herb continues to be illegal — with a bill that would have decriminalized possession likely to fail again this session in the Lege, despite a promising start.

Meanwhile, even as folks in Mexico protest against using that nation’s military to fight drug cartels, the U.S. is opening another front in its own war on drugs, this one against prescription painkillers. The plan includes doctor education, apparently to counter the hype offered by the pharmaceutical companies, and requires all states to adopt prescription drug monitoring programs to track what physicians are prescribing and what pharmacies are dispensing.

I found it interesting that drug companies, which spend so much marketing their wares, will be asked to contribute to a public education campaign aimed at keeping stuff like oxycodone away from kids.

While government officials are touting it as the first-ever comprehensive strategy against the abuse of opioids, not everyone is convinced it will achieve its rather modest goal of reducing misuse by 15 percent in five years.

"Anything would help, because we're drowning in it up here in eastern Kentucky," [Letcher County Sheriff Danny] Webb said, adding that he is skeptical any government plan will ultimately work. "I don't know if there's ever going to be a winning to this war on drugs."

He's not alone in that view. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Mexican drug cartels are setting up shop in the U.S., with the Justice Department estimating that Mexican cartels now directly control drug markets in 230 major American cities.

AOL News also reported that the U.S. government has received uncorroborated information that Mexican criminal gangs may intend to attack U.S. law enforcement officers or U.S. citizens, in Mexico, in the near future.

And that prompted this response from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:

“Al Capone brought appalling violence to American streets during our first prohibition,” says former US Border Patrol and Homeland Security Officer, Terry Nelson. “But, it was nothing in comparison to what the Mexican drug cartels have in store for us if we do not stop this senseless war on drugs.”


Anonymous said...

Uh, Happy 4/20 to you too?

Anonymous said...

"The cops used their Tasers to subdue the perps"

Actually, they tased a victim.