Are We Really Independent Thinkers?
Another 4th of July holiday has come and gone and every year I try to think past the BBQ’s and beer and ponder the origin of Independence Day.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
That is, of course, the most famous line from the Declaration of Independence approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
We learned that quote as school kids but these days it seems out of touch with where we are as a nation, doesn’t it? [click to continue…]
PACT - A Commitment to Positive Change
Ten minutes on the phone with David Lockett and you realize this is a man of high integrity, compassion and vision. After a lengthy conversation with him I came away believing if there was ever a man we should follow in the fight against crime it is David Lockett.
Lockett’s business background is in the trucking industry. He also developed and has run a program for nearly 20 years which embraces society’s toughest, hard-core juvenile criminals and gives them the tools to turn their lives around. It’s called the PACT LifePlan and Coaching Program and its guiding principle is the idea that if we help young people avoid a lifetime of crime everybody wins. Spend a little time giving a kid some skills and a plan for his or her future and the country gets a law-abiding, contributing taxpayer in return.
In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper than paying for their trip (or trips) through the U.S. justice system. [click to continue…]
First Animal DNA Lab in the U.S.
As far as crime laboratories go it is not very impressive looking. And it is not very big, with a permanent staff of just three forensic scientists and a few interns. But the work product that comes out of the Veterinarian Forensic Lab at the University of California at Davis is important and it has changed the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted worldwide.
The lab has been called the “CSI of the four legged world” and it is the nation’s first laboratory dedicated to animal DNA profiling.
It’s accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Lab Directors because the VFL conducts animal-related forensic tests as rigorously as any lab dealing with human DNA. [click to continue…]
They Command Our Fascination
There is no subject that brings in more reader reaction than when I write about serial killers. The answer to why we are so fascinated by these multiple murderers is mercurial depending on who you ask.
Dr. Scott Bonn, a professor of criminology at Drew University says, “Serial Killers seem to be for adults what monster movies are for children. It’s exciting -– it’s arousing,” to learn about their exploits.
Dr. Casey Jordan, a criminologist, behavioral analyst, and attorney in private practice says we are captivated by stories about serial killers because, “We wonder to what extent they are just like us.”
I would take it one step further and say we are riveted to details about serial killers because we wonder if we might ever reach a point where we could do what they do. [click to continue…]
Michael Winston – Still Paying the Price
Justice is supposed to be blind. But what happens when it turns out to be blind, deaf and dumb?
Sadly, there is not enough space here to tell you the entire 7-year saga of whistleblower Michael Winston but the bottom line is this: He got royally screwed by the California judicial system.
Winston, 62, is a mild-mannered Ph D. and a veteran leadership executive who has held top jobs at elite corporations like McDonnell Douglas, Motorola and Merrill Lynch. After taking time off to nurse his ailing parents Winston was recruited by Countrywide Financial to help polish their corporate image. He was quickly promoted – twice – and had a team of 200 employees.
It’s almost unheard of for a top-tier executive turning whistleblower but that’s what Winston became after he [click to continue…]
Ken Landwehr circa 1978
This is a story about a cop’s cop. A hometown kid who devoted his life to keeping his community safe, a man who took on the duty no one should have to do – to minister to the murdered and help seek justice for their families.
This column is dedicated to the late Lt. Ken Landwehr, Commander of the homicide unit of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department because he epitomizes the determination, integrity and ingenuity that all great detectives possess. His deeds will live on in the annuals of America’s crime and justice history.
Landwehr was the son of an aircraft worker and a homemaker. He was an Eagle Scout as a boy and devoured books about the investigations of the legendary Sherlock Holmes. He attended Bishop Carroll Catholic High School where he played tricks on the nuns and was no stranger to occasional bouts of brawling and drinking. [click to continue…]
Crime Stories on Top of List
Last year’s tally is now in and the news story that garnered the most searches on the internet was … (can I get a drum roll, please?) …. A crime story!
Before I get to the winner, may I just say that life as a crime and justice columnist is sometimes a lonely one. I don’t think there’s another writer in America who – week in and week out – concentrates only on issues surrounding our justice system.
I’m fascinated by the topic but, sometimes, I wonder how many of you readers are. Sure, I get mail from many of you, and I truly appreciate it, but now I have some real statistics to back up the idea that Americans are, indeed, interested in following crime and justice stories. [click to continue…]
Deputy Wyatt Earp circa mid 1800′s
Not since the days when Wyatt Earp worked the Wild West wearing a badge and a gun has there been such good news for law enforcement.
The number of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers in the U.S. who died in the line of duty last year dropped to a total of 111. Think about that. In the whole United States of America we lost only 111 officers during 2013. That’s the lowest number since 1959.
The most encouraging news in the latest report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) is seen in the death-by-gun category. At a time when there is so much worry about rampant gun deaths only 33 officers, nationwide, lost their lives in the line of duty due to a firearm fatality. The number would have been even lower had it not been for a former Los Angeles cop named Christopher Dorner who went on a shooting spree last February and killed four people, including three L.A. police officers. [click to continue…]