Comments by benjamachine

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Posted on December 2 at 3:04 p.m.

It seems that law enforcement culture has moved increasingly toward the para-military, replete with the flashlights-in-face, knees-in-spine mentality that goes with it. Santa Barbara is a relatively small community, not a war zone, prison or military training camp. Last time I checked, even the gang problem wasn’t classified as an anti-authority insurgency.

DeNunzio should not have been driving under the influence and should have stayed in his vehicle. But if Tudor really was the professional Chief Sanchez says he is, he would have recognized that the guy was intoxicated and attempted more diplomatic means from the get go (drunks don't always respond well to commands, but they can be persuaded into doing what you want them to, more often than not, if they’re approached in the right way). Chances are good that Tudor wouldn’t have had to use force if he had approached DeNunzio in a more respectful, non-threatening manner. From what the dash cam video shows, and from what witnesses say, he came out of that cruiser like a bull with a bee its nose. It’s not as if he had to give chase or anything.

So the question is this: If you can't keep your cool in a tough situation, what business do you have enforcing laws and handling firearms? None. Also, just because Tudor was taught all of those physical control techniques doesn't mean he had to dump his entire bag of tricks on DeNunzio in the first few minutes of their encounter.

This reminds me of a particularly grizzly murder which occurred on the West Side a few years ago. A young man had stabbed his girlfriend to death in his parents' neighbor's driveway. When police arrived, they stormed the neighbor’s house in the middle of the night, assault rifles drawn, screaming for someone to shut the dog up before they shot it. How do I know this? I interviewed them the day after it happened, for this paper. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that going off half-cocked like that is no way to run a murder investigation.

It’s a fact that most Santa Barbara police officers and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies don’t treat people like Al Qaeda suspects, but the ones who do make it difficult for the members of their respective departments to do their jobs. That’s because souring the public’s perception of law enforcement officers creates a cultural divide. Perhaps training police to deal with most situations using riot control tactics is the wrong way to go about community policing.

Chief Sanchez’s endorsement of Tudor’s conduct sends out the wrong message. Although Tudor did what he was trained to do, he could have taken his time and completed the arrest without a “messy use of force.” But this incident is only one of many all over the country. Anyone who follows the news has seen police conduct turn south at Occupy protests everywhere. Tudor is only one charging bull, but he’s actually not a bull. He’s a canary in the coalmine. It’s time to take a closer look at how police are trained.

On Police Department Releases Tony Denunzio Arrest Footage

Posted on September 3 at 2:08 p.m.

Lois Capps' press secretary, Emily Kryder, attributed the choice of venue to cost. I asked her why they didn't just have the forum at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, to which she replied that it would have been prohibitively expensive.

On Capps Brings Healthcare Debate to Santa Barbara

Posted on June 2 at 10:35 a.m.

Note from the author: As I mentioned in this blurb, the information in the second paragraph was culled from an article in the Army Times, to provide interesting background about the real issue, which was that a naval officer from one of our local units was killed in theater. Perhaps I was not clear enough in the first sentence. I originally named the spokesperson as Devries, with no mention of military rank, but a Public Affairs Specialist named Irene Smith said that Ms. Devries is now LCDR Sidenstriker, and is serving in Afghanistan, which I took to mean that names should be changed to protect the innocent. I apologize for the confusion, and would like to point out that before I was contacted by JIEDDO's robust public affairs staff, the article made perfect sense. Further changes have been made to this news brief to ensure that our readers aren't lulled into a sense of complacency regarding the IED threat.

On IED Attack Kills Vandenberg Reservist

Posted on May 6 at 11:34 a.m.

Dear "MesaMesa,"

Given the fact that everyone I talked to gave me a different interpretation of this scenario, and that it took until Monday to catch up with UCSB officials regarding their academic inquiry procedure, I'd like to see anyone else do a better job synthesizing such a nebulous patch of information on such short notice. I certainly didn't fault those two students, who everyone agrees were well within their rights to complain, but I think that your reading of my piece is colored by your own leanings. I was as balanced as I could possibly be. My job is to cover all sides of the debate, and the entire situation was framed within the context of the immediate action that day, which happened to be a protest by the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB.

Cheers, -b

On Students Protest Anti-Defamation League's Involvement in UCSB Matter

Posted on May 3 at 4:28 p.m.

A note from the author: Unfortunately, we only have ONE photographer to shoot almost all of our news features. Hence, no photos in this article. Unless those of you who are complaining would like to chip in and buy me a digital camera... -bp

On Isla Vista's Main Street Revamped

Posted on March 16 at 9:34 a.m.

I'm very grateful not to have had to traveled by foot, eating nothing but MREs for a month, but compared to my cushy SB life, the contrast was stark. It was a good experience to have had, for sure. I'm much more appreciative of being able to hop in a car or on a bike and go anywhere at a moment's notice. thanks for your service. -bp

On The Long Road Home

Posted on July 11 at 9:52 a.m.

Clearly federal mismanagement of Forest Service budgeting and the preservation of agriculture played a crucial role in this fire, but (and this has already been hit upon in someone else's comments) prevention seems to be a big issue as well. Someone--I can't recall who--sent in a letter after the Zaca Fire last year outlining the importance of having controlled burns during times that aren't so dangerous. Looking up to the hills at the dense tangle of chaparral that hasn't burned since the 1955 Refugio Fire, one wonders why fire breaks haven't already been constructed there. The tone of this letter was angry, and accused the powers that be of negligence. I'm not a fire fighter, but this approach sounds logical to me. Perhaps it is something worth looking into.

On None

Posted on November 6 at 9:55 a.m.

Have you ever been to Isla Vista?! There are a lot of pedesrians and cyclists there who choose not to acknowledge the fact that a two-ton vehicle would cause them quite a bit of damage if the driver were as careless as they are. Many of us drive cautiously, but there are also a lot of drivers in IV who drive with the same disregard as cyclists and pedestrians. I think it's a matter of time before someone ends up as a messy stain on Embarcadero del Mar. For my part, I will continue to creep through intersections and avoid the loop after classes let out.

On Our Own DMV Rules

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