Category : Police/Fire

(Local paper Front Page) Firefighter suicides outnumber line-of-duty deaths. How South Carolina first responders are trying to save their own

Later that morning, Emily Avin called 911 from her home in Aiken to report a suicide.

She then picked up a gun, walked outside and pulled the trigger before anyone could reach her. She was 26.

Scrolling through her daughter’s phone in the following days, Sue Ann Avin found a prophetic cartoon. It depicted an EMS worker illustrated to resemble a ticking time bomb, saying, “Traumatic calls, burn out, compassion fatigue — that stuff never gets to me.” The paramedic wore a badge that said “denial.”

Suicides such as Emily Avin’s were once overlooked by firefighters and paramedics eager to maintain an image of bravery and invincibility. But that’s changing as the profession acknowledges a deadly scourge that claims more lives than the perils firefighters face in the line of duty.

Long a taboo topic in firehouses, suicide was recently labeled by the U.S. Fire Administration as a “critical” issue that’s being “faced more squarely by the fire service.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide

(The Hill) In Washington State a student is arrested after grandmother finds journal detailing school massacre plans

An 18-year-old high school student in Washington state was arrested this week after his grandmother reportedly found his journal with detailed plans for a school shooting.

Joshua O’Connor’s grandmother called 911 on Tuesday, the day before a deadly high school shooting in Florida, saying she believed her grandson had plans with “upcoming and credible threats.”

Excerpts from the journal detailed how O’Connor planned to shoot students and use homemade explosives at ACES High School in Everett, Wash., police said.

Officers were alarmed when they reviewed the journal, where O’Connor reportedly wrote about how often he thought about his plan and wanted to make it “infamous” by causing the “biggest fatality number I possibly can,” The Everett Daily Herald reported.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Times Picayune) Ted Jackson offers a stunning portrait of a former NFL star who played in 2 Super Bowls–The search for Jackie Wallace

One foot in front of the other, the hulking old man trudged up the ramp to the Pontchartrain Expressway. A cold wind stiffened his face, so he bundled tighter and kept walking. His decision was made. A life full of accolades and praise meant nothing to him now. A man who was once the pride of his New Orleans hometown, his St. Augustine alma mater and his 7th Ward family and friends was undone. He was on his way to die.

The man was tired. In his 63 years, he had run with the gods and slept with the devil. Living low and getting high had become as routine as taking a breath. A hideous disease was eating his insides. He was an alcoholic, and he also craved crack cocaine. He was tired of fighting. He was tired of playing the game.

He crossed the last exit ramp and continued walking the pavement toward the top of the bridge. He dodged cars as they took the ramp. No one seemed to notice the ragged man walking to his suicide. If they did notice, they didn’t stop to help.

Only a half-mile more and it would all be over. One hundred and 50 feet below, the powerful currents of the Mississippi River would swallow his soul and his wretched life. He dodged another car. But why did it matter? Getting hit by a car would serve his purposes just as well as jumping.

How did it come to this? This was long after Jackie had turned his life around, or so we both thought….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Sports, Theology

(ABC Nightline) Workshops help parents have ‘the talk’ with kids on what it means to be black in the US

Winston Harris remembers watching the video of Philando Castile after he was shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Police Department back in 2016.

“You know those seven shots … the video hit me so hard and so deep,” Harris, 19, told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “As each shot rang out I could feel it. Not like actually, but, like, I could feel it, like, each time, like, bang, bang, bang, like I could just feel it. Like in my chest like seven beats.”

In Castile’s face, the Philadelphia native said he saw his own.

“A video like that can have [an effect] on the person, you know, especially if he’s the same skin color,” Harris said.

Read it all (video highly recommended).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Uncategorized, Violence

(CC) Philip Jenkins–What’s dangerous about exorcism?

Any dispute over the propriety of exorcism is particularly sensitive in the British context, because it recalls a dreadful religious and racial confrontation at the start of this century. In 2001, a sensational child murder case indicated the practice of witchcraft on British soil involving ritualistic killing and a trade in human body parts.

Obviously, such extreme criminal behavior demanded a strong and effective official response. But the media soon attributed such horrors to Pentecostal and charismatic churches themselves. In the sensational coverage that followed, the press launched shrieking exposés of immigrant churches that believed in spiritual warfare or practiced exorcisms. These came to be known as Witch Churches.

A potent racial theme pervaded this coverage, with a classic Heart of Dark­ness scenario portraying African primitivism and violence. Media ac­counts segued from reporting on exorcisms undertaken to fight diabolic forces to depicting the rituals themselves as a form of primitive jungle savagery dressed in Christian guise. Rituals designed to combat witchcraft were presented as a singularly dangerous manifestation of witchcraft and ritualistic child abuse. The regular conduct of immigrant churches involving exorcism and healing—without any abusive or violent element—was seen as deeply problematic and demanding police intervention.

The government responded by en­forcing far stricter rules for African clergy and ministers seeking to enter the United Kingdom, a draconian sanction introduced well before any like restrictions were imposed on extremist Muslims who flagrantly preached hatred and violence. In retrospect, the Witch Church affair was a grim example of religious intolerance— and in this instance, one directed against Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology: Scripture

My Favorite Story of the Week–How A Fire Department Saved A 7-Year-Old’s Birthday

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire

(NYT) At Least 8 Killed in Terror Attack as Truck Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan

Eight people were killed when a man drove 20 blocks down a bike path beside the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon before he crashed his pickup truck, jumped out with fake guns and was shot by a police officer, the authorities said.

Federal authorities were treating the incident as a terrorist attack and were taking the lead in the investigation, a senior law enforcement official said. Two law enforcement officials said that after the attacker got out of the truck, he was heard yelling, “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference, “Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”

Read it all and join us in praying tonight for New York City.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Steve Silberman–The Police Need to Understand Autism

Diane Craglow was caring for a 14-year-old autistic boy named Connor Leibel in Buckeye, Ariz., one day in July. They took a walk to one of his favorite places, a park in an upscale community called Verrado. She was not hesitant to leave Connor alone for a few minutes while she booked a piano lesson for his sister nearby, because he usually feels safe and comfortable in places that are familiar to him, and he learns to be more independent that way.

When Ms. Craglow returned, she couldn’t believe what she saw: a police officer looming over the now-handcuffed boy, pinning him to the ground against a tree. Connor was screaming, and the police officer, David Grossman, seemed extremely agitated.

As Ms. Craglow tried to piece together what had happened, more officers arrived, spilling out of eight patrol cars in response to Officer Grossman’s frantic call for backup. Soon it became clear to Ms. Craglow that the policeman was unaware that Connor has autism, and had interpreted the boy’s rigid, unfamiliar movements — which included raising a piece of yarn to his nose to sniff it repeatedly — as a sign of drug intoxication.

As a graduate of Arizona’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program, Officer Grossman is certified as a “drug recognition expert.” But no one had trained him to recognize one of the classic signs of autism: the repetitive movements that autistic people rely on to manage their anxiety in stressful situations, known as self-stimulation or “stimming.” That’s what Connor was doing with the string when Officer Grossman noticed him while he was on patrol.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(FCD) Why Doctors And Cops Are Taking Art Observation Classes

Looking at art isn’t just a pleasurable way to spend a few hours. It also has real benefits for professionals who are far afield from the art world, from detectives to doctors.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school suggests that taking art observation classes could sharpen medical students’ visual analysis skills. This is important because the ability to correctly read and interpret images like X-rays and other kinds of scans is vital in the process of diagnosis–one that beginner medical students are often lacking, at least partially because it’s a skill medical schools don’t teach.

The study, published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, focuses specifically on medical students studying ophthalmology–the medical field focused on the eyes–because so much of that discipline relies on doctors using observation to examine and diagnose patients. For the study, 18 first-year medical students took art observation classes, where they had six-hour-and-a-half sessions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while a control group also composed of 18 first-yearmedical students did not. None of the students had prior art training….

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Education, Health & Medicine, Police/Fire

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

(You may find the names of all 343 firefighters here–KSH).

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Police/Fire, Terrorism

(ITV) Church in Norfolk launches a £250,000 campaign to stop lead thieves from stripping roofs

The Church is turning to crime prevention in a bid to fight the increasing theft of lead from its roofs.

In Norfolk, a £250,000 campaign’s been launched to install alarms on those churches most susceptible to attack.

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Stewardship

Very sad local news–one dead, suspect shot by police following hostage situation at downtown Charleston SC restaurant

One person has died and a suspect has been transported to a hospital after holding multiple people hostage for hours inside Virginia’s on King restaurant, according to police.

Police say that the hostages are now free and safe.

Around 2:30 p.m., a loud boom, that did not necessarily sound like a gun shot, rang in the area. A person was transported out of Virginia’s on a stretcher. Shortly after, police began breaking down the perimeters and allowing people closer to the scene.

A shooting was first reported at 12:17 p.m. Thursday.

“This was not an act of terrorism,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “This was not a hate crime. This was a tragic case of a disgruntled employee.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Economist) An exceptionally murderous city: Crime+despair in Baltimore; As America gets safer, Maryland’s biggest city does not

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Dante Barksdale was playing the game in Baltimore—dealing drugs, toting guns, making some money—there was a process to killing people. “You couldn’t shoot someone without asking permission from a certain somebody,” muses the former gangster, on a tour of the abandoned row-houses and broken roads of West Baltimore, the most dangerous streets in America. “It’s become like, “I’m going to kill whoever’s got a fucking problem with it.”

Mr Barksdale, who spent almost a decade in prison for selling drugs, speaks with authority. His uncle, Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale, was a big shot in the more hierarchical Baltimore gangland he recalls. Avon Barksdale, a fictional villain in “The Wire”, a TV crime drama set in Baltimore, was partly inspired by him. The younger Mr Barksdale was himself fleetingly portrayed in it. (“‘The Wire’ was a bunch of bullshit,” he sniffs. “I got shot in the fourth episode and I didn’t get paid.”) Now employed by the Baltimore health department, in a team of gangsters-turned-social workers known as Safe Streets, he uses his street smarts to try to pre-empt murders by mediating among the local hoodlums. This also gives him a rare vantage onto the city’s latest upwelling of violence, which is concentrated in poor, overwhelmingly black West Baltimore—and is horrific.

Hours after Mr Barksdale conducted his tour of some of Baltimore’s most troubled streets on June 12th, they witnessed another six murders. That raised the number of killings in the city to 159, the highest recorded so early in the year at least since 1990, even though the city’s population was much bigger then than it is now. If weighted to reflect the fact that the murder rate always climbs in the hot, fractious summer months, this suggests Baltimore may see more than 400 murders this year. That would smash the existing record of 344 killings, which was set in 2015, fuelled by violent rioting over the death in police custody of a drug peddler called Freddie Gray.

This is catastrophic. A 50-minute drive from Washington, DC, black men aged 15 to 29 are as likely to die violently as American soldiers were in Iraq at the height of its Baathist insurgency.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Bp of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Thoughts on Hope in Grenfell

In our community over the past few days we have been through a range of emotions that we rarely experience so close together. Even now as we meet and pray, there are people here in this church, in the surrounding streets wondering how to make sense of this.

How do you put into words what people here have experienced, the story of the past few days?

First there was Shock. As we woke up on Wednesday morning, there was that numb feeling, incredulity that something like this could happen in our modern, C21st sophisticated city. Looking up at the Tower and imagining what the people in there was going through was almost unbearable and so hard to even imagine how awful that must be.

Then there was Compassion. Alongside the tragedy, one of the remarkable things has been to see the amazing outpouring of compassion in this community over the past couple of days.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Sky News) London attack: What happened where in eight minutes of terror

From 10.08pm, police responded to reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians. Paramedics and specialist response teams arrived in six minutes, the London Ambulance Service said. At least 48 people were taken to five hospitals across London.

Nick Archer, who was in the London Bridge area, told Sky News: “We came out (of a bar) on to the road and looked to my left and there was a guy, I thought he was just drinking but he was lying on the floor.

“And then a couple of seconds later, about three police vans flew past. He looked in a bad way.”

A taxi driver called Chris told LBC said he saw men armed with foot-long knives after a van drove on to the pavement. He told the station: “I didn’t see the van mount the kerb, but I saw everything else….

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues