Having lived in Clallam County, I understand frustration. I get the whole idea of being fed up with governmental systems that utterly fail to function. I think anyone reading this blog has almost certainly experienced the same feelings.
But really...Taking the law into your own hands? That's some extremely thin ice to be treading on.
I found the big article about the vigilante justice dispensed by Mandy Gallacci and friends in today's PDN very interesting - and very troubling. Obviously, this is the type of story the media loves to cover. But the way they've presented this, portraying her as almost a folk hero, is very dangerous, as is the tepid response of the police department - both to the initial crime, and to the vigilante actions that it inspired.
New notice to be posted at the city limits?
Where I live, going to another person's residence, armed with a baseball bat, holding them against their will, unlawfully detaining them, depriving them of due process, threatening them - all of those would also be considered criminal actions. However, in Port Angeles, the best that Police Chief Terry Gallagher can muster is to say "it probably would have been a wiser course of action" to notify the police. And even though I too have deep doubts about the efficacy of said Port Angeles police, I actually agree with Tepid Terry.
Imagine all the ways this could have gone wrong. For starters, what if you've been pointed at the wrong person? What if that person had a gun? What if that person had kids in the house? What if that person had a heart attack when confronted? What if that person tried to run, and one of the vigilantes hurt or killed this person in trying to prevent their escape? And whether or not you got the right person, there are still numerous ways they could sue you, Mandy Gallacci, for taking the law into your own hands. There are literally dozens of ways that a situation like this could go wrong - horribly, violently, tragically wrong.
So, to say it again, I think the way Gallacci is being portrayed is dangerous. I think the lack of charges against her and her baseball bat brigade is dangerous. This all sets a tone, and sets some bad precedents - especially in a depressed, remote and corrupt place like Clallam County. Look at the teaser for part two of this article: Port Angeles police tell of staffing constraints. In other words, brace yourself both for more bad news, and for the new normal of solving your own crimes.
When you've got the Wild West, in all its most negative connotations, paired with the anything goes, lack of attention to detail social media circus, I don't think you're going to wind up with the best outcomes. But that seems to be the way the police and the PDN are trying to steer things for the residents of Clallam County. And all that in the face of, if not an increasing number of burglaries, then in the face of an increasing amount of press coverage of burglaries.
Eyes wide with fear...Don't see things so clear.
Fear sells papers. And fear makes people easier to manipulate. In this particular case, getting people to fear for their personal safety also could serve as a useful distraction from how local institutions have failed to do their jobs. Anyone else see this unhealthy combination at play there? Anyone else concerned? I just don't see this as being how a healthy society - or individual community - functions.