Sunday, February 22, 2015

DIY Law = DOA Order

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.
 
 
 

43 comments:

  1. One of your more lucid postings. I have to agree with almost all of your conclusions. Even if this thug goes to the slammer when he gets out some lawyer will advise him to sue and sue he should. Sadly, he will probably collect from the shop keeper's insurance company--just to keep it from going to trial.

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    1. Thank you. I do strive for some sort of lucidity, generally speaking.

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  2. If it's a felony (and burglary 1st & 2nd are), state law is pretty liberal:
    RCW "9A.16.020 Use of force — When lawful.
    The use, attempt, or offer to use force upon or toward the person of another is not unlawful in the following cases:
    [...]
    (2) Whenever necessarily used by a person arresting one who has committed a felony and delivering him or her to a public officer competent to receive him or her into custody;"

    The determination of necessity, felony, her intent, etc. is made by the cops & prosecutor. I don't know if failure to convict could leave her hanging.

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    1. I believe the RCW you quoted is for when a crime is IN PROGRESS, not days later. You can't go by the RCW's in this state, you have to shepardized, as in look to citations of previous cases and how they were judged. (Of course, this is rather DIFFICULT for the layperson to do in Clallam county, as the law library seems to never be open.)

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    2. Maybe so. Anyway I don't think Galacci's actions are necessarily illegal. She had reasonable belief of a felony and the prosecutor agrees. WA seems to recognize citizens arrest in common law ... you just better be right. 'Course nothing says it's smart and it's best to call the cops. She even agrees on that. (Now.)

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    3. And, if that woman and her posse showed up at your door, and threatened you in your home, with a baseball bat -- would that be a crime, or would it be "not necessarily illegal"?

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    4. Vigilantism is illegal in the United States. It SHOULD be illegal here in Clallam County, and the idiot and her buddies should be prosecuted, not heralded as "heros".

      Just remember the Ku Klux Klan started out as a vigilant organization to protect white disenfranchised southerners from the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. These "vigilance committees" formed to protect the institution of Slavery against encroachment by abolitionists by any means possible: assaulted, tarred and feathered, and other assaults, with the blessings of the local law enforcement. Once slavery was abolished, the lynching and other forms of intimidation that were prohibited by law, but not paid much mind by the LEO's.
      No state or federal jurisdiction offers any kind of "vigilante defense" to criminal prosecution, and the fact our chief and the newspaper are winking and nodding on this one is an outrage.
      The fact these morons, dubbed a "posse" by our lame-assed press (who don't seem to have a good grasp of the English language) engaged in accusations based on hear-say, and by the testimony of someone who wanted to be PAID for the information, should have discouraged them (if they had any brains at all in their collective heads) from going after the guy themselves.
      Entering someone's home to confront someone -- way, way AFTER the fact is far different from catching someone "in the act" in your home or business. What they did was far out of line, in every way.
      I am going to write the Attorney General to see if our Police Chief can get his titty in a wringer over this one. These people should be prosecuted!
      Vigilantism should NOT BE CONDONED, no matter how poorly our police department handles the budget.
      Just when I thought this area could sink no lower....

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    5. I can't believe the newspaper would write about this -- are they crazy? And doesn't anyone there know the difference between a posse and a vigilante?
      The paper is run by total morons.

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    6. the PDN is, clearly, trying to destroy the town.

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  3. CK, I agree with you. The way this is being portrayed is bad.

    And, I agree that part two will be about staffing shortages, as that article made the point of saying there was "only one" PA officer on duty, or able to respond.

    Of course, the article also mentions the area was immediately "swarmed" by officers from the Border Patrol, Elwha Police Dept, Sheriffs dept, etc. Anyone in the area has seen this before. "Swarmed" is an appropriate word!

    It isn't like there are police resources in Port Angeles. Nobody can get within blocks of any kind so-called crime event because so many law enforcement people show up. From the Homeland Security, State Police, Sheriffs Dept, Elwha, Border Patrol, detectives and under cover agency types. I'm sure there are plenty of others that I'm not aware of. To say that the area is lacking in law enforcement personnel, staffing or coverage in simply not true.

    But getting them to DO anything, other than ride around in their cars all day, is a different issue.

    Knowing Brewer and the PDN are all so supportive of the Revitalize Port Angeles group that Mandy is part of, look to see her be groomed for a position on the Council.

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    1. Ooops. Please excuse typos. Should have read " It isn't like there aren't police resources in Port Angeles."

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    2. I think it is a violation of federal law for Homeland Security to act in the capacity of local police. However, no one seems to bat an eye at that.

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    3. Homeland Security are just getting into the swing of things here, since no one in Clallam County seems to follow the rules/laws, least of all those in charge. It's all dependent on who you are, who you know and whose palms you've greased.

      Nippon can start work on their multi-million dollar biomass plant without a permit, and no problem. My neighbor built his (permitted) fence half an inch - half an inch! - off the line, and got a stop work order from the city.

      It's crazy, yes it is.

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  4. In other news...The Lincoln Theater is still for sale.

    And waiting, apparently, to be burglarized.

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  5. This back-handed endorsement of vigilantism by Terry Gallagher is pretty alarming. I guess he's that close to retiring, and/or just doesn't give a damn. It's outrageous that Gallacci couldn't expect more response from the police, and it's outrageous that she took the law into her own hands. This stuff was out of date 100 years ago, but apparently it's still "lock and load" here in Port Angeles. Spooky and sad.

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  6. Who ya gonna call?

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  7. Fine, if the cops want me to police the area myself.....and won't charge me for doing so ...let's start shooting first, asking questions later. Gallacci should be charged for her actions.

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  8. So today's PDN refers to Gallacci forming a "posse" to go get the bad guys.

    But from what I know, from years of watching westerns, I think a real posse is sworn in and authorized by the sheriff of another law enforcement figure.

    Gallacci and her friends didn't do that. They just grabbed a baseball bat and went out to take the law into their own hands.

    There's no defending the burglar, of course. He's in the wrong. But there's no real defense for what Gallacci did either. But that hasn't stopped the PDN from trying to build her up.

    What's next, PDN? An article about the "brave mothers" refusing to vaccinate their kids? One that doesn't mention the risks such decisions create for a community?

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    1. The newspaper, like usual, doesn't understand the English language. It wasn't a posse, it was a VIGILANTE.

      "Posse comitatus is the common-law or statute law authority of a county sheriff, or other law officer, to conscript any able-bodied man to assist him in keeping the peace or to pursue and arrest a felon, similar to the concept of the "hue and cry.""

      "In common law, a hue and cry is a process by which bystanders are summoned to assist in the apprehension of a criminal who has been witnessed in the act of committing a crime."

      As nouns the difference between vigilante and posse is that vigilante is a person who considers it their own responsibility to uphold the law in their neighborhood and often does so summarily and without legal jurisdiction while posse is a group of people summoned to help law enforcement.

      A Vigilante is someone who takes the law into his/her own hands by trying and/or punishing another person without any legal authority.

      What's next Chief? Lynchings will get the nod?

      The idiots who took the law into their own hands should be prosecuted!

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    2. How can you get the blessing to form a legitimate posse when you can't even get a patrol car to respond to a burglary? Stupid, stupid, stupid! These people would make better use of their energy going to a city council meeting and reading the riot act to the morons who OKed the budget.

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  9. You really hit the mail on the head with this one, mirroring my thoughts exactly as I perused yesterday's paper. All the evidence and tips that she supposedly had should have just been turned over to the police. Well there's another business I won't be frequenting as these types of actions say a lot about a person's mindset. A dangerous precedent indeed.

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    1. I agree, I will NEVER step foot into that business again. Let them go belly up. I don't care to have baseball bat justice be considered "normal". Geez, idiot. Doesn't she have insurance to cover her "losses". Or is she going to double dip...take the insurance, and resell (NOW USED) merchandise? YUCK.

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    2. The problem is there IS no "justice" here. The police do nothing. Turning over evidence means nothing. The courthouse is a revolving door. And now the police chief and the PDN are advertising Port Angeles as the place to come on a crime spree. We already have criminals coming from Tacoma and other towns, how many more can we expect now?
      As for insurance, what about private residences? How long are we going to shrug our shoulders and say "aw too bad" when someone's house or car gets broken into? It's frustrated when that's the greatest reaction you can expect in this town.
      No, vigilantism isn't "normal". It's risky. It can lead to escalation. It shouldn't be condoned. But neither should robbery.

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    3. But, statistically, how does Port Angeles actually stack up with other communities, in terms of crime?

      Are we just going to believe what the PDN portrays? As if they EVER get things right?

      Remember the Chief telling us last fall that crime has been declining steadily over the last couple of years? Even the article from a couple days ago says the same thing.

      But, after the Revitalize people didn't get the responses they wanted from the Chief, he suddenly changed his tune to say he needed more officers.

      Okay. As we know so well, everything here is about getting money, or getting more money. Here, we saw the Chief go from saying everything was fine, to " I need money, more money".

      'Nuf said.

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    4. Duh.
      How can we tell if they're lying to us? How about use the internet?

      http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Port-Angeles-Washington.html

      You can check out Port Angeles against any other city to see how the crime stats stack up.

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    5. Even more accurate is the FBI site, where you can do side-by-side comparisons. Clearly, the city is lying, and the PDN is compliant.

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  10. Aww, c'mon guys, heck they only have five million dollars to work with at the cop shop, plus another million for the 911 service. What's a department to do? I mean that's only $13,700 per day for all 3 officers to patrol. Plus of course each of these 28 officers gets to drive home a $50,000 automobile and park it for 16 hours per day when off-duty. Maybe we could have all the police cars do double duty or triple duty. When one police person goes off duty let another one coming on duty use the same car. Then we could cut down on two thirds of the number of police cars needed and use that money for more patrol personnel. Of course that would not set well with all the new car dealers the city needs to prop up.

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  11. If PDN did a follow-up interview with the mother of the 2 unvaccinated children (sister/brother) to determine whether she is still firm in her original decision not to vaccinate them, I'd like to understand her thinking. I'd also like to know whether she was vaccinated as a child. A discussion of whether the concept of "the greater good" versus "personal rights" would be appropriate as well.

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    1. The initial measles case was a 53 yr old man who had been vaccinated. Don't believe everything the pharmaceutical company tells you.

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    2. a 53 year old man would not, necessarily, have been vaccinated. If he were born in 1961, the first MMR vaccines weren't introduced until 1971, and doctors weren't recommending that 10 year old boys (if they had already had mumps) receive the vaccine. The only reason that boys, who hadn't already had mumps would get it was because of the problem with mumps after adolescence. Testicles get involved, and it causes a lot of complications.
      So, no, if he were 53, he might NOT have had any vaccinations.
      HOWEVER, what the pharmaceutical companies aren't telling you is that there are a large number of people vaccinated that are not immune, and can still catch and be carriers of Measles and German Measles. Plus, the immunity can wear off.

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    3. No, he had not been vaccinated. None of the 4 people who have been diagnosed so far had ever been vaccinated prior to their diagnosis.

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    4. There wasn't a vaccine for it prior to 1971, and all children's vaccinations at that time were complete by the time they started school (or so the thought was), so NO, of course a 10 year old boy would NOT HAVE been vaccinated in 1971.
      And, 4 people does not a significant sample make. There ARE people (2%) who are vaccinated, yet still get the illness. But, how do you get 2% out of 4 people.
      More medical hysteria.

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    5. Big Pharma learned long ago that the news media could be it's best friend. The more hype, the more money they make.

      Have you looked at how much money they make on doggie anti-depressants each year?

      How many dogs were on antidepressants 10 years ago?

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  12. Not surprising to see Tom Harper cribbing subjects from this blog again. I don't know why he bothers.

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    1. Tom Harper has one advantage over me: He doesn't have to work, so he can do updates to his blog any time he likes. I have to work during the day, and can't always post subjects or enable comments as quickly as I'd like - for which I apologize.

      Of course, Tom also likes to sleep in, and doesn't have many comments to deal with, so the advantage is a moot point, I think.

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    2. I assume there's another big difference, CK. Tom's been arrested for domestic violence; so far as I know, you have not. That's an important difference to a lot of us.

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    3. Tom Harper is also a crackpot, providing a forum for other crackpots. That is another crucial difference.

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  13. First the bulldozer rampage guy, now this. Port Angeles is pretty good at getting attention for all the wrong reasons.

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  14. While I agree she shouldn't have confronted the person, I think it's very unfortunate she felt she had to.

    But while I don't condone her actions, and I think it's an incredibly thing to do, I'm dismayed by the reaction on this blog. Boycotting her store? Petitioning the Attorney General to have her prosecuted? Comparing her to the KKK? She should have her wrist slapped, yes, but I don't think she deserves so much more hatred than the criminal who broke in and stole her merchandise. This makes it sound like criminals are far more valuable to Port Angeles than victims. Which, actually, explains a lot about this town...

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    1. No. Annon 8:16, you don't see it. Once you become a vigilante you ARE A CRIMINAL, too.
      I don't really care to think about what happens when people think going out and threatening someone you think did something with a baseball bat (weeks after the alleged crime) is "an incredible thing to do" -- unless you add the word STUPID after "incredible".
      We have courts, we have police, we have a civilization that is based on rules. To let some dipshit, adrenalin rushed (maybe with a few drinks in them, or maybe not -- it was Superbowl Sunday...and "liquid courage" could account for this decision) decide to take the law into their own hands -- is exactly what we DO NOT NEED in this area. Bad enough we let people brand their children, bulldoze the house next door, and all the other idiotic red-neck stupid crap. But, to think that vigilantism isn't a cancer that should be stomped out, is simply insanity.
      The move she took is dangerous as group-think. Vigilantism done for a cause, even what appears to be a good thing, is a bad thing. Groups don't think very well -- they lynch, hang, and burn down towns, too.
      There are a lot of low-life, scum sucking, drug addicted, hopeless, uneducated slobs in this town. How was she so darn sure she was after the right one? Because some other low-life, scum sucking, drug addicted, hopeless, uneducated slobs ratted him out? Street justice is questionable, at best.
      I'm all for going after a criminal IN THE ACT.
      Not so much a week, or so, later, when the sources aren't reliable, and motives questionable. Not so much when the "investigation" consisted of Facebook innuendo, and paying some fucktard to get the address.
      She deserves every bit of hatred.
      And, tell me, why does she want back merchandise that should be covered by her insurance, and is now tainted (as in taint and stank), and "used". (Once it leaves the shop -- by any means -- it is USED.) So, she's going to tell previously stolen by meth head merchandise as NEW? Is she going to collect the insurance money AND sell the merchandise?
      Holy crap this town is full of idiots.

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    2. "Risky"... The word I left out was "risky", although stupid would work too in the context I mean it.

      Like I said, I don't condone vigilantism (as opposed to defense). It's illegal for several very good reasons.

      But breaking & entering and burglary is also illegal. Yet the reaction to criminals is... well, almost non-existent. I'm wondering why vigilantism carries such a higher stigma than burglary. Or, if you want to flip that, why is burglary not stigmatized as heavily as vigilantism?

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    3. Who says that burglary, trespassing and vandalism isn't high on the list of terrible things. Just slightly lower than robbery and mayhem.
      If you catch them in the act, by all means, hit them with a bat, shoot them, whatever you need.
      But, don't troll around on facebook asking for low life losers to finger someone else for $$.
      Don't wait weeks and pursue the criminal by boring them to death with a lecture and demands, and pretend you are actually doing anything. Stand against crime? No, it's a dive into stupidity.

      If you want to make a stand against crime start a volunteer watch group. Volunteer at the police department. Volunteer with the courts. Learn about law. Find out what can be done to lower crime in an area (hello...neighborhood watch programs).

      Work with the cops, find out how to help the cops make their case in court, do the investigative work the cops don't have time to do, build a case -- don't just go out half cocked because you had a couple of beers and it was half-time on SuperBowl Sunday.

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  15. The Nagel/Gase circle jerk continues.....oh golly gee we have 35 people lined up, but we won't tell you their names. Now we just need 235 people to donate a grand, and we'll have the building purchased, ...then they can cough up another $5k each, and we can bring it up to code and open the doors, and then, and then.
    Now that pot is legal here, the pipe dreams just get better and better.
    So, how come, if Gase is all behind this, he isn't offering to waive his commission as a donation towards the purchase?

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