dear Sanford police department…

Hey guys.  Remember me?  I worked at your JoAnn’s superstore (with my boss who had so many “scabs” on his leg from doing “yard work on weekends” that he looked like a leper – and insisted on wearing shorts every day – and was so unpleasant that customers would overtly complain to me at the cash register about him and vow to never come back).  I have sped mightily on your highways, coming back from South Florida to see my mother.  I’ve been a patron of your mall for years upon years, since its opening in 1995 when I was, suitably enough, 13 years old.   I have enjoyed many a reunion evenings at the Ale House near said mall. I enjoyed buying Orange Blossom Pilsner at the convenience store near the little itty bitty Presbyterian church near 46 when I was in town.  My brother was born in your hospital, on the shores of Lake Monroe.  When I was a senior in high school, we did a lake clean-up on said lake and I pulled several tires out of that particular body of water.  I can’t think of any real havoc I’ve wreaked upon your city, and having never actually legally resided there myself, I really haven’t met with your kind.  So of course you don’t remember me.  But now it seems, the world will never forget you.  And it’s all your fault.

My mother worked for Volusia County law enforcement for years, just north of y’all.  (Yeah, I said y’all.  I’ve you’ve ever been to Volusia or Seminole county, you are aware that it fits.)  So between her stories and whatever cop shows/movies I’ve watched, it seems that police departments, aside from serving and protecting, have to cover their own asses.  A lot.  They have to defend the decisions they’ve made, and do a bit of damage control.  And that’s cool, man.  Teachers understand how that junk works.  I know you’ve been affected by budget cuts and that everything sucks being a public employee right now.

However, you see, while I do agree somewhat that the whole Trayvon Martin thing has gotten way out of hand.  (overheard by some educators: “I went up to a kid protesting in Miami one day, and said, ‘Did you know who Trayvon Martin was?’  Kid replied, ‘Who?’  I said, ‘Take that hoodie off, son!'”)

But I don’t blame Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or the Huffington Post for that one.  I blame you.

In a five minute wikipedia search, I found the link to the Florida state senate law describing “stand your ground”, and while it does indeed offer immunity to suspects who use deadly force and feel threatened, there are specifics within the law.  It doesn’t just say, “Oh boy, did someone come up behind you and say ‘Boo!’  And you shot them?  Self-defense?  K, go back home.”

It says…(quoting the notable sections)

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;
[Check the whole text here before you pick a fight]
Surely I’m no legal scholar (else I would not be writing this blog, I hope).  But it seems like there’s a lot of room to squirm in here.  But nope.  It’s as simple as one dude being let off with miniscule investigation.  And it’s at very very very least something they should have looked over.  Perused.  Thought about.  Spent a few more minutes on.  Even a few more hours.
But alas.  You did not.  And now, you’ve got absolute hell to pay for it.  And you could have prevented it.
In an hour, a Florida state attorney will do the job you didn’t and press charges against George Zimmerman.  Which had you done your job, could have been over before March Madness swept the nation.   I won’t cry for you.  I know in my job, that my efforts to good faith report things and document the living hell out of things are at least worth it, because I know my position.  It’s just unfortunate that you didn’t do the same.
It’s not Sanford’s fault that Trayvon Martin died.  Stand Your Ground may be the law (and a shitty one at that), but it holds shooters immune from prosecution, not from investigation.  The absolute melee, media and otherwise, that has ensued, reaching all the way up to Attorney General Eric Holder?  That’s a different story.
Long story short: when it doubt, research it out.  Find ways to cover your ass before you try on a miniskirt.  And when uncertain, screw the NRA and their ridiculous backlash.  Do your job and arrest the dude.
Side note to individuals?  When you see something not quite right, speak up.  You can make a difference.  On so many levels.
I will be especially pissed if I can’t cry my way out of a speeding ticket the next time I’m crossing the St. John’s Bridge on I-4 the same way that some dude got away with murder by shouting a gun enthusiast slogan.
Yours Truly…


Filed under civil rights

3 responses to “dear Sanford police department…

  1. Great post! Love your take on this, and I can definitely relate. Not sure you remember, but I did an internship for a small Sanford community newspaper and got to know the city pretty well. It’s a sad little place, a bit of Good Old Boy country and Good Old Boy racism, with a lot of poverty thrown in, just for fun. Celery capital of the world, right?

    Well, you are absolutely right. The police department deserved all they got and more. They did less than the minimum amount because, let’s face it, they’ve looked the other way plenty when black kids die in their city. But they chose the wrong death to ignore, and now they are getting what they deserve.

    Of course, for poor Trayon’s family, it’ll never make up for what they’ve lost. And naturally, Zimmerman has escaped. His laywers don’t know where he is, but one helpfully added, “farther than Florida.” Real classy laywers they have in Sanford.

    • I think that people would have been way way way less upset had he gotten off then they’ve been over what has happened so far. I have to say, when I heard “2nd degree murder”, it sounded like justice.

  2. Pingback: so what exactly do you believe in? | The Real Housewife of Wilton Manors

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