Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Serve and Protect But Mostly to Squabble, or: Mixed-Martial Artful Dodgers

So the news broke on Sunday that a guy got stabbed for his beer over the weekend. In another news story that took the city completely by surprise, the sun rose this morning.

I don't mean to belittle what I'm sure was a very traumatic experience for the victim, but on the other hand I really can't pretend to be surprised when this is the fourth beer-robbery stabbing in the past four months. And those are just the reported cases; I would suggest that a significant section of our city population feels, justifiably or not, that involving the authorities does not tend to improve a situation. (It doesn't help matters much when the police occasionally have to resort to begging to try and get anywhere with outstanding beer robberies. October 2008, huh? That's, uh, that's encouraging.)

Here's the main thing I want to see out of this story, though. I am on the edge of my seat, literally, at all times, because I seriously can't wait for somebody -- anybody -- to explain to me how this would have been prevented if the police had a helicopter and/or paid workout time.

Let me pick your brains for a second on this one. When McCaskill was making his big presentation to the media to try and curry public favour, and when those two police officers gave that city council report to seal the funding deal, did any of them remember to mention that a helicopter can be shot down by a single gunman? Because, well, that kind of sounds like something you'd want to know about first.

Yes, it turns out that real life is a lot like Grand Theft Auto, where aiming for the fuel tank is a surprisingly effective way to knock a whirlybird out of the sky -- and if local crooks have already taken lessons from Grand Theft Auto, as I've previously posited, then I'd give this helicopter about thirty-six hours of flight time before it's lying in a back lane somewhere.

The really confounding thing is that not even the cops seem very enthused about a chopper; Bartley Kives beat me to it, the bastard mentioned in a recent column that there really only seem to be three cops backing this idea up, and not coincidentally they were the only three cops Mayor Katz deigned to ask. Rather, the more common sentiment among rank-and-file police officers seems to be that we should be paying them taxpayer dollars to exercise, and... did I just type that? Jesus Christ, that's ridiculous. Give me a second, I think my brain just locked up out of protest.

Now, it only gets worse from here, so let me make sure that I have this straight in my head before we move on. This whole story is kind of confusing to begin with, and then it gets dumber and dumber the longer I think about it.

Okay. Here's where we stand so far, after that. The idea of buying a police helicopter was so stupid that Winnipeg Police Association President Mike Sutherland had to go out and tell the newspapers what a stupid idea it was, and still is. (And if you trust the analysis of a former Winnipeg policeman, they're most likely to use it to hand out more traffic tickets.) But then the idea of paying police officers for their workouts was so stupid that Chief of Police Keith McCaskill had to go out and tell the newspapers what a stupid idea it was, and still is.

To wit: the Police President argues that buying a helicopter is impractical, because the end result would be fewer cops on the streets, but insists that we should be paying cops to work out. So the Police Chief argues that paying cops to work out is impractical, because the end result would be fewer cops on the streets, but insists that we should buy a helicopter. And the citizenry that these people are supposed to protect argue that it would be really nice if we were stabbed a lot less frequently, and insist that people fleeing robberies on the Forks' skating trail is sort of bad for the ol' civic reputation.

But! I'm not even at the best part, yet. Wait until you hear this, this is awe-inspiring fearmongering exaggeration of almost legendary proportions. This is the hilarious overblown bullshit icing on the hilarious overblown bullshit cake.

See, the only two ways that the police could really pitch the idea of paying them to work out were to say "our crooks are too fit" or to say "our cops are too fat", and the latter explanation -- besides being way too candid an admission -- was obviously not going to drum up public support. So the cops ran with the former, and then in their attempts to further their position they started making shit up as they went along until they finally asserted that police need workout time because criminals work out all day in prison and then crush policemen with their mixed martial arts training.

pfffffffffft ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha WHAT



Can anybody here name a single reported incident in this city where a criminal used his mixed martial arts expertise to outfox or overpower the law? Is this the shameful secret behind Winnipeg's continually rising crime rates? Is this why Grant Nordman wants MMA events banned? What is this?

"Mixed martial arts". What in the fuck. What is this, I don't even.

Remember the news earlier this month about the Indian Posse founder, stabbed to death in a prison brawl? Well! What the news reports didn't tell you is that he also founded an offshoot school of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and the only reason that he died was because his assailant had his ground submissions scouted and forced him to fight standup.

Hey, and are we sure that the victim in the beer-robbery story was attacked with a knife? Are you sure the criminal didn't cut his skin with his lightning-fast Muay Thai? If you let yourself get worn down by low kicks, those educated feet can leave you on the canvas in a heartbeat! If anything, that victim should be commended for his bravery in taking on a crook from a higher weight class!

Now, just so I know where we stand on this, allow me to pitch a hypothetical situation to you. Let's say we replaced all of the (apparently very effective) workout gyms in prison with libraries, and the prisoners were thereby forced to spend their time honing their minds instead of their bodies. Would this make the career criminals lazier, slower, and easier to catch when they emerge? Or, would all of that reading make the criminals smarter and more devious? And, if these smarter criminals proved to be too much trouble, would the police be complaining that the situation isn't fair because they don't have paid time to read during their work day? That's how this works, right?

Or, as another alternate scenario -- why aren't we just hiring mixed-martial-arts fighters as policemen? Looking at it objectively: they're already in shape, they enjoy working out on their own time, and they can defend effectively against the hypothetical criminals with MMA backgrounds who are terrorizing the city. Apparently, that's already three distinct advantages over the cops we have!

You may wonder -- isn't this all a matter of perspective and mindset? Couldn't the police stop saying "aw, we have to carry seven kilograms of equipment, we are at such a disadvantage" and instead say "oh, wait, we're carrying seven pounds of equipment, maybe our tazers and nightsticks and handguns and bulletproof vests give us a slight tactical advantage against the high school dropout car thief who thinks he's Georges St-Pierre"? If you were wondering that, well, knock it off. Because what you were doing there, just now, was exercising judgement -- and if there's one thing that our police force are specifically not paid to do, it is exercise.

What? Okay, you got me, I'm probably belabouring the point by now. So let me wrap up the idea by noting that, if anything, I'm just really relieved that they tipped their hand early and blurted out their unreasonable desires before a proper election season rolled around. If you remember the kind of pandering crap that we had to put up with the last time a union whored itself out in an election year, I think you'll agree it's for the best that we get this chased off the table beforehand.

In conclusion, this story is shameful for pretty well everybody involved, and my helpful Slurpees and Murder Safety Tip for the day is "don't walk alone at night carrying a six-pack of beer through the god damn ghetto in a place with the nation's highest homicide rate for major cities". It may sound unwieldy, but trust me on this one!

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