Here’s the Conclusion of The Brookline PD’s Presentation

By BitcoDavid

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

20 thoughts on “Here’s the Conclusion of The Brookline PD’s Presentation

  1. Will I be able to listen to the presenter from the Brookline Police Department knowing they arrested my minister for speaking up when he witnessed Brookline cops attacking a person of color on a busy street in broad daylight? When I know the Brookline police arrested a Palestinian-Canadian for holding a sign and protesting? Gruesome story that ended with Jaodat Abouazza being sent, pending a hearing, to the Bristol County MA Jail where he was chained to a chair and had his teeth forcibly pulled out?

    The Detention of Jaoudat Abouazza || kuro5hin.org
    http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/7/4/05012/46905.

    Will I be able to listen when I know the Brookline police traveled to Israel to learn how to police Palestinians/protestors? And that Israeli police traveled to Brookline to learn how Brookline does it? Why are cops training us about mental illness/deafness?

    Why did a former worker for the MA DOC, now teaching at Bridgewater, present when we know how dreadful conditions are made for the deaf – like 82 year old John Hanlon at Bay State and Leonard Briggs at MCI-Shirley?

    Prisons manufacture disability. Disabled people are disproportionately represented Behind the Wall. A deaf person is driven to ‘mental illness’ Inside. Would love a discussion or your thoughts all. Thanks.

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    1. I understand your rage, Susan. That’s really the point of this site. We’re trying to raise people’s awareness that the prison system, the justice system and the police in America are riddled with problems and inequities. Especially so, for the Deaf offender – even if she isn’t an offender, per se, but rather just a Deaf person walking down a street in Anytown, U.S.A.

      There is a common joke in this country, a person can be convicted of the crime, Driving While Black. Sadly, the joke is neither funny nor untrue. Likewise, due to lack of communication, interpreter issues, prejudice, cultural misunderstanding, and the inherent need some Deaf have to smile and nod – rather than to assert the fact that they don’t understand – we have a similar situation going on in the Deaf community.

      What I got out of this presentation however, was a handful of cops who agree with you and me. 3 people in the universe of cops, who are trying to make a small dent. I appreciate what they’re trying to do and applaud them for it.

      Unlike Marsha, below – my history with the police is… well… not as positive as hers. So, I do understand the tendency to see them as the enemy. But in that same history, there were a few cops who saw something in me, that they didn’t see in everybody else. Those cops helped me at times in my life, where I needed all the help I could get. So – on balance – I’d have to say, there’s good ones and bad ones. The good ones may indeed be in the minority, but these 3 are on that list.

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    2. P.S. This story about Jaoudat Abouazza is indefensible and abominable. I 100% agree with your position here. However, I would like to point out that the time of his arrest was 2002. America went on a kind of Kristallnacht after September 11th, and we might not be beyond it, yet. I’ve heard numerous stories of horrible injustices perpetrated on anybody of brown skin, or with an “abu” in their name. I don’t defend or condone any of this. I would merely point out that he – sadly – ended up on the wrong end of our national fever. My personal apology to him – in the name of my temporarily maddened nation – will of course, do him no good, but he nonetheless, unconditionally has it.

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      1. I notice that all mention of Joudat Abouazza ends in 2002. There is no ongoing story about his fight to prove his abuse in America. I googled him to do research. There are private sites irate about the situation, but this was not covered by the mass media and there is no fact checking insofar as I can see. There is only his story about what happened. It may or may not be true in the larger scope of things. We all filter our experiences through our reality. I liken truth to a large bowl of flowers – I may see roses, you may see skunk cabbage and someone else could see ragweed. Only the totality of the circumstances can produce “the truth.” I have to recognize that “my truth” is only true for me, not for everyone else (more is the pity!).

        We do not extract teeth in America without reason. The dentist would have lost his license to practice had it not been medically necessary. Doctors don’t participate in executions here, in case we are unaware of that fact and dentists don’t torture people through tooth extraction.

        Again there in nothing on the net about law suits against Cambridge (not Brookline). We are not talking about rendition to Syria or “Black Ops.” I don’t know what happened. I do believe he had teeth extracted, but I don’t know why.

        BTW, I’ve had a tooth break during an extraction and had to have it drilled out. It was not pleasant and the numbing was not the right kind to prevent all pain. I was not given antibiotics after the extraction and all I took for pain was tylenol, not even tylenol for codeine. I don’t know that everyone needs antibiotics after extractions. Some cotton packing would have been appropriate for sure. Mine didn’t have stitches, either. That was my experience and I’ve had three extractions in my life, two involving breaks in the tooth at the time of the extraction.

        It was not long after 9/11 and a Canadian/Palestinian national who came to America and began agitating was walking on the wild side. We all make decisions when we engage in protest. The man in China who deliberately moved in front of tanks over and over again until he was crushed to death was a suicide. Martyrs of the past often created their own demise deliberately to make a point. That’s fine, but when we deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way then we also carry some responsibility for the consequences. I’ve protested the Viet Nam war and you can darn betcha that after Kent State I worked doubly hard to keep my wits about myself.

        Personally, I prefer to keep my eye on the target of dealing with present issue of disabilities, addictions, prisons and criminal justice in the present time without dragging in the Arab/Israeli conflict or other extraneous elements that will defocus this blog’s issue. JMO.

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  2. Did you listen to the video or are you just venting? Just curious – if you were not there (I was) or did not listen, then you can’t evaluate what was said. Venting is fine, but learning something is better.

    The police were talking about the reality that most of what they learn is keeping themselves alive. Having grown up in a law and order family with a father who used to be an FBI agent and who was a judge – I know how difficult life is for the police officers.

    They don’t claim to be saints. They talk about what they are trying to do, what, how little training they get in police academy, how they are trying to improve services to the deaf, mentally disabled, physically disabled, and aged.

    I applaud any attempt to improve services in any police department at the same time that I am realistic that the world and police departments are riddled with problems.

    As an attorney I have profound concerns regarding the Deaf and the police, but we must begin somewhere and we must do so without throwing stones at presenters at a symposium. We must become partners rather than adversaries for only from the inside can change happen. If we are unable to listen to anyone at all about anything because someone in the agency has done something we don’t like then all hope is lost.

    Yes, you have the physical capacity (assuming you can hear) to listen to the Brookline police make a presentation. You can learn that they are human beings, that they are learning, that they are trying. They are failing at times, falling, getting up and trying again. I was at the speaker’s table, I watched how nervous one speaker was, heart the tremble in her voice. They are humans. Don’t forget that – we are all human beings here – frail and fragile – including the cops.

    One thing I will say is that most police want to help. They want to protect the public. They want to make a positive difference. There are good cops, bad cops, and average cops. What they want to do is get home alive at night – it is extremely dangerous to be a cop. I understand that. It does not excuse bad behavior, but we must understand the reality of the constant danger they are in every day and how that affects their behavior.

    If we cannot join together and be part of the solution then we become part of the problem.

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    1. As usual, Marsha. Well said. A brief anecdote. As someone who’s been on one kind of stage or another most of his life, I cornered the officer you spoke of, Sergeant Paster, and told her she did a good job. I went on to say that she was obviously fairly new to public speaking. Her reply? “Oh, God! I hate it!”

      I appreciated her story about her first arrest of a Deaf woman – and I meant to mention in the post, about the training. So here’s as good a place as any, and I hope readers see it.

      She said something that struck me. Police officers in Ma. receive 800 hours of academy training. Of those, only 6 are devoted to dealing with special needs populations.

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      1. Oh, David, my experiences with the police run from the good, to the bad to the very ugly. I’ve had a loaded gun leveled at my head with a cop on the other end (raided the wrong house). The kid with the gun looked like he was ready to pee his pants he was so scared. I remember that he was more afraid than I was. That being said, I could have died – he could have shot me in his terror. My little girl was sitting there with a piece of hot-dog half way to her mouth. It was a nightmare.

        I’ve had a cop protect me and a little kid I was trying to get home when a drug fueled war broke out around us. I’m on the ground with her under me and there are bullets flying overhead a cop screaming for backup and I’m wondering if a bullet hits me if my body will be enough to save the child under me. I didn’t even think about the cop until later. (He was shaken, but not hit.)

        I’ve run into rotten traffic cops and also kind and compassionate ones. I have had cops who were sexually corrupt approach me. FBI agents in my Dad’s day were incredibly corrupt. I did not live a charmed life.

        What we must recognize is that we are human beings. Period. Humans create imperfect situations. Cops are terrified of being murdered on the job. They have good reason to worry about it. Many police officers are severely traumatized by the job and have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and we expect them to behave like the HH the Dalai Lama.

        How many of us here would willingly go into a crack house with a social worker to extract little kids? Cops do all the time. Cops are the ones that scrape bodies up off pavement. They see things no one should ever have to see. How many dead bodies have you seen – up close and personal? How many little kids have you seen who were tortured by adults? Cops see all this stuff. We forget that. We forget they are suffering human beings just like everyone else. They are someone’s daughter, son, brother, sister, father, and mother. I may oppose some behaviors, but I always recognize that they are my fellow travelers in this life and one of them may, someday, lay down his life for me.

        I could tell you of situations police officers and I have been in that were so bad the police officer started vomiting. (I’ve been close, but so far, I always seem to wait until it is over and shake myself to pieces like a vibrating machine.) I’ve had cops watch me start shaking and stay with me until I was able to get under control. They know not to touch a social worker who is coming unglued lest we start come apart totally – they knew to be a quiet, calming presence until we can get control again.

        Cops feel so alone – they feel as if they only have each other to turn to. It makes them as victimized as some of the people who they, in turn, may victimize. It is a horrible system and the only one we really have. My heart aches for us all.

        Prisons were created to punish, not to rehabilitate. That came later. The first prisons were unimaginable places of horror and cruelty. We no longer use hot irons, racks, and hooks to tear the flesh. Let’s not forget what was going on in England before the start of our prisons. Prisons held those who were destined for death. Prisons, from the dawn of time as we know it, were horrible places. We conveniently forget that.

        The Quakers put everyone in solitary confinement in the belief that they would contemplate their sins and emerge reborn. The prisoners went bonkers instead.

        Prisons are less brutal than they have ever been in the US, which is not saying much. However, we are now requiring more of prison officers – an education (mostly) and some screening. That being said, if we look at testing on students using prison models, we can change “normal” people into sadists by setting up situations in which sadism is subtly encouraged. That is what happens in prisons today. We are also asking prisons to be defacto mental hospitals, mental hospitals for the criminally insane, homes for the mentally disabled, and deal with issues such as hearing problems, blindness, and mobility issues. Prisons have nursing home sections. Then we have general populations where gangs rule for defensive purposes. Oh. My. God! Prisons are not set up to deal with problems like these – honestly – it is asking too much of a system to deal with all this. And yet, we do.

        Prison officers are few – prisoners are many. Prison officers are at high risk of attack or being killed. They are paranoid with reason. In case of riot, an officer caught by the population is in deep shit and will be abused and potentially killed. Many of the officers themselves have PTSD from events they have witnessed or been involved in. Probably all prisoners have PTSD. It makes for a situation primed with powder and a fuse. Match, anyone?

        And, as was stated by the sociology professor, Americans are in love with prisons. We think that out of sight and out of mind works. It does not. We used to actually try to rehabilitate people. We no longer do. Rehabilitation is a joke as far as prisons go. Americans love supermaxes and TV shows about them. We are obsessed with punishment rather than fixing problems before they arise. We will throw millions upon millions at prisons but begrudge a penny to prevent a problem.

        Yes, we should be outraged, but we should also recognize that we, as a society, helped create what exists today. We few have to agitate and bring light to the problem. But we can’t do so by demonizing and abusing those in the police force or the prison system or the whole reform movement is doomed.

        When I was a state worker I came to understand that change comes from within. Only by identifying friendlies in the system and working with them can we change things. Change is slow. Change plods along, but like a ship on the ocean, if you can change the way it is going just 1% then in time it will move 180 degrees and go the other way entirely. It is hard to stay the course. It is difficult to see progress. We have to be strong, determined, and act with both outrage and compassion.

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