Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Drunk drivers and the killing of the Hopkins Student

Buz has been following the story of the numbnuts who wandered around the city last week, scaring the beejesus out of everybody, both before and after he hit a Hopkins student, left the scene, did not render aid, and she later died.

We shook our head in dismay, but hardly in surprise. More than 30 years ago, I used to go to traffic court a lot, and had arrested a fair number of drunk drivers myself. I was amazed at how many of the offenders in court were repeat offenders. And I began to realize how weak the Maryland law is on boozehounds. It eventually dawned on me that fines, license suspensions/revocations and the threat of jail does not deter and does not punish these folks.

Ya don't need a license to drive, you only need a set of car keys. So, the only real way to stop them is to, for some period of time, take their car away--on the first offense, and longer on subsequent offenses. Of course, I know: it might be someone else's car they are driving, and there may be "hardship" in the family. tough. Gotta do the time if you're gonna do the crime. And it has to be combined with jail, or the threat of jail, along with some kind of treatment for his alcohol problem. Not to mention the lack of responsibility problems these folks have.

Jail and treatment work for some folks, but not for many. Time after time, people who get convicted for drunk driving charges simply continue driving.

Only jail and seizing their car, or the car they were driving would stop them.

In this latest case: more questions arise than are answered:
  • Why was he out on only $100,000 bail while he was awaiting trial?
  • Didn't the jurist who set the bail have any concern for public safety (unlike the distinguished her honor Nancy Shugar)?
  • Who paid the bail?
  • Did he put up a house he owned?
  • Did a relative put up a house?
  • Or did one of our bondsmen offer him a get out of jail 1% bail, financing the other $9K, so poor little drunkard could go home to have another one on us.
  • Who's car was he driving?
  • How did he get tags?
  • Who insured that vehicle?
The sad truth is all of us are complicit in some small way in that Hopkins student's death: our ambivalence toward drinking; our legislature full of wine-drinking defense attorneys; our love of Ravens and tailgating (betcha they're not drinking Pepsi out there); our ignoring people driving away from Ravens games with beers in their hand; our night clubs offering deals to get you drunk as a skunk before you go back to the dorm; judges and MVA officials who fall for sob stories, and the drinkers themselves, who love the taste and their high--but don't want to take any responsibility for what they do drunk (everybody wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die). The list could go on for a while.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crime Tip of the Day: Keep your eyes and ears open when entering convenience stores

Buz went into the Royal Farms Store in the area of his palatial residence on the border of Hampden and Medfield on 41st Street. They have the nicest staff there of all the Farm Stores!
While waiting for his decidedly unhealthy chicken dinner to be put together, your consultant chatted about possible job openings for his nonprofit clients.

The pretty gal who was waiting on me said "sure, they're hiring, but it's a dangerous job"! Whaddaya mean, we said. She said that she was working there about 5 weeks ago when two guys with guns came in and robbed the place. She said that though they didn't hurt her or take any of her personal belongings, they really scared her. Now, this gal does not look like the type who scares easily. She told me that it was about 7pm. I said, wow, it was still light out back then. She said: "I know, people are just crazy".
And we had also just read about the Dunkin Donuts, just up the block on 41st Street also getting robbed recently--about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. But I'm not really surprised; police uniformed patrol has been cut to the bone. And betcha (2-1), it even worse on Sunday afternoons during the "season".

I have read the working in a convenience store is one of the leading causes of injuries or death for women: while being killed in robberies (or hurt during them). So, her anecdotal evidence was buttressed by national statistics. {Also read recently where another Royal Farms employee had hot chocolate thrown in her face by a robber.} Unfortunately, we must have compassion for the poor employees in these circumstances who have to take these job, at which, while the pay is competitive, come with certain risks by nasty thugs.

So, your consultant urges dear readers: before going into any convenience type or chain store, take a peek inside before you go in: this is especially important for fast food joints, convenience stores, and places open all night or late. If something doesn't feel right, or you feel uncomfortable for some reason, don't go in. I know, I know, it's probably not gonna be obvious, but, still, look.
As we're getting close to Halloween (a sacred sacrament day in some neighborhoods), the weather, especially in the evening is getting colder and the hoods are coming up and on. And the hoods of the other kind are coming out with their hoods up, making them hard to see and recognize. Alas, holdup season is probably getting ready to gear up.

The highest crime time of the year is generally the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cold weather, shopping, and hoods and bulky coats work together to make it a challenging time for crime prevention.