A DEMOCRACY WE DON’T WANT: THE IRONY WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT APPEARS TO BE THE PERPETRATOR
As this edition of the NL is prepared for publication, the Memphis Police Department is facing one of the toughest tasks it has ever had. This is similar to police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville and too many American cities – large and small. Law enforcement officers of every stripe (uniformed and not) carry as part of their tool-chest, the power of life and death. It can be very dangerous out there. Violence is no longer restricted to big cities and certain ethnic groups (although many people would say this is so). Death, injury, and destruction of property now belongs to everybody from a six year old child (in Virginia) to a senior citizen (in California).
The USA cherishes (as we should) our democracy and the rights and opportunities encompassed therein. But when that democracy means anyone can have access to a means to kill or maim perhaps that is going too far. Add to that dynamic the rightful need to arm police and other law enforcement personnel with the weaponry and willingness to kill, and society has a real problem.
In Louisville and many other U.S. locations, weapons used by law enforcement improperly brought about the very thing that should have been preserved – peace and tranquility. In Minneapolis and now, Memphis, bare hands and strength in numbers of officers brought death when they should have brought resolution of relatively minor (if any) infractions of law.
What to do about this puzzling problem when law officers are faced with potentially dangerous conditions themselves is great dilemma. If we don’t empower law officers with the means to thwart an attack on themselves, we won’t have law officers. If we don’t have special units when needed to combat certain problems such as drugs gangs, and serial crimes we are tacitly giving license to the pushers, gangs and serial criminals to do whatever they want.
There is no easy solution to this great dilemma. Thank heavens, we are not a police state in the USA, but we know we cannot turn the other cheek when our law enforcers disobey the very law they are sworn to uphold. Add to that the challenge of shrinking big city law enforcement officers and low pay (who wants this job anyway) with increasing requirements of education and training by officers and we are faced with what appears unsolvable problems.
This little newsletter also goes to folks in Canada, Britain, Europe and other parts of the world. Do they have the answer or do they also have similar problems? Even in England, law officers, on occasion, are armed, but usually for routine work, they are not armed. Of course, we in the U.S. and other places wonder if law officers are ever engaged in “routine” work.
We all know (wherever we are) that misconduct by whomever (including law officers) must be dealt with and appropriate punishment given – but by whom and when? The irony becomes a major societal problem when it is the very law enforcers whose conduct violates the law.
SHOOTINGS AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION
It is almost too painful to use the words "acts of senseless shootings" and the concept of "peaceful dispute resolution" in the same sentence. Sadly, many in the U.S. have become prolific at finding guns and using them as a way of making a point – tragic as that may seem, instead of finding a process and methodology to resolve a conflict or have another viewpoint stated.
It does not take a genius to figure out that so long as guns are so easily available in certain parts of the U.S., legally or otherwise, it will continue to be a problem. Those of us in the dispute resolution field are constantly asking ourselves why a resolution of a dispute needs a “lethal weapon to end the matter”. We recognize that mental illness may be a factor in the decision to hurt or kill a lot of people. When such a disturbance reaches the point where the age of the victim is not a factor, there is not much possible to stop a person intent on mass carnage, but the ease of obtaining the mechanism to carry out this delusional behavior factors in. Sadly, this great country (the U.S.) has had a long love affair with guns.
America’s history can no longer be used as an excuse. In fact, superiority in weaponry has been an integral part of our history – often with positive results (i.e. U.S. weapons aid to Ukraine). However, in the past, guns been used to almost wipe out our own indigenous people. Even now, we see sadly in the news, there continue to be incidents of the use of guns in killing (even killing oneself).
The writer of this piece is a gun owner. I am a former soldier and law enforcement officer, I have been trained both in the military and over 10 years in law enforcement, in gun use and gun safety. I have lived in a region where obtaining a gun is difficult and in an area where it is easier.
I certainly don’t presume to know how we can avoid the occasional misuse of a firearm – even by police – who should know better. And, as we see from the commentary above, police killing can take place without a gun. I end with this thought: “let’s make it much harder to obtain a killing machine wherever you are”. We need background checks at all levels even gun shows and private sale or transfer of a weapon. That will decrease guns deaths – be they in mass shootings like those recently in California, individual shootings or suicides.
-- Writer’s Name Withheld
HOW DID PRESERVATION OF CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS BECOME A TOOL IN THE GAME OF POLITICAL GOTCHA?
Our readers include a number of people who have been in the military and in government, where access to certain documents must be restricted, or in private firms where so called “trade secrets” need, in that company's view, to be secret. The big difference is that violation of a private industry confidentiality agreement probably does not violate a public law. Private sector companies can take their own private action.
Recognizing that the Government over-classifies documents should not be an excuse for disregarding the law. Several members of the CMC team have in the past held high secret clearances (and some still have them). We in the confidentiality business, know how damaging a breach can be even in a case where parties are trying to resolve their differences in a private (non-court) mediation session. In fact. it is the need for confidentiality in the disputed matter which is a major incentive for alternative dispute resolution.
People at the highest level of Government...such as sitting or former Presidents or Vice-Presidents...violating secrecy requirements does not set a good example. Without a certain level of expectation of secrecy – which might include non-disclosure of information – the results could be disastrous. But.. should this issue become part of a political game of “gotcha?"
We think not. And Privacy and Confidentiality are a big part of our business. Now, confidentiality and the legal system is something else. We address that challenge in the next piece.
-- CMC Staff
CONFIDENTIALITY AND THE COURTS
The recent controversial opinion in the Dobbs case - where the U.S. Supreme Court reversed abortion rights of citizens (popularly referred to as “a woman’s right to choose”) - has been one of the most controversial decisions in almost half a century. That case had established the law of the land in the United States. since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Did the leak from the Court help, hinder or neither (everybody remains in the same place on this issue – notwithstanding the final decision of the Court overturning a female citizen of this nation the right to abortion in the U.S. The leak of Justice Alito’s majority decision raised an outcry by abortion proponents and corresponding defense justifications by the “right to lifers”. But, did it do any real harm? Whatever your view on the issue, the national law in the U.S. is now settled – abortion is not legal unless the individual states have or pass their own law. But, the big question of confidentiality of court decisions, in this case, at the highest level, is still not answered. The Marshal of the Supreme Court conducted an investigation which yielded no answer as to who leaked. As part of this “investigation,” Justices and their spouses did not have to make an affidavit, under oath, on the issue. While this firm sees the power and possibility of private and confidential resolution of disputes (conflicts) through mediation, we feel that access to courts must remain a possibility for parties in the unlikely event the dispute is not resolved. Further, where confidentiality is an issue (e.g. trade secret matters or sealed cases), courts have to assure parties that there will be no leaks. To us, that is an imperative. In our opinion, confidentiality of matters is an essential part of those cases where it is either promised or is part of the pendency of the action. It is our view, that this should never be part of the political gamesmanship of gotcha! -- CMC Staff
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT CONSORTIUM (CMC) CONTINUES PREPARATION FOR OPEN AND IN-HOUSE TRAINING PROGRAMS
As previously reported, CMC mediation services were curtailed during the recent Great Pandemic. Even so, some cases were resolved including online. A core group of existing CMC team members have been meeting and training since July 2022, to expand the training capability of this firm. The first open training (not within an organization) – Basic Mediation - is now set (tentative dates are May 19 and 20, 2023 – the weekend before Memorial Day. The program is currently set to be offered in Front Royal, Virginia. This introductory course on alternate dispute resolution – emphasizing mediation – will be restricted in attendance. If any reader is interested in possibly attending this or any training program given by CMC for their individual use or in an organizational setting, please contact the firm by phone (US) 540-305-1780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All trainings presented by CMC are limited in the number of participants.
News From Lalo Publishing
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT CONSORTIUM (CMC) CONTINUES PREPARATION FOR OPEN AND IN-HOUSE TRAININGPROGRAMSLVING CONFLICT and EFFECTIVE NEGOTIATION IN SEVEN SIMPLE STEPS. Lalo Publishing, Inc. (LPI) is gearing up for new programs in 2023 including final preparation of PRINCIPLED CHOICES: AN ETHICS GUIDE FOR MEDIATORS AND OTHERS. LPI continues to offer all of its publications through Amazon and select bookstores. The recent book by Jim Pipkin, CODE NAME BLUE WREN – THE TRUE STORY OF AMERICA’S MOST DANGEROUS FEMALE SPY AND THE SISTER SHE BETRAYED (Hanover Square Press, 2023) is very timely and may breathe new life into Lalo Publishing’s book A WARRIOR OF MANY FACES: An American Clandestine Operative in Castro’s Cuba and Beyond. Covid is still with us and Sepsis continues to be a potential killer. Todd Denick’s important book, IT WILL COME: ALASKA ADVENTURES PALE IN COMPARISON TO SURVIVING SEPSIS. is more timely than ever. Available and upcoming titles from Lalo Publishing can be seen at