By Allen David
About a month from now, every patrol officer in the Rialto Police Department will be wearing a small video camera while in the field. That means that everybody who interacts with an on-duty patrol officer from the Rialto Police Department will have that experience recorded. No matter how anybody—cop or civilian—feels about that, they ultimately have no one but themselves to blame or congratulate. The results of the Rialto PD’s participation in an experiment by a grad student at the University of Cambridge—yes, the one in England—showed that Big Brother’s presence in the field significantly reduces the chances of somebody getting their butt kicked—or somebody else complaining about it. How the hell did a grad student at the University of Cambridge—even the one in England—ever persuade the Rialto Police Department to participate in such project? The name of the student is Tony Farrar—yes, the one who is Chief of the Rialto Police Department. Farrar recently earned a master’s degree from the university’s Institute of Criminology. Farrar’s research project found that police who wore cameras during their shifts were involved in half as many use-of-force incidents as those who did not wear the cameras. Complaints from the public went down, too. Well, it just goes to show . . .
um . . . whatsay we let Chief Farrar explain what we’re seeing here. “The legitimacy of policing today requires community trust,” Farrar tells the San Bernardino Sun. “This is a method (officers wearing cameras) to maintain that trust. Once the public loses trust, it is very difficult, or a long road, to get back that trust.” Sounds like Farrar’s highfalutin’, the Cambridge-in-England education is a good thing for the Rialto PD. “I’ve been asked if the study was for police officers or the public,” Farrar says. “The answer is both.”
THURSDAY, AUGUST 1
Rialto Police Chief Steve Farrar’s answer to the police-or-public question is correct, but not exactly complete. Obviously, his study on videotaping’s effect on law enforcement’s use of force was for him, too—and it turns out the project and Farrar’s resulting paper won an Award for Excellence from the Society of Evidence-Based Policing. Congratulations, Steve. And it certainly didn’t hurt Taser International, the Arizona-based company that makes the cameras and just got that fat order for more.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 2
Really? It’s August? As of yesterday?
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3
A couple of kids bring their toy guns inside a Big Lots store in Highland and end up getting arrested.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 4
So I’ve spent the last 24 hours looking back on my childhood in the 1960s. Although that decade is remembered for a message of peace and love, most kids lived a much different reality, especially when they were making believe. Toy guns were flowing unchecked—and virtually unregulated, except for the occasional slap on the wrist for some part that posed a choking danger—into neighborhoods across the country. The supply came from a lucrative and conscience-free network of manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and abetted by a growing middle class and its legions of grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents who were driven by strange and unquenchable guilt to give their little relatives anything they demanded. And the kids demanded toy guns—any and all kinds of toy guns. At one point, my cache included a shiny six-shooter, a re-cockable rifle that emitted both the sound of a gunshot and a ricocheting bullet, and a big camouflaged bazooka that spring-launched baby-blue mortars. How much I really wanted all that weaponry is difficult to judge now. But I remember why I needed it: playtime had become gunplay time. Not that it always began that way. But experience was constantly teaching me that whatever game we were playing—house, school, hospital, farmer, circus performer or rich guy who bumps his head and gets amnesia that makes him forget how to make a living and so he becomes poor but meets a hooker with a heart of gold who he’s about to marry but while walking down the aisle he trips and hits his head again which clears up the amnesia but makes him realize he’s about to marry a hooker . . . but he’s already married, thus raising the question of whether or not he is committing mortal sin—could suddenly turn into a shootout. Anybody who wasn’t packing pretend heat was a real fool.
MONDAY, AUGUST 6
So, anyway, the 10 and 13-year-old kids with the toy guns and the Big Lots and the getting arrested? The San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputy who handled the call says the boys robbed two other children—after confronting them in the store, the 13-year-old pulled a fake handgun out of his waistband, pointed it at one child’s chest, demanded money and came away with 60 cents. When confronted by a store employee, one boy lifted his shirt to expose a handgun in his waistband and asked, “Want some, old lady?” A sheriff in a helicopter saw the children running through a nearby field. They had thrown two replica handguns while fleeing. They were both booked into Juvenile Hall. The 13-year-old was already on probation for burglary. Wow. I guess the 1960s happened about a half-century ago.