Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Tragedy of Drug Abuse

Being a cop means getting used to all of the worst parts of people’s lives. We resolve problems for the good guys, put the bad guys in jail, and comfort people who have suffered the inevitable tragedies of life.

As a patrol officer, street crimes cop, and detective, I have seen the results of murder, suicide, accidental death, and natural death. When it is someone you don’t have a connection with, it’s sad enough. Sometimes, though, the person is someone you have known before, however briefly.

I grew up in Central Florida, so I am always running into someone I haven’t seen for thirty or more years. When that happens, we are polite to each other, even though we don’t look anything like we did when we were in high school. Okay, we’re old, for crying out loud.

It is a much more sobering experience to have known someone as a youngster only to have them die from a drug overdose in the city where I am a cop. Such an incident happened to me recently when a man died alone in his apartment. One of his brothers was my age.

I wasn't the primary officer on this call, so I learned his name as I helped the medical examiner load his body into a van. Although we weren’t close friends in our youth, it was still difficult to realize that his life was over and that it ended in such a wasted manner. It was sad for him, tragic for his family and friends, and eye-opening for those who knew him over the many decades of his life. It isn’t easy to see someone throw their lives away when they had so much opportunity.

I once stopped a beat-up old car filled with personal belongings. When the man handed me his driver’s license, I saw a disheveled individual with a scraggly beard. Here was a guy who was barely surviving. Then I looked at the name on the license. I was flabbergasted.

It was a professional I had known a few years before. We had even done some business together. He had his own successful company, and his name appeared frequently in the society columns. Now he looked like he was one step above living under an overpass.

When I asked him what had happened, he sighed and said, “Crack.” I couldn’t believe that this intelligent college graduate had actually fallen prey to crack cocaine.

“My God, man,” I asked him. “How could you even touch that stuff?”

He looked at me through eyes that were old before their time. “It was always there,” he said softly. “The cocktail parties, the high society functions. I thought I could handle it just like I thought I could handle everything. It took over my life the first time I used it.”

This wealthy, successful man had lost his wife, his children, his home, his business, and everything he owned was in the back of this car.

I tried to encourage him to seek help. He said, “Thanks, but I’ll take care of it.” It was a polite way to tell me to mind my own business.

I let him go without a ticket, but I got a phone call from him a couple of months later. He had a new job, and he wanted to meet me for lunch. After we met at a McDonald’s, he took me to see his new office where he had a sales job. He was dressed nicely in a shirt and tie, and his attitude was positive.

I told him to stay in touch and let me know how things went for him. He said he would call me and tell me how many sales he was making.

I never heard from him again.

Charles M. Grist

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ranger Cop Catches Up A Bit

The world of police patrol hasn’t changed much. A variety of calls – good guys and bad guys – including shoplifters, domestic violence victims and suspects, suspicious people, illegal aliens, transients, victims of identity theft, burglars, wanted felons, and a multitude of others.

From the C.O.B.R.A. Team: Cobra 3 (Higginbotham) is back in the States, Cobra 2 (Aaron Self) met Cobra 5 (Kristi Self) for a vacation before heading back to their respective assignments, Cobra 4 (Doc Actis) was in California (the last time I heard from him) doing the acting thing as “John Ceallach”.

I’m not real happy that our new president is being so buddy-buddy with dictators and other slimy international thugs.

How the heck did Obama think he could even propose that wounded warriors pay for their medical care with their own health insurance? Thankfully, even his left-wing supporters in Congress didn’t buy off on this stupid idea. Tells you where he’s coming from though, doesn’t it?

It’s just plain wrong that the government won’t let some of the large financial institutions pay back their government “loans”.

Florida still remains near the top of the list in lost home values and foreclosures. I can’t sell my rental house now because it has dropped in value so much. Guess I may as well hang on to it.

The unemployment problems have hit close to home for just about everyone. Members of my own family have lost their jobs or have had their hours drastically cut. It is painful to see those you love having such problems when the whole thing wasn’t their fault in the first place.

I’m angry that the Democrats are spending the future income of our children and grandchildren with no concern for the inflation that is sure to cripple us down the road. A big “high five” to those who put together and attended the Tea Parties around the country.

Our “politically correct” new administration in Washington doesn’t have the guts to protect our borders. More illegal aliens enter our country every day to take jobs from Americans and pay no taxes. But they use our health care and education systems for free.

Caught a Mexican guy who was about to illegally dump a load of landscaping waste. His only identification was his Mexican driver’s license. He was driving, so he went to jail for not having a Florida driver’s license. I had to call a Spanish-speaking officer to translate for me – “You’re under arrest, amigo…”

Debbie and I haven’t decided whether we will move out of Florida or not when I eventually retire from the police department. We’ve looked at Tennessee, Idaho, and Utah, but we’re still not sure. I guess it will depend on the economy.

The final editing of my book is complete. I had the help of a really professional editor from my publisher. Next week it will move to the production phase, so hopefully it will finally be available in six to nine weeks. My author’s website is also almost ready, and I will also have a “book trailer” on the site. I’ll keep you posted.

I read a quote from a famous writer. He said that, with all the revisions, corrections, etc., that he probably re-wrote his book seven times. I kind of feel like that myself, but I am proud of the final manuscript.

I’ll try to do better in making entries to the American Ranger blog. Thanks for checking in…

Charles M. Grist

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fallen Warrior Returns Home – This Time in Public

It is finally the decision of families as to whether or not the return of their fallen warriors will be publicized or will remain a private ceremony. This is as it should be. There is only honor in showing our respect for these brave and selfless Americans. The following article from and the Associated Press is an account of the first time the media has been permitted to witness the return of the remains of one of our troops:

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US War Dead Again Return in Public Eye

April 06, 2009
Associated Press

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The Pentagon's 18-year ban on media coverage of fallen U.S. service members returning home ended quietly last night, with only an officer's sharp order to salute accompanying a single flag-covered casket being unloaded from a cargo plane.

After receiving permission from family members, the military opened Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to the media Sunday night for the return of the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va.

The 30-year-old Airman was killed April 4 near Helmand province, Afghanistan, when he was hit with an improvised explosive device, the Department of Defense said.

Myers' family was the first to be asked under a new Pentagon policy whether it wished to have media coverage of the arrival of a loved one at the Dover base mortuary, the entry point for service personnel killed overseas. The family agreed, but declined to be interviewed or photographed.

On a cool, clear night under the yellowish haze of floodlights on the tarmac, an eight-member team wearing white gloves and camouflage battle fatigues carried Myers' body off of a military contract Boeing 747 that touched down at 9:19 p.m. after a flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Myers' widow and other family members, along with about two dozen members of the media, attended the solemn ceremony, which took about 20 minutes and was punctuated only by clicking of camera shutters and the barked salute orders of Col. Dave Horton, operations group commander of Dover's 436th Airlift Wing.

Horton presided over the ceremony along with Air Force civil engineer Maj. Gen. Del Eulberg and Maj. Klavens Noel, a mortuary chaplain.

Noel and the other officers boarded the plane for a brief prayer before an automatic loader slowly lowered the flag-draped transfer case bearing Myers' body about 20 feet to the tarmac, where the eight-member team slowly carried it to a white-paneled truck.

Preceded by a security vehicle with flashing blue and red lights, the truck then slowly made its way to the base mortuary, where Myers' body was to be processed for return to his family.

Myers was a member of the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron with the Royal Air Force in Lakenheath, England, one of the bases the U.S. Air Force uses in the country. He was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery last year in recognition of his efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Department of Defense said.

Myers' widow flew from England to attend the arrival of his body to the U.S., which marked the first time since 1991 that members of media were allowed to witness the return of a combat casualty to Dover.

The ban was put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, at the time of the Persian Gulf War. From the start, it was cast as a way to shield grieving families. But critics argued the government was trying to hide the human cost of war.

President Barack Obama had asked for a review of the ban, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the blanket restriction made him uncomfortable.

Under the new policy, families of fallen servicemen will decide whether to allow media coverage of their return. If several bodies arrive on the same flight, news coverage will be allowed only for those whose families have given permission.

There have been some exceptions since 1991, most notably in 1996 when President Bill Clinton attended the arrival of the remains of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 32 others killed in a plane crash in Croatia. In 2000, the Pentagon distributed photographs of the arrival of remains of those killed in the bombing of the USS Cole and in 2001, the Air Force distributed a photograph of the remains of a victim of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

One objection to lifting the ban had been that if the media were present, some families might feel obligated to come to Dover for the brief, solemn ritual in which honor guards carry the caskets off a plane.

Few families now choose to attend, in part because doing so means leaving home and the support system of friends at a difficult time. The sudden trip can also be expensive and logistically difficult, though the military provides transportation for up to three members to greet their service members at Dover.

* * * *

We extend our condolences to the family members and friends of Staff Sergeant Myers.

Charles M. Grist

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Democrats Scrap “War on Terror”; The Taliban Threatens Washington Anyway

Okay, the new administration is a more “touchy-feely” kind of group. They don’t like the term “War on Terror” because they don’t want to offend Muslims. Well, gee, the good Muslims are supposed to be against terrorism anyway, so who are we afraid of offending?

This article from and the Associated Press talks about the latest threat from the leader of the Taliban. This character says his loony group is going to attack Washington, D.C.:

* * * *

Pakistani Taliban Threatens Washington

March 31, 2009
Associated Press

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan - The commander of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly assault on a Pakistani police academy and said the group was planning a terrorist attack on the U.S. capital.

Baitullah Mehsud, who has a $5 million bounty on his head from the U.S., said Monday's attack outside the eastern city of Lahore was in retaliation for U.S. missile strikes against militants along the Afghan border.

"Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world," Mehsud told The Associated Press by phone. He provided no details.

Mehsud and other Pakistani Taliban militants are believed to be based in the country's lawless areas near the border with Afghanistan, where they have stepped up their attacks throughout Pakistan.

The Taliban leader also claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed four soldiers Monday in Bannu district and a suicide attack targeting a police station in Islamabad last week that killed one officer.

Such attacks pose a major test for the weak, year-old civilian administration of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that has been gripped with political turmoil in recent weeks.

The gunmen who attacked the police academy in Lahore on Monday killed seven police and two civilians, holding security forces at bay for about eight hours before being overpowered by Pakistani commandos. Some of the attackers wore police uniforms, and they took hostages and tossed grenades during the assault.

Earlier Tuesday, a spokesman from a little-known militant group linked to the Pakistani Taliban also claimed credit for the attack and a similar ambush-style attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this month in Lahore. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the two claims.

Omar Farooq, who said he is the spokesman for Fedayeen al-Islam, said the group would carry out more attacks unless Pakistani troops withdraw from tribal areas near the Afghan border and the U.S. stops its drone strikes. The group previously said it was behind the deadly September bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad that killed 54 people.

Mehsud declined to comment on Fedayeen al-Islam's claim that it carried out the attack or to say whether the group is linked to his own.

"At this time, I will not give any detail," Mehsud said.

The Pakistani Taliban leader also said he was not deterred by the U.S. bounty on his head.

"I wish to die and embrace martyrdom," he said.

The Pakistani Taliban has links with al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban militants who have launched attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from a base in the border region between the two countries.

Pakistan faces tremendous U.S. pressure to eradicate militants from its soil and has launched several military operations in the Afghan border region.

The U.S. has stepped up drone attacks against militants in the area, causing tension with Pakistani officials who protest they are a violation of the country's sovereignty and kill innocent civilians.

Monday's highly coordinated attack highlighted that militants in the country pose a threat far outside the border region. It prompted Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik, Pakistan's top civilian security official, to say that militant groups were "destabilizing the country."

The gunmen killed six police during the assault, and one died late Monday from his injuries, said Lahore's commissioner, Major Azam Khan. He said Tuesday that the initial investigation revealed that two civilians were also shot and killed, but he did not reveal their identities.

More than 90 officers were wounded in the assault, according to officials.

After gunmen stormed the academy, masses of security forces surrounded the compound, exchanging fire in televised scenes reminiscent of the militant siege in the Indian city of Mumbai in November and the attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team.

Khan said three of the attackers blew themselves up when commandos retook the police academy to avoid arrest. Authorities arrested four others at the scene.

Wasim Ahmad Sial, a senior Lahore police official, said authorities have obtained fingerprints of the attackers who blew themselves up and have determined one of their identities. He did not provide further details.

Punjab police chief, Khawaja Khalid Farooq, told reporters Tuesday that a suspected militant who was captured at the scene of the attack had provided "genuine and actual leads that are beneficial for interrogation."

He said about 50 other people in Lahore were detained overnight for questioning.

* * * *

As far as radical Islam goes, the terror war continues....

Charles M. Grist