We Need More Advances in Non-lethal Weapons

Tuesday, 20 Nov 2007 10:11 AM

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For years, police departments have been criticized for unnecessary shootings and urged to come up with a non-lethal substitute for the gun.

The complaint is obvious: Guns kill. It is certainly true that most, if not all, of those killed by the police in the course of arresting someone allegedly engaged in a crime would not be subject to the death penalty if tried and found guilty. Therefore the universal rule governing the use of deadly force by the cops is that they are permitted to use such force only if they reasonably believe their lives or the lives of innocent others are in danger.

In response to the demand that alternatives to deadly force be used whenever possible, the Taser was developed. Tasers use electricity to stun a violent individual into submission. Now, for the first time, at least for me, we learn of the Taser’s record of success in its mission. The New York Times on Nov. 16, 2007, reported, ". . . in the United States . . . 280 people have died after being struck by police Tasers since 2001. Tasers can also be used by civilians in many states." That is a death rate of 40 per year.

A Department of Justice survey entitled “Arrest Related Deaths in the United States” reported that for the three years 2003-2005, there were on average 360 deaths per year, 95 percent from firearms.

With all of the new technologies, one would think less-lethal weapons would become available.

I believed that in New York, Tasers were used primarily in situations involving emotionally disturbed persons. The matter of how to deal with emotionally disturbed persons came up in a huge way in my mayoral administration when Eleanor Bumpers was killed in her own apartment when she slashed at a police officer with a large kitchen knife.

She was shot by another police officer. He was indicted and after trial found not guilty.

Police Commissioner Ben Ward made clear before the police officer was tried that in his opinion, the officer was doing his duty within police regulations protecting a fellow officer whose life was being threatened. He also told me that the then prescribed method of subduing emotionally disturbed persons with a pole intended to pin them against a wall was a substitute for nets theretofore used by police.

The public, he told me, was upset by the use of nets, making it appear that people were being treated like wild animals. I personally believe the nets make sense and should be once again considered for use. They clearly are far less dangerous than Tasers, but cannot be used in all situations.

Alzheimer's Disease

One of the most beautiful and wondrous of love stories was recently recounted in the life of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Her husband, John O’Connor, has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 17 years — Justice O’Connor left the bench about two years ago when her husband was placed in a nursing home. There he became infatuated with a woman suffering a similar fate. Justice O’Connor’s son stated to the press, "Mom was thrilled that dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here [nursing facility] and wasn't’t complaining."

Incredibly, this situation, which apparently is not uncommon, was the subject of a glorious movie, "Away From Her," which I reviewed favorably on May 7, 2007. Julie Christie’s character, suffering from Alzheimer’s develops a romantic attachment to another patient.

More than any other infirmity other than stroke and an inability to physically care for myself, I dread now at age 83 the possibility of Alzheimer’s.

Fortunately, there is no history of it in my family. My hope is that God will take me in my sleep. Until that happens, I intend to keep on doing what I’m doing now with a full and active professional life. I still get to the office before most of my law partners, and that is after an hour at the gym.

When I go to bed, I voice the prayer, "Please God, protect me."

Rudy Giuliani's Mafia Moment

I wonder how many people are aware of Rudy Giuliani’s obsession with the Mafia.

To Rudy's great credit, he early on went out of his way to state publicly when others would not that there was a Mafia. He fiercely used his office to bring members of the Mafia and others who were part of organized crime to justice. But his obsession became apparent with his delight in mimicking at social occasions the voice of Marlon Brando as the Godfather from the movies of the same name involving the Corleone family.

More bizarre was the incident recounted in the book by former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on what happened when Rudy told him in the presence of Rudy’s City Commissioners and friends that he, Rudy, was appointing him first deputy corrections commissioner.

According to a New York Times article of Nov. 3, "When Mr. Giuliani became mayor, he gave Mr. Kerik a job in the Correction Department. A year later, the mayor asked him to drop by Gracie Mansion. The two men sat upstairs and shared a bottle of red wine, a gift to the mayor from Nelson Mandela. Mr. Giuliani said he planned to appoint Mr. Kerik as first deputy correction commissioner. Mr. Kerik . . . [who] wrote of this in his autobiography, ‘The Lost Son,’ was taken aback; he was a year removed from being a police detective.

“‘Mayor, I appreciate your confidence in me, I really do,’ he said. ‘But I ran a jail. One jail. Rikers is like 10 jails.’ ‘Just do it,’ the mayor replied. Mr. Kerik followed Mr. Giuliani downstairs to a dimly lighted room. There waited Mr. Giuliani’s boyhood chum Peter J. Powers, who was first deputy mayor, and other aides. One by one, they pulled Mr. Kerik close and kissed his cheek. ‘I wonder if he noticed how much becoming part of his team resembled becoming part of a mafia family,’ Mr. Kerik wrote. ‘I was being made.’”

Can you imagine such a scene taking place in the White House?

Muslims Are Willing to Die for Their Cause

One of the most insightful columns on the presidential debates was made by Michael Goodwin in his Daily News column of this past Sunday. Goodwin used The New York Times’ language tracker, which counts the number of times key phrases like "homeland security" "war on terror," and "terrorism" were used in the most recent debate by Democratic candidates.

He summed it up with his comment, "Consider that what was once called a generational war against an existential threat is now by unanimous consent of the candidates only a misguided Republican war in Iraq that must be ended immediately."

It is certainly true that the Bush administration screwed up royally in Iraq following the initial victory against the army of Saddam Hussein. I continue to believe that President George W. Bush, now down to a 36 percent approval in the latest FOX/Opinion Dynamics poll, will be treated far better by history’s judgment with the passage of time.

Why?

Because he was, and is, one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was steadfast in standing up to it.

While the military situation has improved as a result of the surge, the war in Iraq is basically lost because of the intransigence of the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government, which refuses to share power and oil with the Sunni component of the population.

The forces of terrorism are based worldwide. They are engaged in a continuing war which may go on for 30 years or more, which will test the courage and determination of the American people and our future leaders. I am worried that we will not meet the challenge because we do not have the stomach to continue with the battles until the war is won.

The Islamic terrorists have as their goals our conversion to Islam, our deaths and our paying tribute. Their plan, publicly stated by them, is the restoration of the ancient caliphate, a single religious state consolidating within its borders all Muslim states running from and including Spain across North Africa through the Middle East to and including Indonesia, headed by a cleric.

They are willing to die to achieve their goals, believing that to be a martyr as a result of killing the infidel assures them a place next to God.

We have many opinion makers and their followers who refuse to take the Islamic terrorists at their word.

The American public wants to continue to lead the good life and is unwilling to make any sacrifices in lifestyle, higher taxes or personal rights. With our current attitude, it is very possible that, with the passage of time, the Islamic terrorists will win, and there will be no one to blame but ourselves.

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