The Record, my hometown sorry-excuse-for-a-newspaper, never ceases to annoy me. The editing staff manages to ignore issues that might actually concern local residents, while glorifying the city’s real estate developing elites, on a daily basis. Crime is reported in a manner that suggests it’s existence is some kind of unexplainable phenomenon and the direct link between poverty and violent crime statistics is rarely addressed. The upcoming mayoral election isn’t talked about in any real way – like discussion of the candidate’s platforms or whatnot. Basically, The Record serves as a cheerleader for City Hall and fosters the belief that local government should not concern any self-respecting Stocktonian. That having been said, I guess it is only appropriate to call out a few overlooked & underreported stories that caught my eye (even if Record staffers were apparently blind to them).
- Police Brutality & Excessive Force: The fact that Stockton’s police force is corrupt and overzealous is not news. Anyone that has had the misfortune of ending up on the receiving end of one of their famous ass-beatings will agree that the SPD don’t fuck around. How The Record manages to tap-dance around all the murders committed by our Boys in Blue is beyond me. They report them, yes, but the tone of the “articles” always suggests that the slayings were justified. I don’t know about you, but I’m not OK with our police force killing members of our community wily-nilly. A police officer should be more than willing to take a bullet or risk injury before their gun is drawn, much less fired. That is part of the risk involved with police work & if civilians like us are more likely to be shot than they are, we should be the ones receiving that hefty pension & benefits package! Still doubt the severity of the cop problem in Stockton? Today’s Record reported not one, but two instances of trigger-happy coppers doling out their unique brand of justice. The first shooting occurred on Sunday night inside an apartment on Dave Brubeck Way, across from the UOP campus. Officer Pete Smith, the SPD spokesman, said a “distraught” man in his mid- to late 50’s was shot by one or more officers responding to neighbor’s complaints that the victim was threatening to hurt himself. The officers engaged in “fruitless negotiations” with the man, who became noticeably “agitated and aggressive”. They were unable to subdue him using a taser, so one or two police officers felt they had “no choice but to defend themselves”. The Record mentions this shooting under the headline Man shot near Pacific, as if the story didn’t warrant a more scathing title such as “Distraught citizen gunned down by unapologetic police officers”. Seems a little ridiculous to me that cops dispatched to prevent a man from self-inflicted injury end up putting the guy in the hospital. The Record notes that the cops arrived on the scene at 7:45 PM, but it doesn’t mention the time of the shooting or when the man was admitted to the hospital which would be a vital piece of information when assessing whether or not the police spent an adequate amount of time in their “fruitless negotiations” before pumping the man full of lead, don’t you think? The second shooting also occurred on Sunday night. This time a 57-year-old man wielding a knife on South California Street was killed by police gunfire. According to The Record’s “in-depth” article on the instance, the man charged the police officers with his knife and was gunned down. Apparently, no further explanation is necessary. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the need to shoot an almost 60-year-old man armed with a knife to death. I don’t buy it that these officers weren’t capable of disarming the perpetrator using any other methods. “Shoot first, ask questions later” isn’t an acceptable game plan in a free society.
- Correctional Institutions as Economic Blessings: The Central Valley already houses more than it’s fair share of California’s incarcerated population. In Stockton we have the DeWitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility and the N. A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility. In Tracy, there is the Deuel Vocational Institution (or DVI). Mule Creek State Prison and the Preston State Youth Correctional Facility are in Ione and the Sierra Conservation Camp is in Jamestown. There is the Folsom State Prison, directly across the street from California State Prison, Sacramento. The California Medical Facility and the Solano State Prison are just up the way in Vacaville. Even though 3 out of every 5 California prisoners are committed to prison in Southern California, only 18 of our 33 state prisons are located down south. In 1982, state legislation was passed that required Los Angeles County to build another facility that has yet to be erected BUT, for some reason, the state continues to persuade the Central Valley to accept yet another correctional facility. Stockton is a prime candidate for prison expansion & our trusty-dusty newspaper heralds prospective developments as Good For The Community, even though we already have a soaring crime rate that cannot be helped by introducing more of the criminal element here. We are expected to believe that the former youth prison location in southeast Stockton being turned into a male prisoner medical center (sick people jail) benefits the community because it is expected to create 1,200 new jobs. ??? Because a handful of jobs outweighs the increase in crime that such development will inevitably bring? Right… Read about the newest plan to stick Stockton with the State’s responsibilities HERE. Pair this newest development of the state’s first re-entry facility going up where the women’s prison used to stand & you’ve got Stockton/San Joaquin County single handedly carrying the state’s prison population problem on our backs. Joy.