Sunday, October 16, 2011

Police and Desert Dave Search for Armed Robbers in Northeast

Police (and Desert Dave) Searching for Armed Robbers in Northeast

I'm retired Dammit! Why is that darn helicopter circuiting around my rooftop while I'm trying to take a nap? Going outside I didn't need my binoculars to read what it said on the bottom of the Texas DPS (Department of Public Safety) helicopter flying directly over my home for the umpteenth time and disturbing my beauty sleep.

Gearing up (camera, binoculars, Kimber and all that junk I carry on my belt) I walked up the street to see why there was a cop car with overheads flashing at the end of the street.

Seems the cop had just arrested one guy and was standing by (with the crook handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol car) while a tow truck operator winched the getaway car onto the towing platform.

Took some digging, but I finally wormed some information out of the cop. Seems the gendarmeries were still looking for two more; hence the helicopter.

By that time the circling copter had shifted its attention about 200 yards to the north.

Putting on my interested/concerned neighbor/citizen hat I strolled over to where I could see a swarm of constabulary near the drainage pond below the park. I was prepared to identify myself as an armed Concealed Handgun Licensee (CHL) if anyone should ask, but no one did.

"Don't get on the playing field, Dave", I told myself, "but be sure you get a front row seat." I resolved to stay out of the way and let this thing play out without any interference from me.

Just like the good old days when I freelanced crime scene photos to the "Police Blotter" page of a local newspaper. (Ah, the good times!;-)

From a high point beside and slightly in front of a blocking force of officers on XXXX Street I could see a line of constabulary, gendarmeries, cops, park rangers and state troopers walking toward us in a skirmish line. These guys were serious; with M4's slung across their chests.

About a dozen jackrabbits ran past me just before the line of officers came abreast of my position, but no suspects.

Seems the dirty bad guys got away... this time.

Going home I knocked on the front doors of two of our neighbors informing them of the situation and giving them a description of the suspects. Then I went inside and called two other neighbors with the same info. One of them said she'd heard a report about the situation on the radio and was afraid to step outside to get her mail. I stood by while she went out to her mail box and now I'll wait to see what come on the six o'clock news.

Desert (mail box hero, busybody, concerned citizen, nosey neighbor) Dave

(Redacted online news report from the web site of a local TV station.)

Police are search for two of three men who robbed a Northeast Radio Shack at approximately 11:30 this morning.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the three men were armed with guns during the robbery. One man was caught and police are searching for two other men who are considered armed with a handgun. The men were last seen heading towards XXXX Community College Campus.

The DPS Chopper is in the air searching for the men. DPS is being assisted by [the] PD.

Currently, XXXXX schools and nearby community colleges are on lockdown.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Anyone who's ever been present at an occurrence covered by the news media knows that the published report almost always gets something wrong. Misspelled names, wrong addresses, incorrect sequence of events you name it; something you know for a fact is generally reported incorrectly.

My Police (and Desert Dave) Search for Armed Robbers in Northeast adventure is one such event. We've got the usual four network affiliates (two of which are owned by one media company) and I watched coverage of the great heist that night.

One TV station showed a graphic depicting the robbery as occurring miles away on another street. Very convincing, they even showed/announced an incorrect street number. I'd have believed them if I hadn't known better.

Flipping back and forth between channels I "learned" that the robbery was carried out by two or three men carrying none, one, two or three guns who may or may not have run into a nearby junior collage parking lot. In this case it's comical, but what if these channels had been reporting on forest fire, flood or earthquake damage/escape routes or refugee centers?

(Now before I go galloping off on my high horse I want to point out that the police are often forced to rely on incomplete (and inaccurate) information when dealing with developing situations. This is why you in your blue car might be stopped because a witness reports the bank robber drove off in a blue or silver car. But this information is kept within law enforcement channels and not broadcast to the general public.)

But the TV news reports were broadcast hours after the search was over. These TV journalists had hours to get the story straight, and failed to do so.

So, is the escape route over the mountain open? Has DOT (Department Of Transportation) placed limits (no campers? no trailers?) on which vehicles can use it?

Are people west of such and such street supposed to report to this refugee center or that one? Are pets allowed or will you be forced (at the shelter door) to set Fluffy free to fend for herself?

With most of the information put out by the nightly news crews "close enough is good enough" but when your (or Fluffy's) life is on the line?

In one episode of one of my favorite TV shows* Blue Bloods actor Tom Selleck, as fictional Police Commissioner Francis "Frank" Reagan, tells a troublesome journalist planning to publish information detrimental to an ongoing undercover investigation that although the Police Commissioner can't refuse to release information to the journalist the Police Commissioner can influence the timeliness of those info releases to the journalist. The message in this fictional case is clear. It's a fictional example of the way real world powers can influence the news we see and hear.

Here's a real world example: our mayor (an unscrupulous politician if ever I saw one) suddenly refused to grant interviews (on or off camera) to one (and only one) of the local TV stations. After a week of reporting the mayor refusing to speak to them on this or that issue the TV station had a private meeting with the mayor and all of the sudden the interviews were back on. What compromises were made behind closed doors?

Thus my insistence on having multiple radio band radios, TV and Internet to gather information in normal times and especially in an emergency. Heck even a phone call to a friend/family member out of town or out of state can change your whole outlook (and hence your reaction to) what's going on.

(* see also Castle, The Mentalist, MythBusters NCIS & NCIS Los Angeles of course 7 of 9 is still hot in Body of Proof)

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