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Posts Tagged ‘law enforcement’

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Inflated sense of their own importance.

Lack of empathy.

Sense of entitlement.

Expect special treatment.

Believe they are superior.

Problems regulating stress.

Expect unquestioning compliance with their desires.

The rules don’t apply to them.

Their time is more important.

They must be first. They absolutely, positively MUST be first, regardless of the inconveniences or risks they create for others.

Most of us are familiar with these common traits of narcissists. We all know someone who has these issues– an ex-boyfriend, a coworker, a relative. We talk about narcissists easily, highlighting individuals in our own experience and bantering about how horrible they are to deal with.

But what is it called when the large part of a population starts to behave this way? And these many thousands of people carelessly careen around in one- or two- or five-ton weapons on wheels? They must be first. Laws don’t apply to them. They are not concerned with the safety or well-being of others.

I’ve previously used the term vehicular narcissism to describe the way many people in the Seattle area drive. While the term itself may imply narcissism on the part of the vehicles, it’s those who operate the vehicles whose prefrontal cortexes seem to go dark when they get behind the wheel.

In older posts I’ve made lists of the most prevalent Seattle driving behaviors. Some of the people were doing this some of the time. But since the age of COVID hit in early 2020 and police presence seemed to take a few steps back, an insidious mass illness has flooded our roadways like toxic sludge.

At first traffic was light but commutes were punctuated by too cool for school types blowing by at 90 or more in the toll or HOV lanes. Motorcyclists seemed to think we were in a Mad Max movie. People started to roll through stop signs and stop lights. Ten over was a common speed. Gradually traffic volumes returned to normal and my hope was that this behavior would calm down.

But it’s gotten so much WORSE. It seems impossible to leave home without encountering multiple angst-filled, entitled motorists who scream at and road rage others– often for obeying traffic laws!

Have you encountered any of the following behaviors lately?

  • You’re honked at for coming to a complete stop
  • You’re screamed at for leaving a safe following distance
  • You’re road raged for doing the speed limit
  • You have to slam on the brakes because someone from an adjoining street ignored a traffic signal
  • You see a car fly past a pedestrian already in the crosswalk, often people with dogs and children

Yes, these behaviors are routine nowadays. Don’t tell me “welcome to the new normal” because this shouldn’t be normal. People are injured, disabled, and killed by vehicular narcissism, aka drivers who need to better self-regulate.

One of the most amazing parts about this phenomenon is that if you honk or yell or reflexively throw up your hands, the bad drivers will flip you the bird or scream or aggressively jerk their vehicle towards you in some juvenile display of supposed dominance. There is no remorse.

They are most important.

They should be first.

Their time is more important than yours.

There are various takes on what kind of drivers are the worst. The Seattle area does have a lot of high performance vehicles on the roads, especially expensive SUVs. Two weeks ago I saw a Land Rover accessorized to the point of ridiculousness. It looked like something the last man on earth would make if he were going on a cross country zombie-killing trip and didn’t care what any last woman on earth might think. It had a noticeable sign on the back that said, “Enjoy your Jeep, peasants.”

I’ve heard “Teslas are the new BMWs.” Teslas are a trendy new item that accelerate quickly. This is one of the most common types of cars I see blasting down the road as if speed limits are merely a suggestion for the commoners. In the ’80s and ’90s, we had an influx of BMWs that were often blamed on those who escaped LA. Now these silent but deadly electric cars fly over our roads with their kin, joining the hoardes of other wheeled terrors that continually scoff at traffic laws.

A common topic of discussion when complaining about motor vehicle operator behavior is Big Truck Drivers. These are the jacked up full-sized pickups often sporting an illegal lack of mud flaps and wide wheel base. They like to show everyone how awesome the sound of their engine is and how much smoke they can belch as they floor it to pass the unworthy peons who obstruct their need to go 85.

Just tonight I was road raged by one of these. Angry that I was going slightly over the speed limit and not 120, he kept gunning it to ride up on my bumper, flash his lights, and bellow The Indignant Roar of the Entitled Big Truck Driver. He swerved around me in a turn lane and then cut me off. Thanks to his smooth handling skills and mature adult behavior, he was able to get that much closer to the vehicle in front of me. Then he made it to the next traffic signal before I did, where he was subsequently caught in the same five mile per hour traffic jam as the rest of us.

But these behaviors can come from any type of vehicle, like the mini van that backed into me in a parking lot and then told his insurance company I backed into him. Or the sneering woman who refused to let me merge onto the freeway and ran me onto the shoulder at 60. Then there was the SUV driver with a two-handed death grip on a giant sub sandwich who forced me off an arterial recently. The blank look in her eyes told me it probably didn’t register that she could have killed someone because SANDWICH. On it goes. All the time.

Seattle, we need to collectively get a grip. It’s gotten so much worse the past couple of years. Civilized behavior on the roads will continue to disintegrate unless we all ask take an inventory of our own behavior. Let’s take a check-up.

1. Are you STOPPING at stop signs and traffic signals?

This means, as my driver’s ed teacher would say, you actually stop and feel your own body’s counter motion when you do. Your wheels actually stop moving.

This does not include tapping the brakes then rolling through. This does not include looking before you roll through. This does not include blowing the sign or signal without even slowing, or driving through a red because you don’t see anyone coming the other way.

Stop means STOP. Stopping allows your brain a moment to reset and adequately scan for pedestrians and other vehicles in both directions.

2. Are you driving a reasonable speed?

Every day I see people driving 55 in a 35, 35 when the 20 mph school zone light is flashing, ludicrous speeds on the freeways.

Consider how much less able you are to stop for hazards or other living beings when your speed is increased. The news always touts that factoid in snow storms, but it’s true all of the time.

One ironic thing I’ve noticed is that most of the time, when someone is tailgating me in a residential neighborhood or near a school, they turn off in that neighborhood or at the school. Yet I’ll bet they complain about people driving too fast through their neighborhood.

It is also dangerous to drive at low speeds on the freeway, and it’s actually illegal to do that in the passing (left) lane. Keep to the right, maintain freeway speed, and stop blocking travel lanes.

3. Are you yielding to pedestrians?

Pedestrians have been getting missed a lot as drivers blow through signs and signals. Just tonight I saw a poor guy with a Golden Retriever waiting patiently at a crosswalk. He was highly visible but cars from three different directions decided to go through the intersection without waiting for him to cross. When he did cross, other vehicles impatiently started to cross before he was out of the crosswalk.

It is the law that you leave a lane’s width for those pedestrians. Waiting a few extra seconds won’t hurt you.

4. Are you following too closely?

A majority of drivers follow too closely. You should be able to see the rear wheels of the vehicle in front of you at all times. At freeway speeds, you should be able to count a “one thousand, two thousand, three thousand” between you and the vehicle you’re following.

Crashes happen all day every day because people choose to follow too closely. Freeways back up for miles because people can’t stay off of each others’ tails. This is so very avoidable but seldom done.

5. Are you racing between traffic signals, aka stoplights?

This is another bizarre trend in this area. People gun it to get ahead of others in traffic only to make it to the next red traffic signal before them.

It’s been proven that this antsy, reckless technique doesn’t really save you time. It does make you look like a jerk. Calm down, drive something resembling the speed limit, and we’ll all get there.

6. Are you a Frogger driver?

A coworker said the other day, “People drive like they’re in a video game!” This is so very true. Drivers weave in and out of lanes to get ahead of others. If one lane is going the speed limit, they’ll veer into the other to get ahead. They ping pong back and forth, usually without a turn signal. It’s critically important to them that they be first in line, and chances are no one in their car is in labor on the way to the hospital.

7. Are you using your turn signal?

Yes, for real. Signaling before turns, merges, or lane changes seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

IT’S THE LAW. USE YOUR SIGNAL. To do otherwise is pure laziness.

8. Are you braking to change lanes or because you see a freeway exit?

This ridiculous but very normal practice has a butterfly effect on our highways in particular. Drivers brake or slow down considerably to make lane changes. This can be very dangerous in wet weather. Maintain your speed, use your signal, look for an opening. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to use your brakes at all.

If you don’t know what I’m saying about freeway exits, watch and it will become obvious. People in the right lane inexplicably slow at exits, often following the fog line as if they are going to exit, then swerving back onto the freeway while doing 40 or 50.

9. Are you paying attention to your surroundings?

People in our area seem to have poor situational awareness. Mothers push their children in strollers with ear buds in or while on the phone, oblivious to threats around them. People reach right in front of you at the grocery store as if they were never taught the words “excuse me.” People drive as if completely oblivious to any signage or other lives.

What was the name of the last house address or cross street you passed? What was the last mile marker on the freeway? Do you know if you’re traveling east or west? Could you describe what the last jogger you saw was wearing?

Not long ago I was near an intersection where the power was out. While I don’t advise that others do this, I stood on the sidewalk and motioned at people to slow down.

As usual, many people didn’t notice me at all. Most eyes were fixed straight ahead. Some heads were bouncing around as they talked to others. These folks blew right through this dark intersection at the speed limit, or in some cases, far above it.

State law says to treat dark intersections as a four-way stop. But how many even notice that it’s dark? And how many people do you see stop or kind of stop, then follow other cars through the intersection without waiting their turn?

10. Are you taking out your rage on others who have nothing to do with it?

It is unfortunately normal to be road raged and threatened for being a careful driver. Careful does not mean stopping two car lengths from an intersection or driving 15 under. Careful means that you are driving something resembling the speed limit and you’re actively aware of your surroundings.

I came to a complete stop at a stop sign next to a school this summer. The guy behind me completely lost his crap. He started squirreling around in his big truck and screaming like an overgrown baby, then slowed down to yell threats as I signaled and made a sharp turn further up.

Because of behavior like this, many of us don’t want to be “the one who actually stops at the stop sign” or “the freak who goes the speed limit.”

Try going the posted 25 mph speed limit on East Marginal Way in Seattle. You will be mercilessly tailgated, then aggressively swerved around for daring to inconvenience others by obeying the law. They can’t just tailgate and change lanes. To prove whatever their point is, they have to ride your bumper, then make themselves known by scraping past you and swiftly cutting in front of you. It’s a rush, a power trip.

So we conform. We’re sheep. We become the thing we hate, making excuses to ourselves as to why we’re the exception to the rule.

Why our time is more important.

Why we’re entitled to live outside the lines.

Like middle schoolers who don’t want to be uncool, we do what the bullies do and speed and swerve and scream and swear.

11. Do you have super powers?

Comedian Dave Barry has pointed out that we all think we’re above average drivers.

Our collective driving habits seem to reveal that we do, in fact, think we’re above average drivers. We think, “I can glide through this light, I’ll see if there are pedestrians there.” Or, “I know how to handle a car like this. None of these other morons know how to drive.”

We tell ourselves lies to justify our reckless endangerment of others’ lives. Who cares that there might be a baby or a pet we can’t see in that other vehicle. Who cares that we might kill someone’s brother or daughter or grandmother as we blast from Point A to Point B with our eyes fixed straight ahead. It’s not our brother or daughter or grandmother. Our insurance will cover it.

Besides taking stock of our own behaviors and determining if we too have turned zombie and conformed to the sociopathic driving practices of the COVID era, I have one other piece of advice.

CALL THE POLICE.

Report this stuff. Don’t stand for it. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t allow it to become normal.

911 is available from any phone any time. Even if they can’t catch the aggressive driver, if you give them that license plate, it’s in the record now.

Bullies win if you let them win. Bullying becomes normal if you participate and/or look the other way.

We are all important.

It is important to practice empathy.

You are not entitled to endanger others’ safety and lives.

On the road you should not expect special treatment unless you’re an oversized load.

You are not superior to other human beings.

We all need to restrain from taking our stress out on those who have nothing to do with it.

Others don’t have to conform to your special demands.

The rules DO apply to you.

Everyone’s time is important.

And unless you’re in labor or bleeding to death, you don’t NEED to be first.

Just say no to vehicular narcissism.


I become the incarnation of what I express.

Selwyn Hughes

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Last night a visit to the growing memorial to the Bothell police officer who was murdered resulted in the post You Matter. I visited the site again tonight and spent some quality time with both strangers and friends as we honored this brave man. The memorial continues to grow. People of all types continue to gather there to express appreciation to our area officers, including the officer who was wounded in this incident.

The world needs to see that the Northshore area respects, appreciates, and values the men and women who take great risks every day to keep the peace in our increasingly restless society.

Shortly after I arrived, the woman on the left burst into a beautiful operatic rendition of The Lord’s Prayer. It was another spontaneous moment that hushed onlookers and bowed reverent heads.

See her arms raised as she lifts her voice towards heaven…

A question has been asked at this site repeatedly: what can we do to show support like this on a regular basis? How do we ensure that they always feel that the majority is behind them?

Bothell’s chaplains are doing an amazing job. The support surrounding agencies are offering Bothell PD is phenomenal.

Note Matthew 5:9, above: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.


Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.

C.S. Lewis

The details of Officer Shoop’s murder are here. The circumstances of his death are horrifying. May peace blanket this agency and community.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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This morning the greater Seattle area woke up to learn that a Bothell police officer was killed in the line of duty and another was injured. No, no, no, no, no. There has been widespread animosity towards police in our nation lately and this is exactly what we didn’t want to happen.

Like many of us, I have friends and family in the profession. Officers face dangers and split second decisions that most of us never will. It sounds like a traffic stop turned deadly, leaving a family broken and grieving for the loss of a young man of solid character– who was also a veteran.

LEOs, I want you to see the outpouring of support for this officer and his department. At Bothell City Hall tonight, people of all creeds and colors poured in to leave flowers, signs, write messages in chalk on the pavement, cry, talk, and express their gratitude to Bothell PD. I was there for quite a while and adults and children came from all directions to show their support.

This coming together, this show of strength and unity, is being posted here to show you that in your town, you matter. Never mind the hate and the calls to strip your funding, we are still with you and you matter.

I noted that the candle here is called “Seeking Balance.”

This deputy came all the way from Whatcom County. He was graciously stopping to talk to kids and give them badges.

This was a remarkable moment. I was standing near Bothell’s PIO when I saw this man walk up and introduce himself. Captain Johnson thanked him for his service. The man explained that he had put on his uniform and driven to the memorial to play Amazing Grace. That he did. Then he quietly left.

Unbeknownst to the performer, a man sitting behind him on the stairs raised his hands in prayer as the song was played.

I left about 6 P.M. Just as many people were silently walking up to the memorial from all corners and leaving mementos as when I’d arrived. It’s the hottest day we’ve had this year so far and few seemed to notice. They stood, they sat, they hugged, from babies to wizened seniors. It was an astounding show of gratitude.

Out at the corner of 522 and 527, close to where the incident happened, a crowd of Blue Lives Matter supporters were demonstrating. Many, many drivers honked their horns as they went past.

The woman waving this flag is a retired deputy who has a child entering the profession. While she had a successful career and fully supports law enforcement, she expressed concerns about those following in her footsteps given the increasing dangers officers face.

Nowhere were those dangers more apparent than in downtown Bothell, Washington the night of July 13th, 2020.


Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, and who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

Raymond Chandler

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Spycar

You had me at illuminated manuscripts.

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with author Tom Lukas about his first book in a developing series, Special Operations. Standing by his ultra-hip 1972 Volvo p1800e coupe dubbed Spycar, which he’s touring  the country in to promote his series, he offered inside access to a mind always wired for writing, but that didn’t take the plunge until his 30s. At that point he exited a carpentry career to earn a degree in English literature. Readers will be glad he did.

Having recently read Special Operations, I can see how Lukas’ rich and varied life experiences, tinted by both triumph and tragedy, developed into a thriller that showcases the best and worst traits of the human soul. Knowing my interests in forensic psychology, he’d mentioned the complexity of the villain’s character. As you delve into the book you find that some bystanders begin to laud the antagonist’s missions and find yourself wondering how far you would go to protect innocents.

But is it protection, revenge, the indulging of a grossly overinflated, demonic god complex in a garish, theatrical bonfire of narcissism, or all of the above? Or more? What the Illuminator, the shadowy figure who captures key community figures, does is unquestionably over the top and excessive. But in bringing such a character to life, Lukas takes the revenge fantasies that victims of certain horrors might well have indulged and injects them with expired steroids. Some of these stygian twists and turns are so gut-wrenching they’re difficult to read, but they are not beyond the realm of possibility. That’s what makes them so terrifying.

How the Illuminator got from point A to point Z on the sadism spectrum really made me stop and think. I had to build a mental timeline to zero in on how an arguable hero became a butcher who seems like the next incarnation of Josef Mengele. This was especially intriguing because on the very first page, we learn that the Illuminator might be a woman. The MO and signature are not typical of a woman.

Spycar 3

 

Without giving away key plot points, I could see how certain events contributed to this, although how we respond to such events is often a matter of choice. But there was some other factor at play, something whispering behind the curtain that I couldn’t put my finger on until later in the book. This missing puzzle piece nearly floated to the surface by the final pages, shocking in its stark reality, and causing readers to question how often such things happen in the real world.

Also of particular interest to me were the law enforcement characters. I’ve known a lot of cops in various contexts– as a friend, as a spouse, as a coworker, as a student, as a survivor, and so on. Detective Nick Giaccone resembles some of the veterans I know, guys who now do consulting or side work as they age out of the ranks. Those are also some of the best investigators I know.

Giaccone is unwittingly drawn into this case just as he’s about to retire and is pulled deeper and deeper into a tragedy involving a rookie officer. In his investigation he realizes that he should have been paying more attention to his spider sense all along– and this despite his seasoned instincts. As he replays conversations and dredges up old memories, he is able to piece together the bigger picture, leading him to an epic showdown with a surprisingly formidable enemy.

In my writings on sociopaths and domestic violence, I like to remind people of what Gavin de Becker said in his bestseller The Gift of Fear, a book a trusted cop coworker introduced me to over a decade ago. Trust that uneasy feeling you get even if it doesn’t make sense– don’t dismiss it. If someone says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, pay attention.

In The Gift of Fear, de Becker tells us of a man who walked into a convenience store, but had an odd feeling and wound up leaving without buying anything. Shooting erupted soon after. Similarly, domestic violence victims often say that they sensed something was off when they met their abuser, but were charmed by their words anyway. That gut feeling isn’t prone to inaccuracies.

This is the voice that rises in Detective Giaccone as he teams up with a noted professor to interpret clues, particularly bits of illuminated manuscripts positioned at crime scenes. As Professor Canon Nailor and Giaccone connect over their shared second language and common cause, they become the odd couple of policing, at least for a time. We realize there could be more to Professor Nailor when the “dragon” enters, his vehicle of choice. But is there? And why would there be?

Ultimately this book reminded me of what a Holocaust survivor said about Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann– that Eichmann lives in all of us. Human passions and desires, unchecked, can lead straight to hell. There is a point at which the desire for justice  or revenge can cross over into the very territory that the justice seeker wishes to conquer. The abused can become the abuser; the advocate can become the vigilante. In our quest to set the world right we can become something even worse than the monster that violated us or those we love.

Special Operations starts like a roller coaster ride through a haunted house– if you remember the old Flight to Mars ride at the Seattle Center you’ll think you’re inside of that. Safely inside the standard formulaic crime novel, you buckle up and prepare to meet the usual cast of characters. Standard and usual, however, do not apply here. By the end of the book you’re out in the open, ten stories above the city at the top of the tracks not knowing when or how you’ll plummet down in book two.

Spycar 2

 

Lukas knows evil, and as a Christian who studies the dark souls among us, I am reminded of just how dark the night is inside a soul surrendered to forces that strengthen unholy desires. I am also moved to acknowledge how powerful love, devotion, and loyalty are, especially when there is justice to be sought.

In conclusion, Lukas has a gift for descriptive prose and a deep empathy and compassion for victims of sex crimes. For a guy who’s never worked in law enforcement, I appreciate how tuned in he is to the nuances of cops and the frustrations of some of the more seasoned investigators. My only major criticism, other than a smattering of choppy sentences that I tend to write with as well, is that at times I had trouble understanding how many years had passed between a key character’s death and this storyline. At times it seemed like a decade or more; other times much shorter. When I read it again sometime I’ll pay more attention to that. But first I plan to get my hands on a review copy of book two when it’s available. Lukas is actively conducting research to make the next installation at least as realistic and jarring.

Special Operations is published by Spycar Books and Yancastel Inc. in Seattle, Washington. Visit Tom Lukas’ website, Spycar Books, to learn more about this series, the car, and the man who had the courage to switch careers to start chasing his dreams.

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Are there, infinitely varying with each individual, inbred forces of Good and Evil in all of us, deep down below the reach of mortal encouragement and mortal repression — hidden Good and hidden Evil, both alike at the mercy of the liberating opportunity and the sufficient temptation? –Wilkie Collins

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

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No one can tell me that someone that’s going to commit suicide would turn a gun upside down, in a difficult position, shove it all the way to the back of their throat and then pull that trigger. This was not a suicide. This is a person that was able to commit murder and get away with it. -Joseph Cordova, father of Tera Chavez

Last night I randomly came across a Dateline story about Tera Chavez, whose police officer husband Levi was found not guilty of her murder. You can watch this episode here. (more…)

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