Friday, June 06, 2008

Cheez it- the Cops!

The Newport Daily News has its report on the police presence now at Council meetings. This has actually been going on for awhile. A month? Two? From reporter Matt Sheley:
After two animated comments were made toward local officials recently, town officials decided it would be a good move to post a police officer at the meetings to make sure things don’t get out of hand.

TWO comments inspired this? Both commenters (one was a phone call placed to Councilor Mello) were investigated by the police & it was decided that they could not be charged with anything. But let's not stop there.

...said council President Paul M. Rodrigues. “It’s just nice to have someone there in case something happens, but pretty much everyone has been great. It’s just a couple isolated incidents.”


“The police officer changes the tone of the entire meeting,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said.

Well, yeah. So the tone was changed from what to what? Exactly what power do the police have at council meetings besides the power of shushing? And why do we need to be shushed? Fear. It's all about fear. Love those constituents but please, don't get too close.

The article then goes on to mention the reasoning behind having armed officers is due, at least in part, to a Council meeting shooting in Kirkwood, Mo. in early February. Six people (incl. the shooter were killed). However a few salient points are missing. In Mo. it's legal to carry a concealed weapon. Also, the first two shot were police officers (one had his gun taken & used). The shooter had an ongoing conflict with the town which initially began with him being ticketed for parking cars on his own property. It then escalated from there.

To relate this to Middletown is ludicrous. Check for weapons- okay. But this? Anyone who watched the HBO series, "John Adams" realizes that democracy is a work in progress. It often inspires fierce debate between the status quo & those fomenting change.

To the extent that a democratic society gives it citizens the chance to speak in their own voices and listens to what they have to say, it gives itself the chance not only of discovering its multiple glories and triumphs but also of surviving its multiple follies and crimes. Dissent is what rescues democracy from a quiet death behind closed doors. [source]

From "Daily News" reporter, Jim Gillis & "Spare Change:"
This apparently is a move to quell potential hecklers, though it seems as if the
battles among council members are more of a concern
[italics is mine]. The irony is that the town will pay a police officer to attend meetings, during which residents complain that the council already is spending too much taxpayer money.

Jim makes an excellent suggestion- hire a bouncer. Cheaper, too

So which towns/cities have a regular police presence at Council meetings? Not Newport, Portsmouth, Jamestown, Tiverton, Woonsocket... (please continue)
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