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Steven Greenhut
When Heroes Become Bureaucrats « Back to Story

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Maybe the public will replace many of it's elected representatives with actual representatives.
A deviously biased presentation of the facts, shame on you CJ.

First, the responders were disallowed by policy to perform this service, by STATE LAW, since budget cuts slashed the training and equipment they would have needed to complete the rescue.

Second, by extension of that fact, they were not trained to do water rescue. This guy was 150 YARDS OFFSHORE!

If they had gone in after this clearly mentally disheveled person, and he'd gone off into deeper water (as he surely would), it would have ended in tragedy anyway, that they would have been blamed for anyway. (Just can't get a break when you're a first responder whose job is being used as a political football.) Only in that instance, it's likely one or more of the first responders would also have been injured or died.

Third, the police department also lacked the training and equipment to go into the water to save this suicidal person who had put himself in harm's way.

Fourth, the US Coast Guard in the locality had only deeper water vessels and could not save the dude. (Why aren't you blaming them?)

Fifth, the suicide chose a waterfront area with no life guards. (Why aren't you blaming that policy?)

Sixth, the suicide was recovered by a swimmer AFTER he was floating face down and unconscious. Has any of ever tried to rescue someone struggling in the water against your efforts?

If CJ and Mr. Greenhut want to misrepresent situations to flog their usual camel of how bad public sector workers are, and undeserving of jobs, I don't suppose there's any rational thing anyone can say to prevent it.

But without the rational application of policy to public safety, what we end up with is a bunch of "heroes" like we had in Philly in the Frank Rizzo days: platoons of loose cannons responding to only those situations THEY saw as emergencies, in whatever way they saw fit.

And that resulted in a lot more deaths and abuses than happened here.
Michael Pelletier August 27, 2011 at 7:45 AM
"Hero" is not about what you're called, it's about what you DO. If saying "firefighter" is the same as saying "hero," then these men who stood by and watched a man drown are not "firefighters" at all.
As long as you keep electing Communists and Liberals in Kalifornicate,this is what you will continue to have to live with.If you continue to stay there,well you'll get what you deserve.Sorry,...................NOT!
I don't know too many cops and firefighters in my neck of the woods I would call "heroes". Perhaps those in the inner city might fit in that category.

Most of the police around here spend their days writing tickets and harassing law-abiding, hard working citizens for any number of trivial matters. If you call them with a problem, they act like they are doing you a favor for showing up and pretty much tell you there is nothing they can do for you. I have a gun with a carry permit so I won't be waiting around for their assistance.
Municipal employees are trained to do as they are told to do. The criticism should be directed at the managers and attorneys who establish policy, procedures, and protocols. Often, they have a reduction of liability and costs as much in mind as effective execution of the duties of those professions.
I don't even know how to respond to this story. The inaction of the First Responders is so outrageous and blatantly irresponsible I am left without meaningful words to comment.

I usually oppose suing First Responders, but in this case such a suit can only be demanded. The bureaucrats and government workers and Unions who have created this situation should be bankrupted by civil suits so they are put out of business.
"Don’t criticize firefighters, because they put their lives on the line protecting you."

Or, as in this case, they don't put their lives on the line. Disgusting. I guess they're loyal union minions first, and public servants second.
Another reason to hate public unions. As if their existence as a means to siphon taxpayer dollars into Democrat party coffers weren't enough.

But then again - isn't that enough? Why not have public unions, but not allow them to make political donations? Or is they must donate, require that they donate equally to each political party? Is there any reasons why we allow these unions to donate to the very people who determine their wages and benefits? Especially given their existence is entirely based on statute - their is no 'right' of public employees to unionize. And what the legislature can give, it can take back, or modify.

Isn't what has happened over the past decade more than enough proof that these types of unions are bad? Except for those who profit by what is essentially a very corrupt system, of course.
This very thing happened in the UK last year and I remember thinking "that would never happen here." But it has and it will happen again.

As police and firefighters become unionized, and unaccountable to and insulated from their community, and more "professional" and less grounded in common sense, they see events like this from the perspective of a bureaucrat, not a dedicated first responder.

Why risk their life for a drowning man? Its "not my job," or "I wasn't trained for this" or its "above my pay grade."

People that used to be "teachers" are now "educators" and believe that only someone with a credential in chair placement can or should be able to teach a child. Unions object to volunteers picking up trash since it impinges on jobs in the "bargaining unit." GM managers had to ask for some worker in one speciality to come and fix a bolt that anone coudl have fixed.

The worst punishment that ever seems to be meted out to one is to be put on "paid administrative leave" while an arbitration is pursued to have them reinstated. Their benefits are immune from being revoked.

Like professors immune from parents that pay the taxes and hence sneer at them and ignore them, police and fire fighters overspecialize, make manuals, go to "conferences" and become less and less responsive to their communities. They instead become responsive to what they deem is best and "professional." The result: the Sheriff at Columbine who "established a perimeter" when he should have gone in to rescue students. The police in Chesire who waited outside a kidnap victim's home. Now first responders see rescuing a drowning man as somehting they need "training" to handle.

But not to worry: they have job security, a pension (for all that dangerous demanding work) and you don't.

Firefighters make a living salary in California. Not a rich salary, a living salary in a market where a home can cost $700,000. (Nobody is shocked when a programmer makes $200k, and just like a firefighter, no degree is required.) So stop with the salary-bashing and focus on the issue at hand.

The issue at hand is that they just stood by, for which I was about to defend them. Why? Well, communities make these choices all the time about what to fund- California readers may be shocked to find that on the east coast, there are NO requirements on government to provide for paramedic or ambulance response AT ALL. So some communities have no paramedics and some even have no ambulance service available (including some communities in the NYC suburbs which rely on volunteers during the day who may or may not be available). But that is the City of Alameda's choice. You can't have everything.

Except that....both the City police and fire HAVE BOATS. AFD's vessel currently lies out of the water at Alameda Marina; APD's boat sits just off the water at a dock near the Pasta Pelican restaurant. AFD has pointed to the lack of funds available for water rescue, but city's budget for 2010-11 has a line item for eight water rescues and the 2011-2012 budget increases this to 10 water rescues.

Except that...even without the City's boats, there were plenty of rescue teams they could have called: the Coast Guard, City of Oakland, and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department all have boats capable of affecting a rescue.

So I'm back to WTF were they thinking? And I come to dereliction of duty, which should be a terminatable offense.

Scot Phelps
Really, REALLY? I am not believing these guys. As an LEO and First Responder I am mortified and flummoxed by the actions and responses of these officers and firefighters. I apologize on behalf of the rest of the First Response community, these people are not typical of the rest of us.
Immunity from liability for gross negligence is written into just about every contract I have to sign for renting, purchasing, any kind of business. I often think "They can't really enforce that clause, can they?". If your computer blows up in your face while you're reading this and burns down your office, all due to provable gross negligence by the manufacturer, they'll tell you it's your problem - they're not responsible for anything that happens after it leaves their plant. It's a part of commercial culture.
Whilst I don't dispute that this incident could have been handled better, the police and fire department aren't the Coast Guard. Even if there was at least one strong swimmer on scene, going into the water to rescue a drowning man is difficult and potentially dangerous, and if you don't know what you're doing you're more likely to give the professionals a second person in need of rescuing.
Outsourcing fire and police services might solve this problem. Good luck on getting that through.
Of course there are bound to be an occasional death out of the many thousands of incidents. But they are exceedingly rare for both police and fire here in CA. The compensation is way out of whack for duties performed and danger involved. This is especially true for the Highway Patrol which spend their time giving out speeding tickets and taking pit stops are Starbucks. Not only is there a bureaucratic mind set is reinforced by the mercenary mindset--no bond with the citizens they serve.

Re. looting after 9/11

I never heard about them looting the surrounding apartments. Wow. The only story I read that came close to this was William Langeweisch's excellent account of the Twin Towers collapse, and its cleanup. During the cleanup a fire truck was found with a stack of neatly folded, brand new jeans in the cab. People saw that and accused the firefighters of looting a clothing store inside the Towers before the collapse. As I recall, he couldn't help but come to the same conclusion. What other one was there? He got raked over the coals for publishing this, but stuck by the story, saying it was corroborated by multiple eyewitnesses. He didn't say anybody saw them loot the store, but a bunch saw these brand new jeans in the fire truck. The firefighters acted guilty by trying to explain them away, saying that they must've gotten blown into the truck by the collapsing building--neatly folded, stacked??

Nevertheless, there were many brave public servants who entered the buildings that day to try to save people. That much is indisputable. Some bad apples lost track of what they were supposed to be doing.
And military combat pay is what, $250 a month?
Firefighters and police aren't even in the top ten most dangerous professions.
A well-trotted out myth that cops and firefighters risk their lives more than any other groups has been dis-proven by facts;there are other professions that have much higher mortality rates,so this myth should be put to rest.This story, which is becoming more frequent is disgusting, and once again,shows how Unions have gutted the US.Read Greenhut's PLUNDER about Union corruption and greed
Here's a little factoid: after 9/11, NYPD/NYFD sealed off lower Manhattan and looted every single apartment. Needless to say, the union-controlled NYT reported the story in full. Even the Post wouldn't touch it. And now they want $7B for tort-bar invented maladies. Don't get me started!
Union thugs. This time it backfired. Where's Governor Moonbeam on this?
Personally, I'm sick and tired of police and firefighters being regarded and referred to as "heroes" simply because they are policemen or firefighters. The word hero has been thrown around much too loosely since Sept. 11.

The policemen and firefighters standing by while the man drowned were negligent cowards, not heroes, in my opinion.

Audey Murphy and Sargent York must roll in their graves every time every Joe soldier, policeman or firefighter is called a hero.