Sunday, January 22, 2012

Issues I have with Mike Carrell's questioning of DOC purchases

"Carrell asks for more detail on questionable DOC purchases"
I've responded to few statements that my Senator Mike Carrell said recently in an article I read on The State Column. While I understand he is only 'asking for more detail' I question his priority in attacking public safety spending like this. I think when Mike considers the impact this could have on his political future, he will probably ease up on this. Read my responses below:

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From the article:
"However, Carrell points to some of the items purchased – such as fighting knives, night-vision goggles and artificial Colt M-4 firearms – and questions their timing and alleged necessity."
It looks to me like some pretty important information was leaked here. That artificial weapons are used by 'incident response teams'. You know all those heavily armed Responders you see on the News? Chances are they aren't even holding real weapons.

The rest of the items Senator Carrell complains about all seem to be totally legitimate items that I would want my local response team to be equipped with. I can't think of an incident more serious than an escaped violent criminal to warrant the use of such equipment, including night vision gogles.  The 'fighting knives' he refers to are probably more correctly called 'tactical knives'. I don't know too many knife owners who refer to their knives as 'fighting knives'. These knives are very useful for First Responders, rescuing, cutting obstacles, opening things, I could go on. I would not a responder to be without a pocket knife. Good quality knives are pretty expensive.
“My sources tell me the inmate recovery team at Stafford Creek isn’t even trained in knife-fighting, yet they spent nearly a thousand dollars on these tactical weapons,” Carrell said. “They also spent more than $1,500 on a push-button, automatic awning to be mounted on the side of their war wagon! To me, that borders on the ridiculous.”
 It is not a 'war wagon', it's their Inmate Recovery Vehicle - to capture escaped inmates. Which sounds like it was actually a recovered vehicle they are trying to bring up-to-date. An awning is probably a valuable asset to have to protect crews, equipment and assets for and staging in the case of an escapee. Not ridiculous.
“When I approached DOC’s director of prisons last year with my concerns, my initial questions were, what were they doing to track down escapees before they had this vehicle? And if this was such a necessity, why did they wait until the end of the budget year to spend the money?” Carrell continued. “His answers to my questions were unsatisfactory. As far as I can tell, they pulled out all the stops in order to justify the same or a larger budget allotment in the next fiscal cycle. At a time when state taxpayers are finding their pockets empty, I think that kind of mindset is exactly why people don’t trust government.”
Carrell says he will continue to investigate the matter, and sponsor any legislation that may come of it. Copies of the purchase orders can be obtained by contacting Carrell’s office.
 What were they doing to track down escapees before they had this vehicle?
Probably not enough. If you've lived in Lakewood or the surrounding area for a while you've undoubtedly heard stories, or even know people personally, who were victims of Western State Hospital Escapees. I wouldn't wish that upon the residents around Stafford Creek.

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