- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

Dec. 10

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on Home Depot assault:

Most violent crimes in Savannah aren’t random.

If you aren’t buying or selling drugs, or doing something that might cause someone else to inflict bodily harm, then the odds of becoming a police statistic drop like a stone.

That’s what makes last week’s slug-fest in a Home Depot parking lot on Victory Drive so unusual. And, the fact that it ended with an arrest, so noteworthy.

Here’s what happened about 6 p.m. a week ago Monday, according to Metro police officials.

Two women were inside a 2013 Toyota Rav 4 that was traveling through the parking lot. The driver was 28. The passenger was 51.

At some point, a 1992 Honda Accord with three people inside stopped in the path of the Toyota. The Toyota driver, apparently annoyed, honked her horn.

That’s when 24-year-old Karon McGirt got out of the Honda and approached the passenger side window of the Toyota. Police said he then punched the older woman in the face several times.

These are exactly the sort of random, violent acts that make people feel less safe and more fearful. They deserve the police department’s attention.

Fortunately, that’s what happened. The victims apparently got the Honda’s tag number. Islands Precinct detectives (the store is within this precinct’s boundaries) traced the vehicle to an address on East 33rd Street, where McGirt lives, along with his sister and his girlfriend who also were in the Honda.

Not surprisingly, police found that McGirt has an extensive record with Metro police. Most people who wind up in custody tend to be repeat offenders.

In McGirt’s case, he served seven months of a two-year sentence for burglary from June 29, 2010, until Jan. 31, 2011, He was on parole since April 2014 after serving 20 months of a three-year sentence for theft by receiving and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

It’s unclear why he was released early both times. Judging from this parking lot episode, he doesn’t appear to be someone who’s capable of good behavior.

He’s also extremely fortunate that authorities didn’t make a federal case out of that firearm charge. As a convicted felon, he would have faced an automatic, five-year sentence in the federal system, where there’s no parole.

If what police allege is true, it’s likely that McGirt won’t catch a break this time. Repeatedly punching a 51-year-old woman who’s sitting in an SUV is the sort of random violence that’s unconscionable. The justice system must hit back.




Dec. 10

The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on body cameras:

The recent situations involving police and unarmed civilians have caused the call to go out to require police officers to wear body cameras. If local law enforcement is any indication, we may see deputies and police officers wearing cameras pretty soon. It is interesting to note that the Fort Valley Police Department has been using cameras for two years. Departments have to be careful not to fall into a marketing trap that camera manufacturers are setting by capitalizing on the heat of the moment or the desire to snatch some of the $75 million President Barack Obama is asking for to supply 50,000 cameras to departments around the country.

Fort Valley has found citizen complaints have dropped like a rock since it started using body cameras. That experience mirrors a study done by the University of Cambridge on the Rialto, California, police department where citizen complaints dropped by 88 percent and use of force incidents dropped by 60 percent, according to The New York Times.

The chief of the 66 member Rialto department, William Farrar, told the Times, “When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better.”

If all the cameras do is drop the number of police complaints, they could pay for themselves. Law enforcement departments spend untold hours investigating complaints by citizens. But the rush is on now because of recent incidents, and cameras won’t solve the dynamic we’ve seen at play in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Cleveland, South Carolina and elsewhere as far back as 1991, when Los Angeles officers were filmed beating Rodney King.

Cameras do present departments with all sorts of policy issues, and officers have been fired for not following the camera policies of their departments. But cameras also mean a significant investment, not only for the hardware and software but maintenance of the cameras. Can departments afford to expand their IT departments to handle the inherent glitches technology presents? Where do you safely and securely hold, and for how long, hundreds of gigabytes of data?

We will find answers to those questions soon enough.




Dec. 9

The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on Landrieu:

A CNN.com headline Saturday almost seemed to lament, “Landrieu issues battle cry, but Louisiana wasn’t listening.”

That’s a dutifully thorough misreading of one of the most monumental midterm elections in U.S. history - which ended, oddly enough, with the whimper of a drubbing of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu in a Saturday runoff so utterly anticlimactic that Democrats had written her off weeks ago.

CNN seems to want to believe voters just weren’t listening to Landrieu’s rallying cry - which, in retrospect, seems to have been more of a point of personal privilege: Keep me in power! There’s another, more cogent and less condescending explanation for the three-term Democrat incumbent’s 56-to-44 pounding at the polls:

Voters did, indeed listen, and rejected her, what she was saying and what she had done in her time in office, as well as what her colleagues in Washington have done with her full knowledge and consent.

The outcome also undoubtedly had much to do with Obamacare, which has never been popular with a U.S. majority and which Landrieu, herself, cast a key vote for. She correctly, if unwittingly, prophesied the law’s impact on her own fortunes when she said over a year ago that, “If they do not like it, they can unelect us.” Mission accomplished.

Landrieu, said liberal National Public Radio, “didn’t just lose - she was walloped.”

At what point do Democrats and their handwringing friends in the media get the message?

The Democrat Party has been utterly repudiated in the South, certainly: Democrats, says one report, “will be left without a single U.S. senator or governor across nine states - stretching from the Carolinas to Texas.”

Yet, this was not merely a regional repudiation. Democrats found rough sledding in the rest of the country too, from national to state races. Even the governorships in royal blue Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois fell to the Republicans.

This should signal to the Democrats that they are facing nothing short of an existential crisis. Their lockstep support of President Obama’s far-left, top-down orthodoxy has been repudiated thoroughly now. He survived 2012 mostly on the remnants of personal popularity, but this time around, only his policies and his sycophants were on the ballot. And they lost big-time.

The election also is clearly a rebuke of Obamacare, which Democrats never tried to win Americans over to or seek their input about. They took no Republican ideas, they earned no bipartisan support and they told us they’d have to pass it for us to find out what’s in it. Is that any way to treat a self-governed people?

The Democrats’ arrogance and overreach has not only crippled the nation economically and divided it politically, it has taken a torch to the Democrat brand. Says Washington publication The Hill: “Passage of the Affordable Care Act marked the start of a political unraveling for the Democratic Party, which lost huge majorities in Congress and control of a majority of state governorships in the last four and a half years.” Top Democrats such as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Harkin also have now publicly lamented the passage of Obamacare.

It’s a little late for that, sadly, after forcing it down this country’s throat in a hysterical fit of power-crazy politics. To paraphrase a once-high-profile supporter of Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, the Democrats’ chickens are coming home to roost.

Nor should Mary Landrieu’s singular contribution to this crash and burn be forgotten: Hers was a key vote for Obamacare, bought with federal goodies in a backroom deal known derisively as the “Louisiana Purchase.”

Landrieu and her fellow left-wing autocrats in the Democrat Party are paying the price for all this now, but Americans will be left to pick up the real tab.



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