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Anson Stevens-Bollen

Shooters at Hooters?

A contender for the Bad Idea Olympics

July 13, 2016, 12:00 am

Let’s face it, all of us have some bad ideas now and then.

“Hey, I think I’ll order the Cheesecake Factory Bistro Shrimp Pasta! I can use an extra 3,120 calories.”

“Hey, Lamar! Take a picture of me picking up these cute little bear cubs! Their mama won’t mind.”

“I think I’ll just stay home on Election Day, because I’m pretty sure Hillary can win without my help.”

Awful ideas, for sure. But every so often, an idea comes along that is so ghastly, it makes me wonder why there isn’t a Batshit Crazy Idea Hall of Fame somewhere. If there were such a place, here’s an idea that would deserve its own entire wing:

You may have seen recent news reports revealing that the Albuquerque Police Department’s union is still giving officers involved in a shooting up to $500 to help them “decompress.” News of the practice emerged four years ago. People were shocked back then, and while the union modified the system and now reimburses officers for expenses deemed legitimate, the money continues to change hands.

Albuquerque is a city where the police have been involved in more than 50 shootings since 2010, many of them fatal, thus earning a wide load of whoop-ass from the US Department of Justice. Sort of picture Mayberry, if Barney Fife got all the ammo he wanted and Sheriff Taylor went away for the weekend.

In 2014, a Justice Department investigation found that “Albuquerque police officers often use deadly force in circumstances where there is no imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm to officers or others.” In light of that, this revelation that union reimbursements continue seems a fairly significant shoe to drop.

Two days after an officer shot and killed a 19-year-old woman suspected of stealing a car that year, he went for lunch at Hooters and then for a Chinese massage, according to depositions made in connection with a lawsuit against the city by the young woman’s family. There is no indication that union funds paid for this particular spree, but it offers a disturbing view of unwinding after a shooting.

I’ve never shot anybody, and I can’t even imagine how horrible it must be to have to do that, but if it ever happens to me, I think I’ll unwind in a counselor’s office or maybe a church, as opposed to Hooters and a massage parlor.

But here’s where it gets really weird. In 2012, an Albuquerque police union official said of the money-for-decompression practice, “Let me be clear: This was never about a bounty.”

Sweet Little Baby Jesus, I would fricking hope it’s not a bounty! If the union has to defend these reimbursements by explaining that they are not actually paying their members a bonus to go out and blow people away, then we’ve sunk to a whole new sublevel of insanity. I mean, how would that even go down?

“Hey, Sarge, check out this awesome gas grill. I’d sure love to get me one of these bad boys!”

“Well, Jimmy, you know what you have to do, right?”

“Yeah, but the grill costs more than $500.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to do some math, Jimmy There’s more than one bad guy out there, you know.”

“I guess you’re right, Sarge. Heck, maybe I’ll be able to get that new Weber, after all, and a new Harley, too.”

“Now you’re talking, Jimmy. And don’t forget something for the wife and kids.”

Robert Basler’s humor column runs twice monthly in SFR. Email the author:


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