07/11/07 What's wrong
with this picture?
As a disclaimer, Chief David Kunkle and his lovely
bride, Ace Reporter Sarah Dodd, are personal friends of mine. More likely
as not, I will side with either one of them in any controversy.
There haven't been many times when that's been a difficult decision.
The other night, Chief Kunkle was on TV saying what we all know to be
true. Those scumbags our criminal-loving DA and incompetent Sheriff
release from jail -- AFTER DPD officers arrest them -- are
causing mayhem on our streets and in our neighborhoods. Another
shocker, bad stuff happens around a drug house in Oak Cliff and anywhere
Police: Felon out on bond killed man
Convict described as poster child of failures in Dallas' bail system
A felon who was out of jail on at least $400,000 in bonds for crimes including attempted capital murder killed a man Friday at a central Oak Cliff drug house, police say.
The felon, Michael Wyatt, 28, had been free on bail for offenses dating back three years. He pleaded guilty in the 2004 attempted capital murder case but was still awaiting sentencing more than a year and a half later when he was arrested after an officer said he tried to take a gun from him in January.
Two days later, he was out on bail again.
Police say Mr. Wyatt's case is an example of how problems with jail overcrowding and the way judges set bail hamper their attempts to control crime.
"What's most concerning, in spite of having very, very serious charges against him, that those bonds are not revoked and he continued to be on the streets," Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said.
... "Due to the circumstances of this particular case, an unfortunate error was made," Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said in a written statement. "However, we are seeking proper funding and staffing for this office to minimize and eliminate errors like this in the future, and we will seek justice in this case moving forward."
Mr. Wyatt was one of the criminals whom police officials had been pointing to as a poster child for how repeat offenders affect the crime rate. Even before Friday's killing, Dallas police had assembled a two-page timeline of his criminal history and planned to educate prosecutors, judges and county commissioners on the effects of the revolving-door system.
... Police say that while Mr. Wyatt was out on bail, he continued a career of crime. In September 2006, he was arrested on a suspicion of possession a controlled substance in Dallas. He was again released on bail.
... In late January, police records say Senior Cpl. Michael Dominguez tried to arrest Mr. Wyatt on a cocaine dealing charge in South Dallas. During a struggle with Cpl. Dominguez, Mr. Wyatt tried to take the officer's gun, police say. The gun went off during the struggle, records state.
... Officials at the Dallas County district attorney's office couldn't immediately explain why Mr. Wyatt's bail was not revoked.
"The Dallas County district attorney's office has seven drug court prosecutors who at any given time are handling as many as 500 cases and when a district attorney's office is inadequately funded and understaffed, it translates into not having the proper resources in place to monitor the activities of defendants once they have made bond," Mr. Watkins said in his statement.
... County officials responding to severe overcrowding have given public assurances that offenders who are being released are not the worst criminals. But Chief Kunkle said many of the released offenders are likely to have long criminal records and are the same repeat offenders Dallas officers have been working hard to keep behind bars.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said Mr. Wyatt would not have met the definition of a low-level, nonviolent offender. He said that he understands the chief's concerns but that their hand is forced by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to reduce jail population.
... "I understand their concern; the problem is we have finite capacity," Mr. Price said.
... "Repeat offenders account for a very high percentage of the crime going on a community, particularly low-level crime such as house burglaries, car thefts, prostitution," said Robert Taylor, chairman of the criminal justice department at the University of North Texas.
"We know that if we put those people in jail, they're not committing those crimes. If they're let out, we see rises in our crime rate amongst those types of crimes."
On Monday afternoon, Mr. Wyatt turned himself in to police on an arrest warrant for capital murder in connection with Friday's case, in which Lavasher Fuller, 24, was shot to death and another man was wounded at the Oak Cliff drug house. ...
Don't you feel a sense of comfort
knowing Commissioner John Wiley Price
understands "their concern"? Does he live outside Dallas?
I thought he lives in Oak Cliff, himself.
Don't know about
you, but I am way past "concerned". I'm downright afraid and really ticked
off. Price says "we have finite capacity". That is just not true.
We can farm our criminals out to jails in other counties. Just a few years
ago, Dallas County housed non-Dallas County jailbirds for a fee and made money
doing it. The City of Dallas once operated our own jail system. We
may need to reconsider that option and stop giving the County $$ to not keep criminals
Sheriff Lupe Valdez is up for re-election in 2008, and the vultures are already
circling -- even in her own party. She is beyond the newbie stage where
she can blame the jail problems on her predecessor. Things not only have
not improved under her watch, the jail and related problems have gotten much
worse -- like released criminals roaming our streets.
We have $$ for hike and bike trails paid for by the County, but no money for
jail space? I'm not buying that malarkey.
We have $$ to give free medical care to illegal immigrants, but no money to
protect law-abiding citizens by containing criminals in jail cells -- or
makeshift jail cells -- or rented jail cells. Hell, I don't care if we put
them in cages in a park for decent people to walk past and stare at. We
keep animals in cages at the zoo even though they haven't hurt or robbed anyone.
Their nature makes them a threat to humans. Same
thing goes for repeat offenders.
I don't care if they are burglars or shoplifters who haven't actually physically
harmed anyone - yet. All it takes for a non-violent thief to become a
violent thief is for someone to get in their way. I don't want
Commissioner Price's understanding. I want him and the other
Commissioners to find jail space to contain these sub-humans who repeatedly
break the law, repeatedly harm others and repeatedly get arrested.
Interestingly, our criminal-loving DA found $$ for a new DNA unit to
assist incarcerated convicts, but his office is too shorthanded and under-funded
to keep up with criminals the DPD have turned over to him and who have been
OK, about that Oak Cliff drug house. If the police know there's a drug house in
Oak Cliff or anywhere else, why is it still operating? If there is
substantial or even insubstantial evidence of a drug operation going on in a
house in any neighborhood in this city, why can't we just bulldoze the sucker
and remove that problem? Once a house has been used as a drug house, it's
not likely to be fit for habitation. Drug dealers and drug users are not
the most hygienic of folk. Their idea of home improvement is not the sort of
stuff that adds to a property's "drive up appeal".
The house pictured in
with a paved front
yard and barred doors and windows just screams "drug house". I guarantee
you nearby homeowners would rather see a vacant lot, scraped clear
of house and concrete than live with what they have experienced for the past
couple of years.
The city tried to use our "nuisance laws" to shut down a car wash in South
Dallas because drug dealers loitered around, and the owner called the police.
Same mentality as
SPRINT Cuts 1,000
Customers For Excessive Complaining.
You have to admire their audacity. Charge people for lousy service and
dump on them when they complain. That's what City Hall tried to do to the car wash
guy. See Jim Schutze's
(DallasObserver.com, 2/17/7). Apparently, that's just what the
Commissioners' Court wants to do to Dallas County taxpayers.
Residents and businesses of the City of Dallas are hardest hit by bad decisions
at the Commissioners Court, the Sheriff's complete ineptness and the DA's
misplaced priorities. If you live in Dallas County suburbs, you also pay
county taxes but you don't get the immediate flood of criminals back on your
streets and in your neighborhoods. The bailed out jailbirds have to filter through Dallas
first. Quite frankly, the pickings are easier in Dallas. Criminals
may be stupid, but they are not too stupid to go out of their way to be stupid
Like Sprint customers, Dallas taxpayers pay our county taxes but get lousy
service from Dallas County Government. Like Sprint customers, we want
basic service but get something much less.
Why is that? How is it cost effective to let the County's tax base
deteriorate because we don't keep criminals incarcerated? If you are
looking to invest in the DFW area, why would Dallas County be attractive with
our crime problems and national rating? How do Collin County and Tarrant County manage to keep their
There is an arrogance among those in control at City Hall and in Dallas County
government. They think the old way that "so goes Dallas, so goes the
suburbs". You know the old "hole in the donut" thinking.
A few weeks
ago, I was talking with two smart guys - a journalist and a developer. In
the conversation, they realized both are from Detroit and started lamenting
about the sad state of that city. I mentioned my brother lives near
Detroit in a very prosperous suburb and no one from their town goes
near Detroit except for an occasional sporting event. One of the Detroit
ex-patriots said the suburb where his mother lives is also doing well. We
all three immediately surmised the old "hole in the donut" theory may have
holes of its own.
Neither Plano, Denton, Fort Worth, Grapevine or even Frisco are dependent on the
prosperity of Dallas. They are rocking along quite well as we keep trying
to reinvent ourselves. Of course, they are not in Dallas County.
They don't have an indigent hospital that welcomes all from near and far,
in-county or out-of-county or even from other countries. They spend their
tax dollars keeping their citizens safe and keeping their criminals jailed.
Funny, I can't remember the last time I heard about a murder at a drug house in
Plano, Denton, Fort Worth, Grapevine or Frisco. A lot of their
little hoodlum teenagers must find their way to drug houses in Dallas because we
do hear stories about drug problems among the kids in those towns. When
some kid dies from an overdose in Plano, it's much bigger news than when a felon out
on bail kills a guy at a drug house in Oak Cliff.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have a lot of sympathy for kids who kill
themselves with drugs or for druggers who get killed by felons out on bail at
drug houses anywhere. There's not enough room for people who want to be
here and do right. If some kid decides at an early age to fry his brain
and become a drain on society, it's no loss to me if he goes quickly down his
chosen path of doom. Contrary to what you read in the papers and what
parents of drugging teenagers want to believe, most kids don't do drugs.
Most kids don't want drugging teenagers around them either. They are
as afraid of them as any thinking adult.
For the sake of argument, let's pretend all kids who do drugs are innocent
victims of some drug-pushing fiend operating out of a drug house someplace.
Let's also buy into the myth that parents don't know their kids are doing drugs
until the kids are hooked or dead. We won't even consider where the kids
get the $$ to buy the drugs. Let's just protect the innocent druggers and
their unaware parents and bulldoze the place where the drug-pushing fiend is
forcing the little innocents to buy drugs. If we are not going to expect a
kid or parent to be responsible for their own actions, we have to eliminate the
source of the temptation. If we aren't going to keep the drug dealers or
drug buyers in jail because we have "finite capacity" as Commissioner Price
says, then we can at least bulldoze the drug houses.
Maybe, I'm becoming a liberal after all. I've always been a big property
rights advocate, but property rights has responsibilities other than just paying
If some landlord loses his rental property because he allowed it to be used as a
drug house, some other slum landlords might be a little more careful about who
they accept as tenants. If the city can go after that car wash guy, why
can't we go after owners of drug houses?
But, rest easy. Our crime numbers are going down. Ch. 8 reported
Tuesday night the DPD is going to adopt the "uniform crime reporting system".
If your car and your neighbors' cars are all broken into on the same night, the
DPD will now count the multiple events as one crime. Don't you feel safer?
Does that mean the next time a felon out on bail shoots two or more people at a
drug house in Oak Cliff or in a bank robbery it will only count as one crime