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Just about every Monday morning for the past year and a half or so—this week was no different—I get at least one text message from a friend in the Chicagoland area giving me the latest on shootings, stabbings, murder, and mayhem in the Windy City.

One text this week told me that during the weekend ending on October 17, at least 22 people were shot—four fatally—in Chicago. The sender pointed out that among those suffering non-fatal gunshot wounds was a 16-year-old boy who was critically wounded when the car he was sitting in came under fire. A 17-year-old girl and a 19-year-old young woman were both wounded by gunfire while in another vehicle in another incident.

Another friend sent me a text with a link to a story in which 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said, "This is a crisis. It's something we've never faced before and if we don't resolve it, I fear for the future of our city..."

Every time I get one of these texts, I think to myself, "We've seen this movie before." And we have.

I've written many times that de-policing/de-funding of police would lead to society looking a lot like a combination of "Mad Max" and "The Purge"—lawlessness and mayhem abounding with criminals ruling the streets as police withdraw. Let's take a fresh look at our most recent headlines through the lens of a few popular feature films.

Grab a bucket of popcorn and find your seat—the projector is rolling and the show's about to begin.

The Classics

I'm a transplanted New Yorker now living in California's agricultural Northstate. I grew up in a bucolic small town where if you drove 30 minutes south you were in Manhattan, and if you drove 30 minutes north, you were vastly outnumbered by livestock.

I spent considerably more time trying to tip cows in the fields up north than I did trying to tip bartenders downtown. This is partly because when I lived there, New York was known as "Fear City."

It was something of a war zone, with the Black Liberation Army (BLA) conducting para-military operations like bombings. There were also rapists and robbers running rampant, and some dude named "Son of Sam" capping people with a .44 and leaving love letters for bewildered police to find at the scene.

Manhattan was tantamount to being a maximum-security prison—it's no wonder that Kurt Russell and a handful of others banded together in their 1981 attempted "Escape from New York."

New York hasn't quite returned to the "bad old days" of the 1970s, but crime in the Big Apple has gotten pretty darned bad—hate crimes such as beatings of Asians, Jews, and members of the LGBTQ+ community have skyrocketed, for example.

It's bad enough for real people to make their real escape from New York, fleeing to places like Florida, where more than 33,500 New Yorkers have settled since September 2020, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Remakes

It's uncommon for a second attempt at adapting a classic novel into a feature film turns out better than the first, but the 1990 Lord of the Flies film is far superior to the 1963 picture (I haven't seen the 1975 Filipino version). The plot is fairly straightforward. A group of boys are stranded on a remote island with no adult supervision. They attempt to form some manner of organized society, but drunk with the power of unbridled self-rule, they end up creating an environment of lawlessness and chaos.

The 2021 version of "Lord of the Flies" is the most gripping yet—it's a live production seen in places like California, where citizens banded together to vote in a government that decriminalized criminal behavior. State law there holds that stealing merchandise worth $950 or less is a misdemeanor, which means that violators stand practically no chance of prosecution.

Nowhere is this more plainly evident than in San Francisco, where Walgreens closed and boarded up 17 of its stores earlier this year, and followed that move in the past week by announcing that it is shuttering five more stores because vagrancy, drug use, and street crime remain unchecked.

The Sequels

In Washington State, police officers are being forced from their jobs over their dispute with the vaccine mandates foisted upon them by elected leaders there.

Wait, let me back up to where this movie begins.

In early 2020, a terrifying and mysterious virus emerged, suddenly seriously sickening thousands of people who just days or weeks earlier appeared to be in relatively good health. Its origin was at first attributed to bats, and then some odd-looking little critters named pangolins. Rumors began to swirl that it was a mistake made at a super-secret biological laboratory. It was all very sci-fi and all very scary—it would have made one hell of a great movie, but unfortunately, it was real.

People were dying for real and in real big numbers. It was a pandemic.

So, some vaguely Draconian and virtually Dystopian (some would say not-so-vaguely and not-so-virtually) measures were put in place.

Cities were put on lockdown. Hospitals were overwhelmed. Streets were deserted. Storefronts were shuttered (or shattered). Masks were mandated. Then came the vaccines. And finally the vaccine mandates.

People began to get rather angry.

Elected leaders doubled down on the mandates—get the jab to keep your job.

So, as the Coronavirus saga moves from its initial "28 Days Later" through the sequel of "28 Weeks Later" and into some sort of amalgamation of plotlines from "12 Monkeys," "Contagion," and "The Andromeda Strain," we find Gadsden Flags draped from the windows of police cruisers left empty on Seattle streets.

Final Words

Among the myriad other headlines we saw in the past few days, we also had the annual National Police Week ceremonies held on the Western Front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, over the weekend.

President Joe Biden spoke to thousands of officers—as well as the surviving family members and friends of officers killed in the line of duty—at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service last Saturday.

Biden spoke of the need to "use funds from the American Rescue Plan—$350 Billion in aid to cities, states, counties, tribes—to hire and retain officers," noting that "we have much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, much to gain."

Biden pointed out his own personal ties to law enforcement, mentioning that his son Beau was "chief law enforcement officer for the state of Delaware"—the attorney general of the Blue Hen State.

Biden made an attempt at levity during the solemn ceremony and said, "I grew up in places where you either became a cop, a firefighter, or a priest," and added that he had to "settle" for being president.

Sigh.

The last person from this president's political persuasion to hold the nation's highest office only one time bothered to even make an appearance at National Police Week during his entire eight years in the White House, so I'll "Chance" it and give Biden some credit for "Being There."

Anyone who gets that particular movie reference gets major "props" from yours truly.

Be well and stay safe my friends.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Web Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

View Bio
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