Sheriff Hickman and the Blacks

Sheriff Hickman

I just read a fascinating article about Sheriff Rick Hickman and his response to an emergency call in the neighborhood of Des Arc, Arkansas. Sheriff Hickman responded to the call by asking where the triple-shooting took place. When informed it was a particular apartment complex he responded, “Oh really, black people then.”

The upshot of the response is Sheriff Hickman is being called a racist. Sheriff Hickman claims the apartment in question is largely occupied by black people so his response was not racist, but natural. Now, it turns out the attacker and victims are all white but that is not relevant to the point I’d like to analyze today.

Is Sheriff Hickman a racist?

The Event and Aftermath

The event itself is a horrific example of the gun violence rampant across all sections of the United States, urban and rural, white and black. Three people died in the shooting. It’s horrible and my sympathies to all those who lost loved ones and those who respond to such events and see the horrors.

Sheriff Hickman and his Other Comments

Sheriff Hickman, now accused of being a racist, was asked if he ever used racial slurs before. He responded that he does not use the most egregious racist word often but has in the past and a lot of people around him do. He also thought his response when told about the location of the shooting was natural and not of racist implication. Black people live in that area so that’s what he assumed.

My Analysis

The case seems pretty open and shut but I think there is a great deal more nuance than people who view the world in simplistic, good and evil, terms will admit. Now, I don’t know Sheriff Hickman at all besides his few quotes so I’m merely stating an opinion here.

I found the response to the question of his own usage of racial slurs to be refreshingly honest. In this day and age where the standard law enforcement line generally includes something like: that sort of attitude has no place in our department. We never put up with it. I’ve never known a racist law enforcement officers. Blah blah blah blah blah. Bullshit.

I’ve lived in small towns. I know all about sheriffs, both good and bad. Fire marshals, both good and bad. Good old boys, both good and bad. The fact that Sheriff Hickman answered honestly about his own use of racial slurs when his brethren officers consistently lie in similar situations makes me like the man. It makes me think he’s one of the good guys.

I think if I sat down with Sheriff Hickman and asked: what do you think you’d say if the shootings took place in a predominantly white area? Would you have said, “Oh really, white people then.”? I suspect Sheriff Hickman might pause, look at me, thought about it, and replied, “You know what, Tom. You’re right. I wouldn’t have said that. Maybe I do have some unconscious racial biases and it affects the way I do my job and the way underlings look to my lead. I need to do something about that.”

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he wouldn’t reply that way. Maybe he’d remain in continual denial about a problem that isn’t just overt racism, hatred of all black people. It’s subtle, it has nuance, and it causes problems in many ways, both small and large.


I think it’s important to have conversations with men like Sheriff Hickman. Difficult conversations where I understand his point of view and he understands mine. I think that’s the way forward. This rush to judgement, to cancellation or whatever you want to call it, just widens the divide instead of helping to heal it.

What do you think?

What should be done about Sheriff Hickman

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Tom Liberman

Your Sheriff’s Devotion to Duty is Important

Weyker Damaged CarEarlier this week I ran a story about good guy Sheriff Jimmy “J.J” Jones of the Knoxville, TN. Footage came out that exposed one of his officer as a sadistic bully and Sheriff Jones immediately fired the offending man.

I just read this story where an officer in Milwaukee, WI ran a stop-sign and hit another woman’s car so hard it spun into a tree. She suffered a broken neck from the accident. At the scene the officer claimed he did not run the stop-sign and the woman’s lights were not on therefore he could not see her.

While awaiting the ambulance, officers questioned Tanya Weyker about alcohol or drug use and eventually charged her with five crimes including driving drunk and causing an accident. There is no happy ending to the story but Weyker was exonerated when surveillance video showed that Deputy Joseph Quiles ran the stop-sign and Weyker’s lights were on.

Charges were dropped, Quiles was given a whopping nine-day suspension, and the county is thus-far refusing to pay her hospital bills and actually sent her a bill for the damage to the deputy’s car.

That’s all just a prelude to what I really want to talk about.

I want to talk about the kind of community that will arise under the stewardship of Sheriff Jones and that of his counterpart in Milwaukee.

There are so many great police officers out there who are dedicated to their jobs and to protecting and serving the people of this nation. What happens to men and women like that when they see people like Quiles getting a nine-day suspension for lying in a report and nearly killing a woman in an accident?

Contrast that to what will happen to dedicated officers under the command of a man like Sheriff Jones.

There are also men and women attracted to law-enforcement because it gives them the opportunity to bully and torment people. What happens to this sort of officer in the department led by Sheriff Jones? And their counterparts in Milwaukee?

The entire department follows the lead of their commanders and when leaders allow men like Quiles to escape all but unpunished after heinous crimes, for which you and I would face prison, there is only one direction the entire department is heading. If you happen to live in a county where men like Quiles are welcomed into the force; you or someone you know will eventually pay the price.

Likewise, if you happen to live in the county led by Sheriff Jones you will be far more secure. Not only because of Sheriff Jones, but because of the men and women who follow in his footsteps, who become officers in your neighborhood. It is hard to estimate the good that men like Sheriff Jones do for all of us.

I imagine anyone who has a young son or daughter thinking about joining a law-enforcement agency hopes that a man like Sheriff Jones is charge of their child.

I totally understand and applaud the concept of loyalty. But it can be taken too far. You cannot be endlessly loyal to someone who does not earn it. In order for society to function people must eventually do what is right. When you do, everyone except the evildoers win. That’s a good thing.

When good men are discouraged and evil men excused it is a recipe for disaster.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Casualties of the War on Drugs

War on DrugsYet again I read an article spelling out the complete and utter failure of the war on drugs. Sigh.

First off I’m going to start using a new phrase. “The War on Drugs” simply doesn’t compute in any reasonable way. “The Drug Cartel”. Because that’s all it is. It’s an alliance between the United States, drug manufacturing, and drug dealers legal and illegal.

Now, let’s trace the roots of this Drug Cartel. The term “War on Drugs” was coined by President Nixon in 1971 and its goal was to reduce the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs. I’ll spend one sentence on its failure. Has the production, distribution, and consumption been reduced? Done. Ok, a link with detailed explanations. Global Commission on Drug Policy. Read that and then follow the links to the various papers.

Ok, back to Nixon. While he may have coined the phrase “War on Drugs” the misguided policies in the United States date back to 1914 and the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act.

Another quick detour. Did you know that in the 1890’s before all this madness began that Sears & Roebuck offered a syringe and cocaine priced at $1.50 in their catalog?

The early attacks on drug distribution were the same ones we see today. That drugs fuel violence and crime. Good news then. The Drug Cartel is succeeding in ways that Sears & Roebuck could never have dreamed possible. Unless, of course, the idea was to reduce the violence and crime associated with drug use. Then, well, fail.

The next anti-drug (pro-crime) policy was Prohibition enacted in 1920. Again, easy to see the results.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, precursor to the Drug Enforcement Administration was created in 1930. Guess who expanded it greatly by establishing the DEA? President Nixon in 1973.

Next came the ridiculous Marijuana Transfer Tax Act in 1937. This act placed a tax on cannabis and was eventually replaced in 1969 with something far worse, The Controlled Substances Act.

But, let’s get back to the DEA. In 2010 there operating budget was over one billion dollars. A healthy sum. Guess what percentage of that was dedicated to reducing demands for drugs as opposed to prosecuting and catching offenders? .28%. So, 99.72% of the budget of the DEA was used to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States through interdiction in foreign countries and here. The numbers in 2005 suggest that the DEA seized about 2 billion worth of drugs and drug related assets of which about half a billion was actual drugs. The total amount of drugs sold in the US that year is estimated at 64 billion. Let’s do the math … .78% of all drugs were prevented. Really? .78%? In what world is that worthwhile?

Meanwhile there are any number of accusations that the United States works with drug providing nations to bring the material to the country. I’m willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt that they are simply doing this in order to catch drug dealers. But, they aren’t stopping the flow by any appreciable amount and they are actually contributing to it! This is insane.

Meanwhile the number of American citizens incarcerated has increased hugely since the Drug Cartel began. It was less than .2% of the population at the onset of the Drug Cartel and is now over .8%.

I’m now tired of finding reasons why the Drug Cartel is madness. I’m not out of reasons, I could go on .. and on … and on, but I’m just tired and discouraged.

It’s up to you, people of the United States. Write your Congressmen, ask them politely (don’t yell and scream like a five-year old who didn’t get his cookies) in Town Hall meetings. We must stop this insanity. Legalize drugs. Disband the DEA.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire