Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Two decades ago, during a civil service 'probationary' period at the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street in San Francisco, CA, a pile of non-filed police documents became an apparent test of the civility of the local criminal jusice system. Each few-page document had a personal handwritten note stapled on it that demonstrated the influence of some business-education books.

What remained unseen was the action of a telephone-call influence network that prompted officers to attach such notes to their inter-office communications, although normally memos were written only when necessary upon factory-printed forms. It is probable that one officer agreed to be the 'patsy' who wrote up such notes as acknowlegement of the value of business-education standards transmitted, however, in an appropriate academic setting (i. e. a school) rather than as a telephone-demand contact.

As a new hire, the challenge obviously was to in some way deal with the notes on the paperwork within the limited space of file folders and file cabinet. Since the office trash cans were cleaned daily, it seemed logical to choose contained-discard as a salvageable way to initiate dialogue about the notes and perhaps the influence networking as well; there were officers in the building 24 hours a day, seven days a week and readiness to countermand actual disposal of the notes was also apparent.

Therefore, a handful of the loopy-inked squares were ripped from stapled document corners and tossed into the clean and empty metal can while the others remained intact during the hand-sorting process. New word-processing equipment had been installed during the weeks of the civil-service probationary period, and a decision about whether the notes should be scanned onto data-disks along with the actual documents was also imminent.

Not soon but eventually, a pattern of police deaths from shootings began apace -- to many, a continuation of such confrontational results. Rather than cautionary statements made in public forum about the possibility that paperwork gliches were being used as political opportunities, population reaction to the shootings also continued in the form of hopes to be a hero and find villains, or to win a journalism prize.

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