What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.  All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
  • The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses.  On this page, you’ll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive.  If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more.  Together, we can help save lives.

    Key Facts and Statistics

  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012.  An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
  • As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US (includes PR, the Territories, and Guam) every month.
  • 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.  This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
  • At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.  When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

GPS poses risks

Text messaging isn’t the only distraction for drivers.  Navigation and GPS devices and other technology also present opportunities for a driver to take attention off the road.

Put the cell phone in the trunk

For some drivers, creating a plan to reduce driving distractions can be an effective way to hold them accountable.  Some experts recommend turning off the device or putting it on vibrate before driving.  If the impulse to reach for the phone is still hard to overcome, some experts say to put the device in the trunk of the vehicle while driving.

Socially unacceptable

While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries a level of social taboo, several experts said that texting or operating handheld devices while driving doesn’t carry the same stigma.  They want that to change.

Call them back

In addition to refraining from talking on the phone or texting while driving, if people learn they’re talking to someone who is driving while on the phone, tell them to call back when they have stopped.

Polite intervention

If a passenger sees a driver operating a car while being distracted using a handheld device, some experts advocate that they speak up and ask them to stop.

Siri and her friends

Don’t assume that voice recognition systems on smart phones or vehicles offer more safety than manual texting.  Some studies have shown that those systems, even when working effectively, still distract drivers.



Like many families that are in need of a financial boost, many gather their property and leave hometown America because there is nothing there to help them be financially solvent.   So, they pack up their meager belongs and travel to areas where there is supposed employment opportunities.  Many of these families are attracted by the lure of jobs and when they arrive they are confronted often times with either a lack of housing or a lack of affordable housing.  Most areas of the country that have experienced a boom in the job market are the direct result of an earlier economic boom.  In central California, in Silicon Valley, it was the initial software technology boom, in western North Dakota, it was the discovery of a huge oil formation and in Central Florida, it was the development of numerous theme parks designed to attract the tourists of the world.  If you are one of the early arrivals, you may get in on the ground floor before you experience the rapid rise of housing costs, groceries, and other essential needs.

An example of this is played out in the following story that is occurring in central Florida, but it could just as well be San Jose, California or Williston, North Dakota.  These stories are all similar, in which, large numbers of people arrive in an area looking to make their fortune, only to find out that the economic boom has made it almost impossible to live there because of ever increasing demand that drives prices higher and higher.

When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven.  Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple and their two children have instead been hopping among cheap motel rooms along U.S. 192.

“What’s hard for us isn’t paying the bills,” Candice Johnson, 24, said. “It’s just trying to get our feet in the door” with the combined expense of application fees, security deposits and first month’s rent needed for a place of their own.

The Johnsons are among a growing number of families living in hotels in this Florida tourist corridor because they can’t afford anything else and because their county has no shelters for the estimated 1,216 homeless households with children.

The problem has created a backlash among the mostly mom-and-pop businesses, with some owners suing the county sheriff to force his deputies to evict guests who haven’t paid or who have turned their rooms into semi-permanent residences.  It also shines a light on the gap among those who work and live in this county that sits in the shadow of Walt Disney World, and the big-spending tourists who flock here.

On any given day, tourists pay nearly $100 per person to get into Orlando’s theme parks.  There, they may be waited on by homeless parents.  From their hotels, they jog past bus stops where homeless children wait to head to school. They buy coffee at Starbucks next to the motels that have become families’ homes.

Starting minimum pay at Walt Disney World — the area’s largest employer, just a few miles from the motels — is $8.03 an hour, though that could increase to $10 under a contract being negotiated with the resort’s largest union group.

“Tourists that come here … I don’t think they have a clue,” said James Ortiz, 31, a fast-food worker who recently moved out of a motel room and into an RV park with his parents and 5-year-old son.

Homeless advocates blame the housing problem on the low-paying wages of the service economy and the rents in Osceola County, with 300,000 people.  While inexpensive compared with larger cities, Osceola rents often exceed what a worker earning near minimum wage can afford.  Median earnings for workers in Osceola County are $24,128 a year, according to U.S. Census figures, and median rent is $800 a month. Motel rooms can go for just $39 a night.

“The fact that we’re the happiest place on Earth and No. 1 travel destination is good news, but this service-based economy is actually creating a dynamic of homelessness,” Jackson said.  Many of the county’s homeless moved here to find jobs in the tourism industry, so they lack the social networks of family or churches, Jackson said.

“Paying weekly is all we can do to survive,” Ortiz, 31, said. “I can’t find a house that is suitable in a decent neighborhood for me and my child to be able to pay rent, pay the utilities, pay car insurance, pay gas and buy food.”

For two years, Theresa Muller has lived in motel room after motel room with her three young children, her father and her boyfriend. The owner of Home Suite Home has wanted her out for months.  Dianna Chane says Muller’s family is violating the hotel’s policy of only four people per room, and clothes, furniture, toys, garbage and boxes are piled chest-high.  Chane is among those suing Osceola County Sheriff Bob Hansell to force his deputies to evict such guests.  Under Florida’s lodging law, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor to stay in a room after being asked to leave. Yet each time Chane has asked the sheriff’s office to intervene, she says deputies have refused even though they follow the law for brand-name hotels.   Chane says the office calls the issue a landlord-tenant dispute that should be handled in civil court.  “I can’t afford it,” said Chane, who figures she has swallowed more than $200,000 in unpaid rooms since 2012.

A sheriff’s spokeswoman and an attorney for the sheriff said they wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.   In court papers, an attorney for the sheriff said there is a presumption that occupants are not transient if they say the hotel room is their sole residence.  “Hotel owners simply cannot engage long-term guests … then turn on a dime when they stop paying and pretend they are tourists,” the sheriff’s attorney said in a court filing.

Muller said she’s unemployed but hopeful about a dollar-store retail job.  Until then, her father’s disability payments help the family try to get by.  She said she found a house she can afford in a neighboring county and was in the process of moving out of Chane’s motel.  “It’s not a place for kids,” Muller said.

So, before you hop on a bus with your six children, make sure that their you can qualify for all those high paying jobs that the state officials brag about and that you can afford the cost of living.  Here in North Dakota, Job Service was advertising that there were 25,000 jobs in North Dakota, but what they did not tell you was that the vast majority (70%) were either temporary or minimum wage jobs,


The world as we know it is full of stupid people who then in turn come up with even stupider ideas and this includes the current administration. The Justice Department moved Wednesday to significantly expand the number of people eligible for clemency, issuing new guidelines allowing certain prisoners who already have served at least 10 years behind bars to apply for release.

The initiative is part of a broader Obama administration effort to ease sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Deputy Attorney General James Cole outlined the changes, which include six separate criteria inmates must meet to be eligible, on Wednesday morning.  Among the requirements is that inmates must have served at least 10 years of their federal sentence and not have a “significant criminal history.” They must be “non-violent, low-level offenders” with no significant ties to major gangs, have a record of good conduct in prison and have no history of violence.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole outlined the changes, which include six separate criteria inmates must meet to be eligible, on Wednesday morning. Among th i

Finally, the process will be open to those who likely would have gotten a lesser sentence if convicted of the same offense today.

“Older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today’s laws erode people’s confidence in our criminal justice system. I am confident that this initiative will go far to promote the most fundamental of American ideals — equal justice under the law,” Cole said.

He said the department plans to launch the initiative “quickly and effectively.”

Cole suggested attorneys in the Justice Department are on board, though separate efforts to curb mandatory minimum sentencing have drawn complaints from the rank and file.

The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder in January arguing that the current sentencing system is “worth preserving” — and that mandatory minimums give prosecutors “leverage to secure cooperation from defendants.”

DOJ leaders, though, argue that the new clemency changes are meant to address inconsistencies in sentences over time. The announcement is aimed primarily at drug prisoners, especially those sentenced under old guidelines that resulted in significantly harsher penalties for people caught with crack cocaine than for those who possessed the powder form of the drug. But it also applies to federal inmates imprisoned for other crimes, provided they meet the same criteria for clemency.

Cole outlined a detailed process that apparently will kick into gear starting next week. He said the Bureau of Prisons will circulate the new criteria to inmates across the country, and allow those who think they meet the standards to fill out an electronic form.

DOJ lawyers will screen those forms and forward select cases to pro bono attorneys to help in preparing clemency applications. Cole said lawyers from the Justice Department and elsewhere are being assigned to the pardon office to help in reviewing the “numerous petitions” expected to be submitted.

He said applications will undergo “rigorous scrutiny.”

Cole also announced that current Pardon Attorney Ron Rodgers will be resigning; he will be replaced by Deborah Leff, acting senior counselor for access to justice.

One source told The Associated Press the Justice Department has identified more than 23,000 people who are serving sentences of at least 10 years. But it was not clear how many of those people would be viable clemency candidates.

The Obama administration says it’s working to correct the legacy of an old sentencing structure that, historically, subjected black convicts to long prison terms for crack cocaine convictions while giving far more lenient sentences to those caught with powder, who were more likely to be white. The Fair Sentencing Act reduced that disparity and eliminated a five-year mandatory minimum for first-time possession of crack, and officials are now turning their attention to identifying inmates who received sentences under the old guidelines that now appear unduly harsh.

President Obama, who granted only one commutation in his first term, cut short in December the sentences of eight prisoners he said had been locked up too long for drug crimes. The White House has said it’s seeking additional good candidates to consider for clemency, though spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the number of commutations “will depend entirely on the number of worthy candidates.”

Regardless how they paint this proposal, it is not about creating an equal playing field when it comes to drug sentences. It is purely a move to grant clemency to a large number of black inmates currently doing time in federal prisons. This is just another example of a black president that is only concerned about helping the black community.

A Minnesota man is on trial for what is being portrayed as an execution style murder of two teenagers that broke into his home.  Byron Smith, 65, of Little Falls, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the slayings of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.  The killings rocked the small central Minnesota city of about 8,000 and stirred debate about how far a person can go in defending their home.

Smith has claimed self-defense, saying he feared the teens were armed and he was on edge after earlier repeated break-ins at his home.  Under Minnesota law, a person may use deadly force to prevent a felony from taking place in one’s home or dwelling, but authorities have said Smith crossed a line when he continued to shoot the teens after they were no longer a threat.

Prosecutors played for jurors Smith’s taped interview with police after the shootings.  In it, Smith told police he was living in fear after the break-ins and had taken to wearing a gun on his hip.  But he also said: “Whoever it was who was breaking into my home had been doing it so long that I was no longer willing to live in fear.”

Defense attorney Steve Meshbesher told jurors that the trial “is not a case of whodunit. Mr. Smith is the person who shot and killed those two people, but he is not criminally responsible for the deaths.  He is not guilty of murder.”

Meshbesher also said his client was hiding after break-ins that had gotten increasingly more violent.

“He became frightened and scared to live in his own home,” he said of Smith, later adding, “He began to wear a holster and pistol in his own house.  That is how afraid he is, and became.”

Assistant Washington County Attorney Brent Wartner told jurors that Smith thought a neighbor girl had been breaking into his home, so on that Thanksgiving Day, Smith sat in his basement, waiting.  “He’s down in the basement, in a chair, tucked between two bookcases at the bottom of the stairs.  He said he was down there reading a book … with his Mini-14, a .22-caliber revolver, some energy bars and a bottle of water”.  Smith heard the door of his house rattle at about 12:30 p.m., then someone walking across the deck, then a window breaking.

Prosecutors say as Brady descended the basement steps, Smith shot him in the chest, then in the back while Brady fell, Wartner said.  Smith fired a final shot into Brady’s head, the bullet passing through Brady’s hand.  Smith put Brady’s body on a tarp so he wouldn’t get blood on his carpet, dragged it into his workshop, reloaded his rifle and sat down again.

A few minutes later, Kifer walked down the stairs and Smith shot her.  His rifle jammed when he tried a second shot, and Smith told police he believed Kifer laughed at him.

“He was angry,” Wartner said, then describing that Smith pulled out his revolver and shot her twice in the head, once in the left eye and once behind the left ear.

Smith dragged Kifer’s body into the workshop and laid it on top of Brady’s, Wartner said. Smith told investigators he thought he heard Kifer gasping, so he placed his revolver under her chin and fired what he told police was a “good clean finishing shot to the head,” the assistant prosecutor said.

Smith is a retired security engineer for the U.S. Department of State.  Kifer and Brady were cousins.  The two were well-known in the community, and both were involved in sports.

After their deaths, authorities said a car linked to Brady and Kifer contained prescription drugs that had been stolen from another house, apparently the day before they were killed.  Court documents from another case show Brady had burglarized Smith’s property at least twice in the months before he was killed.

What is going to send Mr. Smith to prison is the point-blank shots to the heads of the teenagers, his admissions to the police that those shots were meant to kill the teenagers, and the fact that he waited a day to notify the authorities because he did not want to “spoil” anybody else’s Thanksgiving.

The prosecutors are trying to “paint” these two kids as innocent victims, when in fact, they were thieves willing to break into this man’s house to steal and do whatever.  Presumably, to steal drugs.  Mr. Smith is the true victim, but he went overboard and plus, he truthfully admitted to what he did.  I firmly believe that this was a misunderstanding by Mr. Smith about what he could do to keep his house and himself safe from harm.  I also feel that he was tired of being constantly victimized and his fear was legitimate in his mind.  Also, Mr. Smith shot Brady at least three times and yet Kifer also came down the basement stairs a few minutes later.  What, she did not hear the shots or just maybe she thought that maybe Brady had a gun and had shot someone else?  So, hearing the shots did not deter her from continuing her search of the house.

Mr. Smith obviously over reacted in the situation, but put yourself in his shoes.  If you have ever listened to the frantic calls from victims to 911 while a perp is attempting to break into their home.  You start to understand the level of fear and dread that these people experience.  So, should Mr. Smith not have armed himself?  Remember, he had had other firearms stolen from his home in prior break-ins and he told police that he was worried that these perps might be armed.  Do you then wait to see a weapon first or do you shoot first and ask questions later?  I guess that we will have to see how this trial turns out, but Mr. Smith is being viewed by many, as being an uncaring monster and not just a frightened old man.

Recently, my daughter-in-law was involved in a vehicular accident which resulted in the other person’s insurance company totaling their car. She did not cause the accident, but they will still take a hit financially due to the loss of their vehicle. Every insurance company has their method of determining if a car will be declared a total loss and although the industry standard is based on if the total amount of repairs exceeds 70 % of your vehicle’s value less your deductible; some insurance companies will total your car if the cost of repairs exceeds only 51 %. Now, that means that 15 to 20 % of all vehicle involved in accidents or 1 in 5 are totaled by the insurance companies. So, you might as well assume the position because this is going to cost you dearly.

You survived the accident, but how do you cope with a totaled car?

Once you’ve been involved in an accident, much of your fate – as it applies to your wrecked car – is in the hands of others. There is some opportunity for your input, as well as procedures for you to challenge decisions made on your behalf; generally, once your car is towed away, the insurance companies take over.

Knowing what comes next can certainly minimize some of the stress accompanying more serious accidents, as well as providing a game plan for dealing with the insurance companies and getting on with your life.

Here’s what you should know:

You can’t un-ring the bell.

It’s always smart to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Do you know how your insurance company determines if a car is a total loss or what formula it uses to calculate the check it will cut once it declares a car totaled? Do you know if your policy covers a rental car? If so, for how much and how long? Do you know the procedure and your rights for challenging the settlement amount?

No? Now, not after you’ve been in a wreck, is the time to have your insurance agent sit down and explain your auto policy’s mouse print. Not only do you want the opportunity to make needed changes, but most agents will be more helpful and forthcoming before a claim is filed.

Each insurance company has its own methodology for deciding if a car is totaled and establishing its value. Many states also get into the act, further sharpening the total-loss definition.

Before an accident is also the time to determine if you should have gap insurance to cover the difference between what your car is worth and the balance you owe the finance company, this is called Gap Insurance. Remember to include your insurance deductible in the math. You don’t want to be left holding the bag for hundreds or thousands of dollars if the settlement check from the insurance company doesn’t cover the payoff amount of the loan you are still responsible for.

A good rule of thumb: If you are less than halfway through the term of your auto loan – two years on, say, a five-year loan – you probably need gap insurance. Check with your agent, most companies will let you add gap insurance at any time.

How does an insurance company define total loss?

One constant among all insurance companies is that total loss is a function of how much it will cost to repair a car versus what an insurance company will have to pay out in a total-loss claim.

If it costs more to fix the damage minus your deductible than the market value of the car and what the insurance company thinks it can get selling the wreck at the salvage yard, the insurance company will declare it a total loss.

The amount of damage is a factor only as it relates to the car’s value. That is, an insurance company will probably choose to repair $3,000 damage to a one-year-old Mercedes-Benz, but consider a ten-year-old Ford Mustang with same amount of damage is a total loss.

Know your rights.

Every state regulates the auto insurance companies doing business within its borders – some states more than others.

After an accident, go online and research your state’s department of insurance. It should provide all the information you need on insurance claims, as well as a list of your rights and the insurance company’s responsibilities.

Familiarize yourself with the site because it will be the first place you go if you don’t feel the insurance company is treating you fairly.

What should the check include?

When an insurance company declares a car a total loss or write off, the settlement it pays should be based on the market value of the car before the accident.

Insurance-company adjustors have their own resources for establishing a market value for your car, but they probably include online pricing sites and actual records of recent transactions.

From that market value they will subtract your deductible and any costs related to disposing of the wreck. To the settlement total they may add the estimated sales tax, as well as the registration and title costs of a replacement car.

Defend your rights.

After an accident, become proactive.

During the next few weeks, you are going to have to make several decisions; it makes sense to begin preparing yourself as soon as possible.

If you don’t have an idea what your car is worth, the insurance company can tell you anything and you’ll have no basis for agreeing or disagreeing with their number.

The amount of the settlement they offer should have some relation to the estimated value you researched after subtracting the amount of your deductible and their expenses for disposing of the wreck.

If you have reason to question the proposed settlement, your policy may include the right to hire your own appraiser and get a second opinion. Most states have a procedure for settling the dispute if there is a difference between the appraisals.

Understand, though, that no matter the outcome of an arbitrated settlement, you will still have to pay your appraiser, as well as probably pick up some of the arbitration costs.

Decide if you want the car back.

For any number of reasons, you might decide you want to keep the car and repair it yourself. You may have the right to do this – particularly if you own it outright – but it may not be a smart course of action.

If you are considering keeping the car, let the insurance company know immediately.

You also will need to do the research because some states won’t permit an owner to retain a car declared a total loss, and some insurance companies won’t insure a car it or another insurance company has declared a total loss.

Furthermore, the settlement amount will probably be less if you keep it because the insurance company may deduct the car’s salvage value.

How long until you see a check?

There is no set time line from the date of the date of the claim until it’s paid. The more involved the accident, the longer it may take to sort things out. It could take three or four weeks, or as long as 60 days, if there are no challenges.

In closing, be aware that the person that caused this accident will not suffer any additional financial burden for causing this accident and the older that your car is, the greater the financial hit that you are going to take. You may take very good care of your vehicle and it maybe blemish free with few miles, but the value of your vehicle is based solely on its depreciated value over time, not what you think it should be worth. It will never meet the cost that you will need to replace the car either.

Maybe if the responsible party of the accident had to pay for the difference between the buyout amount and the replacement cost, more people might become more responsible drivers and learn to drive less dangerously.


Peeved Portland, Ore., officials plan to drain millions of gallons of treated drinking water from a city reservoir after a teenager was caught on surveillance cameras taking a brazen bathroom break.

The unnamed 19-year-old was captured urinating through the iron fence at the Mount Tabor Reservoir just after 1 a.m. Wednesday, water bureau officials said. Two others with him, ages 18 and 19, were also caught trying to scale a fence.

The unsavory act has prompted officials to decide to flush 38 million gallons of drinking water — or the equivalent of 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Generally, urine in such a large volume of treated water poses little risk to the public, and even animals are known to answer the call of nature into the reservoir, which gets its water from the Bull Run watershed.

“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns,” David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator, said in a statement.

He added that the city has enough water at this time and isn’t suffering from a drought.

That particular reservoir was taken offline while water quality tests were taken Wednesday. The results are due back Thursday.

The three suspects, who were not identified, were cited for trespassing. The main culprit was also cited for public urination, and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is deciding whether to pursue criminal charges.

The city previously drained the reservoir in 2011 after someone had urinated into it. But not everyone’s relieved this time around.

Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, told The Associated Press that dumping so much water for something that hasn’t proven harmful doesn’t make sense. “It’s extremely wasteful,” she said.

The average daily urine output for an adult is around 68 to 72 ounces per day. The average times that an adult urinates each day is 4.4 times. Then the average amount of urine discharged per episode is around 16 ounces. The reservoir holds approximately 38 million gallons or 4 billion, 864 million ounces of water. This means that the amount of urine contained in this dr4inking water is 1 part/304 million.

You can drink your own urine without any ill affects so that small a dosage is not going to hurt anyone. Besides, if he had not been caught on the surveillance camera, nobody would have been the wiser and nothing would have been done. What a waste of a limited resource.

For as much as your local city may praise the effectiveness of your local emergency response, this story caught my eye because this may be more the case, than people think. So, when your local city officials continue to reduce or fail to impose necessary increases in public safety, this very well could be the result.

A Denver woman who spent nearly 15 frantic minutes on the phone with a 911 dispatcher was killed Monday night by a bullet to the head before help arrived.

The gunshot was the last sound 911 dispatchers heard on their call with Kristine Kirk, 44, which lasted for approximately 12 to 13 minutes, said Denver police officer Raquel Lopez. Kirk’s husband, Richard, 47, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, Lopez said. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

In her call to 911, Kirk said her husband was “talking about the end of the world and he wanted her to shoot him,” according to statements that Kirk made to the 911 operator. There was a gun in their house, Kirk said at the beginning of the phone call, but it was locked in a safe.

As the call went on, Kirk told the 911 dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating, scaring their three young children, the court document said. Then, when she saw her husband had gone to the safe and gotten the gun, she started screaming. The sound of a single gunshot reverberated on the call, and Kirk wasn’t heard from again.

Officers, who had initially been sent to the house on a domestic disturbance call, were dispatched to the Kirks’ at about 9:32 p.m. Richard Kirk was arrested at 9:55 p.m. Denver police are reviewing their response to the incident and investigating what took so long, Lopez said.

When officers arrived, they found Kristine Kirk lying on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the possibility that Richard Kirk, who admitted to killing his wife on his way to the police station, used marijuana prior to the shooting.

Police response times have gotten longer in recent years, as reported in the Denver Post, with the Denver police chief blaming budget constraints that have prevented the city from hiring any new officers since 2008.

It is a shameful state of affairs, that police response is that long in coming and yet our courts tend to criminalize those people who use force against an intruder to save their lives and their property.

This case is an example of why states passed the “Stand your Ground” laws. The stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense, when there is suspicion that a person might be a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. The concept sometimes exists in statutory law and sometimes through common lawprecedents. One key distinction is whether the concept only applies to defending a home or vehicle, or whether it applies to all lawfully occupied locations. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. The difference between immunity and a defense is that immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. A defense, such as an affirmative defense, permits a plaintiff or the state to seek civil damages or a criminal conviction but may offer mitigating circumstances that justify the accused’s conduct.

More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle Doctrine stating that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. “Stand Your Ground”, “Line in the Sand” or “No Duty to Retreat” laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.

The law’s effect on crime rates is disputed between supporters and critics of the law. It is reported that those states adopting “Stand Your Ground”/”Castle Doctrine” laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 11 percent, and that occurs even after accounting for a range of other factors such as national crime trends, law enforcement variables (arrest, execution, and imprisonment rates), income and poverty measures, demographic changes, and the national average changes in crime rates from year-to-year and average differences across states.

Many states have some form of stand-your-ground law. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona,California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have adopted Castle Doctrine statutes.

For example, most state provisions provides that “an individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if . . . the individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent” the imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault of himself or another individual.

Note, the state of Colorado, where this incident occurred, does not have the “Stand your Ground” law. So, what do you do when society cannot protect you from harm?