An Unfortunate Event (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a two-part story. For context, I suggest you read Part 1 first. If you like to live life on the edge then you're welcome to read on.

[picture: footage from geavi recording the violence and the people involved]

Last night is one of a few times in a matter of weeks that I’ve used geavi when dialling 000. The other times were mainly for retail theft. This was much more serious.

I am fortunate to have an unreleased version of geavi which is a bit more powerful than the current version on the Google Play Store (Founder privileges). But I’ll let you know more about that another time.

So here’s what I learned from the incident, as well as some points that I thought about that I will investigate further.

1 - Panic Buttons are pointless

Although Henry got the Text message when I dialled 000 he was in Point Cook. This is at least a 25 minute drive from where Michael and I were in the CBD.

Someone receiving my location, even though it’s in real-time, wasn’t going to help me, or the man who was attacked. Calling the Police was the common sense thing to do, and is the only logical choice in this instance.

Solution – We’ve already built a function to address this issue which I’ll be letting you know more about when geavi 2.0 is released shortly.

In short, if you're in trouble, call 000

2 - Uber drivers should carry jumper leads in their cars

I won’t ask for royalties from Uber if they start doing this, but considering the number of times car batteries die, and how expensive it is to call out roadside assistance for a simple fix, this seems like a no-brainer.

Michael and I would’ve gladly paid $10, maybe even $20, for what would have taken 2 minutes to do. You’re welcome in advance Uber.

3 - When in doubt, call 000, 911, 112 or whatever your local emergency number is

I really wish I’d called the Police the first time. I actually regret that I didn’t. If I’d called the Police the first time, there is a chance they would have arrived before the second incident. I'll never make this mistake again.

Like most people I talk to, I think there is a general acceptance of poor behaviour to a certain point. And that certain point varies from person to person.

In my mind I was thinking about whether or not the first incident was serious enough to call the Police. This is something I want to investigate further.

The questions I have are:

  • What is the right balance between someone calling 000 all the time, and people only calling 000 after something bad has happened?
  • Do we have the resources to address minor conflicts, and be certain that someone will always be available for the major conflicts?
  • Similar to the first point, am I justified in calling 000 just because I ‘think’ something might happen?

4 - Alcohol doesn’t make people bad, but it makes bad people worse

I grew up in a family that didn't drink any alcohol. I personally don’t have an issue with people drinking, and the attitude toward alcohol certainly isn't going to change anytime soon.

But there are some people, in my opinion, who have ruined it for everyone. These are the people who immediately look for someone to punch the moment the alcohol kicks in.

I felt that this was the case last night – the instigator was the ‘type of person’ who gets violent when they’re drunk (I’m aware this is a generalisation).

I feel equally interested in finding out the underlying causes that create this ‘type of person’. Is it just a personality type, a testosterone imbalance, a result of being abused as a kid?

Any number of these factors could have affected his decision making, and I wonder what the best way to address this with technology might be. I don't know that hitting them back and putting them in prison is a very good solution.

5 - Some people won’t be deterred, so they need to be identified

There was CCTV in the building, but in this instance the perpetrator didn’t care that there were cameras. Heck, there was a bunch of other people in the shop.

I can think of a few reasons why he wasn’t deterred

  • Alcohol (the most likely)
  • Experiences growing up where he was caught doing something wrong, wasn’t punished, and therefore felt he’d get away with it
  • He genuinely feels justified, owing to being reinforced for using violence in previous instances
  • He knows the CCTV is poor quality
  • He wants to watch the world burn

I doubt the last one is the case. I certainly hope he’s woken up today and feels like an idiot. He will now choose whether he’s going to bury that feeling and try to internally justify himself, or he is going to accept that he made a mistake and hopefully head down to the Police Station.

There is an issue with people being given lots of chances to improve their behaviour, and never changing. But this is a far wider reaching issue than this particular incident; and isn't within the realm of technology to solve. It goes right into psychology and law enforcement.

6 - Video is crucial because memory will fail you

By the time the incident had finished, I made an effort to try and recall the incident as best as I could and then compare that to the video that was created using geavi.

In doing so, it turned out that I missed some really important factors.

For instance, I’d forgotten that the homeless man had punched the other guy first. Whilst there was significant emotional intimidation that may have ‘deserved’ a physical response, the first punch was thrown by the homeless man (for those who are wondering, I wrote part 1 after I’d gone over the video).

I’d also remembered the perpetrator had friends with him that didn’t intervene. I didn’t realise he had a couple of friends out the front until going over the video.

Video evidence was really important in this instance because if we relied solely on testimony, my memory had already been completely compromised, most likely because I’d felt stressed by the situation.

Someone just needs to look at the myriad of wrongful convictions based on an individual’s testimony, to realise how compromised our memory really is.

7 - What is the role of the public? Should we have been allowed to physically remove the offender?

If other members of the public had gotten involved this situation might have been averted. However, it also could have escalated the situation.

If someone punched the instigator to protect the homeless man, couldn’t he then have been charged with assault as well?

There appear to be a lot of grey areas in Friday Night Violence. It seems common sense that if you stand up for someone who is being victimised that you're in the right, but the law doesn't always suggest so. Instead, the law encourages the use of non-violence to solve violent incidents.

I completely understand this notion, I agree with it, but it still didn't feel right last night. Part of me wanted a Hollywood ending where the bad guy got the crap kicked out of him. But I can't see how that would help anyone... he clearly has issues of his own.

Finally, I mentioned this in Part 1 but wanted to cover it again. The Police were great

Cops have taken a hit in the media, mostly because of a group of racist Police Officers in the US who don't have respect for human life.

But in this case, in Australia, it was relieving to see the Police show up. And they immediately asserted themselves on the situation and things were handled quickly.

On top of that, I was greatly impressed with the effort one of the Officers made to talk to the victim and make sure he was okay.

There is huge stigma surrounding homeless people and often they get treated differently to people with homes. But in this case the Officer was great. I overheard most of the conversation, and there was genuine compassion in the exchange – I was very touched by the extent of the Police Officer’s concern.

We were moved on before everything was taken care of, but ultimately I just felt that the Police were there to help; and whilst that’s not the case 100 percent of the time; I take my hat off to law enforcement in this instance.

I'm hoping that the above points I've made will lead to some group-thinking! I appreciate any critical feedback. People who know a lot more than I do can contribute to shaping the way our product operates in these kinds of situations, and I'm open to learning from those people.