Ryan Spencer Reed

Ryan Spencer Reed

During my lifetime, the continuing evolution of electronics and many other processes leads me to believe that technology changes everything. In my public safety experiences, I have noticed that as we learn and produce new things, our standard of living changes, new terminology appears, there are new types of cyber-crime and more creative criminals; This results in new laws to address the evolution of crime and criminality. Technology has touched everything and everyone in some way (even those who avoid it). Technology has also changed art in so many ways. What exactly is “art” anyway? It really depends on who you ask.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy devotes almost 15 pages to the definition of art. These definitions discuss “traditional”, “historical”, “conventional”, “functional” and “contemporary” definitions as well as ideologies and their influence on defining art (“Art,” 2012).  There are as many definitions for art as there are criminological theories. Defining things that change and evolve is like trying to hit a moving target, difficult at best.

Immanuel Kant is cited frequently in Criminal Justice for his theories. Kant’s definition of art is: “a kind of representation that is purposive in itself and, though without an end, nevertheless promotes the cultivation of the mental powers for sociable communication” (Kant, Critique of Judgment, Guyer translation, section 44). I define art as a single or multi-media conglomeration or representation that elicits an emotional response from the creator and the viewer.

Since the inception of ArtPrize in 2009 it has been the goal to use technology in order to draw a younger audience to the arts. In the 2009 press release for ArtPrize, Rick Devos said, “It’s time to reboot the conversation between artists and the public. ArtPrize will be a celebration of art, design, and innovation that will bring artists and the public together like never before” (ArtPrize, 2009).  The ArtPrize 2013 Annual Report also describes technology used for the event, and reports that, “ARTPRIZE HAS GIVEN GRAND RAPIDS FAR-REACHING BENEFITS INCLUDING ENRICHING ITS CULTURE, BUILDING AWARENESS OF THE REGION, AND BOOSTING ITS SOCIAL CAPITAL” (ArtPrize, 2013, p.18).

ArtPrize uses its website, along with mobile apps in order for the public to receive information, vote on their favorites, and voice their opinions and experiences on social media platforms (Smith, 2010, September 28). Volunteers at The Hub can monitor real-time social media streams (Smith, 2010, September 28). This gives ArtPrize staff information regarding what the public likes and does not like about their experience, which is useful for planning the next year’s ArtPrize (Smith, 2010, September 28).

Mlive reports that in 2014 ArtPrize released a whole new set of techno tools; “New tools include a feature to create lists of art to see, a feature to create a route to view them, and the ability to share both with others. Also new is an updated interactive map to help visitors explore more of the city of Grand Rapids beyond ArtPrize during the event…” (Kaczmarczyk, 2014, September 4). These tools aim to facilitate a more interactive experience with attendees and help them to find quickly art they want to see. Comcast is a technology sponsor for the event, providing voting “kiosks” and “roving mobile voting stations” this is helpful to those who do not use or have access to mobile apps (Kaczmarczyk, 2014, September 4).

Not only is technology playing a larger role in this community event, it is also playing a larger role in the actual art entries. Many artists have integrated various types of technology into their works. Some are statements about political or economic issues; others are just unique and interesting. Technology changes everything, even art.


ArtPrize. (2013). Curiosity rewarded. ArtPrize 2013 Annual Report. Retrieved from

ArtPrize Media Kit (2009) Retrieved from

Kaczmarczyk, J. (2014, September 4). ArtPrize 2014: New tech tools will change how you experience the sixth event in Grand Rapids. MLive. Retrieved from

Kant, Immanuel, 2000, Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

MARK W SMITH FREE,PRESS TECHNOLOGY. (2010, Sep 28). Click on ArtPrize. Detroit Free Press Retrieved from

The Definition of Art. (2012). In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Retrieved from

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Where were you on 9-11?

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on September 11th, 2001?

I was at work.

More specifically at sheriff department in the office of Bob S., polygraph examiner.

He was prepping to give a polygraph to an individual I suspected had embezzled money from his former employer.  Another person had been fired for it, but after interviewing everyone in that particular office I had it narrowed down to two people.  The person who was fired (to eliminate her) and the person who I thought was exhibiting body language that told me he was lying.

During the polygraph, the first plane hit.  We found out during a break.  We were glued to the tv set in the break room.  It was a room full of  utterly silent people, except for the news anchors commentary, even they couldn’t take it and  lapsed into silence from time-to time.  The pictures and video left little to the imagination.  We had to go back and do the rest of our job, finish the polygraph.  When we were done all hell had broken loose.  My suspect failed the polygraph and then admitted he had taken the money.

Our minds were on New York, then Washington DC, and the U.S.

When I got back to the office, no one was there except me.  I started calling family and friends to check on them.  My kids were safe.  I remembered the feeling in my stomach, sinking, sick, dread.

Later they were asking for volunteers to go to New York and help.  A number of people signed up, including me, but a “special unit” at the P.D. took it upon themselves to pack up and go.  One guy who came back from doing Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, said it was brutal, and he will never be the same.

I have had the opportunity to visit the 9-11 memorial in New York City.  It was and still is under construction.  The pools were finished.  It was an awe inspiring experience.  Even if you did not lose someone close to you, you could not help but to feel the stark utter anguish.  If you go, don’t be angry at yourself for the tears. NO ONE can keep them from falling.


Motorcycles and EMS

As a police officer and EMT, I have seen many types of accidents.  As a motorcyclist, seeing motorcycle accidents sometimes makes me consider giving up riding, but I enjoy it so much even though I don’t have time to ride often.

Here are some of my personal observations:

*     Riders who wear protective gear fare much better in single cycle accidents.

*     Riders who are hit by cars who wear protective gear fare better than those without but it doesn’t always make a difference depending on  speed and how the accident occurs.  Higher speeds means more severe injuries, no matter the vehicle.

*     If you don’t buckle your helmet securely under your chin, there is no point in wearing it; It will fly off in an accident.

*     Road rash is painful, takes a while to heal up and looks ghastly.

Driver’s of other vehicles, be aware that sometimes you may not see a cyclist.  Pay attention.

Motorcyclist, other drivers may not see you, always try to have options for avoidance.  Practice these techniques.  Pay attention.

Whatever your choice, to gear up or ride free…take into account weather, road conditions, time of day, where you plan on going before discarding safety gear altogether.

It is hard to tell if there has been a difference in fatalities since the helmet law in Michigan was overturned, the jury is out yet, and it depends on the study.  Either way, think about the impact you have on family, friends, EMS workers should something happen.  Drive safely, don’t do anything stupid.  This is in no way a recommendation to go with or without gear.  I am not knocking anyone’s individual choice.  It is your decision.  Me, I am not a very experienced rider so I wear the gear.  Some say , “Hey if I am gonna crash I might as well do it right and go all the way.  I don’t want to end up on life support.”

No matter what the reason for any crash, or the type of vehicle involved, we responders always carry with us the memories of those who didn’t make it and rejoice in those we are able save.

Here are some links to the debate that continues:

Click to access 2012MotorcycleStats.pdf


Special Needs and Emergencies

Another fact about me…I have a Special Needs Child.  What does that mean?  Well the terminology has changed due to negative connotations of educational and other types of labels.  There is an intensive hands on training that comes with this unique situation.

Rachael, had Spinal Meningitis when she was 2 weeks old.  I love her.  (Just so the other kids know, I love all my children; a bunch, whether biological, adopted, step or whatever.  Some don’t understand it yet, but when they have their own kids they will).

Rachael knows what love is even though Rachael has the cognitive level of a 3-4 year old (but she is 26).  She has Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, had brain surgery at age 16 which resulted in Left-sided Hemi-Paresis.  It saved her life.  And it changed her mobility.

In English?  Rachael had an illness at two weeks of age that resulted in brain damage that left her with muscle problems, and seizures.  When her seizures became worse (at the onset of puberty) and life threatening, brain surgery was the only option left.  At Cleveland Clinic they disconnected the two halves of her brain, the good from the bad (the damaged part), which stopped the electrical storms (seizures from the injured or bad part from interfering with her life, turning her into a zombie).  The surgery on the right side of her brain, affected the left side of her body (more on that in future posts).  But the trade off was worth it.  She can’t use her left arm but her life was saved and is so much better. She is present, happy, functional, her old self, no longer miserable, unhappy, feeling awful all the time.

If Rachael is sleeping, don’t even try to get her up (not a morning person!). If she’s outside, playing with toys, eating, and she wants to continue doing those things good luck!! Moving Rachael or trying to get her to go is sometimes akin to pushing a boulder uphill.  As her mother, I have always won these battles (I must!), but for someone else it is an entirely different matter.

So back to Special Needs (aka Functional Needs) and emergencies.  When mom (me) had to be at work there was a babysitter, or Home Health Aide, or family member.  One of the things about Rachael is, she won’t do what you want her to when you want her to do it.  And she can’t do stairs well.

So I was faced with the problem of being at work at night (or day) and there being an emergency that someone watching her might have to deal with.  What kind of emergencies?  In our neck of the woods, a house fire, tornado, storm, or something like that.  So I came up with a plan.  Bad storm or tornado, requiring a trip to the basement.  How to move a sleeping, uncooperative boulder to the basement?  Well we decided if she won’t get up the bedding would go with her.  It was safe and easy to take all the bedding with her on it, off the bed, dragged through the house and a cushioned bumping down the stairs (carpeted) to the safety of the finished basement where the other kids bedrooms are.  Now getting her back up would be my problem when I got home.  No big deal, for mom.

It is these things that parents of special needs kids need to think about.  When they are small you can pick them up and throw them over your shoulder if they have a temper tantrum, or you have to hurry for safety reasons to get somewhere.  When they grow up, it’s a whole different ball game.  You can’t spoil your special needs children, or coddle them.  They need to know what the rules and expectations are, because if you don’t spell that out early, it can be huge behavioral problems later.  Rachael expresses her own opinions and wants to be obstinate, but in the end she knows that Mom loves her, and for her, mom always wins.

Rescue Renee’

Where the name came from…

I got the nickname from my job at Coopersville Rescue. I worked there as an EMT from 2008-2018.  I still maintain my EMT License because I use it at my current Emergency Management job.

My husband Mike has been a firefighter since he was 18 give or take a year or two.  He has also been a dispatcher, and is a farmer.  It is he and maybe a couple other firemen (Rob F) who gave me the nickname.  I actually think Rob thought of it first and when I told Mike he laughed and it stuck.  In fact he teases me about it.

Why?  Well I am guessing it is for two reasons.

First, a number of neighbors have come over asking for help before calling 911…my husband has a higher medical license (until recently), but they always ask for me.  I don’t know why.  But I don’t mind.

Secondly,  I am a clumsy oaf.  Really!  Mike’s pager can go off and like a silent ninja, he gets out of bed, dressed, and out the door.  Sometimes I hear the pager and the door close, but not much else. He is the master of stealth.

Me, on the other hand, hear the pager go off, jump up in shock, grab my pants, put the wrong leg in the wrong leg hole, fall down, utter some unintelligible oath, stub my toe, drop my keys, and finally out the door I go.  He sometimes will even roll over in bed and watch me try to en-robe properly with a laugh and a humorous shake of his head…

During waking hours he will chuckle, say “duh de dah, Rescue Renee!”, imparting to me some mythical cartoonish superhero status.

Husbands…(me rolling eyes)…