What happened to us?
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)
It was May 10, 1977, when at the age of 21, I was sworn in to the Clifton Police Department. I never took a test with about a dozen other officers who were hired, under the State’s CETA program. It was basically a “Safe Streets Act” where police departments would beef up patrols while being paid by the State of New Jersey rather than the City of Clifton. No test, and incredibly, no training at the police academy. I would be a cop with full police powers for the next 2 ½ years until someone thought, gee, maybe these guys should go through the academy. Things were certainly different back then at the time when New Jersey rewrote the law books changing from Title 2A to 2C.
So, I get sworn in and told to go buy a gun. Clifton, like so many others, were carrying .38s or .357 magnums at the time, so I bought a S&W .357 but was told to use .38 loads while on duty. A couple of weeks of report writing and range time brought me up to snuff. Lucky for me I used to go hunting with my father and brothers, so killing silhouettes was a snap. This was followed by a couple of weeks riding with the sergeant, (LoGioco) then a couple of different senior officers. Summer was upon us pretty fast, so a couple of us were assigned to our own radio cars while senior officers took vacations.
I remember during my training period that most of the cops on the midnight shift were more interested in reading newspapers and taking naps than going after any bad guys. So, we basically were a little like firemen in the sense that we “reacted” to calls only. Now, there were exceptions to the rule, and I’d say about 20% of the department liked going after criminals. But unfortunately, it was a time when supervisors would say at the beginning of the shift, “Don’t get me in any trouble tonight!” If I or one of the other proactive rookies stopped too many cars on midnights, the captains would give us a walking beat.
As the years went by, a few of the more proactive patrolmen got promoted, and the midnight shift wound up with the most rookies. As a result, it was my generation that stepped up to the plate and knocked the hell out of all the law breakers, but particularly car thieves. By the early ‘90s, Clifton was chasing down everybody, thanks to our proactive chief, Frank LoGioco. I personally had a hot and cold relationship with the chief over the years, but I must say, if it weren’t for LoGioco, who always had a set of balls, Clifton never would have become infamous for high-speed chases and taking no shit!
So how did so many departments, not just CPD, become highly trained and proactive over the years and then get to where we are today? It’s partially due to a lack of courage by supervisors of all ranks, to stand behind their front-line patrol officers. Feckless politicians, who fall into the “Black Lies Matter” trap and villianize the police, are selling us out every day across this country! But I certainly don’t expect higher echelons who wear the badge to sell us out! We all took a solemn oath to protect people and property, and in many cases, we’re no longer allowed to do our job. We know the law much better than any politician and we need to use the law to stand by our brave men and women. And it’s not just a problem with the bosses; it’s also the responsibility of the rank and file to get the job done each and every day, no matter what our detractors are saying. I know that there are also contract problems, but go out there and do your job for pride, not $$. I now see officers going back to that “I don’t give a shit” attitude of yesteryear. Supervisors, remember how pumped-up you were when you were first sworn in? Remember the difference you wanted to make? Stand up as crime fighters to politicians and tell your officers to fill up those empty cells before they go home!
Street cops, go home proud at the end of your shift for something you did, or someone you helped? Take pride in arresting a violent felon, because you saved another potential victim.
We’ve come too far to allow the weak to push us back!
Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (BN.com/Amazon), and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.