Cover Story - Blue Magazine Advisor and Contributing Writer Win the Fight for Justice

Blue Magazine Advisor and Contributing Writer Win the Fight for Justice
#FreeEddie

Imagine if former New York City Police Commissioner and Blue Magazine Advisor Bernard Kerik had not flown to San Diego to assist the Gallagher family for the seven grueling weeks leading up to the trial. Imagine if Commissioner Kerik had not recommended assembling the legal dream team consisting of powerhouse attorneys Timothy Parlatore and Marc Mukasey. Imagine if we as Americans had allowed a slanted and malicious prosecution to jail Chief Eddie Gallagher, 39, for the rest of his life. Had Commissioner Kerik not intervened, that's where we were headed.

Gallagher, a trained medic, sniper and explosives expert had spent 19 years of his life fighting terrorists on their soil so we could be safe here at home.  He had eight overseas deployments, including service in both the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. Gallagher was recognized for valor several times, including two Bronze Stars. He's also a loving husband and father of three children. He's a hero whose many sacrifices have successfully battled the war on terror.

For Commissioner Kerik, the fight for justice for Gallagher was personal. "I've followed the Gallagher case for months before I got involved," Kerik said. "It was horrible the injustice, the maltreatment, the disrespect to Gallagher's wife, his parents, and his children. After all Eddie had done for our country to see him maltreated was where I drew the line."

Many people had forgotten why Gallagher and others like him were overseas fighting terrorists. When Gallagher was arrested on Sept. 11, 2018, at gunpoint, which included holding his family at gunpoint, the media had appeared disinterested. Disgraceful. However, not all people have short memories. Many of us will never forget that horrific day on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked our country and killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

"As the person responsible for overseeing the rescue, recovery, investigation of the World Trade Center. Somebody who lost twenty-three of my own officers on September 11, 2001, I remember when Pres. George Bush came to Ground Zero on Sept. 14th, and he told me the people who did this—the people who attacked the Towers—the people who attacked America— they were going be held accountable for what happened," Kerik said. "And you know what we did? We sent people like Chief Gallagher into the Middle East to kill the terrorists. We sent them to the Middle East to take out the people who attacked our city."

That's why Kerik got involved.

"When I heard this story, I thought it was outrageous. We can't go after the men and women who do the job that has to be done. Monday morning quarterbacking, what they should've, would've done. No. Let them do their job," Kerik said. "Eddie Gallagher did his job. He's a hero in the eyes of every American that's following this case, and I couldn't be happier than I am with Tim Parlatore and Marc Mukasey for a job well done."

We too at Blue Magazine are proud of the job Parlatore—a Blue Magazine contributing writer, and Marc Mukasey did in the name of justice. Parlatore and Mukasey are tremendously busy attorneys who dropped everything and flew out to California to fight for justice. They remember the attack on 9/11—they know the honorable work our men and women in the military do every day to keep us safe. Railroading our heroes for crimes they did not commit is about as insulting as it gets. This is not how we treat our veterans. This is not how we, as Americans, thank them for their sacrifices and dedication.

Even President Trump—an ardent supporter of our military and law enforcement community—stepped in and helped Gallagher after reports of his harsh treatment while in confinement became public. On March 30, Pres. Trump ordered Gallagher transferred to "less restrictive confinement," marking the second time in history a U.S. president had intervened in a prisons conditions matter. Pres. Nixon did it in 1971 when he ordered Lt. William Calley moved from a military brig to house arrest.

On July 2, 2019 the jury acquitted Gallagher on six charges and found him guilty on the seventh charge of "wrongful pos[ing] for an unofficial picture with a human casualty. Since the maximum sentence for that charge was four months, and Gallagher had already served more time in jail than the sentence, he was released.

Trump tweeted, "Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together. Glad I could help!"

The Gallagher trial has exposed Americans to the inner workings of the malicious military prosecutions of our heroes. It has taught us we must continue to honor heroes like Gallagher, not turn our backs on them, jail them for life for whatever political expediency or other unjust reasons. We see this all the time in the law enforcement community where good officers are collateral damage of pandering politicians or spineless law enforcement leaders who don't have the mettle to stand up and fight for justice.

On that horrific day of Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorists attacked and killed so many of us, and have thus far been destroyed by heroes like Gallagher, who've never forgotten what's at stake. All of us at Blue Magazine commend Chief Gallagher and appreciate the work Kerik, Parlatore and Mukasey did in the name of justice. It's refreshing to know there are still great men out there who never forget 9/11 and remember the cost in blood and lives. Job well done.

George Beck is a police sergeant, award-winning journalist, and managing editor of Blue Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in History & Culture from Drew University. He is the author of The Killer Among Us and several other books.

Why ‘Black Lives’ & ‘Blue Lives’ should matter to all of us

Why ‘Black Lives’ & ‘Blue Lives’ should matter to all of us
By Robert Foreman

The volatile mixture of race and incidents of police brutality has long been a subject of contention in America. Many people have their own entrenched views on the matter and will not be swayed either way. Most African-Americans see the issue of police brutality as an ongoing threat to our community. On the other hand, there are many in law enforcement who believe that there is an ongoing bias against members of their profession who are just doing their jobs. The growing tensions have resulted in the birth of two movements; “Black Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter.” Each of these movements has inspired both support and controversy among the public and lawmakers.

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement was born following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed Martin, who was 17, during an altercation. Other high-profile incidents involving unarmed African-Americans who were killed during encounters with police officers continued to galvanize the movement. Some view Black Lives Matter as shining a light on issues of police misconduct. Others have branded Black Lives Matter as racist and have countered with “all lives matter.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I have had to debate with people regarding Black Lives Matter. What I try to explain to them is that if one black person kills another black person under circumstances that aren’t self-defense, then that black person who did the killing is likely going to jail for murder or manslaughter. On the other hand, if a rogue officer, or non-black citizen like Zimmerman, kills a black person under circumstances that aren’t self-defense, then they likely aren’t going to go to jail for murder or manslaughter. So, Black Lives Matter isn’t claiming that black lives matter more than any other racial group. It’s stating that black lives should matter just as much as everyone else’s under the eyes of the justice system.

The Blue Lives Matter movement was born in 2014 following the deaths of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu. Both on-duty NYPD officers were shot and killed by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley. The shootings were Brinkley’s revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, who were both killed during encounters with the police. Blue Lives Matter grew out of the frustration that some in law enforcement saw as a bias toward law enforcement and was a response to Black Lives Matter. The advocates of Blue Lives Matter firmly believe that the killing of a law enforcement officer should fall under the hate crime statutes once a prosecution and conviction have occurred. Only one state, Louisiana, has made it a hate crime to target law enforcement personnel, EMTs and firefighters. The Louisiana law has been met with controversy by those who believe that someone’s job occupation should not get the same hate crime protections as race and gender.

I have friends who are both current and former law enforcement and I’ve always found them to be dedicated to the oath they swore to “protect and serve.” They would express their frustration to me about being branded a racist when they had a legitimate reason to stop or detain someone of color. However, some of them understood that there were incidents where some of their brethren did cross a line, yet they understandably did not want to be lumped in with the actions of others.

Ironically, both African-Americans and law enforcement personnel find themselves in similar predicaments. Each is unfairly judged by the actions of a few. Law-abiding African-Americans complain that they find themselves being treated as criminals by some members of law enforcement simply because of other African-Americans who do commit criminal acts. Many law enforcement personnel complain that they are being branded as racists by the African-American community, and the media, simply because of the actions of some of their brothers and sisters in blue who have acted in an unprofessional manner in high-profile incidents.

In the end, people should be judged by their own actions and not by the actions of those who have the same skin color or wear the same uniform. No race or profession should be unfairly painted with a broad brush as being either all good or all bad. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people find it easier play the blame game instead of trying to have open and honest discussions about the issues at hand. Both the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements have given some people a real opportunity to discuss the issues, while other people have used both movements as a way to create more division and animosity to suit their agenda.

Regardless of how people choose to view Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter, one thing is crystal clear. All lives do matter, whether they are black, white, brown, yellow or make their living in law enforcement. There should be no debate over which life matters more. Now, that’s no politically correct bumper sticker or social media hashtag. It’s just a statement of fact. Because once we start trying to decide which life has more value based on race or profession, we begin to lose sight of our common humanity. Once we go down that road the only destination is our own destruction, and in that outcome everybody loses.

Legally Achieving the American Dream: Now Campaigning for Mayor

Legally Achieving the American Dream: Now Campaigning for Mayor
By Valerie Stetz

Arvin Amatorio, Esq.  was born to Librado and Sonia Amatorio in the northern section of the Philippines, along with his five siblings. Both of his parents were school teachers and his mother was also involved with politics. Education, their Catholic religion, and community service were very important to the Amatorio family. All through grammar school, Arvin aspired to be a Catholic priest. It was during high school where he became interested in law. Arvin went to college in Manila and then attended the College of Law at San Sebastian where he earned his law degree. His girlfriend Ilya was also educating herself and received her nursing degree. She traveled to NYC to work on several projects. In 2002 she asked Arvin to accompany her several times, which he eventually did. Ilya felt a connection to NYC and wanted to stay when she was offered gainful employment. Ilya works as a nurse administrator at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC.

Ilya discussed her plans with her Arvin and was determined to stay with or without him. Both of their entire families were living in the Philippines and Arvin had to choose his career in the Philippines or starting over with his love in the United States. He made a great choice and began looking into obtaining a green card and gainful employment. He became an adjunct professor in one of Manhattan’s private colleges, all while studying for the Bar exam in NYC. Arvin and Ilya eventually married and were both employed in NYC when they were having their first-born son and they wanted to achieve another American dream of becoming homeowners.

They purchased their first home in Bergenfield N.J., which was affordable for them. Arvin passed the Bar exam on his first attempt. He worked for a few firms and eventually started his own successful practice based in NYC, where he found his passion for immigration law. Arvin has been representing clients for over thirteen years, with matters before US Immigration Offices and US Immigration Courts Nationwide. His passion is helping others fulfill their dream to stay and live in the United States legally.

Arvin felt a strong connection to his new-found home, Bergenfield, NJ, where Filipinos are the largest ethnic group and he developed relationships within the community. He was asked to run for Councilman of Bergenfield by his peers, which he has been very successful at while serving the people as a two term Councilman and Council President. He has been the chairman of the finance committee for the past four years that delivered 0% municipal tax increase for two consecutive years amidst the rising cost of government in the State and in the Country.

Additionally, he is on the police and DPW committees. Being elected to the Council is one of the highest honors and privileges of his life. As an immigrant, he was entrusted with public office and he is taking this as a sacred obligation, which leads to his announcement to run for Mayor in November, alongside Council members Kornbluth and Deauna. If victorious in November, Amatorio will become New Jersey’s second elected Filipino mayor. Amatorio states, “I would like to bring Bergenfield to a different level. I know I can do more for the town and excel.” Arvin spearheaded disabled veteran tax exemption to make sure our returning veterans and surviving spouses have property tax relief. Arvin has the upmost respect for the military and first responders. Other accomplishments include reduction of borough debt of more than four million dollars and lowered tax increases by more than 50%.

As if law and politics were not enough, Arvin serves as the CEO of Pro Health Consulting LLC. and Apex Health Care. Pro Health engages in managing medical facilities, with concierges’ service to first responders, educators, local, county, state, and federal employees and their families. Apex is a professional medical staffing company. Despite his busy schedule, family always takes first priority. He loves spending quality time with his two sons and wife as he instills in his two boys the importance of love of God, family and country.

THE REAL YOU

THE REAL YOU
By: Anthony Mikatarian

We as human beings are blessed to be social souls. Without this prominent trait we possess, we as a human race would not fully flourish. The sense of belonging to a societal group is natural, as long as it doesn’t damage your own true identity.  Unfortunately, though, you will constantly be challenged by peer pressure, as well as other external and even your own internal forces, to stay on your true identity’s path. There is no one out there that I have encountered who hasn’t found themselves at a crossroads in questioning and figuring out their true and purposed identity.

The constant undertow of socially belonging leaves you constantly challenged on staying afloat in your identity. When self-doubt, questioning, opinions and/or overwhelming peer pressure kicks in, this is when the undertow is at its strongest, leaving you vulnerable to drowning in it if you’re not careful. This can leave you in the desperate and misguided position of wrongfully conforming in order to survive, leaving your pure self and identity behind.  Hence, you find yourself lost in a world to strictly please others while leaving your own beliefs and values behind. You become a conscious (and at times a subconscious) replica of what they expect you to be and not what you were truly meant to be. It is a difficult task to overcome this because of responsibilities to loved ones and survival.

In being a seasoned officer, family member, friendship holder, student, multi-business professional and finely aged human being, I have learned that in all aspects of your life the tug of peer pressure approval is at its most powerful when your own identity is at its weakest.

In all types of the social relationships that you have, from the most unsavory to the ones you love dearly, they all constantly affect how you need to be, act and live. Some are good-hearted attempts, some are given with bad attentions and some are just given without real thought. Nobody really knows what is best for you because nobody really knows the authentic you. Does anybody really offer 100 % of themselves?

The good, bad and ugly advice someone offers is only as good as what you reveal to them about yourself. From people with the worst intentions to the ones with the purest intentions, they lay on peer pressure and their opinions as to what is offered to them by you. They are also influenced by their own beliefs and agendas to try and transform you. More likely than not, their offerings are tainted with the giver’s interpretation of what the real you should be.  You also have to decipher if they are genuine, jealous, evil, self-serving or uninterested offerings.

A way to combat this is to find and familiarize yourself with people who do not totally and blindly follow a flock. These people live their lives flying at times against the flock. You can learn from these people, who forge through the negative forces to live the way they were meant to live. These authentic people live life on their own terms and belief system. Remember that people’s opinions are only that! An opinion is a view or judgement formed, which is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Simply put, the only person who knows the real you is YOU. Have the aptitude to embrace your own instincts. Always listen, but void out the unnecessary and self-serving peer pressure and opinionated noises. And most of all, believe in your judgement on what road to follow in finding the real you! As always, God bless and stay safe!

THE DRUG CRISIS - Making a Difference: One Life at a Time

THE DRUG CRISIS
Making a Difference: One Life at a Time
By: Joel E. Gordon

“We as a community came together and broke down the silos, rolled up our sleeves and did what was necessary to move us forward.” – Jan Rader

West Virginia’s first female fire chief, Huntington’s Jan Rader, is making a big impact on the fight against the drug and opioid epidemic. In 2017, Cabell County, West Virginia, the county in which Huntington resides, with a population of 95,000, had 1,831 overdoses and 183 overdose deaths.

"This epidemic is far from over, but each and every one of us has a part to play in this epidemic. Just by listening and being kind to somebody, you have the ability to make a dent, a difference in their lives," Rader said in her TED Talk, which was filmed in November 2018 and has gotten over one million views so far.

In her TED Talk, she tells how she has been a firefighter for 24 years and in 2008, she earned her Associate Degree in Nursing after it became clear to her that the next big threat was not a “one and done emergency where you can ride in like the cavalry” but the deadly problem of drug and opioid addiction. Rader contends that first responders have had to redefine their job to be less like the cavalry and do more to save a life by helping to rebuild that life. "Somebody suffering from substance use disorder or addiction is actually a fragile person," Rader said that what they are dealing with is a brain disorder that changes the way a person thinks and convinces them they don’t have a problem. "They are hopeless, and the way we treat them can make their situation better or worse. … So we need to treat them with kindness and compassion and show them that they are a good person and that they do deserve to get better, because they can."

Due to Rader’s plan of action after a terrible year in 2017, new cases of hepatitis B and C are down 60 percent; overdoses in the community are down by 40 percent and overdose deaths are down 50 percent. Several new programs have contributed to these positive results.

  • Harm Reduction Program. “The Harm Reduction Program has been instrumental in those numbers going down,” Rader noted. This program provided first responders with naloxone. The program also provides training and free naloxone for families and friends of those suffering from substance abuse disorder. “A lot of people in the community have had their lives saved not just by first responders, but also by friends and family,” Rader reported.

  • Quick Response Team. Another community program is a grant-supported Quick Response Team (QRT). This program employs a team approach to visit, within 72 hours, those who have survived an overdose and to offer services. “The team is made up of a paramedic, someone from the recovery community, an undercover police officer and also someone from the faith community,” Rader explained. “We’ve found that has been extremely helpful.” About 30 percent of those contacted immediately accept help; the remainder continue to be regularly contacted by the team.

  • Free-standing treatment facility. A third new solution is a free-standing treatment facility where people can be assessed and triaged. First responders can directly refer patients to this centrally located facility at the initial point of contact.

Besides helping community members deal with addiction issues, these new programs also help the caregivers. “First responders are so frustrated,” Rader observed. “We deal with the same people over and over, and then we find them dead. We’re built to help people. These new tools empower first responders to take action.”

Rader is committed to helping fire department members manage the stress and pressure they face, especially associated with the opioid crisis. This year, the city was awarded a Mayor’s Challenge Grant, which provided seed money to create a prototype program for firefighter wellness and self-care. The department has since been awarded a much larger Bloomberg grant to keep the program going for at least the next three years.

“This will be huge, because PTSD, compassion fatigue, mental health with first responders, these things are just as stigmatized as the opioid crisis,” Rader said. The program includes education, classes on strategies like mindfulness and yoga, massage and an embedded mental health counselor for the police and fire departments.

Rader's work fighting the opioid epidemic was featured in the Emmy-winning Netflix documentary, "Heroin(e)," and her work has been rewarded with a place on the 2018 Time 100 list of Most Influential People.

“This epidemic is far from over,” she cautioned “In Huntington, we are showing the rest of the country … that there is hope in this epidemic.”

To see Rader’s TED Talk go to: https://www.ted.com/talks/jan_rader_in_the_opioid_crisis_here_s_what_it_takes_to_save_a_life

Police Suicide: Breaking down the walls

Police Suicide: Breaking down the walls
By: Jim Ford, Ph.D.

Access to firearms, continuous exposure to human tragedy, shift work, social strain and marital difficulties, physical illness and alcohol are all contributing factors to why police officers commit suicide.

From the headlines, June 2019, two veteran police officers earlier this month from NYPD took their own lives within a 24-hour period.

Chicago Tribune, May 2019 – According to an 8-month study, six police officers have committed suicide. The administration of the Chicago PD are quite worried.

In the first four months of this year in France, French police officers committed suicide once every four days; a new report revealed 24 officers have taken their own lives. These statistics are staggering and mind-boggling.

There is a code of secrecy when it comes to mental illness in police agencies around the country and it’s a code that needs to be broken. According to Badge of Life, there is an average of 130 law enforcement suicides each year, or 11 per month. More officers die of suicide than from shootings and motor vehicle accidents combined. Police officers are eight times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in a homicide and three times more likely to kill themselves than to die in job-related accidents (Villa, 2000). Badge of Life is a nonprofit organization and focuses on educational and training law enforcement in the area of mental health and suicide prevention.

We have to break down the wall that prevents us from admitting we have a problem and seek help before its too late. We have to take care of our brothers and sisters in blue. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help. Make a call and see help NOW!

Dr. Jim Ford is a retired police lieutenant from Chatham Township. Currently,Professor, Chairperson and Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ jford@cse.edu

Proceed with Caution: New Jersey and Official Misconduct

Proceed with Caution: New Jersey and Official Misconduct
By Timothy Smith, Esq.

New Jersey has an embarrassing history of corruption among its political leaders.  We have seen state senators, assembly persons, big-city mayors and other officials go to jail for their corrupt activities.  As a consequence, the penalties that are mandated for the crime of official corruption are severe.  A person convicted of second-degree official misconduct will face a five-year parole-ineligibility period.  A person convicted of third-degree official misconduct will face a two-year parole-ineligibility period.  All official misconduct is of either the second or third degree.  

But these harsh punishments are required not just for corrupt high officials, who may wield enormous powers and do tremendous damage through their corrupt conduct.  Rather, the statute covers the conduct of any public employee, that is, any person employed by any government agency in New Jersey.  Even a public-school janitor, who may have no more official authority than deciding which classroom to mop up first, can be sent to jail for five years without the possibility of parole for a misdeed committed in connection with his or her job.  Of course, police officers are also public employees and are similarly vulnerable to the statute for their work-related misconduct.

No one can disagree that public officials who betray the public should face harsh treatment.  But the problem is that the official-misconduct statute is so broadly worded that its harsh sanctions are available for nearly any infraction, even a violation of a departmental rule, by an on-duty public employee.  Hence, in one case, a school teacher was indicted for second-degree official misconduct because he lied to his principal about why he had taken sick days.  The case was ultimately plea-bargained down to a lesser charge.  In another, a Board of Education clerk who took Board documents to use in her civil suit against the Board was found guilty of official misconduct because her removal of those documents violated the Board’s internal confidentiality policies. 

Police officers thus need to be aware that, subject to the charging discretion of the county prosecutor’s office, even minor disciplinary matters might result in an indictment for official misconduct. 

In addition, the Appellate Division has held that a police officer’s personal use of a police car and municipal telephone constitutes official misconduct.  In another case, where, admittedly, the officer deserves no sympathy, the Appellate Division held that a police officer who used the department’s telephone and internet service during business hours to further an illicit sexual relationship (with an underage girl) was guilty of official misconduct. 

The Appellate Division has also ruled that on-duty consensual sex constitutes official misconduct.  The court’s reasoning was that while an officer is engaged in such behavior, he is necessarily neglecting his official duties. 

It goes without saying that officers should not engage in misconduct of any sort regardless of whether that misconduct might also be indictable.Nonetheless, the severe, mandated penalties for acts of official misconduct and the statute’s nearly limitless reach (a reach that, in this writer’s view, is exceedingly unfair) constitute powerful incentives to keep on the straight and narrow.

Selecting the Right Candidate for Promotion

Selecting the Right Candidate for Promotion
By Christopher Scilingo

What happens when the wrong person gets a promotion and moves up into management?  It’s probably not that big of a deal. It happens all the time in both the public and private sectors.  The decision may ruffle some feathers and others who thought they were deserving of the new position may be upset for a time, but life will go on.  That wrong person for the job will soon learn to do the right job and step up to the plate and rise to the occasion, or they will continue to be the wrong person, but now in a position of management or leadership. However, what happens when there are multiple unqualified, incompetent outright "bad eggs" moving up the ladder? What happens when there is a culture of promoting employees based solely on their reciprocated relationships with those who are in power who make the decisions of who moves up the management hierarchy?  You see where I am going with this, don't you?  Apply this scenario to the law enforcement organization that you are a member of.  

This seems all too common in law enforcement organizations that are manipulated by elected officials and members of governing bodies. Greek philosopher Plato even touched on this subject around 380 B.C. in Book III of The Republic.  Plato warned that talented people must rise up the social hierarchy or else society may collapse, and he warned against the rise of those who lack talent but are related to those in power.  Can we apply Plato’s words to law enforcement organizations? Sure we can! If we adjust our point of view and change a few words, we can alter its application.  There is a correlation between poorly functioning law enforcement departments and the unqualified candidates who are chosen to move up in ranks.  The real blunder in this example is from those who are in power who outright choose a candidate to move up based on nothing more than the relationship that they share.  Can you foresee a departmental collapse or failure from this continued method? I can, but why can’t those in power see it? 

Those making promotion decisions must know that supervisors, managers and leaders are all integral positions that are required to operate an organization, especially paramilitary law enforcement organizations with rules, regulations, ranks and so on. Wouldn't those who are in power want to promote the right candidates for the positions so that those candidates will aid in the operation of an effective law enforcement organization? The goal should be to maintain an effective law enforcement organization that will, in turn, provide exceptional services to the people who make up communities, towns, and cities. They are an essential component to governing bodies.  Those governing bodies and others in power should be focused on providing people with the best services possible.  Sadly, this is seldom the case and we as law enforcement officers know all too well that politicians seem to want to benefit themselves before benefiting others.  So if a politician benefits themselves by returning a favor to a law enforcement officer that shares a relationship with them, let's say promotion in this case, but that law enforcement officer is neither qualified nor capable of the promotion, and this happens on a business as usual basis, who suffers? The law enforcement organization as a whole suffers, policing services suffer, and the people we're sworn to serve suffer.

Profound procedures need to be in place to sift through all the rank and file talents, experiences and inabilities.  No single promotional exam or review board can possibly pick the best candidate for promotion. These systems are in place to make the process appear fair.  However, law enforcement departments without some form of “testing” other than politicians appointing their friends will always suffer. In those cases, there needs to be in place a standardized method for selection to determine the better candidates for promotion. At least with a test, the most incompetent of the candidates will not pass or score well enough to qualify.  Although it may not be a foolproof method of selecting the right candidate, a test still separates candidates and holds them accountable to a standard for qualification.   It should never be acceptable to have those in power handing out promotions on a quid pro quo basis.  The very best should be promoted to serve our communities.

An Alternate Strategic Plan Format for Law Enforcement Agencies

An Alternate Strategic Plan Format for Law Enforcement Agencies
By Chief Rich Rosell

 Introduction

Today’s law enforcement executive faces complex challenges, both external and internal.  Years ago, a solid chief could plan his/her next fiscal year budget by copying the previous year’s budget and changing the dates, but not in today’s fast-paced world.

Strategic planning is not a new concept.  It has been used for decades, mostly in medium to large businesses.  Law enforcement executives have increasingly looked toward strategic planning to assist in creation of long-term goals.  Perhaps the most compelling reasons to plan strategically are, 1) allows (forces) an agency to look to the future and plan accordingly so they may be proactive in their LE initiatives, 2) puts the municipal or county governing bodies on notice that you need specific funding for specific reasons, 3) provides a mechanism for transparency, and 4) demonstrates to the rank and file that there is a plan behind the policies by which they are compelled to abide.

The internet is filled with countless formats for strategic planning.  Most, if not all, contain the absolute minimum needed to create a decent plan.  This article will take a different approach by recommending a format first introduced by the General Accounting Office (GAO) in 2004.  In a paper entitled “Combatting Terrorism: Evaluation of Selected Characteristics of National Strategies Related to Terrorism,” researched and written by former Undersecretary of Defense Randal Yim, he identified a set of characteristics which GAO recommended be present in any homeland security strategy.  These characteristics are ideal for a Law Enforcement Strategic Plan because they provide a much more detailed justification for much-needed budgetary items.  Those characteristics are:

(1) Purpose, scope, and methodology

(2) Problem definition and risk assessment

(3) Goals, subordinate objectives, activities and performance measures

(4) Resources, investments and risk management

(5) Organizational roles, responsibilities and coordination

Don’t get too wrapped up in the fact that Undersecretary Yim’s purpose was to improve homeland security strategies.  Read further in this article and you will understand why, in today’s operational tempo, it makes sense to use these characteristics as a template.

Purpose, Scope and Methodology

Any chief executive who has been around long enough has been bushwhacked by sharpshooting members of council who have yet to come to terms with the fact that the duties of a law enforcement officer are delineated by complex, well-researched policies and procedures.  By coming out strong stating why you need a strategic plan, to whom it applies, why, and how you came to develop such a comprehensive document, you are sure to get the attention of everyone in the room.  Three important parts of this (Purpose) paragraph are Mission, Vision and Values statements.  Mission tells the reader, in one or two sentences, the main focus of the agency: “The Mission of the Village of Rock Ridge Police Department is to provide professional and equitable service to its residents; properly funded and fiscally responsible.”   Be reasonable with your mission.  Don’t suggest something impossible, for example, “The Mission of the Village of Rock Ridge Police Department is to end all crime.”

The Vision Statement tells the reader what the leader envisions for his agency.  Don’t be afraid to be bold:  “The Vision of the Village of Rock Ridge Police Department is to become the leader in Community Policing in the State”.

The Values Statement shares with the reader the values of not only the agency, but those for whom it works: “Honor, Duty, Fidelity,” “To Protect and Serve.”

Scope will determine the reach of the document; who it affects. 

Methodology is as it implies; how did you happen to create such a masterpiece?  Don’t be afraid of being wordy.  List your references, key players, surveys, best practices, etc.

Problem Definition and Risk Assessment

We have been in a domestic battle to keep our citizens safe from terrorism for close to two decades.  Prior to 9/11, there were many problems with which law enforcement needed to be concerned.  Over the last 18 years, those problems have greatly increased every single year.  Here is your opportunity to tell the governing body, and the public who will read this strategy, what the problems are that require action and funding, and the bottom-line risk associated with these problems. 

While the Problem Definition should be self-evident, sometimes the Risk Assessment can be a bit tricky to verbalize.  Keep it simple by first describing the threat, then the vulnerabilities to the public and the agency.  Don’t list your threats and vulnerabilities without addressing how you (this plan) propose to mitigate them.

Goals, Subordinate Objectives, Activities and Performance Measures

These are the foundation of your strategic plan.  This is where you identify what you need in order to accomplish your mission up and above what would normally be presented in your budget.  Set out 4-7 important goals that are distinguishable from other items in your budget (such as paper clips, bullets and copy machines).  Then, identify 2-3 objectives designed to directly support each goal, followed by activities designed to meet those objectives. 

Use the SWOT analysis method for identifying your goals. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is the industry standard for creating actionable goals for a strategic plan.  Follow the link on the footnote for an easy to understand, in-depth description of SWOT.

When linking your goals, objectives, and activities, use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) method. SMART can be applied to the goal, objective or activity, depending on where you need it.  Again, follow the footnote link for an easy to understand, in-depth description of SMART. And don’t try to do it by yourself.  Strategic Planning is a team sport!

Performance measures can be as simple as requiring division heads to report their progress weekly, surveys or statistics indicating that crime has been reduced.  It also provides transparency to council and the public.

Resources, Investments and Risk Management

The Resource paragraph is where you list the many resources, internal and external, available to you which will contribute to the success of your plan.  List your stakeholders and partners liberally. 

Investments represent the budget you require to meet your goals.  I suggest an attached spreadsheet in a line-item format.  Once you start meeting some of these objectives, you are going to see that many of the activities are not going to cost the town any money, for example you may find grants, or federal surplus items.  You still need to list them in the resources section, so council will see your sense of responsibility and good faith. 

Risk management can take many forms, for example, purchasing software to assist with predictive policing may require the storage of intelligence, which may be subject to the rules promulgated in 28 CRF part 23.  (Anything related to intelligence collection contains inherent intelligence purge concerns).  Purchasing software that facilitates the entry of application information online may require the purchase of new hardware, or costly maintenance agreements. 

Organizational Roles, Responsibilities and Coordination

Don’t take this section too lightly, as it will keep your document healthy and moving in the right direction.  If done correctly, your entire command staff will own a piece of this plan, so list each member’s roles in detail.

Assign the right people to run the applicable part of the plan, delineate responsibilities and give them a realistic time frame to meet your expectations. 

You must coordinate this plan at every level of your agency.  It will be worthless if it is not actionable at every level.  Conduct a tabletop in order to test the feasibility of key components of the plan. It would not be a bad idea to have a public workshop so that your residents become stakeholders.

Integration and Implementation

Your new Strategic Plan must be fully interoperable with all departmental policies and procedures, as well as other municipal documents.  We’ve all seen a “Town Manual” which was written 30 years ago and is completely irrelevant to our purposes, and we are obligated to follow some of the items contained within.  A few minutes of your time could make that obsolete Town Manual interoperable with most of your plan.  You can accomplish this task quickly and effectively by convening a panel whose goal is to deconflict the document. 

Once you have determined that your plan is actionable, your next step is to publish an implementation plan.  Don’t panic, for an implementation plan can be as concise as an operations instruction or policy detailing how and when each division will implement the plan.  One common misconception with Strategic Planning is that since the plan encompasses a period of roughly 3 years, that you cannot change its content.  Don’t be afraid to amend it as needed!  Consider it a living document.  When you meet a goal, improve upon that goal and republish the plan.  Keep it vibrant.  The worst thing a chief executive can do is to let a Strategic Plan die of natural causes. 

Conclusion

Strategic Planning is not a new concept; rather it has been a cornerstone for businesses for decades.Experience dictates politicians are more apt to agree to a well-articulated written plan than a verbal one.A detailed written strategy document, utilizing Undersecretary Yim’s template, provides the ultimate in transparency.This article simply recommends a new approach to creating a Strategic Plan.The internet is a valuable resource for more in-depth training.By utilizing the format proposed in this article as a template, you will provide a much more detailed proposal which will explain to the policy makers and public alike exactly what you need and why you need it.When policy makers have the optimum amount of information, they are more inclined to approve a request.This format provides a mechanism for you as the chief executive to provide that optimum amount of information to them.

The Execution of a Police Officer

The Execution of a Police Officer
By: Kirk Lawless

On June 23, 2019 North County Police Cooperative Police Officer Michael Langsdorf, as reported by The Officer Down Memorial Page, was shot and killed while responding to a check fraud at a local business.

Plenty about this sickens me, first the softness of the description of the horrific event.  “Shot and killed” so generic.  Lots of folks get shot and killed, on purpose, by accident, by self-destruction, but let’s call this what is was, an execution; a savage execution.  He didn’t just die, he did not “fall” in the line of duty, he wasn’t killed accidentally, he was murdered. He was stolen from us, assassinated, and when that happens to one of “us” what do we do about it? What do we say about it, and to whom do we say it?

Where I sit, writing this, there is a crucifix resting on the windowsill of my home office. On the top of the cross are a handful of black mourning bands that I have worn on my badge to police funerals; too many police funerals.

And that makes me sad, but really it pisses me off! I’m never been much on the bashful side, so I’m not about to start now.

I’m born and raised in St. Louis and it’s been my home for nearly my entire life.  As a police officer, I’ve stepped foot in, and put in work, in pretty much every jurisdiction in the St. Louis area and in the Metro East.  When a police officer is murdered, I take it personally.

I haven’t seen the surveillance footage from the market where Officer Langsdorf was assassinated but, long story short as told by his Chief of Police, Officer Langsdorf responded to a neighborhood market because a man was trying to pass a bogus check.  The video showed Officer Langsdorf leading the man into the store where the man tried to pass the check.  Once inside, a struggle ensued (probably as soon as the officer’s handcuffs came out).  During the struggle, there was a handgun visible in waistband of the soon-to-be murderer’s pants.  The two wrestled out of camera view until the killer produced the weapon and hit Officer Michael Langsdorf in the face and head several times (that sounds too soft as well for me), “pistol whipped” is what we call it.  It is certainly a violent act and it does, on occasion, cause death.  It is a brutal way to end a fight.

At this point, Officer Michael Langsdorf was certainly stunned and perhaps out of the fight.  It would have been the perfect time for the crook to take flight. He had that as a viable option.  Instead, the perpetrator stood directly over Langsdorf and fired one round from his handgun into his head/neck area as he lay facedown on the floor of a convenience store.  The bullet severed his spine and exited through his chest.  The Chief of the North County Police Cooperative described this, as he choked through his own tears, describing the assassination of one of our brothers, one of my brothers.

I will only mention the murderer’s name this one time, in the hopes his name will soon be forgotten when he is eventually erased from this earth. Bonette Kimbrelle Meeks, an ex-con from North Carolina, had just become a cop-killer.

Officer Michael Langsdorf was only 40 years old, had spent more than 17 years of his life as a police officer.  Now, his fiancé is without him and his children are without their father.  I will continue to use Officer Michael Langsdorf’s name, because I want you to remember it. 

The deed done, the assassin decided to flee the scene and he did.  The manhunt had begun.

When I first heard about the murder, someone sent me a Facebook link, wherein someone (doesn’t really matter who at this point) decided to live stream the aftermath on his or her Facebook page. I shouldn’t have watched the video, but I did.  I can add it to the memory bank of vile shit I should have never seen, but as a cop, I had.

And I can tell you; it really pissed me off!

Officer Michael Langsdorf was lying face down on the floor while a chaotic scene unfolded before my eyes.  I saw his life’s blood pooling from beneath him as a woman held his hand and tried to keep him still.  Another was yelling into Langsdorf’s radio for help, telling the dispatcher that an officer was down.  I could see his handcuffs on the ground near his body; one cuff opened, which told me he was probably trying to put the first cuff on when the attack began. (The application of the first cuff is the best time to launch such an attack, and convicts practice this shit in prison. Believe it!)  The killer knew exactly what he was doing.

Others ran around screaming, cursing the assassin, and just milling about.  I literally watched as Langsdorf bled to death and took his final breath.  The video ended shortly after backup units arrived and tried to help their brother, my brother.

A rage that has visited me many times over the past 35 years washed over me, setting me afire with hate and making me physically sick.

God knows how many other folks saw the video.  In this age of technology, the video probably hit every social media outlet within minutes.  Think of it, the final moments of a dying policeman. “If it bleeds, it leads,” right?

So, some heartless bastard at the only newspaper in St. Louis, The Post-Dispatch, gloms onto it and instead of just writing an article decides to post it on their Facebook page with a link to the video.

Enter: various police officers and law enforcement entities catch wind of it and contact Facebook, YouTube and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and demand the removal of the link.  The response was not immediate. Meanwhile the footage continued to circulate.  Eventually the link was removed, but it was replaced with another story. 

Someone at the Post-Dispatch took affront to the negative comments and therefore searched the archives for the name of the deceased officer and found what they really wanted, an article replete with a photo of the officer from 2017 when he was investigated for an internal theft of payroll by padding overtime sheets.  He was never indicted and he wasn’t terminated.  But, a big “Fuck you!” to the police and everyone who complained about the Post-Dispatch article and posting of the link to the video arrived in the form of an old article that portrayed Officer Michael Langsdorf as a criminal.  When they received negative feedback from the police community, a half-assed apology appeared on behalf of the newspaper.

Too late!

I have friends who work for the Post-Dispatch. There are some decent folks there, but whichever douche bag committed those transgressions about a dead police officer (whose body hadn’t even reached room temperature) can kiss my entire Missouri ass! 

Officer Michael Langsdorf resigned from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police department after the police-hating Circuit Attorney, Kim Gardner, tried to “goon” him.  He certainly wasn’t going to stick around and see what she was going to do him “next time.”  There would not be another “next time” at the SLMPD for Langsdorf.  He got out before she could come after him again, and she probably would have.  She has a list. 

Kim Gardner is the overzealous St. Louis City Circuit Attorney, who kicked a hornet’s nest by indicting the governor of the State of Missouri, in an unbelievable case that was politically driven and motivated. It was unsubstantiated and based on fabricated evidence and perjury, by her lead investigator, that should have had her doing federal prison time by the end of the investigation surrounding her office. She should concentrate on making the City of St Louis safer by not coddling criminals and backing the police and not spending so much time trying to indict police officers for things that are so flimsy, they are laughable … unless you’re one of the cops on whose back she has painted a target.  That’s why cops are leaving the SLMPD in droves.  It’s the same in Chicago and Baltimore as well.

Demonize the police, abandon them, indict them on bullshit charges and try to put them in jail, then whine about how dangerous it is out in the streets where the police are out there every damn day, where they are killing us! 

Here’s a thought, a challenge really, for all of the politicians, judges, circuit attorneys and prosecuting attorneys with hidden agendas, those who coddle criminals attack the police and make a mockery of our judicial system.  Do your jobs and quit being soft!  If you are in a state that has the death penalty, use it for crying out loud!  You don’t have to pay for it out of your paycheck.  Murder in the 1st degree is some serious shit.  We’ll (the taxpayers) pay for it.  If the law applies in a murder case and it fits the criteria for the death penalty, apply it already.

So many times we hear, “We took the death penalty off the table to ensure a conviction and we let them take a plea to a lesser charge.”  Seriously, you’re the best we have and that’s what you give us?  Why not just kick us in the nuts? Why not do the job you’re supposed to be good at, and convince the jury that the murderer should get the death penalty. Let them decide.

The newly elected Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County, Mr. Wesley Bell, arrived on the job in January of this year.  His first order of business was to reopen the case of Michael Brown (who played a stupid game and won a stupid prize) and push to re-indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting and subsequent death of a criminal.  That being said, I don’t know Mr. Bell, never have I spoken with him, but if that was his first order of business at the time of his election, I’m going to step out on a limb and say he might have borrowed Kim Gardner’s playbook. 

According to a credible source, Mr. Bell is more into taking a softer approach to dealing with criminals and has a plan to streamline getting prisoners out of jail.  I thought the job of the Prosecuting Attorney was to put criminals in jail.  Isn’t helping them get out or stay of jail/prison the job of the Public Defender’s Office?

I have sent a message to Mr. Bell’s office regarding specifically, “Is the Death Penalty in the 1st degree Murder of Officer Michael Langsdorf off the table, or will you seek the death penalty?” I have yet to receive a response.

We’ll hear about how the death penalty is not a deterrent to other criminals.  That is arguable.

Missouri is a death penalty state.  It is the law.  The assassin of Officer Michael Langsdorf was in custody shortly after the murder, his capture was within close proximity to the murder scene, and he had the murder weapon on his person at the time of his arrest.  There are known witnesses to the murder of Officer Michael Langsdorf and there is video surveillance footage that captured the event. It has also been reported that the man charged with the murder of Langsdorf has confessed to the crime.  If these are facts regarding this case and this does not fit the criteria for the death penalty, and you don’t go after it…

You can kiss my entire Missouri ass as well!

Officer Machado keeps his mind and body in top shape

Officer Machado keeps his mind and body in top shape
By: Robert Foreman

PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. - Officer Izzie Machado’s love of powerlifting began well over a decade ago and continues to this day. He has competed in numerous competitions, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Born in Union City, he was hired by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office in January of 2010 as a corrections officer. He is currently assigned to the Passaic County Jail, where he is part of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response team and a Mobile Field Force Operator.

A graduate of Emerson High School, Machado spent two years at New Jersey University and moved to Jersey City. He held multiple retail management jobs at Book and Music Factory, Camelot Music, Suncoast, and GameStop. He played baseball from the age of 12 until moving on from the sport in 2012. Additionally, he played guitar for two different bands, Bruise Wish and Evil Adam. The latter band had an extensive run until playing their final show in 2006. However, his journey toward law enforcement began in an unexpected fashion.

“Toward the end of my retail days, I became a fugitive recovery agent with a few friends for a bail bondsman.  I really enjoyed the work and it got me thinking about going into law enforcement,” said Machado. “In 2008, when my retail career ended, I moved to Clifton and began working as a security officer at St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic. Both of those jobs helped me prepare for law enforcement.” 

Machado began powerlifting in 2007 in the United States of America Powerlifting League (USAPL). He admits that when he started out that he did not have much knowledge regarding training practices since that information was not as readily available as it is today. He noted that he wore squat suits, deadlift suits, a bench shirt and likely lifted heavier weight than he should have, on occasion, which ultimately caused a shoulder injury. For those who are interested in powerlifting, Machado advises that they become a member of a facility that is ‘powerlifting friendly’.

“I train at Strong and Shapely Gym in East Rutherford. While that gym is well-known for churning out professional bodybuilders, powerlifting has become very big there, too. There are plenty of 100 lb. plates, deadlift platforms, benches, squat racks, specialty bars, and a monolift. When preparing for a competition, I squat twice a week, bench twice a week, deadlift once, and the other days are about support exercises for those three lifts,” said Machado.

“I train six days a week, and no cardio is performed. The weights are exhaustive enough! In general, I follow the sub-maximal training method popularized by Mark Bell. Plus, you need a consistent crew of like-minded powerlifters there with you on a daily basis. I don't pay much attention to diet, other than trying to keep my protein and total calorie intake high. Having a box of donuts, or cookies, nearby while we lift is a common sight.”

Following his first four competitions, Machado stopped competing primarily due to injury. However, a few years ago he was introduced to a relatively new and popular powerlifting federation known as Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS). The federation is owned and operated by Gene Rychlak, who is the first person to ever bench press over 1000 lbs. Machado noted that he has competed seven times for RPS in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and he currently holds records in both states. Machado stressed that he has gotten a great deal of support for his powerlifting from other law enforcement officers and that some members of the Paterson Police Department have recently started competing.

“Of course the members of my PBA, Local #197, show the most support. Sometimes, seemingly, going out of their way to congratulate me and root me on,” said Machado.

Machado noted that other officers have approached him for advice about increasing their strength on squats, bench press and the deadlift. He never turns anyone away who is seeking workout tips, and he takes pride in seeing people progress after giving them some guidance. Machado advises anyone who is interested in powerlifting to get proper advice before beginning and that they should “lift smart.”

“You should not go for maximal weights every week. Listen to your body when it asks for more time to rest and heal. Be consistent,” said Machado. “I’ve never felt like I had to choose between the two (law enforcement and powerlifting). Anybody in law enforcement should be doing something to stay in shape. I use my gym time for powerlifting. It never conflicts.”

Machado plans to continue lifting with RPS and he recently attained pro status in May after lifting 1735 lbs. Not one to rest on his laurels, his next goal is the 1900 lbs. total, which would qualify him for the XPC (Extreme Powerlifting Coalition). The XPC is affiliated with the RPSand holds a yearly competition at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. He hopes to compete there in the future. However, he realizes that powerlifting has benefited him in ways that he would never have imagined when he started.

“Personally, powerlifting has taught me that you are capable of much more than you know. In my last competition, I squatted 650 lbs. I had never even had that much on the bar before in my life, but I went for it anyway. I almost failed it, but when I felt the squat going wrong, I fought through it and forced the weight up and nailed that squat. The thought process almost takes you back to the police academy days, where you are pushed to your limits, and beyond as to be prepared for anything,” said Machado.

“Nothing good comes easy. The more work I put in, the more attention I put into training and eating directly affects my outcome. I'm 40 years old, and I'm stronger now than I ever have been. The biggest lesson I’ve learned would be that no matter how far you've come, there's much more down the road waiting for you if you really want it.”

Monmouth County Partnership Conducts 2nd Annual Forum on Autism, Project Lifesaver and Special Needs Registry

Monmouth County Partnership Conducts 2nd Annual Forum on Autism, Project Lifesaver and Special Needs Registry

By PIO Cynthia Scott and Undersheriff Ted Freeman, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office

On April 2, 2019, World Autism Day, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Monmouth County Division of Aging, Disability and Veterans Services hosted its Second Annual Forum on Autism, Project Lifesaver and Special Needs Registry at the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Center Special Operations Center.  The purpose of the forum was to bring together Project Lifesaver clients, family members and persons interested in learning about Project Lifesaver to share information and updates on programs for autistic individuals. Approximately 150 people attended the three-hour event.

“Although this annual event is held during National Autism Awareness Month, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office along with partners in law enforcement are committed to acknowledging this disorder all year, through such useful programs, in an effort to maintain the safety of individuals and spare families a lot of anxiety when locating or responding to a loved one’s needs,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden, a board member of the Monmouth/Ocean Foundation for children. “Every child on the autism spectrum deserves an opportunity to succeed in life. It is our job to assist them during their journey, to teach them that first responders are here to assist and support them, and, to help bring themselves closer to all that they can accomplish.”

“Some of our most passionate Special Needs Registry liaisons are those law enforcement officers who have family members with special needs,” said Christopher Grammicioni, Monmouth County prosecutor.  “There is no stigma in needing extra help, and these officers, who know that first-hand, are our best ambassadors for why this program is so needed.  The Special Needs Registry is successful because our law enforcement partners at the Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments work in tandem to provide the added support and attention that our special needs residents need.”

Lori Linskey, 1st Assistant Monmouth County prosecutor, opened the program with a discussion about the Special Needs Registry, a partnership between the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association.  She explained that the program is free and is available to any person who lives, works or attends school in Monmouth County and has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.  The registry was created to help emergency responders assist residents with special needs in emergent situations.  The Special Needs Registry provides vital information about the individual’s special needs, emergency contacts, a physical description and current photograph.

“Having the parent of a special needs child tell me that our Special Needs Registry gives them ‘piece of mind’ is the best incentive to continue to do all that we can to get as many people registered who can benefit from our program.  We hope that those who register never need to dial 911, but we take great pride in knowing that our collective efforts to create this program will make that process easier in times of emergency,” said Linskey.

Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Autism Awareness Coordinator Fran Hines addressed the forum on the value of Project Lifesaver for individuals on the autism spectrum who may tend to wander.  Mr. Hines reviewed the procedure for enrolling autistic individuals in the Project Lifesaver program. Colleen Smith, LCSW, Caregiver Support, Monmouth County Office on Aging, talked about senior clients with memory disorders who tend to wander and reviewed the procedure for seniors to enroll in the program.  Sheriff’s Officers Joyce Schmidt and Patrick Luke explained the Project Lifesaver initial hookup procedures for the program, battery changes and response protocols.

Public Safety Telecommunicator Allison Welker explained how to call in a missing person when someone on the Project Lifesaver program wanders off. Detective Todd Smith, Freehold Township Police Department, father of an autistic child, shared some of his experiences in raising an autistic child from both perspectives as a police officer and as a parent of an autistic child.

PIO Cynthia Scott and Autism Coordinator Fran Hines showed segments of the new video-based “Bee Safe” Program, a program that teaches autistic individuals how to interact with police and other first responders in an emergency. Autistic individuals respond in different ways to sirens, personnel in uniform and to stressful situations to which first responders may be summoned.  

“The Special Needs Forum provided an opportunity to have first responders, program administrators, provider agencies and family members all in the same room sharing personal stories and information about program updates and services,” said Sue Moleon, executive director of the Monmouth County Office on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Services.  “The break-out sessions included in this Forum offered participants a unique opportunity to witness in real time how technology is used to find a missing person and underscored the importance of supporting the use of these technological advancements.”

A panel discussion, moderated by Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Cynthia Scott, included Linskey, Detective Todd Smith, Autism Coordinator Fran Hines, PST Allison Welker, and Colleen Smith, LCSW.

A variety of participation options were available to the forum participants including demonstrations of bloodhound tracking, Project Lifesaver tracking and equipment, drone demonstration, static displays and tours of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center at which Project Lifesaver and Special Needs Registry calls are received.

YOUR DREAM HOME

YOUR DREAM HOME
By Fasil Khan

As you engage in the search for your dream home, it helps to know what to look for during a home tour. It’s easy to get distracted or to feel overwhelmed as you tour a prospective home, so use these seven home-buying tips to know what to focus on when checking out your possible future abode.

The neighborhood: Even before arriving at the property, take note of other homes in the area as well as the general neighborhoods surrounding your prospective home. Assess how well neighbors care for their properties, see if the outdoor atmosphere is noisy and if the area seems safe. Check for unpleasant odors such as sewage or smells given off from manufacturing businesses. Take location into account, noting the home’s proximity to grocery stores, schools, restaurants or other frequently visited destinations. 

The roof: Roof repair or replacement can get costly, so it’s best to know the condition of your prospective home’s roof before you make an offer. A roof in poor condition may warrant a price adjustment. Look at the interior ceilings of the home to check for discolorations that may indicate water damage from a roof leak. A newer roof is less likely to leak and may even save you money on your homeowner’s insurance rate.

The plumbing: Not all major expenses are easily seen at first glance. Flush the toilet and pay attention to how long it takes to stop running afterward. Look under sinks to examine the pipes. Note if the pipes have leaks or if there appears to be mold or mildew near them. Look for other signs of water damage around the pipes, such as peeling paint or bubbled surfaces.

The basement: If you’re considering a home with a basement, check for water issues. Mold can cause health problems and should be taken very seriously. Ask if the basement area collects water during hard rains. Musty smells often indicate a moisture issue. A dehumidifier in the basement can also be a sign that the homeowner struggles with moisture levels in that area of the home.

Working order: Don’t be shy about making sure things work as they should. Turn on water faucets, check the water pressure in the shower and test out the garage door opener. Open and close doors and windows and check the locks on them. Your home will probably be one of the biggest financial investments of your life, and you have a right to know you’re making the best choice.

Property inspection: You wouldn’t likely purchase a car without having your mechanic take a look at it, would you? The same logic holds true for the purchase of a home. If you like the property and you are serious about making an offer, have a quality home inspection performed. A property inspection can help identify problems such as structural issues, pest infestations or asbestos. A little money spent up front for a property inspection can save you thousands of dollars after the sale. Know the home’s problems before they become your problems.

Personalization: Don’t sweat the small stuff. While you can’t easily change the location of a home or the way neighbors care for their yards, many aspects of your potential home can be modified to your tastes. Wall colors, carpet choices and curtains can be changed to fit your preferences. Don’t let a bright wall color or outdated carpet deter you from purchasing a home you otherwise love.

Summing it up…

Before attending a home showing, make a list of must-haves to keep you focused on what matters to you. Be mindful that your emotions don’t dominate your logic as you tour your prospective home. Keeping these tips in mind should make your home shopping process easier and more enjoyable.

Happy hunting!

Fasil Khan is a Paterson Police Officer and a Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams Village Square. Fasil enjoys helping fellow law enforcement officers with the purchase of investment properties, as well as general selling, purchasing needs and if you are looking to become an agent. Have questions? Connect with Fasil by calling 201-739-7397 or email at fkhan@khanrealestateteam.com

Never judge a book by its cover

Never judge a book by its cover
By: Nick Mauriello

On June 1st, 2019 we all witnessed what is considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Andy Ruiz Jr. came into the fight verses Anthony Joshua a 14/1 underdog, with some gambling sites even calling him a 20/1 underdog. That night Andy Ruiz Jr. would TKO Anthony Joshua to win the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight World Titles. What was astonishing to the common person who has never watched a day of boxing in their life was not just the major upset, but it was the physique of Andy Ruiz Jr.

Anthony Joshua was the heavyweight champion and he looked the part. He was jacked and chiseled with muscles on top of muscles at 6'6 and 248 pounds. Then there was Andy Ruiz Jr., who weighed in at 268 pounds, and looks like he eats nothing but cheeseburgers, pizza, and burritos. To the common person, Andy Ruiz Jr. looks obese and like he couldn't fight more than two rounds without gassing out. Here is what the common person didn't know:

Andy Ruiz Jr. is a highly skilled world class athlete/boxer who amassed a professional boxing record of 32-1 (21 KO's) entering this fight. As an amateur he boxed to 105 wins with just 5 losses. Out of those 105 wins are that includes two Mexican National Jr. Olympic gold medals and the Ringside Heavyweight Championship. All those accomplishments certainly were not luck, but years of hard work, desire, heart, and skill.

The point of this article that I want to get across for law enforcement officers is that just because you might be a little overweight or you are not happy with your body, it does not mean you should be discouraged from training in some kind of martial art, such as boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai or wrestling, which could one day save your life. Some people might not have great genetics or might have poor eating habits and will never have six pack abs, but that does not negate the hard work they can put into training and become a highly skilled person. If you are a little overweight let Andy Ruiz Jr. be an inspiration to you to go join a boxing club, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dojo or Muay Thai gym.

I am currently assigned to the Essex County Police Academy where I teach defensive tactics and I can't stress enough to the recruits to train in martial arts once they graduate from the academy. A police officer without training is an accident waiting to happen. Your body type does not matter! Just get out there and train because one day it could save your life. The number one thing we should all learn from Andy Ruiz Jr. is to NEVER judge a book by its cover.

I Am That Cop

I Am That Cop
By Kirk Lawless

This year, the names of 153 police officers taken from us in 2018 were added to the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall, located in Washington, D.C.

Not added to this wall are the names of 165 police officers who died by suicide in 2018.

The numbers of police officers taken from us in 2019 regrettably continues to grow as are those who are being lost to suicide.

I have had the misfortune of being muzzled for nearly 10 years, due to legal action that has now run its course.  I have endured the lies. The muzzle is off now, as are the gloves, and I will no longer be quiet.

What people fail to realize about the police culture in the United States is that I am every name on that wall and I am every name on the other list as well.  That is the culture of policing I cut my teeth on when I came on the job, and sadly I see it is time for a change.

The spirit of brotherhood I used to see on the job seems to be waning.  Statistics don’t lie.  The job is toxic. It is a dangerous profession. We know that as fact.  Some will argue that there are more dangerous professions to the point it becomes monotonous, but of those professions, how many include daily interactions with people who simply want to hurt or kill you because of what you are and what you represent?

Where I come from, if you spit on my brother or sister, you have also spat upon me.

I am that cop:

  • When one of us is killed, it causes something inside us to die, and that’s the way it should be. The death of a police officer by suicide is no different.  At least, it shouldn’t be.

  • Those officers with PTSD are still our brothers and sisters. They are supposed to be. Its 2019, folks, and asking for help should not end a career.  Politicians and cold-hearted brass need to be educated.  They need to help fix us, not abandon us, and not lie to us.  Cops on the job don’t want to call bullshit on what goes on because it can impact their career negatively.  I don’t work for anybody anymore.  I fear no man.  So, I will say it.  The system needs to be held accountable.

  • I know the seemingly eternal sorrow of abandonment. I know how it feels to be ostracized and I am familiar with the sting of inaccurate and vicious labeling.  I know how it feels to be held incommunicado, to be prisoner in your own mind, prisoner in your own home.  To cry for help, to call for backup, only to hear the crackling static on the police radio, no response, no wailing sirens coming from a distance announcing, “Brother, we are coming for you,” I will tell you this, it is one of the worst feelings in the world, to be alone.

  • If you have ever delivered a death notification, telling a parent they have lost a child, or a child that they have lost a parent, or any such scenario that usually ends with gut-wrenching cries of anguish, and felt your own heart break,

  • If you have ever stood over a brother or sister officer who has been shot, stabbed, mangled or killed, and felt part of yourself die,

  • If you have ever visited the scene where a brother or sister officer died, if you have seen their blood (lots of blood) spilled on the ground and watched while the firefighters hosed what was left of your friend, down a storm drain

  • If you have seen every conceivable act of violence and cruelty perpetrated against one human being by another, or have seen the vertiginous retching horror of the most grisly death scenes, whether by accident, or a crime committed on purpose

  • If you have witnessed the death grimace on the faces of countless victims, the open eyes clouded by death, the ones who haunt you and left you wondering what their final moments of life were like

  • If you have seen the suicides of people who chose to “opt out” of life and wonder why they did such a thing in that final moment of desperation

  • I see every flag draped coffin, I hear every playing of “Taps.”

  • I see every grieving widow, widower, child, parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent or friend.

  • I hear every lone bagpiper playing “The Fields of the Forest.”

  • I see every wet-eyed police officer standing graveside.

  • I see every grizzled, hardened, disgusted, on the brink of losing all faith in humanity, police officer.

  • I hear every curse spat at every cop, every threat of violence.

  • I feel every punch, every gunshot wound, every stab wound and every kick in the nuts.

  • I have seen, stood in, and smelled every crime scene, the blood, the vomit, the piss, the shit, the death, the filth, the decay.

  • I have held the hands of the dead or dying. I have held the crying, hurt, sick, abused, battered, dead or dying babies. I am just like you.

  • I am with you.

  • I am standing beside you, shoulder to shoulder.

  • I will never abandon you.

  • I will do what I can to help you.

  • I will do my best to save you, even at my own peril, including my own death.

  • I will share what I have with you, whatever that might be.

  • I will never run away.

  • I will never give up my gun.

  • I will never quit fighting.

  • I will always guard your back, even if no one is watching mine.

  • I will never put you in harm’s way.

  • I will shield you.

  • I will defend you.

  • I will avenge you.

  • I will tell any boss or politician who attacks you without cause, where they can go, including inviting them outside for a “cup of coffee” to work it out.

  • I am “Old School,” a dinosaur, not yet extinct, but perhaps on the brink.

  • If I have 10 and you have zero and need it, when we part company, you will have at least five.

  • If I have an extra hundred and I know you need it, you don’t even have to ask.

  • If you need someone who will ask the all-important question “Are you okay?”

  • If you call for help, know this, “I am coming for you!”  I am on my way, no matter the circumstance, no questions asked.  If we go down, we go down together, fighting. If you need someone to go through “that door” I am with you, no hesitation

I am that cop … There are many like us, but there needs to be so many more.

Will you be that cop?

At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.

Opinion:  Murphy Administration’s Directive Endangers Women & Children

Opinion:  Murphy Administration’s Directive Endangers Women & Children
By: Dawn Fantasia, Sussex County Freeholder

According to the U.S. Department of State, the United States is a destination country for thousands of men, women and children trafficked from all areas of the world. These individuals are being introduced into sex trafficking and forced labor, organ trafficking, sex tourism and child labor.

Individuals often flee to the United States seeking a better life, but through dangerous means, and they are preyed upon and victimized because of the way they are choosing to enter the country. To compound the matter, there is grave danger from those illegally entering the country with the specific intent of committing violence and breaking our laws.

Under the direction of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has issued a directive for state and local law enforcement agencies to, in essence, run interference against a federal agency and to supersede protocol with a reckless state directive. As such, I am vehemently opposed to the name and the characterization of this directive as the Immigrant Trust DirectiveThis directive contains additional language that has little or nothing to do with building trust to encourage cooperation between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement agencies, and Attorney General Grewal’s characterization as such is disingenuous and blatantly false. The specific aspects of the directive for which I take exception are as follows:

  • State and local police officers, correctional officers working in state prisons and county jails, and state and county prosecutors:

  • Cannot provide ICE with access to state or local law enforcement resources, including equipment, office space, databases, or property, unless those resources are readily available to the public;

  • The directive prohibits police and correction officers from continuing to hold a detained individual arrested for a minor criminal offense past the time he or she would otherwise be released from custody simply because ICE has submitted an immigration detainer request signed by an ICE officer, and prohibits notification to ICE of such an individual’s upcoming release.

  • With respect to detainees charged with violent or serious offenses – such as murder, rape, arson, assault, bias crimes, and domestic violence offenses – New Jersey law enforcement and correction officials may notify ICE of the detainee’s upcoming release, but may continue to detain the individual only until 11:59 p.m. that day.

Ironically, the directive is followed by the language below in a thinly veiled attempt to encourage further interference with the following statement:

Nothing in the directive prohibits law enforcement agencies from imposing their own additional restrictions on providing voluntary assistance to federal immigration authorities.”

This directive absolutely limits the types of voluntary assistance that New Jersey’s 36,000 law enforcement officers may provide to federal immigration authorities, and to encourage further noncooperation at the local level is foolhardy and dangerous. The language above clearly demonstrates that this directive is masquerading as a means to encourage cooperation of undocumented immigrants with law enforcement agencies.

New Jersey does follow specific laws that grant legal immunity in order to promote and preserve the health, safety, and well-being of our residents, including the following:

  • New Jersey’s Good Samaritan statute ensures that doctors, paramedics, and bystanders are able to, in good faith, provide assistance at the scene of an accident without fear of being subject to legal action. 

  • The Overdose Prevention Act was created to encourage people to contact emergency workers if they believe that someone overdosed on illegal or prescription drugs. An individual who attempts to obtain medical help after experiencing a drug overdose is immune from being arrested, charged, or prosecuted for using the controlled substance. 

  • New Jersey’s Safe Harbor Law is an affirmative defense to prosecution for prostitution should a defendant be a victim of human trafficking, and was forced to commit a prohibited act.

  • The Safe Haven Law is in place to provide a safe means to surrender your healthy newborn without fear of criminal prosecution.

In sharp contrast, the Immigrant Trust Directive far exceeds the simple protection of immunity from deportation based on immigration status in order to engender trust and promote cooperation between law enforcement agencies and undocumented immigrants. Again, this is a gross mischaracterization of the directive by the Attorney General. The directive PROHIBITS state and local agencies from providing notification to ICE and PROHIBITS holding an individual who is alleged to have committed the most egregious of offenses past 11:59 the same day.

In a recent video interview published on nj.com, Grewal states, “…and if ICE doesn’t pick them up, that’s on ICE”, further positing that there should be no finger-pointing at state or local agencies if an alleged criminal is released prior to the arrival of ICE on scene.

This is nonsense. The finger is pointed squarely at this reckless directive; with it, Grewal himself has created disingenuous and dangerous conditions.

He continues: “If a judge says they are free to go, who are we to say otherwise, unless we have a federal warrant?”

As reported in this piece by the New Jersey Herald:

A 38-year-old Newton man was arrested in for sexual assault of a minor, and two hours after his release from custody was again arrested after the victim found him hiding in her Newton home.

Fernando Diaz, was arrested three times prior to an indictment charging him with second-degree sexual assault of a victim under the age of 13 while he was 20 years older; third-degree endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct; and three counts of fourth-degree contempt by violating a restraining order.

He was charged with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering and a judge granted a temporary restraining order against Diaz. Diaz spent a night in jail and was released the following day at 2 p.m., police said.

Two hours after his release, Newton patrols responded to the victim's house for a report that Diaz was inside the home, according to an affidavit of arrest.

When patrols arrived, the woman indicated her child, who was the alleged victim, was inside the house and Diaz was in the basement.

After announcing who they were, patrols told Diaz to "stop hiding and come out," before they found him hiding in a shelving unit in the corner of the basement, the affidavit states.

Diaz is being held on an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, detainer by the Department of Homeland Security. The detainer provides ICE agents extra time to determine if the individual should be taken into federal custody and ultimately deported.

We are fortunate that federal intervention prevailed for the safety and welfare of the victims. I am frankly disgusted at the willful ignorance displayed by the state for the safety and welfare of our residents, a state which continues to perpetuate this false narrative of trust in relation to criminal offenses committed by undocumented immigrants. As the former Bergen County prosecutor, Grewal took a firm and active stance on combatting the human trafficking crisis, often taking the lead in training sessions and symposiums. So why now would he issue a directive that further endangers those undocumented victims of crime, and endangers the population as a whole by restricting and/or prohibiting cooperation with the very agency dedicated to combatting human trafficking and smuggling?

As outlined by the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's role in combating human trafficking and smuggling is the following:

“ICE works with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the global criminal infrastructure engaged in human smuggling and human trafficking. ICE accomplishes this mission by making full use of its authorities and expertise, stripping away assets and profit incentive, collaborating with U.S. and foreign partners to attack networks worldwide and working in partnership with nongovernmental organizations to identify, rescue and provide assistance to trafficking victims.”

It is my belief that our county and local agencies need to fully cooperate with ICE, so that any undocumented individuals with criminal offenses are deported, and the residents of Sussex County have the right to have a voice on this issue.

The state continues to let the people of Sussex County down. From the shameful display in Vernon Township by the DEP Commissioner McCabe regarding illegal and hazardous dumping in Vernon, to grossly inequitable school funding through the School Funding Reform Act, to the crippling restrictions of the NJ Highlands Act; how many more times will the State of New Jersey turn a blind eye to the safety and welfare of our rural communities?

Editor's Point of view

By: George Beck, Ph.D.

Welcome to our newest issue of Blue Magazine. As you can see by our cover story, we highlight the work our advisor and mentor, former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Blue Magazine contributing writer and attorney Tim Parlatore and attorney Marc Mukasey have done fighting for justice for Navy Seal Chief Eddie Gallagher. 

The high-profile trial of Gallagher has taught us that the military and law enforcement leadership community, at times, have some eerie similarities where good people are railroaded for political expediency or other unjust issues. This happens all the time where good officers are collateral damage of pandering politicians or spineless law enforcement leaders who don't have the mettle to stand up and fight for justice. The Gallagher case now exposes the same shameful conduct. This should have never happened. 

After the attacks on 9/11, we sent brave people like Gallagher into the Middle East to kill the terrorists so they would not continue to kill us here at home. War is not pretty. Killing another human being is as unfortunate as it gets. However, when the enemy wants to kill you, your children, your friends, and loved ones, it’s people like Gallagher who will take the fight directly to them—risking their lives to save yours. We must never forget that. We wish Chief Gallagher the very best for whatever the future holds for him.

Our magazine is packed with great articles from the best law enforcement voices in our nation. Be sure to check out Det. Efren Almodovar’s corrections article where he candidly addresses the stigmas between police and corrections. We all need to be mindful of this nonsense and make certain we are working toward unity and strengthening our law enforcement profession. We are all law enforcement. We are all Blue. We all go through the same stressors, and we need to be here for each other regardless of what patch we wear. Criminals don’t differentiate between us, so why should we? Let’s focus our energy on uniting all law enforcement.

Another great article is attorney Tim Smith’s legal column on the New Jersey Official Misconduct law and how it’s unevenly applied. In this article, Mr. Smith details how the Appellate Division held that an officer’s misuse of a police car and municipal telephone constituted official misconduct. He discusses several other examples from different employees working in the public sector. Thank you, Mr. Smith, for providing our officers with expert legal analysis and commentary.

Deon Joseph’s excellent article on America inspired me to write this brief commentary: We have seen far too much anti-American sentiment coming from those who represent us, and our great United States of America. So to all these American politicians and others embarrassed by our national anthem and flag, wake up. Hiding or besmirching these symbols will not change America’s identity. Be proud to be American. Appreciate freedom. Always remember the cost in blood and lives it took to become a free country. We may be split politically, but we are all Americans! Focus on what unites us!

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. In a flash, it will be over. Make sure you are making time for your family and loved ones. Family is God’s greatest gift. Be certain to appreciate them. Put them first.

RVPD’S FIRST “COFFEE WITH A COP” EVENT AN OVERWHELMING SUCCESS

RVPD’S FIRST “COFFEE WITH A COP” EVENT AN OVERWHELMING SUCCESS
By Lieutenant John J. DeVoe

The River Vale Police Department went all out for its first “Coffee with a Cop,” which took place on Saturday, June 8, 2019. The event was held at Adam’s Bagel Café on Westwood Ave., and the owners donated the coffee in support of the cause.

Police set up several patrol vehicles and took the time to show the equipment and technology to their visitors. They also had gear on hand, including duty belts, ballistic shields, and helmets, so that the residents could see firsthand the tools of the trade. There were displays with safety information on a variety of topics and officers fielded questions from attendees. And during their downtime, Officers played cornhole and threw Frisbees with their residents.

“We were fortunate to have a great day at a prime location in town for our inaugural ‘Coffee With A Cop.’ We certainly intend to host more events like this in the future to continue the dialogue with our residents,” said Police Chief Sean Scheidle.

The purpose of the Coffee with a Cop program is to bring together police officers and the community members who they serve to discuss issues and learn more about each other – over coffee.

We couldn’t be happier with the turnout. We had steady streams of people of all ages – from small children to senior citizens – coming in throughout the morning. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves.

AMERICA

AMERICA
By: Officer Deon Joseph

I’ve been a social media junkie for a while. I must admit what was one of my favorite guilty pleasures has become a place of complete vitriol and polarized partisanship.

I have never seen America this divided. There have been many arguments as to whether America is the greatest country in the world or if America was ever great at all. In many debates, individuals wanted to know my stance on it.

Well … Here it is. America is a story. A story that is adding more pages every single day. Stories of darkness and sadness, horrors and tragedy, injustice and marginalization, but also…

·       A nation of evolution

·       A nation of decency, patriotism, change, and heroes

·       A nation of promise, diversity, and unlimited potential

·       A place where we can speak our truth, and sadly even our lies

·       A nation where many had no rights, to a nation that allows people to fight for rights, and win

·       A nation of selfless men and women who put their lives on the line at home or abroad

·       A nation of decent, good-natured people from all walks of life, whose stories do not get told, and are overshadowed by the negative exceptions of this nation

·       A nation where we can freely pray or believe in God, or not

This is the same America that marginalized and demonized my father in the Jim Crow south and then became the America that made him a successful small businessman.

The same America that put staples in my burger as a 7-year-old child, because they did not want me in their restaurant, is the same America that allowed me to be a police officer at 23 years old, where I found my true calling of helping Americans and those from abroad experiencing homeless.

I will always hate the atrocities of America’s past. But I will not hate the majority of the good people of its present. I will not ignore the good within it. America is not perfect. No country is. But it is still the greatest democracy on earth to me.

I will always stand for what is good about this nation. And when we turn off social media and other mediums trying to tear us all apart, or force us to pick sides, we all will be able to see that. I will always celebrate and honor the best within us.

The story of America is not done. With every page added from generation to generation I am encouraged, not discouraged, no matter who is in the White House. I will always try to see the good in us as Americans. Whether you are black, white, and all in between, gay, straight, rich or poor, a person of faith or not.

That’s how I feel.

We are beautifully imperfect, and I love “US.”

I was inspired by this as I met some wonderful people today from all walks of life in the gardening section of Home Depot.

Happy Birthday America!

Pro Criminal Justice Reform, or Pro Criminal?

Pro Criminal Justice Reform, or Pro Criminal?
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)

America has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. While there are many reasons for this, I’ll speculate on just a few. I believe that we are, generally speaking, soft on crime. Because of the sheer volume of law breakers in our “Land of the Free,” almost EVERY crime, and EVERY offense is downgraded after plea bargains are made. Murder becomes manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault/rape becomes sexual assault. Burglary of a dwelling becomes criminal trespassing, aggravated assault becomes simple assault, car theft becomes taking a vehicle without owners’ consent, and the list goes on. It is EXTREMELY rare that perpetrators are convicted of crimes they actually commit, and do any serious time.

The United States has all but abolished the death penalty, which I feel was a deterrent. It might not cut down on crimes of passion or premeditated murders involving extreme malice, but I believe that it will cause many of our inner-city youth gangs and others to think twice before killing someone for simply disrespecting them. If you see your friends being put to death by the state for killing another human being, I believe it would cause many to think twice before squeezing the trigger. It also guarantees that the perp won’t one day kill another inmate, or worse, a corrections officer. It would also eliminate the chance of them being paroled in 20 years regardless of an original life sentence. We’ve all seen cop killers who were never supposed to see the light of day get paroled years later.  China has the death penalty, as does North Korea, which I believe curtails their murder rate. Lower for sure than our shoot-em-up big cities. Drug distribution in some countries like Iran carries the death penalty, resulting in less drug trafficking. (I’m not advocating the death penalty for drug distribution, just to be clear).

Somewhere along the line in the United States we started feeling bad for offenders, and even predators, while showing little concern for the victims of crime. These victims, unfortunately, have become faceless statistics to many of our left-leaning politicians.  We read about the insanity of early release programs that allow countless offenders to murder, rape, and rob again. Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker, and Richard “The fake Vietnam vet” Blumenthal, wrote up a bill two years ago which would mandate that we release 7% of our prison population across the country with, “The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act.” Then, alarmingly, they conceded that our crime rate as a result would probably go up 3%. Tell me who the f—k, besides a convict and his family, would take THAT deal! With 2.3 million incarcerated, we would essentially be letting out 161,000 inmates for no good reason.  Would you be for it if one of these individuals attacked your family member, or sold fentanyl-laced heroin to your son or daughter?

Bail reform is TOTALLY out of control in New Jersey and New York, while California’s cash bail overhaul has recently been put on hold.  Perpetrators are assaulting cops at an alarming rate as they resist arrest, only to walk out the door at their arraignment. Drug dealers have their business up and running in no time thanks to bail reform. Burglary to a dwelling? No problem, you’re good to go, maybe you can go back and hit the neighbor’s house. Or better yet, maybe they can go terrorize the homeowner or neighbor that ratted them out and convince them that it wouldn’t be wise to testify.

And if you think it’s bad to allow suspects out who are charged with third degree crimes, just read up on New York’s new Bail Reform Law that’s supported by ultra-liberals like NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Gov. Cuomo. New York State just passed the new law in April of this year, and it goes into effect in January 2020. Under the new law, of the 205,000 criminal cases arraigned in New York City in 2018, only 10 percent would have to post bail; have we totally lost our minds? District attorneys from the five boroughs, along with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill are all adamantly opposed to the plan, saying that, “It puts the public at risk!” (Not to mention the cops) 

Violent gangs in our cities, with MS-13 arguably being the worst, have always laughed at our weak criminal justice system. But today, it’s even worse, as a result of so many politicians advocating for criminals rather than victims.