Editor’s Point of View

George Beck, Ph.D.  Editor-In-Chief

George Beck, Ph.D.
Editor-In-Chief

Spring is finally here! After a long, and at times, freezing winter, the rebirth of spring is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the nice weather with family and friends. Our profession requires us to be in a sense on duty around the clock, but commit to detach mentally from the job and experience the wonderments of life with those who love and genuinely care for you. You deserve the break. You deserve to enjoy it. So make sure you prioritize who’s important in your life and spend quality time with them. They and you will be glad you did.

Our cover story “Leaders Help Wanted” written by Chief Joel Gordon (Ret.) is an open and honest assessment of law enforcement leadership today. The article highlights several law enforcement leaders with weak leadership ability, followed by several leaders with excellent leadership ability. It then provides the necessary context to demonstrate how effective leaders lead their officers in our modern times. Chief Gordon’s approach is not to bash ineffective leaders, rather to show the harmful effects of their poor leadership and how desperately some agencies in our country need to hang up the “Help Wanted Leadership” sign.

The stakes are too high for weak, feckless and incompetent leaders. Many times the right person for the lead role is not chosen, because of political interference or nepotism, or other reasons, and therefore the agency suffers. When a department is led with poor leadership, certain personality traits are almost universal. These failed leaders are typically frightened and threatened easily—sometimes paranoid—and believe that ruling through fear and with an iron fist will have their officers following them. In the short run, these leaders are effective, but in the long term, they will always meet someone unafraid of them and will expose them for the cowards they are. Time has a way of bringing down these imposters who destroy lives and careers. What’s that saying: “What goes around comes around?”

I have another observation on this leadership angle. As editor-in-chief of Blue Magazine, I’ve noticed that many officers without rank often have a tremendous amount of wisdom. Our leaders—the ones with the big desks and titles—should take notice of their vision and judgment. Know your subordinates and play to their strengths. A title itself doesn’t come with knowledge and ability. Real leaders can lead those who know more than they do.

There are plenty of great law enforcement leaders in our country who are leading their officers and communities with honesty, integrity, vision, and compassion. To these excellent leaders, keep leading your men and women to have productive, safe, and healthy careers while offering the best policing services to the communities you serve. Your officers are blessed to be working for you. We at Blue Magazine tip our hats to you. We appreciate your work and hope more leaders will aspire to reach your level of success.

As we move ahead in 2019, we have a tremendous amount of new and creative ideas flowing at Blue Magazine. Over the years we have assembled the brightest minds on the local and national law enforcement scene. Our writers are fearless. Their abilities to think at deeper levels with solid logical arguments continue to impress me. I thank all of them for their commitment and hard work for our profession. Together we are advancing the dialogues and pushing back against false narratives to keep officers safe and alive.

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Cover Story - LEADERSHIP – “Help Wanted”

LEADERSHIP – “Help Wanted”
By: Joel E. Gordon

"The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have. Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose.” - Leonard Hamm Former Baltimore Police Commissioner and Author of the Hamm Rules on Relationships, Leadership, Love and Community.

Imagine working for a police chief who thinks it’s “demeaning” to suspects to have them sit on the ground or sidewalk at a crime scene—whether handcuffed or not. If you work in San Francisco, Chief William Scott has determined that your safety and tactical advantage over a suspect is less important than how a criminal may feel. Everybody knows, especially when you have multiple suspects, having them sit down will give you that time to react should they get up and attack. In other words, in San Francisco, the criminal’s feelings are more important than the officer’s safety—a clear sign of failed leadership.

How would you have liked to have been working for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and his appointed captain, Jan Jordan, who “took charge” of the scene during the Parkland Florida school shooting and who ordered officers to stage, clearly in violation of their response plan? The sheriff has been replaced and the captain has since resigned. In addition to the fourteen students and three staff members killed the day of the shooting, most recently two former students have tragically killed themselves out of survivor’s guilt in separate incidents.

Or picture working for the chief of the police force in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Chris Blue, who ordered officers to stand down as protesters toppled a Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina. “Let’s give them space,” Police Chief Blue reportedly texted on the night of Aug. 20 as protesters gathered around the statue known as “Silent Sam,” representing a Confederate soldier. Later he wrote, “…do not engage with Crowd at statue. Stay way out.” Riot, disorder, criminal activity is apparently OK in the chief’s eyes, so what’s that say about the officers? They are as expendable as the laws to be upheld.

Now picture working for Phoenix Arizona Police Chief Jeri Williams. The local police union publicly aired an attack against her for what they say is a failure to stand by her officers over a domestic violence incident in which a man claimed an officer used excessive force against his daughter. The officer’s body camera footage ultimately invalidated the claim, and union representatives pressed Williams to seek charges against the man for making a false report. Williams declined, arguing that it would cause a chilling effect among those who want to file a complaint against an officer. “The Chief’s response to us was not that of a leader, but rather a politician,” Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Ken Crane wrote. Whose side is the chief on? Apparently not the law or her officers.

Or imagine working for Chief Daniel Paez, a 23-year veteran of the Perrysburg, Ohio, Police Department, who has been publicly accused of dereliction of duty for instructing his officers to stand down during a pursuit and shootout when Paez told his officers with more than 60 years’ combined experience, to back off. Paez said he decided because he was not sure the officers were experienced enough to handle it. I suppose the chief was going to call the police?

Over and over, these kinds of feckless leaders rise to the top in law enforcement. And the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of ineffective leaders in law enforcement. Political hack law enforcement leaders who do not back their officers and who are easily manipulated into bowing to politically motivated pressures are detrimental to our profession and cause others to perform in a less-than-optimal manner. A true leader makes every effort to shield their team from under-informed and counterproductive political influences.

But not every law enforcement leader is a gutless, floundering fish out of water.

Take, for example, now-retired Dallas, Texas, Police Chief David Brown, who stood up for police officers nationwide by saying that law enforcement officers across the country are being asked to take on too much. As the Dallas police worked to go through massive amounts of evidence from the shooting that killed five officers, Chief Brown said he believed officers in his city and nationwide were under too much strain. “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country,” Brown said. “Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it. …Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail; let’s give it to the cops. …That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

Speaking truth at a candlelight vigil for fallen cop Michael Chesna, who had succumbed to injuries sustained from a large rock thrown at his head, Weymouth Massachusetts Chief of Police Richard Grimes slammed the country’s knee-jerk negative attitude surrounding police use of force. “Hesitation gets officers harmed,” Grimes said. He asked the crowd to consider how they would react if threatened and given a split second to respond. Grimes said officers need to feel comfortable using their weapons and criticized the public’s emphasis on shooting deaths of unarmed people. “I can tell you that isn’t just the gun. Is it a rifle? Is it a knife? Could it be a crowbar?” Grimes asked. “Or maybe just a rock,” Grimes asked people to respect and support the police. “What happened to Michael was horrific,” he said. “It should not happen to someone else.”

If you haven’t had your head buried in the sand for the past six years, you know that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (now retired) has been consistent as a leader who stands up for law enforcement irrespective of political pressure of political correctness. In the wake of the Ferguson riots, Sheriff Clarke was the dominant leader who pushed back against the false narratives and cop haters. Many officers across the country wished there were more law enforcement leaders like Clarke who dared to take a personal risk and stand up for our profession. However, during this period, it seemed that many law enforcement leaders were eager to throw good officers under the bus for self-gain or to appease angry mobs.

When Baltimore, Maryland, recently had the help wanted sign out in search of a new leader, they ultimately chose Michael Harrison, the New Orleans police chief. Upon his arrival in the city of Baltimore, he said this on leadership: “Number one, I want to hear from the citizens. I want to hear from the officers… I want to hear what their concerns are. I want to hear what their needs are. I will advocate all the resources they need to be successful, and then work on building bridges and building inroads, building relationships that were never built, improving good ones and repairing the bad ones, doing that and hitting the ground on the very first day.”

Of course, actions and not just words are where true leaders shine.

Leaders must find the often-difficult balance in satisfying the needs of their department’s internal customers and the needs of the external customers in the communities served all while weighing the validity of the wants of the politicians that they must deal with and are accountable to.

While leaders are about “we” the team, bosses masquerading as leaders are only about “I” or themselves first. The political hacks and the men and women who serve them know it, even if they smile and buy them a cup of coffee, or eagerly ask them how their lunch or weekend was.

Fortunately, police leadership styles are gradually changing, moving from the authoritative style that has historically dominated law enforcement to a more inclusive approach that seeks to enable and empower rather than merely command. While there can be differences in leadership to accommodate the individuals involved, the best leaders:

• Set an example of honesty and integrity along with a stellar work ethic and attitude.

• Give positive reinforcement & recognition

• Praise in public… Criticize in private.

• Set clear expectations.

• Allow a proper level of staff autonomy and do not micromanage.

• Trust but verify.

• Identify staff strengths and weaknesses and delegate tasks to individual strengths and interests, giving each team member leadership responsibility. This while working toward increasing abilities in areas needing improvement. In this way, leaders identify and prepare the next generation of leaders worthy of promotion.

My own best shift commander during my career, Baltimore City Police Lt. Victor Kessler, was a leader whom you knew had your back when you did the right thing with reasonable actions that could be articulated and honestly justified. He was a man who recognized the truth that leaders exist within all ranks, as he acknowledged during his retirement speech to our shift in his way: “The bosses come and go ... What matters are you guys and gals who make the decisions on the street. Stick together, look out for one another, and work as a team. You are the ones who really matter and make all the difference.”

With a clear vision and a consistent and steady hand, true leaders accomplish their goals and team mission while inspiring others in positive and fulfilling ways. The “HELP WANTED” sign is out. The best of the leaders are needed now and for all of our tomorrows.

Joel E. Gordon is a former Baltimore City Police Officer and was Chief of Police for the city of Kingwood, West Virginia. He has served as vice-chair of a regional narcotics task force and is a candidate for Preston County West Virginia Sheriff. An award winning journalist, he is author of the book Still Seeking Justice: One Officer’s Story and founded the Facebook group Police Authors Seeking Justice. stillseekingjustice.com

Around Florida - Dusting Off an Old Program to Help Fight the New Plague Ravaging America

Dusting Off an Old Program to Help Fight the New Plague Ravaging America
By Chief Rich Rosell

The Plague
Make no mistake; the opioid crisis has hit America like a tsunami.  Unlike a tsunami, the waters do not appear to be receding.  In a recent Op Ed article written for Fox News, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich claimed that every day, 134 Americans die of addiction. Everyone in America has an obligation to stop the wholesale slaughter of our youth.  Not even in our most recent wars have youth lost their lives at such an alarming rate.

Police officers wield quite a bit of power and discretion, sometimes more than they realize.  Constant pressure on drug dealers is certain to have an impact on this problem, but experienced leaders will testify that arresting addicts is not the answer to stopping addiction deaths.  Identifying and placing them in proper treatment is the preferred and accepted method. 

Tool in the Tool Bag
Enter the Drug Impairment for Educational Professionals (DITEP) program. DITEP is derived from the national Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program and is a sister program to the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program.  The proponents are the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).  DITEP is not an enforcement tool. Rather it is (strictly) an educational asset, which is designed to get students suffering from addiction or otherwise abusing drugs the help that they need.  Law enforcement officers see this training as an additional tool for school personnel to employ as they wish as an early warning system for at-risk students.  The training will first provide all school personnel, to include teachers, counselors, custodians, coaches, nurses, administrators, school resource officers and other staff with the ability to conduct a quick assessment of behavior and symptoms commonly associated with drug abuse and make a non-accusatory referral to the school nurse.  Once the student is with the nurse, she/he will look for certain indicators to determine if the student is under the influence of a drug.  If it is determined that there is impairment, the nurse will determine whether the impairment is due to a medical problem or is drug-related. If the impairment is drug-related, the nurse will utilize proven diagnostic procedures taught in the DITEP course to determine what category or categories of drugs are likely causing the observed impairment.  The nurse can then take appropriate steps to get help for the student. 

By providing training to school officials and health care professionals, DITEP enables schools to employ an aggressive evaluation and detection program that could cause drug usage in schools to decline. Consequently, not only will the disruption caused by those abusing drugs be decreased, but also the incidence of those individuals driving to and from schools while impaired by either alcohol or drugs will also be greatly reduced, making our communities and schools a safer place for all.[1]  If employment of the tools learned in a DITEP course saved just one life, it would clearly be worth the time spent in the course. 

There is a clear connection between drug use in schools and school shootings.  Statistics show that most school shooting suspects were either under the influence of some type of substance during the time of the shooting or were active drug abusers leading up to the event.

Practical Application
In Florida, along the Treasure Coast, which encompasses the counties of Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee, the Treasure Coast Opioid Task Force has been convened.  This task force is comprised of public and private partners with a common goal: Get out ahead of the curve on the opioid crisis.  As a member of the Law Enforcement Subcommittee on this Task Force, and President of the Treasure Coast Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, recognizing that the police can contribute more than just arrest statistics, I reached deep into my tool bag and pulled out DITEP.  On May 29, through a cooperative agreement with the Indian River County School District, I will present our first DITEP course.  Word of this initiative has reached the state level, and we have interest from various regulatory agencies wishing to receive this training.  While the goals of the Treasure Coast Opioid Task Force remain my responsibility, I have a moral obligation to share what I know with all jurisdictions.

Summary
We must never give up on our youth, no matter how far off course they stray.  To do so would grossly violate the very oath we all took.  DITEP has been around for decades and is one of those programs that tend to be lost when the subject matter experts retire or are promoted and have not taken the time to pass along the historical information that took them a lifetime to accrue.   It provides a simple mechanism to supplement our community involvement initiatives and further humanize the police to the public.  Unlike many of our skills, this does not involve placing anyone under arrest; rather it is strictly educational in nature. As one of the many resources we have at our disposal, it will help ebb the tide of the tsunami. 

Chief Rich Rosell Bio
Chief Rosell is currently the Police Chief and Public Safety Director for the Town of Indian River Shores, Florida, the former Director of Public Safety for the Town of Dover, NJ and Township of Springfield, NJ, and a 27-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police, retiring at the rank of Captain.  He has a very diverse skill set with vast operational, training, policymaking, homeland security, leadership, management and administrative experience.

Chief Rosell has years of experience teaching at the graduate level for Seton Hall University and Fairleigh Dickinson University, as well as extensive police and military training experience.    

Chief Rosell has a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University in Human Services, a Master’s Degree from Seton Hall University in Human Resources Training and Development, a Master’s Degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Homeland Defense and Security Studies and has thus far earned eighteen credits at Drew University’s Doctor of Letters program.

Lessons Learned - UNITED WE STAND

UNITED WE STAND
By Christoper Scilingo

Am I my brother’s and sister’s keeper? All law enforcement officers should ask themselves this question, and they should ask it often.  They should continually evaluate whether or not we are genuinely looking out for each other and keeping our promises to one another.

However, let me wake everyone up with the truth. Far too many times we see officers trying to break each other down rather than build them up.  We see the assassins out there, secretly destroying a good officer’s character.  You know, the dry-rats, the ones who talk trash, point fingers and throw officers under the bus.  These rodent-like creatures speak with a particularly raised voice while being conveniently down the hall from the boss’ office when the boss’ door is wide open. Or they’ll go around telling key information to courier pigeons, fellow officers who cannot stop gossiping if their life depended on it, knowing they’ll sprint to the boss’ office and deliver the message.

When we see this happening in our profession, we must consider if we have forgotten the perils and risks that our chosen professions expose us to.  Are we concentrating too much on the bullshit and not the reasons why we chose a career in law enforcement? Being kind to each other is possible. We see it all the time when we pay respect to a fallen officer, standing shoulder-to-shoulder when the brother/sisterhood and love is so abundant that you can’t escape it.  But why does it take the death of an officer to produce that bond and feeling of belonging to the BLUE family? Why can’t we as law enforcement officers treat each other well and care for each other and support each other regularly? We can! Try and forget for a minute what that other officer has; why did they get that good assignment? Why do they get to drive the new squad car? Why do the bosses favor that officer and not me?

Erase the words, “what about” from your mind.  Stop saying, “well what about that officer” when you're singled out by a supervisor or peer.  Don’t worry about what that other officer is doing; worry about yourself; unless that other officer is messing up.  If you see another officer messing up, or an officer lacks experience in an area, then help them.  Stop waiting for them to slip up and make a mistake just so you can trash talk them in the locker room or worse, dry-rat them out to a supervisor.  Also, if you’re going to speak negatively about another officer, at least do it while they’re present and give him or her opportunity to defend themselves.  Maybe there is a good reason why he or she made that call or why they handled that incident the way they did.  Most of the time, the big trash talkers of a department weren’t even there; they just stir the pot and spread the rumors. Have the courage to say it in their presence or don’t say it at all.

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

We need to stop standing around with a few cups of coffee and smack talking all the other officers who aren’t present.  Here’s a thought: Engage in meaningful conversations with the ones who are present.  “How are your kids?” “How’s the family?” “How are you holding up?” Those are some meaningful questions that show you care and want to be engaged in each other’s lives. After all, there may come a time when we will need to watch each other’s backs while on the job.  You wouldn’t slander, discredit, or disgrace another officer while you’re applying a tourniquet to them or plugging out their wound while telling them to hold on and that help is on the way.  So why talk like that about each other when the times are good?

Let us make it a point to treat our brother/sister law enforcement officers with the love and respect that we want in return from them.  Let us live up to the meaning of, “The thin blue line.” Let us show that we are a BLUE family.

Lastly, I know there are a lot of good officers out there who truly understand their roles and have a love for our profession and those who wear the uniform. I tip my hat to you and offer my most sincere admiration. Perhaps the negativity is what’s occupying most of our attention. Therefore, let’s work together to turn things around. Let’s commit to making our profession the best it can be. After all, nobody took this job to harass and break each other down. They chose this career for their esteem and respect for the professions and for those who risk greatly keeping our communities safe and secure. Let’s all commit to telling the dry-rats, the pot stirrers, and the cynical ones that the days of treating each other like garbage are over.

Civilian’s Perspective - The Smollett Case: Managing the Narrative 101

The Smollett Case: Managing the Narrative 101
By J. Scott Wilson

For pretty much the entire month of February, you couldn’t turn on a news or entertainment program without seeing the unfolding saga of the Jussie Smollett case.

Just in case you spent February under a rock or blissfully unaware of the news media in some other way, a quick recap: On Jan. 29, Smollett, who is openly gay and starred on the Fox series “Empire,” told Chicago police he was attacked by two men who beat him, poured an “unknown substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck. He claimed the attackers told him he was “in MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s infamous slogan.

Almost immediately, the case began to unravel. There was no surveillance footage of the attack, and in short order it was learned that the two “attackers” appear to have been hired by Smollett, who was dissatisfied with his salary on “Empire” and thought a bit of notoriety might boost his earning potential.

So, here we have a reported bias crime which the police took at face value and investigated aggressively, going through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage and spending many hours canvassing and trying to find corroborating evidence. Their initial reaction was to believe Smollett’s claim and investigate the case to the fullest extent possible. Of course, that investigation led them back to Smollett, but the officers didn’t start out assuming the tale was bogus.

And now, friends, the rhetoric begins to spin in earnest. In the wake of Smollett’s arrest for filing the false report and his subsequent removal from “Empire” and abandonment by liberal talking heads across the board, the Black Lives Matter brigade began cautioning against police “assuming” future reports of bias crimes were false. They pull off the masterful sleight of hand of simultaneously condemning Smollett’s false report and casting doubt on future police investigations of similar reported crimes.  It’s the sort of thing that requires an ability to disregard reality on a truly mind-boggling scale.

So, let’s break this down: A crime was reported. The proper authorities did their sworn duty and investigated that crime, discovering that the report was false and that the initial complainant had, in fact, possibly committed a crime. This is far from a remarkable event. There are hundreds of criminals sitting in cells today who got their ticket to the Graybar Hotel punched under identical circumstances.

However, because this case involved an actor who is black and openly gay, the narrative must be managed and political hay must be made as much as possible. Smollett has been thrown to the wolves, but his bones are being shaken to try and keep police from “assuming” that future bias crime reports are false from the start.

This is ridiculous on its face, insulting to every police officer, detective and investigator everywhere, and an absolute contradiction to the essence of police work. The very idea that any officer would, before looking at the first fact of a case, assume that the complainant was lying is ridiculous. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect in a banana republic or some fascist regime, not in one of the oldest democracies on earth.

And these people are getting airtime! Every story during the aftermath of the Smollett case had at least one clip of an activist warning against police not believing the next victim of a bias crime because of Smollett’s falsity.  They’re trying to create in the public consciousness the assumption that law enforcement WILL disbelieve the next person to report a bias crime, and that the reporter won’t get the justice he or she deserves.

This is patently false, but it adds to the prevailing media-fueled perception of police officers as biased, hateful of minorities and the LGBTQ community and in general thugs operating under the color of authority.

I’m a copy editor by trade, friends, and I spend my days editing news copy from all over the country. I can tell you without reservation that this narrative is NOT gaining traction among the great majority of the American people. Every day, stories of heroic cops putting themselves at risk to protect and serve come across my desk. These stories get repeated. The officers get recognized. The false narratives get quieter and quieter. 

Stay the course. Keep doing the good work, and you will prevail in the end.

Hear Me Out - Another Law, Another Problem Unsolved

Another Law, Another Problem Unsolved
Sherif Elias

It’s gun control season.  The Democratic Party has gained control of the House this year, and the ideas are flowing. One bill comes with a twist.  Instead of centering on firearms, Jaime’s Law, named after Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, will focus on the regulation of ammunition.  The bill would require universal background checks for ammunition purchases.  It would require checks for all such purchases, except for those at hunting camps or shooting ranges if the ammo will be used at the location.

With Jaime’s Law being named after one of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, one would think it was written in response to that particular shooting.  In 2018, despite countless warning signs and a history of disturbing behavior, Nikolas Cruz was able to legally purchase firearms, and ammunition, which he then used to carry out his act of terror.  17 people died that day.  That would be 17 out of 40,000 dead each year according Jamie’s father, Fred Guttenberg. During a recent press conference while introducing Jaime’s Law, Fred Guttenberg said, “We have a gun violence death rate in this country right now of approximately 40,000 per year.  It is not normal.”  And he was correct. According to the CDC, 39,773 people died from guns in the United States in 2017. In that year, the U.S. population was 326 million.  Do the math and 0.01% of the U.S. population died from guns in 2017.  Fred Guttenberg is right, that’s not normal.  It’s incredible.   People often forget the size of the United States.  And more people means more annual deaths.

But 40,000 gun deaths are misleading.  Fred Guttenberg is using this statistic to promote a bill that is in response to a mass murder. However, only 36.5% of those gun deaths were caused by homicide. 60% were from suicide.  To lump suicide with homicides is confusing and unfair, especially when suicide was the #10 leading cause of death in 2017.  47,173 people committed suicide in 2017, up by 3.7% from the previous years. That means we have a suicide problem.  It also means 50% of suicides were caused by a firearm.  The 39,773 deaths also include 553 dead by legal intervention or operations of war.  I don’t see how ammunition regulation will affect government and police shootings.

Take away suicide and legal intervention and 39,773 become 15,366.  15,366 died from homicide, unintentional shootings, or shootings where the cause was found to be undermined.  And that number is way lower than the National Center for Health Statistics reporting 37,133 motor vehicle deaths or 47,173 suicides and even further away from 70,237 drug overdoses.

Well, one death by a gun is one too many.  OK, and one drug overdose is one too many. So is one motor vehicle death or one senseless suicide.  But if Jaime’s Law is a reaction to a school shooting, then it should be purposeful, in that it would have prevented the Parkland massacre and it would prevent future shootings.  Except that it wouldn’t have prevented Nikolas Cruz from buying legal ammunition.  There would just be a record of his purchase.  If his community and local law enforcement had acted on the countless death threats, violent statements or his aggravated cyberstalking, then he would have been prevented from buying a firearm.  And he probably wouldn’t have bought any ammo.

A libertarian will tell you that all gun laws are unconstitutional, including laws on ammunition.  A socialist will say, “We need common sense gun control” in their effort to completely rid society of firearms.  Well, the gun control laws will continue to come, but they should be resolute.  A gun law should be an answer to a specific problem.  Jaime’s Law doesn’t do that.  It is a feel-good bill that puts more control on legal purchases.  Nikolas Cruz would have still legally purchased his ammunition, and it would have been ignored just like his firearm purchases were ignored.  If legislators were more serious about stopping gun violence, then they should focus on mental health, which would probably also lower the number of suicides and drug overdoses.

Inside Perspective - Why Sell Hate and Division?

Why Sell Hate and Division?
The aftermath of Jussie Smollett
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)

In 1987, almost 20 years after the race riots of 1968, a young African American woman named Tawana Brawley accused four white men of raping her. Her account horrified the nation as we learned that her attackers wrote racial slurs on her body, covered her in feces and put her in a trash bag. I remember thinking, “How will this poor young girl ever get this horrible experience out of her mind?” It took almost a year for the trial and truth to come out that it all was a hoax perpetrated on America by none other than Al Sharpton. So why would anyone, especially an African American, want to return us to the horror of yesteryear? Hate is a taught behavior. Each generation takes us further away from our racist past. Nevertheless, for some, like the Reverend, there is money in promoting racism.

In 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum, a black college student working as a stripper with a criminal record, including stealing a car and trying to run over a police officer, accused four white members of the Duke University Lacrosse Team of raping her at a frat house. An overzealous prosecutor got three of the four indicted and called it a “hate” crime. Mangum, along with another stripper, was hired to perform for a party at the house. Mangum claimed that she was beaten, called racial slurs, and raped to include being penetrated by a broom handle. The prosecutor seemed to ignore all exculpatory evidence in the case in his rush to judgement. The media again, thirsting for a story that they wanted to believe, made this the biggest story in the country. Not totally unexpected, because many of us saw this movie before, the three indicted college students were acquitted of any and all crimes. The story was totally fabricated and ruined the boy’s lives. The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was terminated from employment and later disbarred.

It seems today that hate crime hoaxes are all the rage, with the biggest headline grabber being the Jussie Smollett story. First Smollett, an African American, mailed himself a hate letter. It is apparently cool now to be a victim, and you can get a lot of traction with the help of today’s gullible and complicit media. When he didn’t get the results that he hoped for, he concocted an extraordinary story with two friends.  Most of you I am sure are familiar with the story, but let me give you the gist of it. Jussie called the Chicago police late at night to say that he was the victim of a hate crime. According to him, two white men accosted him on the street in downtown Chicago, beat him up a bit, threw bleach on him and then put a noose around his neck. Moreover, get this; he left the noose around his neck until the police showed up. Oh, and it gets better! They yelled at him that this is MAGA country! He didn’t think the cops were smart enough to pick apart that lame story? First, they are in Rahm Emmanuel’s heavily Democratic city. Second, who in the hell walks around Chicago carrying bleach and a noose on one of the coldest nights of the year? Finally, Jussie held onto his sub sandwich throughout the entire ordeal. Not rushing to judgment, the Chicago Police Department did an in-depth investigation that determined that the entire story was fabricated. Jussie’s two Nigerian friends were paid $3,500 to help him “stage” the attack, and Jussie signed the check. It is likely now that Jussie will do some prison time.

Things are only getting worse since Donald Trump became our president. At a minimum, there have been fourteen hate crime hoaxes perpetrated on the American people, with the liberal media being willing participants. Black churches have been damaged, and one was even burned to the ground in an effort to stir up racial tension and hatred for Trump specifically, and whites generally. It turned out that the organ player burned down his own church.

In closing, there are always going to be hoaxes out there perpetrated by unscrupulous people; this will never change... But why does the media constantly stoke the flames in their rush to judgement? I invite you to search, “hate crime hoaxes” on the internet. I think you will be surprised to find out how many of these “crimes” actually turned out to be hoaxes. Let us remember when investigating ANY crime; facts before you act.

Over what time period? Since Trump was elected?

Things are only getting worse since Donald Trump became our president. At a minimum, there have been fourteen hate crime hoaxes perpetrated on the American people, with the liberal media being willing participants. Black churches have been damaged, and one was even burned to the ground in an effort to stir up racial tension and hatred for Trump specifically, and whites generally. It turned out that the organ player burned down his own church.

In closing, there are always going to be hoaxes out there perpetrated by unscrupulous people; this will never change... But why does the media constantly stoke the flames in their rush to judgement? I invite you to search, “hate crime hoaxes” on the internet. I think you will be surprised to find out how many of these “crimes” actually turned out to be hoaxes. Let us remember when investigating ANY crime; facts before you act.

Over what time period? Since Trump was elected?

Training - Big Data: The Future of Policing

Big Data: The Future of Policing
By Deniz Majagah

Mr. Marks was arrested and taken away for a crime he had yet to commit. This is pre-crime policing. Futuristic and foreboding.

Imagine a world where crime can be predicted. A world where you knew who was going to break the law. A world where you knew when a robbery was going to be committed. A world where you knew when someone was going to be murdered. This is the dystopian future of Minority Report, a short story penned by Philip K. Dick and later turned into a movie.

“Mr. Marks, by mandate of the District of Columbia Precrime Division, I'm placing you under arrest for the future murder of Sarah Marks and Donald Dubin that was to take place today, April 22 at 0800 hours and four minutes.” – Precrime Chief John Anderton, Minority Report

Rewind to today, to reality. Predictive policing is no longer science fiction. But, it’s not something necessarily new either.

The first uses of predictive policing resulted in people being falsely accused, arrested and imprisoned because of the crude, flawed theory put forth by the father of modern criminology, Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso postulated that criminality was inherited, and that certain people were predisposed to commit crime. These “born criminals” could be identified by a set of atavistic physical features such as facial asymmetry, big ears or the “angular or sugar-loaf form of the skull, common to criminals and apes.”

Pin mapping for hotspot policing and psychological profiling to identify serial killers and other criminals are well-established, though somewhat basic, forms of predictive policing. Observational information coupled with an officer’s experience also provides a certain level of predictive policing. As an overly simplified example, it’s not difficult to guess what is going to happen when you see someone in a ski mask walking into a bank when everyone else is wearing short sleeves and shorts.

The difference between the predictive policing of the past and the predictive policing of the present and the future lies with data. Small data versus big data.

Pin mapping, psychological profiling and observational information coupled with experience are all examples of small data. Small data is easy to access, analyze and small enough that we can comprehend and understand what it is. Big data is very much everything that small data is not. It is made of large data sets, often from different, disparate sources, making it very complex and difficult to use and make sense of. When used correctly, though, and with the right tools, big data reveals hidden patterns and useful information. It helps us to see connections and make correlations that we wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise. In the world of law enforcement, big data is a tool that can help us to predict crime and criminality.

If big data is the heart of smart, predictive policing, algorithms are the brains. At its simplest, an algorithm is a set of rules that are used to solve a problem. You feed the algorithm with big data information, it runs that information against the rules that are set up and it gives you results.

It’s easy enough to understand, sans the technical aspects. Tons of information from different sources are pumped into a computer and useful, actionable information is returned. You now have a crime forecast.

The computer is telling you when and where to expect certain crimes to occur. Great. Extra patrols are sent to those areas and it’s had the expected effect and there are no burglaries and only two assaults during the shift as a result.

The computer has also provided you a heat list of individuals; a list of people who are predisposed to commit crime. The list is built from the rules that you gave the algorithms, from the data sources that you provided.

But what happens when these tools are misused? What happens when during those same patrols individuals on that list are stopped, questioned, frisked or even arrested for no other reason than being on a heat list and spotted within or near a “crime forecast” location? What happens if the data that is fed into the algorithms is skewed somehow? Do we have information that is objective and neutral, or are biases that were present in the original, raw data now amplified by algorithms?

As with most things “police,” the Los Angeles Police Department is at the forefront of predictive policing. They are also now being scrutinized in how they implement and use predictive policing. Inspector General Mark Smith submitted a report ordered by the Board of Police Commissioners where he found that , “Officers used inconsistent criteria in targeting and tracking people they considered to be most likely to commit violent crimes.”

Predictive policing, like anything else, has its pitfalls when not used correctly. However, this type of intelligence-led policing and the technology behind it cannot and should not be abandoned because of some mistakes made by the LAPD or other agencies. These experiences and issues should be used to steer other agencies in the right direction.

Leveraging big data for intelligence-led, predictive policing is in the future for all law enforcement agencies big and small. It will enhance public safety as well as officer safety when used as the tool that it’s meant to be. It will also help to improve and strengthen community relations by augmenting police transparency and objectivity. But it needs to be implemented correctly, using unbiased data, with proper oversight that includes community stakeholders and strong controls that prevent misuse.

Predictive policing, like anything else, has its pitfalls when not used correctly. However, this type of intelligence-led policing and the technology behind it cannot and should not be abandoned because of some mistakes made by the LAPD or other agencies. These experiences and issues should be used to steer other agencies in the right direction.

Leveraging big data for intelligence-led, predictive policing is in the future for all law enforcement agencies big and small. It will enhance public safety as well as officer safety when used as the tool that it’s meant to be. It will also help to improve and strengthen community relations by augmenting police transparency and objectivity. But it needs to be implemented correctly, using unbiased data, with proper oversight that includes community stakeholders and strong controls that prevent misuse.

Then and Now - The Dirty Work of Protection: Winning the Battle

The Dirty Work of Protection: Winning the Battle
By: Joel E. Gordon

"There is no nice way to arrest a potentially dangerous, combative suspect. The police are our bodyguards; our hired fists, batons and guns. We pay them to do the dirty work of protecting us. The work we're too afraid, too unskilled, or too civilized to do ourselves. We expect them to keep the bad guys out of our businesses, out of our cars, out of our houses, and out of our faces. We just don't want to see how it's done."  -Charles H. Webb, Ph.D.

When I made the decision to become a police officer, I did so out of a desire to help people. The one unknown question in my mind was how I would respond to a physical confrontation in the process of apprehending those that were dangerous individuals. What a relief it was during defense tactics training in the Baltimore City Police Academy - circa 1980 - when my class was informed “Police don't fight fair; we fight to win.” Then we learned techniques with which we could maintain tactical advantage.  Of course, in today's world the police are frequently assuming greater risk of personal injury or death to satisfy a growing public perception that less is often more when it comes to use of force by the police.

Much of what a police officer does is misunderstood by outside observers. An angry person may possibly be talked down, but an enraged person will likely require a heightened use of force to stop any threat. Of course, doing so isn’t normally an easy task and certainly does not result in creating picture-perfect politically correct images for those recording the events as they unfold.

So is police reluctance to use reasonable and effective force in an attempt to avoid harsh judgement causing more harm than good to our law enforcement brothers and sisters? You be the judge...

For example, police failed to subdue a violent career criminal who was armed with a knife in Pittsburg, California this past February after a man called police to report that his son had tried to stab him.

Officers responded to the area, spotted the armed subject, and after realizing that the man wasn’t about to back down, tried to negotiate with him for the next hour. Bodycam footage showed as he refused to comply with officers’ repeated orders to drop his knife and to get onto the ground. A less-lethal round was deployed, a K-9 raced into the skirmish, and a Taser was utilized just as officers closed in, bodycam footage showed.

As the officers tackled the suspect to the ground while trying to get the knife-wielding man under control, he deliberately reached back and jabbed the officer in the neck with the open blade according to police accounts. Fortunately, in this case, the officer will recover and the suspect was ultimately apprehended.

A month later, a Maryland state trooper responded to a report of a man armed with a knife and slashing tires. The trooper approached the man and was stabbed in the side of his body. The trooper then fatally shot the man to stop the threat. The trooper survived the attack.

As is widely known, a close-quarters edged weapon or knife attack by an enraged person is almost certainly a losing proposition to anyone going up against it.

Back in the day, I was taught the 21-foot rule, which itself has been more recently under attack. The 21-foot rule was developed by Lt. John Tueller, a firearms instructor with the Salt Lake City Police Department. In 1983, when officer safety concerns were routinely first and foremost, a drill was conducted where a "suspect" armed with an edged weapon was positioned 20 or so feet away from an officer with a holstered sidearm. The armed suspect ran toward the officer in attack mode. The training objective was to determine whether the officer could draw and accurately fire upon the assailant before the suspect stabbed him. After repeating the drill numerous times, it was determined to be entirely possible for a suspect armed with an edged weapon to fatally engage an officer within the distance of 21 feet.

While deadly force should be a last resort, we must be able to do what is necessary to effectively stop any threat while fulfilling our mandate as peace officers. Today’s diminished concern for police safety in favor of elimination of perceived harshness in the handling of violent encounters cannot stand. We must not relinquish the tactical advantage training that has been received due to perceptions based upon false narratives. Let’s go home safely to our own families after every shift.  After all, is the old adage not true that, if necessary, it is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six?

Square-Shooting - MANY CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFICULT MY JOB CAN BE

MANY CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFICULT MY JOB CAN BE
By: Officer Deon Joseph

I wanted to wait a few days before I posted this. I needed to process it thoroughly. Two nights ago I left the police station after a long day’s work. I was in my personal car, wearing nothing more than a T-shirt and jeans. As I’m driving, I pass a very dark street. I see a commotion on the south side of the street. People are walking away quickly from a shadowy figure walking in and out of traffic pointing something. I could not tell what it was as I passed him. As I looked in my rear-view mirror, it appeared he was continuing to point something in his hand at people and vehicles passing him by. I tried to stop and investigate, but he took off westbound. So I drove around the block and see the young man again. The light of an oncoming vehicle illuminated him. He was a young black male in his mid-20s wearing a hoodie off his head. He was still pointing at people. As they walked away nervously, another vehicle shined their lights on his hand and it appeared to be a firearm.

I was still not 100% sure. But as I drove closer it indeed appeared to be a firearm. I passed him and made a U-turn to try to confront him. I wasn’t thinking about the consequences. I was not thinking about what color he was beyond knowing his physical descriptors. I was not thinking about the criticism I would receive in the press afterward, my only focus was trying to stop him, hopefully without having to use deadly force. All I knew was he had a gun. As I completed my U -turn, he ran into a nearby shady hotel.

Still trying to process if he was holding a gun or not due to the darkness, my suspicion that he had an actual weapon was heightened when I saw a man run out of the hotel screaming for his life and begging the young man not to shoot him. The young man immediately followed the screaming man, chasing him down pointing what truly looked like a firearm at the man. I grabbed my gun and tried to exit my vehicle to shoot the young man and protect the older gentleman he was chasing. I was stuck in my seatbelt and frantically tried to get out of it to neutralize the threat.

As I was finally able to unbuckle my seatbelt, the young man ran across the street to the back of my police station. He was now pointing the weapon at the wall of the station and yelling incoherently. The station was well lit but he had his back turned so I could not see the weapon. I drove my car closer so I could use it as cover. I got out and pointed my weapon at him. I ordered him to drop it as a detective showed up to assist me. When he saw me, he paused. If he would have turned and pointed what I truly believed was a weapon in his hand based on the reaction of the people he was chasing, I would have shot him. I was scared for my life and the people around me. I had no vest, no radio, no ballistic door paneling. But as frightened as I was, I was ready to push past my fear to do what I prayed I would never have to do in my career. He then threw the item into the station planter.

I ordered him to the ground. He complied, but was still yelling at the sky. Sweat was pouring down his face. As my fellow officers arrived to help me, we were able to detain him without incident.

As we looked into the planter, it was a cellular phone. In his hand was a wadded-up piece of rubber or plastic made to resemble the handle of a gun. I was relieved and thankful to God that I did not have to shoot him.

He was a young man in his early 20s or maybe even 19. He was stoned out of his mind. It was obvious that he was mentally ill and under the influence of some substance. On the way home, I could not help but think of how I would have been perceived if I shot that young man.

Out of all of the things I have done to save lives, this one incident, on a dark street, with frightened homeless people fleeing from this man, and an item he purposely made to look like a gun … If I would have shot this man what would they say about me? How would I be portrayed? Would they call me a racist? Would they say I racially profiled him? Would the media call this a pattern? Would I get thrown under the bus, to satisfy an irrational and unquenchable anger within a political movement? Would it have sparked protest and another lawsuit? Would there be mobs of people looking for “answers” no matter what the facts would bear out? Would I be seen as a hypocrite? Would political candidates use this incident to get elected citing that I … a 20-year veteran who has never shot anyone, was “Too quick to pull the trigger” to pander to a voter base. Would the headline in the paper the next day read “Veteran LAPD Cop Slays Teenager for Carrying a Cellphone?”

That beautiful young black man could have been my son. I had no hatred in my heart toward him before I saw him, nor after he was detained. My heart broke for this lost soul who may have wanted me to kill him via suicide by cop.

 
 

But would I have done what many of us dread to keep people safe? Yes.

I need you all to know that my job is not an easy one. No police shooting can be simply summed up by racial measures. Race had zero to do with what I almost did. But if folks still want to “racialize” this incident, then tell the truth.

And that truth is that I was almost forced to take a young life, to save many black lives. But I am thankful to God I did not have to.

I share this for those who wonder what goes through the mind of a law enforcement officer in situations like these. If I would have shot that young man, I would have been ordered not to talk about it until the investigation was complete for logical reasons. That would have left those with an already negative view toward police to sum up in their minds why I would have taken that action. Police shootings are not something we take lightly. I value human life as much as the next person, but if a human tries to harm others, then I in my humanity, bound by duty, would have had to take action.

Please stop judging until you are in our shoes.

Technology Feature - Police Body Cameras

Police Body Cameras
By Danny Reynoso

In recent years, the words police brutality has appeared on every news outlet possible. There are tons of recording devices all over. Whether it’s a security camera on an apartment building or at a gas station or from a personal cellphone, all of these pieces of footage are coming together to capture different time frames of the same event. The questions that need to be answered are what really happened in these moments and what did the officer see that perhaps the additional footage did not. Body cameras capture this angle.

When body cameras were first implemented, some thought they would infringe on the privacy needed for certain police activity as well as civilian privacy and police officers’ personal rights. While there is some conviction in this statement where privacy laws come into play; they hold little power over the counter arguments of safety and protection of those involved in these dangerous encounters. This applies to both the police officer(s) and any civilian(s) involved. A police officer labeled with police brutality can have their entire career ruined. Their faces get plastered around the public and their lives then become on the line as their career falls. Whether that claim has merit or not is something that falls into the hands of our justice department, and with the help of body camera footage, many officers are exonerated and some are clearly wrong.

Body cameras can determine whether or not police-civilian encounters required the use of deadly force. Did the civilian threaten police with a weapon, or start a physical altercation with the officer that escalated to a deadly force situation? That is something that a video shot midway into an officer subduing a suspect cannot tell. The stories right now that can be easily shared on social media have created an environment where pictures and videos can be taken out of context. Body cameras fill in the gray areas.

But body cameras are not a perfect solution. There are pros and cons to having police officers wear body cameras. First, body cameras increase the safety of officers and the public. At the same time, the camera can negatively affect the physical and mental health of the officer. The camera improves police accountability and protects officers from false accusations of misconduct. At the same time, it invades the privacy of citizens, exposes victims and witnesses of crimes, and damages police-public relationships. Finally, the cameras are a good tool for learning and have a strong support from members of the public. But in the end the cameras are expensive and can be unreliable at times.

However, body cameras offer the advantage of being able to tell the full story of an event. They eliminate the need for fragments of videos and pictures taken by people walking past in the middle of what is happening. Body cameras can be used for the safety of the officer and the civilian. They show an unbiased image of the situation and are tools that can be used for the good of all.

Straightforward - On the Job … Why it’s Worth It

On the Job … Why it’s Worth It
By Lt. Anthony Espino

Being a police officer can be a rewarding job with many benefits, but it also comes with many challenges. The profession has changed in so many ways. In many regards, police agencies are a mirror of our beliefs and values as a society.

Our profession is held to a higher standard today compared to our predecessors. Think about it back in the 1950s, police officers knew their beat and those who were the troublemakers by name. More often than not, they dealt out justice as they felt it was needed. Argue with them, and two things were guaranteed, a beating by the officer and another when they got home and told their parents what had happened. Those cops of yesteryear would never make it in today’s society.

Today’s police force has become publicly accountable, subject to the rule of law and respectful of human dignity irrespective of whether or not they are treated the same way. Whatever course of action we take, we’re scrutinized, right or wrong, and often the media make us look like the bad guys. External pressures have increased tenfold from even fifty years ago. However, this has modernized our police forces and increased community trust and accountability.

Protecting the community and making a better environment for others to live in was a big reason why I chose to be a police officer. The police business is a tough one. There are days you deal with the scum of the earth and see the inhumanity that most people never see and would never understand. However, there isn’t anything more satisfying about police work than stopping a crime in progress or arresting someone who has victimized an innocent person. Rolling up on a burglary that is otherwise not yet reported, or any number of other crimes of the sort is an amazingly gratifying experience. Placing handcuffs on a suspect of a brutal crime is even better.

We encounter all walks of life, and it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic category, race, color, or creed we meet, each interaction is unique. To me, every day is different, and that's what keeps me coming back for more. Like many of my brothers and sisters in blue, I’m willing to make sacrifices, work odd hours, weekends and holidays because I believe in our profession and our purpose.

Being a police officer takes a lot of commitment, dedication and sacrifice. It’s not for everyone. No one should enter into the job with selfish motivations, because they will most likely be disappointed. Although there are negatives to the job, the benefits by far outweigh the detriments.

I love my job and would never trade it for another. It's a great job as long as you can get past the fact that you’re not going to save the world every day. Unfortunately, there are also some cops out there who show up for a paycheck or think they are above the law. They give our profession a bad name, but we should not focus on the few bad apples, rather the overwhelming number of good officers who do this job with respect and admiration.

This profession will expose you to see inhumanity at its worst, and people at their lowest. We often encounter people who are down and out, addicted to drugs, destitute, emotionally unstable, suicidal, violent and basically at the lowest point in their lives. One of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of being a police officer is the unique opportunity to help these people get out of a bad situation, get back on their feet and ultimately turn their lives around. Millions of acts of kindness are committed each year by police officers, and millions more are changed for the better by the compassion and dedication of police officers who are committed to helping those people who need their help the most.

I’ve had many people thank me over the years for my service. It is indeed the most rewarding experience when people remember you for what you’ve done. Being able to help is what being a police officer is all about. Always remember that and carry it with you through your career.

Spotlight - From Dead on the Table To Fighting for the Wounded and Officers across America

From Dead on the Table - To Fighting for the Wounded and Officers across America
By Valerie Velazquez-Stetz (Ret.) J.C.P.D.

Detective Mario Oliveira proudly served the Somerville Police Department for 17 years. His life changed forever on Nov. 2, 2010. While being assigned out to the ATF Boston Office as a Task Force Agent. Detective Oliveira was shot six times at point-blank range while serving a federal arrest warrant. He pulled over the vehicle and was shot by the actor and by crossfire from his squad. Detective Oliveira was rushed to the Emergency Room where the paramedics, other officers, the surgeon, his grandma and God had a hand in his recovery. Mario was dead on the table for 2 minutes. With the help of God and his grandmother’s spirit he came back to life. At this time, Mario, who had a wife and one son, did not know his wife was pregnant with their second son. The injuries sustained during this incident forced Oliveira to retire. Since being retired, Mario has dedicated his time to educating and assisting police departments and law enforcement officers and their families on the dangers of police work. He educates on coping skills due to the tragedy of serious injury or death in the line of duty. He is the executive director of the New England Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors. He is also a co-founder of Violently Injured Police Officers Association (V.I.P.O) (both 501c3 nonprofit organizations), along with retired Woburn Police Officer Robert DeNapoli. Oliveira is currently employed with the New England State Police Information Network (NESPIN) as the Eastern Massachusetts Metro/Boston area law enforcement coordinator.

Officer Robert DeNapoli served the Woburn Police Department proudly for 17 years as a patrol officer. On Sept. 6, 2011, DeNapoli was shot several times while responding to an armed robbery at a local jewelry store. He was shot in the face, trigger hand and throughout his body. He sustained permanent career-ending injuries. With the help of his wife and children, he was able to recover at home after several surgeries. His one son followed his example and became a police officer as well.

Both officers from the State of Massachusetts fought for their full pension “special legislation” which was granted to a few officers prior to them. They did not think it was fair for them to receive only 70% instead of the full 100%. It took them a couple of years, but eventually they were granted their full salaries tax-free, benefits, and pay increases until the age of 65. They can also be gainfully employed, with the exception of being a police officer. It is their mission to have every state recognize those officers severely injured on the job. As it stands, officers find themselves being punished for surviving a work-related serious injury. By receiving a pay cut (in N.J 66 ⅔) and ZERO cost of living increases, these injured officers are often forgotten. Their whole world changes and their future dreams are destroyed. The careers that they loved can be taken away in a blink of an eye, and through no fault of their own. It is taken away as a result of doing their jobs to protect the cities or towns that they served. Their families are not cared for as well. We all need to do our part for our brothers to achieve their goals, to help every tragically injured officer receive 100% of their salary throughout the United States.

V.I.P.O has recently created a new piece of commonsense legislation (SD815) that is currently up for debate. This will help make nighttime traffic stops safer for both our officers and operators alike. It is also refreshingly succinct, clear and concise and much shorter and more to the point than any proposed legislation state lawmakers have seen in some time. The “LIGHTS ON” bill mandates that any driver of a vehicle that is stopped by the police after dark activate their interior cabin lights upon pulling to the side of the road and stopping. Of the 46 officers who were shot and killed nationwide in 2017, eight, or 17%, were killed by motorists whom they had stopped. Detective Oliveira and Officer DeNapoli are extremely grateful to State Sen. Bruce Tarr for his continuing support to bring this safety issue to the forefront. They hope that the entire legislature and the governor will support this “LIGHTS ON” bill and set the tone for what could be a huge safety factor for officers nationwide.

Tribute - We Knew Him Well

We Knew Him Well
By: BBO Staff Writer

A few weeks back, I had written a reflective piece on law enforcement line of duty death funerals. Little did I know that, as I sat there, those words would be so relevant so quickly.

On February 12th, 2019, NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen was killed in the line of duty as he and several other NYPD police officers and detectives attempted to apprehend a robbery suspect. What followed in the days after was a living representation of what I had just written about weeks before.

As a police officer since 2007, I have seen my share of police funerals, both line of duty and otherwise. While there is a familiar cadence to services surrounding a line of duty death, each one is unique; as unique as the individual who was lost. As a board member for Brothers Before Others, I have been afforded an even more special perspective.

Since he founded the group in 2014, BBO’s Founder/President, who also serves as Editor-In-Chief for the New York edition of BLUE, retired NYPD Police Officer Michael J. Burke has had one goal in mind; honor our police officers and support their families. In order to accomplish this, Michael immediately established the National Flower Fund, which has sent a floral arrangement on behalf of the group to the services of every line of duty death, regardless of where in the country they have occurred.

From a personal perspective, attending a line of duty death service, when feasible, is, or should be, a requirement. As I discussed in the article I referenced earlier, it is impossible to leave a police funeral without a profound sense of humility. Our presence, often referred to as a “sea of blue” is a crucial step in what is the beginning of a family’s healing process; both for kin AND blue.

While the ceremonies of both the viewing and the actual funeral are a show of respect for the fallen, they are so much more than that. As police officers, we often take for granted that our friends and our families love this profession as much as we do. For us, understanding the level of sacrifice made by the ones we mourn comes naturally. However, for those whose life is focused on simply supporting their loved one and running the household while they were off playing policeman, that understanding might not come so easy.

When we turn out for police funerals the way that NYPD turned out for Detective Brian Simonsen, the family left behind has no choice but to see that the loss of their loved one was not in vain. The parents, siblings, spouses and children immediately are hit with the reality that their loved one was a hero.

Being a member of Brothers Before Others has afforded me the experience of attending police line of duty death services in a unique capacity. I am not family. I am not a friend. Often times, I am not even on the same department. Yet, especially since partnering with Philadelphia Police Officer Jonathan Castro and often times hand-delivering one of the portraits that he creates, I have been able to meet and connect with the grieving family left behind. I can tell you that, of all the things I have done and seen in this life, both on and off the job, these interactions have been by far the most humbling experiences that I carry with me every day.

There is a saying (paraphrased) that, when an officer is lost in the line of duty, it’s not a department that loses someone, it’s the entire law enforcement community. Attending Brian’s services reinforced this point to me.

Again, being an essential outsider, I was there out of respect; respect for Brian, respect for his sacrifice and respect for the sacrifice that his family has made and will now make every day they live without him. However, being separated from the immense grief experienced by Brian’s close friends and family, I was able to more closely observe and appreciate, in real time, the amazing amount of love and respect being shown by everyone who braved the cold weather. I was able to see the strain on the faces of his coworkers. I was privy to just how much work and time went into those days, ensuring that not one need or request of Brian’s family went ignored.

One of the things that humbled me was how clear it was how much Brian was loved. As I stood in the lobby of the church, watching photo after photo of Brian with his friends and family scroll on TV screens that had been placed around the church, I couldn’t help but see exactly why they called him “Smiles.” Listening to the heartbreaking eulogies delivered by his coworkers and friends, there was no mistaking what Brian meant to the people in his life.

As police officers, I think we often take for granted that people are just going to pack the church at our funeral because of the uniform and shield we wear. However, I am here to tell you that is not the case. The turnout that you saw for Brian, the visible strain and emotion on the faces of his family, coworkers and friends, all were a testament to who this man was.

We personalize funerals. We always do. Virtually every line of duty death starts off as something that police officers do every day, sometimes multiple times during a day; motor vehicle stop, vehicle pursuit, domestic violence intervention, motor vehicle accident investigations, assisting disabled vehicles, and as was the case with Brian, calls for help/service. So, inevitably, you find yourself sitting there thinking “Damn. I do that stuff every day” and the weight of the humbling reality hits you. You’ll often hear cops say, “We hardly knew you, but we knew you well.” We DO know each other well, because we experience the same stresses and realities.

This emotion was so prevalent during my time at Brian’s services that I could literally feel its presence. As I looked at the photos, heard the stories and met his law enforcement family, I was overcome with the reality that none of us really think this could be us. An incident like the one that ultimately took his life was the farthest thing from Brian’s mind as he posed for the pictures that we all saw flashing up on the screen.

I try to take something from every service; basically my way of acknowledging to the lost that they taught me something, even though we often times never met. Brian reminded me to not take one day on this job for granted; whether you have 19 years in as he did, 12 like I do, or if you’re just starting out. He reinforced the concept of conducting myself, both on and off the job, as someone who people will WANT to remember when they retire or leave this earth. Most of all, Brian made me want to be the kind of guy who, when I’m gone, will be remembered for my smile. How amazing and outwardly loving must he have been for his smile to be that impactful?

While my heart breaks for their loss, I am grateful that every member of the Simonsen family, including those he worked with, were able to experience that kind of great love. I am grateful that they had someone in their lives so amazing, worthy of every tear they have spent and will spend.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bratton once said during a eulogy that he was delivering: The most common phrase he hears repeatedly at police funeral services is that “God always takes the good ones.” He added, “That is not a mistake. Because police officers represent the best of all of us.”

I may have been an outsider at Brian’s services, but I left without a shadow of a doubt that Brian was exactly the kind of cop Commissioner Bratton spoke about and that is a tribute to both how he lived, how he loved and, most importantly, how he was loved.

Fare Thee Well, Detective Simonsen.

Unwavering Patriotism - Recognizing Those Who Serve Their Country and Law Enforcement

Recognizing Those Who Serve Their Country and Law Enforcement
The Patriot’s Pride Ceremony
By Cynthia Scott, Public Information Officer and Ted Freeman, Executive Undersheriff

March 14, 2019, was a special day at the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, as once again, the sheriff’s office was recognized for the support that it gives to its employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve at the Patriot’s Pride Ceremony. Corrections Officer David Leventhal, a staff sergeant in the New Jersey National Guard, submitted three names for consideration for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Employer Award: Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, Acting Warden Donald Sutton and Corrections Lt. Stephen Riznyk. All three were presented their awards at the Patriot’s Pride Ceremony by Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur G.A. Maggs, USA (Retired). Monmouth County Executive Assistant Selma Morris (former specialist, United States Army) and Assistant Veteran’s Services Officer Michael Ferraro (Command chief master sergeant, United States Air Force, Ret.) planned and coordinated the Patriot’s Pride event.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award. It’s vital that we continue to provide support and a strong commitment to our citizen soldiers in the National Guard and Reserve especially when engaged in responding to emergencies on the home front or deployed overseas in service of their country,” said Golden. “They fight for our freedom and sacrifice everything to keep us safe through their heroic efforts, and it’s our duty to our nation to strongly support them and their family members.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Capt. Brian Sheakley, Commanding Officer, Navy Operational Support Center, Fort Dix. Sheakley commended the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and Board of Chosen Freeholders for their exceptional support for the military men and women serving in the National Guard and Reserve. "I appreciate the community honoring the sacrifices that our courageous men and women make on behalf of the nation with aid to military families who may face hardships while fighting for our freedom."

In Monmouth County, county employees who are in the National Guard and Reserve receive full pay for 90 days when called to active duty. Following the first 90 days, the county makes up the difference between their county pay and their military base pay for active duty. Families of those on active duty maintain their health benefits and are actively supported by the sheriff’s office during the duration of military activation. The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office has several officers who are currently serving on active duty and deployed overseas and stateside locations.

The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office has hosted two other veteran recognition ceremonies within the last five years. On April 22, 2015, an ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve) ceremony was held in the Sheriff’s Office Operations Center in Freehold. Recognized at that ceremony were Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, Freeholder Lillian Burry, Michael Ruane – director of the Monmouth County Office on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Affairs and Randy Schwartz, director, Neptune Community Resource Center.

On Dec. 7, 2016 a Patriot’s Pride Awards and Recognition Ceremony was held at the Monmouth County Police Academy. Guest speakers at the ceremony were Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholder Lillian Burry, ESGR Employer Outreach Director Norm Patten, NJ DMAVA Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs Raymond Zawacki and Adjutant General Michael L. Cunniff. The keynote remarks were presented by then-Lt. Gov. and former Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno. Sheriff Golden, along with Neptune Township and Ocean Township Police Departments, received awards for their support for the National Guard and Reserves at this ceremony. In addition, 49 police chiefs submitted their Statements of Support

Affirmation for the Guard and Reserve, and the NJ DMAVA Military Awards and ESGR Awards were presented. Just before the closing of the ceremony, the “Wall of Heroes” was unveiled, listing every employee of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office who has served in the military, Guard and Reserve. That “Wall of Heroes” is proudly displayed in the entrance foyer of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Center for all who enter to see.

“The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to supporting our men and women who, in addition to their duties as law enforcement professionals, have a commitment to the safety and security of their country by serving in the National Guard and Reserve,” said Golden.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Our dedicated officers who remain in the Guard and Reserve continue to pay that price for all of us.”

Wellness - My Brother and Sister’s Keeper

My Brother and Sister’s Keeper
By Julia Torres

In light of the amount of police suicides recently occurring, we at Blue would like to extend our open, unending invitation to unload your weight. We are “my brother’s keeper” and have chosen to take this issue very seriously. We do not want this to be a growing trend. You are valued; we care and love you.

If you feel desolate, tormented, know that you are not alone. Someone, somewhere, has been in that moment and they found a positive solution. You can, too. The way out is not taking your life. You are too valuable, loved and cherished to cease to exist of your own volition.

Your future is bright. God, our Father planned prosperity and hope for His children (Jeremiah 29:11). Therefore, there is no temptation that cannot be conquered (1 Cor 10:13). He has equipped you with the tools required to combat all challenges. You are a victor, victorious in the abundant life Jesus came for you to have. How can I be so certain? Simply and unequivocally, God has said it in His Word (John 10:10).

Decide to believe in the future you were meant to live. Ask Him to lead you to it, to guide you through it. He will bring a confidante and you will find relief. But reach out. The longer you remain silent, the more emotions fester, feeding further into negative emotions until you believe there is no hope. It’s all untrue. You were designed for more.

A warm hand is available. The pastoral staff of Abundant Grace Christian Church, at 70 Home Avenue in Rutherford has expressed their desire to provide free counseling in a loving environment. Steve Hannett, founder of Abundant Grace, and EveryHouse, a nonprofit 501(c)3, is passionate about changing lives. It is with this intention that he has volunteered the staff’s services to the Blue community and their family. As host of the The Miraculous Life TV show, Pastor Steve reaches over a hundred nations delivering hope, an invaluable endeavor he offers to those in Blue. Having been healed of cancer, Pastor Steve understands firsthand the turmoil and anguish one can experience in a grave situation.

Take a moment to read the fervent zeal in his voice as he shares God’s truth and love with the desire to protect and love those who serve others.

A Look at the Upward Trend of Police Suicide & How to Combat It

Shots fired! Shots fired! The blood rushes through your body as you race to the scene to provide backup. Your body floods with emotion as you approach the chaotic conflict, wondering what you’ll encounter. To your horror, you see officers down and blood pooling. The assailants have fled, but you're shouting for help as you radio for medical assistance to save your brothers and sisters in blue.

Incidents like these last for moments, but the traumatic memories last a lifetime. Adding fuel to the fire are the memories of daily calls dealing with tragic accidents, domestic violence and drug-related incidents. These memories give rise to new fears, stresses and burdens that are increasingly overwhelming to the mental and emotional wellbeing of many police officers.

Data via the Ruderman Family Foundation/the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health reports that the occurrence of depression among police officers is two times as likely and the occurrence of PTSD approximately six times more likely than the general public!

The problem is real, and it's causing an increasing number to end their trauma by tragically ending their lives. According to Blue H.E.L.P., a nonprofit run by active and retired police officers, at least 159 officers died by suicide in 2018, nine percent more than the total number of line-of-duty deaths resulting from 15 other causes such as felonious assault, patrol vehicle accident, heart attack and duty-related illness. For the third straight year, police officer suicides exceed all combined causes of line-of-duty deaths.

The problem is that less than 10 percent of U.S. police departments have suicide prevention programs. The simple fact is that the problem is not being addressed at all or it's addressed too late after a police officer is already suffering.

Police officers are modern street warriors who need proactive training that strengthens more than just physical skill. They need to return to the training methods of ancient warriors who trained not only their bodies but also their minds and spirits.

For thousands of years, the warrior understood that their spirit was an essential part of their being. They knew if their spirit was strong, their minds and bodies would follow. Modern warriors have suffered from a modern culture that frequently shuns spiritual training, and it’s time for a change.

One of the greatest ancient historical warriors is King David. He was a man so close to God he lived, loved, and fought from a place of spiritual strength. He wrote his own words saying,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident” (Psalm 27:1–3).

David fought many battles, and though the Bible records he went through deep emotional turmoil, he always came out on top because of the hope and strength he found in God. This strength David accessed then is the same strength all can access now!

Satan is real, and police officers daily witness the evil he releases on the frontline streets. We desperately need Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the ultimate warrior who “overcame” and “overcomes” darkness with infallible proof. We need the power, teaching, love, forgiveness and grace of God to flood our hearts so our minds may be filled with peace and be able to stand strong in battle.

Imagine for a moment what life would be like for you and your family if you trained like King David and had what he had. Imagine if you had his spiritual weapons! You would without question take down your Goliaths!

There’s hope for you no matter how much pain you feel. We invite all who would like more information to contact EveryHouse, a nonprofit organization, at 201-355-3225 or contact www.everyhouse.org. We stand ready to stand with you to combat the growing trend of police suicide. Failure is not an option.

Resources:

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a20944664/police-officer-suicide-rate-mental-health/

https://bluehelp.org/158-american-police-officers-died-by-suicide-in-2018/?fbclid=IwAR0eCgLUQ0zrmtf75B_mWHQqMH6eccmIuYT-J3eoJomcIckdPFI7pCwgAcM

https://www.policeone.com/lodd/articles/482561006-Report-More-cops-died-by-suicide-than-in-line-of-duty-in-2018/)

For thousands of years, the warrior understood that their spirit was an essential part of their being. They knew if their spirit was strong, their minds and bodies would follow. Modern warriors have suffered from a modern culture that frequently shuns spiritual training, and it’s time for a change.

One of the greatest ancient historical warriors is King David. He was a man so close to God he lived, loved, and fought from a place of spiritual strength. He wrote his own words saying,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident” (Psalm 27:1–3).

David fought many battles, and though the Bible records he went through deep emotional turmoil, he always came out on top because of the hope and strength he found in God. This strength David accessed then is the same strength all can access now!

Satan is real, and police officers daily witness the evil he releases on the frontline streets. We desperately need Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the ultimate warrior who “overcame” and “overcomes” darkness with infallible proof. We need the power, teaching, love, forgiveness and grace of God to flood our hearts so our minds may be filled with peace and be able to stand strong in battle.

Imagine for a moment what life would be like for you and your family if you trained like King David and had what he had. Imagine if you had his spiritual weapons! You would without question take down your Goliaths!

There’s hope for you no matter how much pain you feel. We invite all who would like more information to contact EveryHouse, a nonprofit organization, at 201-355-3225 or contact www.everyhouse.org. We stand ready to stand with you to combat the growing trend of police suicide. Failure is not an option.

Resources:

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a20944664/police-officer-suicide-rate-mental-health/

https://bluehelp.org/158-american-police-officers-died-by-suicide-in-2018/?fbclid=IwAR0eCgLUQ0zrmtf75B_mWHQqMH6eccmIuYT-J3eoJomcIckdPFI7pCwgAcM

https://www.policeone.com/lodd/articles/482561006-Report-More-cops-died-by-suicide-than-in-line-of-duty-in-2018/)

For thousands of years, the warrior understood that their spirit was an essential part of their being. They knew if their spirit was strong, their minds and bodies would follow. Modern warriors have suffered from a modern culture that frequently shuns spiritual training, and it’s time for a change.

One of the greatest ancient historical warriors is King David. He was a man so close to God he lived, loved, and fought from a place of spiritual strength. He wrote his own words saying,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident” (Psalm 27:1–3).

David fought many battles, and though the Bible records he went through deep emotional turmoil, he always came out on top because of the hope and strength he found in God. This strength David accessed then is the same strength all can access now!

Satan is real, and police officers daily witness the evil he releases on the frontline streets. We desperately need Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the ultimate warrior who “overcame” and “overcomes” darkness with infallible proof. We need the power, teaching, love, forgiveness and grace of God to flood our hearts so our minds may be filled with peace and be able to stand strong in battle.

Imagine for a moment what life would be like for you and your family if you trained like King David and had what he had. Imagine if you had his spiritual weapons! You would without question take down your Goliaths!

There’s hope for you no matter how much pain you feel. We invite all who would like more information to contact EveryHouse, a nonprofit organization, at 201-355-3225 or contact www.everyhouse.org. We stand ready to stand with you to combat the growing trend of police suicide. Failure is not an option.

Resources:

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a20944664/police-officer-suicide-rate-mental-health/

https://bluehelp.org/158-american-police-officers-died-by-suicide-in-2018/?fbclid=IwAR0eCgLUQ0zrmtf75B_mWHQqMH6eccmIuYT-J3eoJomcIckdPFI7pCwgAcM

https://www.policeone.com/lodd/articles/482561006-Report-More-cops-died-by-suicide-than-in-line-of-duty-in-2018/)

Remembrance - Illinois State Trooper Gerald Ellis

On March 30th, Illinois State Trooper Gerald Ellis was on duty in his patrol car, traveling on Interstate 94 in Green Oaks. Gerald observed a vehicle heading toward him in the wrong direction at a high rate of speed. Without hesitation, Trooper Ellis selflessly crossed over two lanes of traffic and put his patrol car directly into the path of the driver. The collision stopped the wrong way driver and saved several other vehicles behind him from being hit, but it cost him his life. Gerald passed away from his injuries at the hospital. Trooper Ellis had served the Illinois State Police for 11 years, spending his entire career at District 15 in Downers Grove. He was a husband, father of two and a U.S. Army Combat Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was 36 years old.

Reflection - Is Your Job Really Boring?

Is Your Job Really Boring?
By: Christian Argudo

A fellow officer once told me that he loved his job, but he wasn’t too happy that it consists of endless boredom with very few moments of rush. I didn’t know exactly what he meant, but I guess a sluggish officer sees his daily routine as constant boredom. On the other hand, for a highly motivated officer, the job is anything but boring.

Besides this officer’s perspective, there is also a public misconception that cops sit in their vehicles waiting to be sent to a job, and occasionally conduct a traffic stop to write a ticket. Although not one hundred percent accurate, I can see some correlation. However, if you put certain perspectives in place you would realize that…

• There is nothing boring about directing traffic when there is a major accident or a traffic light is not working properly.

• There is nothing boring about conducting a field interview when you see a person who is not a resident of the area and is acting suspiciously upon your presence.

• There is nothing boring trying to be one step ahead and attempt to figure out where the car that was stolen a little while ago will be heading.

• There is nothing boring with doing community-oriented policing, and getting out of your car to talk to the local residents about what they want to see done in their neighborhood to make it better.

We know that unpredictability is what makes our job interesting. The problem comes down to some officers do not do the above and have become complacent with their job. They are known as the “call takers” instead of the “call makers.” The latter will find the stolen vehicle and pull somebody over, which will result in several felony charges. They even deter crimes just with their presence around town. The bad guys avoid them at all cost.

Most people don’t understand that the outcome of their work is not always “luck,” but hard work.

So, how do you deal with a “call taker” and keep them attentive and ready for action? In other words, keep them on their toes. There is not a “one size fits all” type of answer, since everybody has different personalities and reacts different to their environment.

To motivate your team, you need to get to know each person individually and persuade him or her to do the right thing. There are extrinsic motivators such as a favorite sector in town or even a preferable parking spot. There also intrinsic motivators, such as them knowing what they do means something to you and your department; but the utmost important motivator for everybody is recognition.

Recognize them by letting them take ownership of their jobs. Listen to any ideas they may want to share. Make them feel like they are part of the team and their opinions toward certain tasks matter. In addition, compliments are a great way to boost their morale. These are a few ways that would not only make your officers feel empowered, but you’ll also find they will work harder when they know they have a say.

So, the endless boredom attributed to the job could be more than just the job but other factors unknown to the naked eye. Hence, when your officers tell you that their job is boring; don’t go out elsewhere looking for an answer, because the real answer may be standing right in front of you.

Operation Rebound - Serving Your Town While Serving Your Country

Serving Your Town While Serving Your Country
By Michael D. Boll

For nearly twenty years, our combat veterans have been switching roles and becoming first responders! However, some of these veterans have decided to continue defending our nation, part time as military reservists. It should be noted that our New Jersey Military Reserve Units are still being constantly deployed to various combat missions.

Sometimes, our military reservists must leave with little notice. The vast majority of our law enforcement and fire departments bend over backward to help their men or women who are leaving on a deployment. However, sadly a few leaders really do not understand their employee's sacrifice and begin to resent the military reserves all together. Some employers will even go out of their way to deter employees from being in the reserves and do whatever they can to make them quit the reserves altogether. Being a first responder, one would think the command would understand and support our military reserves, but time after time, our military reserve brothers and sisters have to deal with some horrible and unnecessary treatment from their bosses. There is enough stress with being a first responder, and we should be praising and rewarding our first responders who actively serve in the military reserves.

Recently, according to my brothers and Operation Rebound teammates from the Clifton Police Department, there have been major problems serving in the military reserves. After interviewing a few of my Clifton teammates, I learned that harassment of and discrimination against military reservists at the Clifton Police Department has been rampant for well over a decade, but it was not always this way. Prior to September 11, 2001, training for military reservists was mostly the old one weekend a month and two weeks over the summer standard. After the terrorist attacks on 9-11, the military reserve forces were, and still are, used regularly to supplement active duty forces, and as a result, the training tempo for military reserve forces increased, deployments overseas increased, and other military obligations became more common. This required the military reservists to be absent more often from the Clifton Police Department in order to fulfill those obligations.

Unfortunately, the increased necessary military absences to fight the Global War on Terror (GWOT) have reportedly been met with overt disdain by some Clifton police supervisors. There are repeated complaints about the inconvenience of having to modify schedules and derogatory statements made upon returning from military leave, such as “You still work here?” or “Hey, who’s the new guy?” On one occasion, an officer returning from military leave was ordered to stand in front of patrol lineup and introduce himself as if he was new to the force. When drill schedules were submitted, derogatory remarks would follow, such as “How much do you get paid on weekends to drink beer and barbecue?” or “How much do you make to go camping?” Upon submitting notification and orders for an upcoming deployment to Iraq, one officer’s superior officer commented, “Must be nice to go on vacation.” Some officers have even been questioned improperly about their disability ratings for injuries sustained in the service.

Most offensive, however, is the repeated pressure placed on reservists to choose between the police department or the military. They have been told, “You have to pick one, you can’t do both.” A high-ranking department official reportedly once told an officer, “The military is your mistress and the police department is your wife. You need to treat your wife better than your mistress.” This same official was also said to have threatened termination of the officer if he accepted a set of military orders.

Because of their strong commitment to serve their country, they endured the years of harassing comments and threats by department supervisors and officials. Service to both the city and the military can, and should, peacefully co-exist. Instead, they have now received threats to reduce their pay unless they reimburse the city all military pay received retroactive to 2011 for military leave that the City had already approved if they fail to turn over seven years of military paystubs. The financial burden this could cause their families could not possibly be lost on City officials. There is not much more of a deterrent to reservists, and those who may be contemplating military service, than this.

These uniformed heroes are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They don’t ask for recognition; they don’t ask for praise. All they ask is the unfettered ability to serve.

Military News - What’d they Say? Hearing Loss for Military and Law Enforcement Professionals

What’d they Say? Hearing Loss for Military and Law Enforcement Professionals
By Scott Frezzo

How many of you have ever been told by someone close to you to get your hearing checked? Whether you are watching TV, in an important briefing or out in the field, missing words or entire sentences is dangerous and frustrating. Being unable to clearly hear a command can get people hurt, and it’s frustrating not only for those who suffer from hearing loss but for your loved ones as well, who are constantly repeating things so you can remain engaged.

Some people with hearing loss are in denial because of the stigma that goes along with losing your hearing, or fear it may be time to hang up your sidearm or take a desk job. Many of you have been told to get your hearing checked so many times, you do not even ask for things to be repeated, out of fear that you may actually have a deficit. Well, don’t panic. There are many causes of hearing loss, like excessive earwax, aging, severe pressure change, ototoxic drugs, foreign objects in the ear and noise. And if you feel as if you may not be hearing as well as you used to, please see a physician. But military and law enforcement professionals have other forces to contend with, such as gunfire, explosions, aircraft and heavy traffic for multiple hours every day. Even vigilant users of ear protection can suffer from some hearing loss, so be sure you’re wearing OSHA-approved equipment that reduces exposure to below 85 dBA over the course of 8 hours.

Normal noise exposure is 85 dBA for 8 hours, and for every three dBA over 85 dBA, the exposure time is cut in half. Normal stadium noise is 105 dBA, but peak stadium noise is 130 dBA, and should only be tolerated for 1 second in a 24-hour period. At 91 decibels (dBA), the equivalent of a lawn mower, a person can withstand that noise safely for only 2 hours a day, before becoming susceptible to hearing loss or damage. A .357 magnum revolver round and a shotgun blast are both around 160dBA.

I was an infantry paratrooper in the Army for many years and jumped out of more C-130s and C-17s than I can remember. The firing range alone may have damaged my hearing, but my time spent in combat zones definitely didn’t help. My wife has been telling me to get my hearing checked for quite a while, but I didn’t realize how bad my hearing was until an Army buddy came to stay with us back in February. We were watching TV and I kept asking, “What’d they say?” My buddy, who served longer than I did, could hear everything while I strained to hear the dialogue. Wait! Do I really need to have my hearing checked? Maybe it is me and not my wife, (whom I accuse of mumbling all the time). I am about 10 years older than my friend, and have more bomb exposure than he does, but I am ready to face the truth.

I scheduled an audiology appointment at the Veterans Administration Hospital for next month. I can’t say I’m excited to go, but if I do have an impairment, I’d like to know. Hearing aid technology has come a long way in the last 20 years. They are virtually undetectable to anyone but the wearer. Still, I’m hoping my mother was right, and all I have is potatoes growing in my ears. So, if you too feel that your hearing is changing from what it once was, make that appointment and have it checked out. Your health is worth it.