Operation Rebound - The Glory of Life Through a Young Heart

Operation Rebound
The Glory of Life Through a Young Heart
By Michael D. Boll

Recently, the Township of Union lost a beloved high school JROTC cadet, Anthony Steitz. Anthony was an inspiration to so many and he volunteered countless hours helping our veterans and their families live a better way of life.

This young man was a role model to the entire school and community. Because of this, I felt obligated to share his story with as many people as possible. I felt it was necessary to have Anthony’s pastor and mentor, Andy Imbimbo, write about him, and here are his heartfelt remarks.

Anthony Steitz was far from your average teenager. I had the honor and pleasure of being Anthony’s youth pastor for five years, and I can confidently say that there was no other teen like him. Anthony was at the church with me about 4-5 days a week. He would be the first one there to help me set up and the last one to leave after cleanup. Anthony wasn’t just involved in our youth ministry, because he was a leader in training with the goal of one day stepping into full-time ministry as a youth pastor.

Anthony had a drive to be the best at whatever he pursued. He kept a notebook filled with ideas on how to improve the JROTC program with the goal of becoming the battalion commander next year. Anthony would do the same with the youth group by helping me to come up with ideas, prepare lessons, invite his friends and improve our weekly meetings. I would frequently get texts or calls from Anthony asking me how to help a friend who was going through a rough time. Anthony would always make himself available to people in need, because that’s how he lived his life. 

When Anthony passed away, I had the pleasure of meeting his mentors from JROTC, Col. Walter Alvarado and 1st Sgt. Gerald Schemal. We talked about how Anthony’s passion and drive motivated us to become more dedicated, more committed and to never settle for just the average. For example, about a month ago my alarm went off at 7 a.m. for me to get up and go to the gym. I hit the snooze button and rolled over, until I thought, “Anthony has been awake and training for the past three hours before he has to sit in school all day. I have no excuse! Time to get up!”

Anthony used to come to the church to play ping-pong against me after school. Not only would I beat him, but I would flaunt it in his face and gloat. This lasted for about two months. I hate to admit this, but two days before Anthony died, he beat me while playing left-handed. That’s how Anthony lived his life. He never settled for average, but he lived with purpose and with passion.

He didn’t just believe in Jesus, he lived his life for Jesus and made an impact on countless young people. He didn’t just participate in JROTC, he helped transform that program and motivate others to pursue greatness and success. JROTC and the youth group will never be the same without Anthony, but it will also never be the same BECAUSE of Anthony. He taught us what it means to have a drive, commitment and a passion. He taught us that no matter what obstacles come our way, you must find a way to overcome, and help people who are struggling. We are forever thankful for Anthony. His life was short, but his impact was insurmountable.

Who Holds the Pen of Your Life?

Who Holds the Pen of Your Life?
By Chris Amos

Who doesn’t like a good action thriller? Throw in an engaging plot, an easy-to-hate villain, and a climactic battle in which the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, and the underdog hero is the one who delivers it, and you have a movie worth watching. A well-timed explosion and vehicle pursuit (think “Jason Bourne”) and you’ve got something worth watching more than once.  Hollywood knows what buttons to push to get the results they desire.  And if they sense their “script” is not working they will quickly use the edit process to get back on track. Of course, even with all of their experience they often get it wrong … to the tune of millions of dollars.

What would you say if I told you our lives are very much like a Hollywood script? I mean we all experience twists and turns, ups and downs and the “joy of victory and agony of defeat.” We all have a villain who just grates us to no end. We have all experienced our own Alamo moments on the street when it seemed as though everyone was against us. While our lives may not seem nearly as exciting, redemptive or significant as a Hollywood blockbuster, I assure you they are MUCH more so.

In January of this year, I preached on Jesus Christ as the “Author and Finisher of our faith.” In other words, for those who trust Jesus, our lives are not the byproduct of a random roll of the dice. Each day, every call responded to, door knocked on, suspect pursued, and case testified to have purpose and significance beyond our ability to understand. To the Jesus Christ follower, our lives and life stories or “scripts” are in His hands! Does that mean we will never experience pain, sorrow, defeat, even perhaps death in the line of duty? Absolutely not. But what that does mean is that each chapter of our lives, while they at times may be difficult and burdensome, ultimately lead to God’s glory and our eternal good.

Last year I experienced this in a very personal way as I stood behind a microphone just feet from my son Seth’s flag-draped casket. Seth was an almost 10-year veteran of the Norfolk Police Department. He was training for SWAT school when he became ill. Seven weeks later, he passed away after enduring weeks of excruciatingly painful medical tests and treatment. The funeral home director, a friend of mine, told me he had never seen a body that had been put through what Seth’s body had endured. Seth died just three weeks after turning 30y. A party was thrown in Seth’s ICU room. His eyes were opened for all of 15 seconds. Seth passed on Oct. 19, my birthday. He left behind a wife and two sons, ages 1 and 6.

Seth was a follower of Jesus Christ, and while his unexpected death caught all of us by surprise it did not surprise Jesus, the “Author and Finisher of our faith.” Certainly, the preferred ending, and Hollywood ending, would have been a miraculous recovery. The truth was, and is, God’s will and His way for Seth is far better than anything we could conjure up or Hollywood could produce. As a family we have experienced a pain and a sorrow, the depths of which I have never known. And yet so too has God given us a peace that comes, not from understanding what happened, but SURPASSES understanding. Why settle for a peace that comes from understanding when God promises a peace that is greater than understanding?

And so on that January Sunday morning I gave everyone a pen at the beginning of the service. I asked all who were willing to turn over the pens or “scripts” of their 2019, to place their pen in a small wooden manger.  Before I concluded the message I had the manger moved to the exit door. Having surrendered their 2019 to Jesus, I now instructed each person to pick up their pen on the way out. You see, while Jesus will direct our 2019, it is still you and I who will actually live it. I have my pen on the dashboard of my car and every day, several times a day, I look at that pen and am reminded that Jesus is in control. No matter what that day may hold, Jesus is in control He is the “Author and Finisher of our faith.” Friend, if Jesus does not hold your 2019, I encourage you to give it to Him TODAY.

See you at the Finish Line!

Working Behind the Wall: A Corrections Officer’s Perspective

Working Behind the Wall: A Corrections Officer’s Perspective
By: Detective/Corporal Efren Almodovar

Gang Unit - Passaic County Jail   

As an experienced corrections officer with over 20 years’ experience with dual training, I am still bothered when I’m questioned by other law enforcement and even my own department if I am on patrol or assigned to the jail.

Being a corrections officer isn’t the easiest career in law enforcement, and working for a department with over 500 officers, we are just like any other department with a lot of new officers where most don’t know each other’s names. As I speak to other corrections officers throughout New Jersey, I am not the only one that feels like or have been treated somewhat like a second-class citizen for being a corrections officer. As a writer for Blue, I feel that I must express how I feel along with other correction officers. For anybody who has never worked behind the wall, you wouldn’t have a way to know or understand our mindset.

I’d like to start with the fact that we are outnumbered and unarmed when we are working behind the wall. Those who have been in the game of working behind the wall for a while know we become masters of our trade in dealing with people who really don’t like being in lock-up. Having trained thousands of new officers both in corrections and police, I make it a point of saying that everybody should start in corrections because being a correctional officer will teach them how to deal with people from all parts of the world. People skills are a dying art with the new generation. For those who start in the field, it becomes great in knowing when and when not to pull their weapon when dealing with the public. This is what I like to call your “spider sense.” We become great at telling grown people who have problems following orders in open society what we would like for them to do behind the wall. Most of the men and women who start in corrections and do decide to transition over to street cops become good cops in dealing with people on the streets based upon my own observations and evaluation.

Those who still have this mentality that this is untrue might need to change their way of thinking. Let me use this as example: If a street cop is in a fight with a suspect and a corrections officer is on the way to work or going home, does it really matter where he works or only that she was able to help out a fellow brother or sister in blue?

For years, corrections as a whole has not been treated as an equal to other law enforcement but as second class and not getting the true respect that we deserve although we are peace officers in the eye of the law. I take great pride in what I do, and corrections has opened many doors to me as a professional.

Please remember the next time you speak or deal with a corrections officer that we are all really in the same field, it is just that your job is just a little different than those working behind the wall. We have many roles that need to be filled while dealing with people behind the wall and it’s a job that many can’t do. It takes a special person to deal with the worst of society.

Remembrance - Officer Tara O’Sullivan

Officer Tara O’Sullivan

Artwork by: jonny castro

Artwork by: jonny castro

Article & Artwork by Jonny Castro

On June 19th, a group of Sacramento police officers arrived at the scene of a domestic disturbance to help escort a female inside of a residence to retrieve her belongings. At some point, a suspect opened fire with a rifle from inside and Officer Tara O' Sullivan was struck numerous times.

The other officers on scene were pinned down by accurate gunfire and were unable to reach her. Tara laid there in the backyard, alone and gravely wounded for nearly an hour, until an armored vehicle was utilized to provide cover so she could be pulled to safety. Tara's wounds were too severe and she passed away at the hospital.

Tara, who had just graduated from the police academy in December of 2018, was nearing the end of her field training and was about to begin patrolling by herself.

She was remembered as an exceptional officer that was committed to public service and had an extremely promising career in law enforcement ahead of her.

Tara was just twenty-six years old


By Joel E. Gordon

“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.” ~Deng Ming-Dao

There has always been a perception among cops, firefighters and emergency room personnel that there’s more and often stranger crime that occurs on the night of a full moon. Many in the police community have linked specific moons to a rise in aggressive behavior. This belief is so strong that the International Association of Chiefs of Police spent money to commission a study in the late 1970s to find out if there is any scientific evidence to support this belief. They found nothing definitive. If you check with the Department of Justice, you’ll find a half-dozen or so more studies that also point to no precise scientific explanation.

However, based upon my own non-scientific observations as a police officer, I found that assertions that citizens fight each other on the nights of a full moon and fight the police with greater frequency on nights of a new moon are beliefs with merit. I also found that when the new or full moon fell particularly on any given Friday that this phenomena appeared to be fueled even further.

While anecdotal evidence points to a connection between the moon and aggression, studies on the topic have often fallen short of being conclusive. When looking into the potential of various aspects of the moon phases and how they affect our bodies and minds, the jury is still out among the scientific community on how or even whether a full moon really makes a difference.

Miami psychiatrist Arnold Leiber, in his book The Lunar Effect (1978), proposed that the moon was linked to human behavior by adversely affecting mental and emotional abilities by raising physiologically disruptive “biological tides” in the body akin to the tides it raises in the earth’s ocean. Other studies have concluded that any increased percentage of aggressive behaviors, crimes and suicides on full moon days may, in fact, be due to “human tidal waves” caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. In some circles, these theories have become a somewhat commonly accepted reasoning on how the mind and body may be physiologically affected by lunar phases.

The question then remains; does a full moon contribute to an increase in crime?

The University of Washington did a study all the way back in 1978 concluding that out of 11,613 cases of aggravated assault in a 5-year period, assaults occurred more often around the full moon, and 34,318 crimes in a yearlong period also showed that crimes occurred more frequently during the full moon. Falling short of conclusive evidence of the moon’s influence, this simply added some data for consideration.

If it’s possible that the lunar cycle affects some people’s behavior, this fact then has implications for the court system. The “full moon” has even been a defense in criminal cases. According to Psychology Today, in 19th century England, lawyers used the defense of “guilty by reason of the full moon” to make claim that their “lunatic” clients were not accountable for their actions under the moon’s influence, thereby creating what became known as the “Lunar Defense.”

Cops continue to point to the lunar effect to explain moonlight madness, speculating further that perhaps the moon’s gravitational influence can bring about changes in people who may already suffer from some form of a mental imbalance.

A study done by the University of New Orleans confirmed that cops were among the strongest believers that more crime and trauma occurred on nights when the moon was full. Some suspect the phenomenon is a self-fulfilling prophecy, reasoning that law enforcement officers are by nature adrenaline junkies and that the full moon gives officers a reason to investigate things they might usually ignore, thereby explaining any increase in activity. In other words, officers are looking for the evidence that confirms their belief.

So, if you want to determine the relationship between lunar phases, aggression and crime, you’ll just have to look to the high volumes of anecdotal evidence from policemen, firefighters, other first responders and hospital doctors and nurses from around the world while adding your own experiences to the stories to be told.

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

Cover Story - We Knew Him Well - NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen

We Knew Him Well
By BBO Staff Writer

A few weeks back, I had written a re- flective 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.

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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 with- out 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 of- ten 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 his 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 some- one 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.

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Editor's Point of view

As editor of Blue Magazine, I am very impressed by how our publication steadily grows nationally. In this issue, we have writers from states as far west as California and as far south as Florida. We are continually covering law enforcement issues on the national scene. What impresses me most is how all these law enforcement writers from different areas of our country have the same common purpose: to courageously speak out against injustices to the law enforcement community and to represent our profession with integrity and honor. Friends, we have a voice, and we must use it. Blue Magazine is your voice. Together we are making significant progress.

If you are reading this, you are probably wondering why we have chosen to put a cop turned felon on the cover. This was a decision made after many hours of editorial discussion and remembering our commitment to bravely cover critical issues affecting our law enforcement community. We get it, cops committing crimes is something nobody wants to discuss. Thankfully the bad apples in our profession only represent a small number of officers when compared to the overall majority who are decent, honest people protecting and serving with honor and integrity. However, we cannot deny that we have a few bad apples in our profession. Do a simple Internet search on this topic and see how many officers nationally have fallen into this trap—whether from greed, anger, rage or any other weaknesses that contributed to the destroying of the officer’s professional and personal life and by extension the reputation of our profession.

We are not here to sugarcoat Michael Dowd’s criminality as a cop. His conduct was reprehensible and disgraced the badge he wore on his chest, and the oath he took to uphold the law. His life and reputation are defined by the crimes he committed as a cop. However, there are lessons to be learned. Dowd spent 12 years and five months in federal prison for his crimes. His life was utterly destroyed. After many years post-prison working in the construction industry, Dowd began a speaking tour at colleges and universities to share his story with aspiring officers with one goal: that future cops will wear their badge proudly and honor their oath of office. Dowd hopes future and current officers will learn from his experience that betraying the public’s trust is a serious matter that will destroy an officer’s life and family. Dowd’s story is an essential lesson for everyone to hear. Make sure you check out this interview.

Of all the great articles in this issue, make sure you check out Chief Rich Rosell’s article “The Resurgence of the Marxist Threat in America.” Whether you agree or disagree with Chief Rosell’s position is not what’s most important. Instead, hearing how he lays out his argument and seeing how dangerous this is for law enforcement officers nationally is what’s critical that we all understand. Another excellent article is Managing Editor Joe Uliano’s “Columbine: Twenty Years Later and the Losing Battle.” Here, Uliano offers a solid argument that we must harden our schools to make them safe from potential active shooters. These are just a few of the many excellent articles in this issue. Every article is worthy of mentioning here. Therefore, dig and enjoy this magazine. There is so much information to share with you.

The summer of 2019 is quickly approaching. Are you making plans to spend quality time with your family and friends? Now is the time to start planning for a wonderful summer. In just a few short months the summer will be gone, but the memories made will last forever. Time is our most precious commodity. Enjoy!

Legal News - Forfeiture of Office

Forfeiture of Office
By Timothy Smith, Esq.

The public expects law enforcement officers to obey the laws they are charged with enforcing. Under the New Jersey Penal Code, an officer who breaks the law may face more than just the usual criminal sanctions. That officer may also be removed from the force and barred for life from holding any other public office.

The sanctions of forfeiture of office and disbarment from future public employment are set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:51-2. That statute, by the way, also applies to all other public employees. Its sanctions are triggered by the commission of an offense (1) involving dishonesty, or (2) of the third degree or above, or, quoting the statute, (3) “involving or touching” the officer’s position as a law enforcement officer.

This article concerns the question of what offenses are those “involving or touching” a police officer’s position.

To start, the Penal Code defines an “offense” as a crime or a disorderly person’s offense or a petty disorderly person’s offense. This means that motor vehicle and municipal ordinance violations are not “offenses” under the Code. Nonetheless, because petty disorderly persons violations are “offenses,” even extremely minor wrongdoing might result in these sanctions.

Another provision of N.J.S.A. 2C:51-2 explains that “involving or touching” means that “the offense was related directly to the person’s performance in, or circumstances flowing from, the specific public office, position or employment held by the person.”

In State v. Hupka, the New Jersey Supreme Court closely examined this statutory language. Hupka was both a sheriff’s officer and a part-time police officer. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. Hupka admitted that he touched the victim’s intimate parts without her consent for the purposes of his own sexual gratification. At the time of the incident, Hupka was neither on duty nor in uniform.

The Supreme Court ruled that Hupka’s reprehensible conduct did not require the sanctions of forfeiture of office and disbarment from public employment. The court noted the following factors. The offense occurred in a private home. The victim was someone Hupka knew personally, as opposed to a member of the public he knew through either of his law enforcement positions. As already mentioned, Hupka was neither on duty nor in uniform when the offense took place. Hupka did not display or utilize any indicia of either of his two offices at any time. Last, the offense was not related to any circumstance that flowed from his having been a sheriff’s officer or police officer.

The court rejected the argument that because the commission of a sexual offense is incompatible with the duties of a law enforcement officer, the commission of such a crime, alone, requires a forfeiture of office. The court also rejected the similar argument that because Hupka had engaged in conduct incompatible with the traits of character expected of a police officer, the offense was one “involving” or “touching” his office.

Hence, and as the forfeiture statute itself indicates, an officer will not be subject to forfeiture merely because he or she is an officer and commits an offense. Rather, there must be some proof that the officer’s law enforcement position was involved in some way in the circumstances of the offense.

Even as to offenses that meet these criteria, there is some leniency built into the statute. That leniency concerns disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses. A court may waive forfeiture and disbarment based upon the commission of such offenses upon an application of the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General. That application must show good cause to grant a waiver.

Note that the inapplicability of N.J.S.A. 2C:51-2 will not prevent a police department from disciplining an officer, up to and including termination.

Timothy R. Smith, a certified criminal trial attorney (less than 1% of New Jersey lawyers have satisfied the rigorous requirements necessary to achieve such a designation), devotes much of his practice to criminal and disciplinary defense. Smith was formerly employed as a police officer, detective, police union president and member of a prosecutor’s office legal staff prior to transitioning into private legal practice. Smith has served as an adjunct professor of graduate studies at Seton Hall University. He has also served as a private consultant to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey instructing police recruits in the area of search and seizure.

Cover Story - NYPD’s Most Infamous - Cop The Road to Redemption

NYPD’s Most Infamous Cop
The Road to Redemption

By Daniel Del Valle with Erika Blue, Steve Olimpio and John Welsh

CoverSTY inside.jpg

Everyone in law enforcement knows of the NYPD’s most infamous cop Michael Dowd who in 1992 was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute narcotics and sent to federal prison for 12 years and five months. Dowd’s criminal acts while an officer has angered good cops for nearly three decades. There is no sugarcoating his past. As you see on our cover, The Daily News has called him the “dirtiest cop in N.Y.” Then and now his life and reputation are defined by the crimes he committed as a cop in the 75th precinct. However, is there a lesson to be learned? Is there any use for Dowd’s story or should he be shunned for life, cast out into the desert never to be seen again? Many cops have mixed feelings about this.

Blue Magazine boldly takes an aggressive approach to all issues involving law enforcement. Cops committing crimes is a serious matter that will destroy an officer’s life and family, so pay close attention to this interview and the consequences of Dowd’s actions. It may save your life and career.

Dowd tells how he started out well-meaningly and at some point opted to betray the public’s trust and disgrace the badge he wore once proudly on his chest — Dowd’s upfront with his past. “There are no excuses for my behavior,” he told Blue Magazine. We agree. Dowd further stated, “I am responsible for them (criminal behavior), and I take full responsibility.”

Dowd believes his life has a lot to offer. After many years, post-prison, working in the construction industry and living with the consequences of being a cop turned felon, he is on the road to redemption. “Evaluate me for who I am today,” Dowd told Blue Magazine. Dowd now works to steer young aspiring cops away from the temptations of greed. He speaks widely at different colleges and shares his story, hoping the next generation of officers will see how his bad decisions have destroyed his life, the life of those he loves and the law enforcement profession, with one goal: that future cops will wear their badge proudly and honor their oath of office.

The Blue Magazine sent out an investigative team to interview Mike Dowd and to get his story first-hand.

Danny: There are officers today who may ask why would The Blue Magazine want to interview a man such as yourself? What are your thoughts when you hear that, and what would you tell cops who ask that question?

Michael F. Dowd: First, I want to say that I am sorry that they feel that way. I think that I have something to offer whether you like what I did or didn’t like what I did. I still have something to offer cops that can prevent them from being like me.

Many cops out there feel like I am a piece of shit but you also have to understand that many guys on the job make mistakes all the time that could lead to a serious incident to occur such as drunk driving. So many do this and think nothing of it until they hit and kill someone. Do you believe that the parent, husband, wife of the person that was killed would think that cop's less of a piece of shit than I am? I say no since that action killed their loved one. They would say I rather have had a cop stealing than someone who just killed their loved one. I am not trying to minimize what I did. I know what I did was bad but there are other things that are being done all the time by people who judge me. And believe me, I've been dealing with this for many years. Would you want people to think you are a piece of shit forever? I am just looking for a little fairness like any human is entitled to after they pay for their crimes.

Danny: What was the illegal action you did in the police academy?

I was asked to fraudulently sign documents by another recruit for an injury that he sustained at home. I signed those papers so I knew I would be accepted.

Danny: Tell me more about this?

Okay. I did that because I did not want him to get kicked out of the academy because his injury did not take place there. He asked me to lie and say that he jammed his finger with the desk so he can be covered. I wrote a report that I saw this incident take place at the academy. I did it in order to go along with what felt like was the right thing to do. Also, if I did not do that report and help him, I felt my career would have been horrible since no one would have respected me and thought of me as an asshole for not helping out a brother.

Danny: When did you start the job?

January 26, 1982.

Danny: How old were you?

John: At what point in your career do you believe that if you stopped and resigned that you would get away with it?

Up until the last month.

Danny: Why?

Because all they had on me were unsubstantiated allegations for years or uncorroborated testimony by people who are incarcerated and they are not going to take their word over a cop. I knew the Feds had a case open on me in 1988 so unless someone close to me went down, they had nothing on me. At that time I could have retired or walked away from the job up until the point they had Kenny Eurell on the wire. That’s when things changed.

Danny: When you were exposed, when it all came down, tell us about that feeling.

It was May 6, 1992 and it was right after Rodney King and it was all over the news. They put us on Rodney King duty going around buildings that no one was breaking in. What they were really doing, and I didn’t know this at the time, they were pulling me off the radio because they were already on me and they knew I was going to get locked up. I walked into the precinct and they tell me to report to the so and so, I think it was a captain. So I turn around and there’s the badges in my face, “Internal affairs were here for a drug test” and then they surrounded me and walked me downstairs to my locker. These guys were really on me and I couldn’t even put in my combination.

So now I’m looking at my locker and in there is my off-duty revolver, cocaine, and some more cocaine, and I’m thinking should I leave the cocaine in my locker with the cash or should I just put on my pants that has 5 grams of cocaine in them. So, I put my pants on and I couldn’t even get dressed because the guy was so close to me. And I’m like, “Dude can I get dressed?” They get me in health services to take the drug test. They open the door and it’s filled with cops. And I’m thinking I can dump it here maybe… where am I going to dump it now? At this point I’m still hopeful! I still had hopes that I was going to be able to walk away from this.

Danny: Okay, but tell us more what it was like being arrested as a cop?

I was relieved. For me I was living a double life. It was torture. So I got in the back of the patrol car and I felt like I was with my friends—I felt like these guys sort of rescued me from myself. I was thinking the jobs over, I’m done, no big deal. I'll know in a week, the results of my drug test, no big deal. i'll contest it. I’ll lose, but the bottom line is, it’s OK, I just lost the job. But that obviously was not the case.

Steve: So the next morning you wake up…

In jail…

Steve: What happens in jail, Mike, as a former cop?

It was bad. Officers treated me like shit. It was personal. But I understand. But they needed to understand I was entitled to due process.

Danny: Yeah, but you were dirty, though.

Doesn’t matter! Due process! You don’t deserve it?

Danny: You do deserve due process, but don’t forget you were the dirtiest cop out there. Do you not expect these cops to think and act that way?

The charge was that I was involved in a drug conspiracy; that’s the charge. Many people get accused of being involved in a crime. Many people do. Officers get accused all the time of taking payoffs from drug dealers that they have never taken. Do we agree with that statement here? Drug dealers were taught especially in the ‘80s to make a complaint against a cop. See, I tried to use the whole logic to my benefit.

Steve: Mike, were you a dirty cop all the time or did you do good out there? Were you able to separate the two and when you were on patrol were you still able to help people?

Yes! I was doing my job. I was one of the best cops on the street, cop wise. They loved me. Cops wanted me to back them up.

Steve: How were you able to balance that?

Drank a lot. My family was destroyed because of it. We make choices in life. Greed or no greed. Do what you have to do. Greed kills.

Danny: Do you do drugs?


Danny: Do you drink alcohol?

I’m sober, 23 months now

Danny: What was prison like?

It was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week looking over my shoulder.

Steve: How long were you in jail?

I did the 14-year federal sentence, which is 12 ½ years.

Danny: Would you do something criminal for money today?

No, I wouldn’t. I feel like the cleanest guy in the room since I paid for the crimes I committed. When I dealt with the Feds I needed to come clean on everything because if you don't and they find out they can charge you with other crimes. That is why it's important you tell the Feds everything once you are working on a plea to make sure nothing haunts you later. I know who I was before is not who I am now. I paid for my crimes by serving prison time. This is why I feel like the cleanest guy in the room because all my cards are on the table.

Danny: Is there anything of the old Michael Dowd in you today?

Well I do like excitement, so I’m still a little bit of an adrenaline junkie, and I miss the street, so I would say that there is a part of me that misses the connection to the police world.

Danny: In your opinion, what do you have to offer a cop today?

Well I have the experience of being in whatever position they’re in. For example, if a guy out there has done something corrupt, just listen to my story and stop what you’re doing. Stop it. And if you think you’re going to be corrupt, just recognize where it ends. Because it does end, and it doesn’t end well. And there are so many more problems that come with being arrested and sent to prison. My family also has to live with the shame I caused them. My mother was so proud of me and once I got caught that crushed her and she has to live with all the shame because of what I did. My older son also went through a hard time because he has the same name and that hurt him since people knew the Dowd name was dirty. I am doing my best now to be a dad because before I was not.

Erika: What led you to stray?

I think in the academy what I didn’t see was the face of corruption, which is just like your own face itself. So they showed us a couple of films, internal affairs came in and spoke to us and then they walked out with the instructors saying, "Whatever IA said does not apply in the streets. Whatever goes down, you make sure you cover your ass. Always have an answer."

So we want to stop that from happening. Every human makes decisions… So what I know is you have to feel comfortable making the right decision. You have to feel comfortable. The environment has to say, “Hey that was a good arrest” instead of saying, “What are you doing making a drug arrest?” I remember making an arrest and saying, “Now what do I do?” The perp is more important than you. It’s a struggle, it’s a wrestling match for me because anything I say it’s going to be looked at minimizing, trying to make an excuse for my behavior and there’s no excuse for my behavior and that’s very important that it’s recognized. I did what I did. I made every choice on my own. I was never forced to do anything wrong.

Danny: During those years did you ever contemplate suicide?

I always had hope. I always hung on to the hope and I had family support. To be honest, I never actually thought of ending my life because I always looked at things as another opportunity. Hope! There was always hope for me. Somehow maybe it was in my nature. I always had hope. Like when I got arrested, I hoped that I wasn’t going to jail. When I was in prison, the last day in prison, the day before, I was looking for my early release, and that was all based on my hope.

Danny: There’s officers today who are contemplating suicide, what do you tell them?

DON’T! Call somebody, go get help. You don’t need to do it. There’s a life outside the police department and the public shame that you may endure now may turn around to be in your benefit one day. It makes you stronger. If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger, so don’t kill yourself. That same guy who’s talking about killing himself today, he’s going through some shit, but in the end, he’s going to be a human being with value. Yes, you’re saving his life, it happened to a friend of mine. Don’t let the cop kill himself or someone else for that matter. Don’t let him drive off drunk hoping to crash because he doesn’t have the nerve to kill himself. How many cops you know try to kill themselves and miss? I’ve seen them. I’ve been in rehab with them.

Danny: Speak directly to the officers reading this. What’s the main takeaway from this interview?

Cops should know when they take this job to be a police officer there’s dignity and honor that comes with it. I was too immature to recognize my purpose was to serve the public and not myself. Being a cop is more than a salary; it’s a career that you will never know the value of being a cop until you are no longer one. You go from having a million brother and sister officers to zero.

Erika: For those people who say you’re using this as a stepping stone for publicity to promote a book or a movie, what would you say to them?

That’s not why I’m here at all. I’m here to give a lesson to police officers and departments that can use some raw real-life example of what happens to a police officer who’s young and altruistic and then he gets jaded and turns against his own department.

Danny: What does the future hold for you? What are your plans?

I want to keep speaking with young officers and recruits to share my experiences with them. I give them a perspective that only someone like myself can give. I just want to give back. I want a shot at redemption. Hopefully one day I will be able to walk up to a police officer without having to feel that shame.

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Preparedness - Columbine: Twenty Years Later and the Losing Battle

Columbine: Twenty Years Later and the Losing Battle
By Joseph R. Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.

Violence has been observed in humans since the creation of man; it’s inevitable but is it preventable? In many cases victims of violence are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up in a random act, motivated by some sort of criminality. When examining school shootings, criminality associated with the act is not of our largest concern, what is and should be our concern is one’s behavior that led to the shooting and how we are going to prevent future attacks.

Like preventative medicine, researchers need to first sift through the history of the disease before discovering preventive measures. Today, when studying school shootings our researchers, such as criminologists, psychologists, and law enforcement experts have plenty of history to sort through. Historically, school massacres can be traced all the way back to 1764 when Lenape Indians entered a Green Castle, Pennsylvania school, killing nine children and one adult. Obviously, times have changed, and any history buff out there will know the Lenape Indian’s attack on the school was not to kill children, but to send a message to the white settlers who were killing their people and suppressing their way of life. However, call it what you will, there is still a commonality associated with the 1764 attack and the more recent attacks of today, which is the vulnerability of a defenseless population of children.

The late 1990s was a true wakeup call for those tasked with securing our schools, and during this period society really grasped just how vulnerable our children are when we send them off to school. Attacks that were pre-Columbine in the 1990s, shook the ground but they were by no means earth-shattering. Attacks such as Craighead, Arkansas (1998) five killed with ten injured and Springfield, Oregon (1998) thirteen killed and twenty-five injured. Mass shootings, but still at the time viewed only as an unthinkable tragedy involving the death of school children, in fact, probably receiving the same amount attention as a school bus full of children driving off a cliff.

However, on April 20, 1999 Columbine High School students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered their school with one thing in mind; kill as many students as possible and go down in history as the most earth-shattering massacre. Unlike the attacks in 1998, where only handguns and hunting riffles were used, the self-described misfits of Columbine “The Trench Coat Mafia” came prepared with an arsenal of weapons consisting of but not limited to a TEC-9 and a Hi-Point carbine riffle, both capable of carrying more rounds than what was used in the pre-Columbine attacks. At the end of their carnage thirteen individuals laid fatally wounded, while another twenty-one fought for their lives after being critically wounded. Both shooters would then take their own lives before making contact with law enforcement.

Lessons were learned after Columbine, such as law enforcement no longer choosing to stage and wait for additional units before entering a school. This response plan at the time seemed most appropriate because statistically most active shooter incidents are over in twelve and half minutes, so officers need to be well under that mark to save as many lives as possible. The response plan also includes the routine lockdown drill that is still being used today, and from what those in field are saying has become dangerously complacent, as students liken them to fire drills. Make no mistake about preparing for an active shooter is nothing compared to planning for a fire.

Let’s take a deep breath here and examine how we are doing post-Columbine twenty years later. Newtown, Connecticut (2012) twenty-one killed with two injured and Parkland, Florida (2018) seventeen killed and seventeen injured. Remember that twelve and half minute window? We can kiss it goodbye! The Newtown shooting was over in five minutes and the Parkland shooting was over in just four minutes, with each incident measuring more fatalities than Columbine, due the weapons of choice and higher magazine capacities. Lockdown drills? Not very effective either. Both schools sounded the alarm, however, as expected, common areas are like target practice to a crazed gunman as seen in Parkland, and in Newtown they made into their classrooms but the classroom of first graders that saw the most carnage couldn’t lock their door in time.

So, to me we are losing the battle against school shooters and there will be more. After 9-11 we hardened our soft targets, as armed police officers stood guard at our tunnels, bridges, and mass transportation hubs, yet we continuously fail to harden our schools. Some suggest placing police officers in every school, some suggest arming school teachers, and some suggest taking a more passive approach by looking for warning signs. Warning signs? Like the ones that were missed with Adam Lanza (Newtown) or the ones missed with Nikolas Cruz (Parkland). I think its evident that we are also failing to pickup on the warning signs.

I’m not here to offer a definitive solution, but what I am offering is that its time to harden our schools. We are done debating what’s best and remaining inactive. It is time to become proactive rather than reactive and if putting armed police officers in every school is necessary then they must be deployed. If we cannot staff our schools with officers, then we must explore the viability of arming trained and qualified educators to rise up and defend our most vulnerable population.

Joe Uliano has served as a police officer for over fifteen years, and is assigned as field training officer and departmental instructor. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Education at Seton Hall University, where he also earned an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Management. Prior to earning this advanced degree, he also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Resources, Training, and Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.

Hear Me Out - A Slap in the Face: The Judith Clark Parole

A Slap in the Face: The Judith Clark Parole
By Ari L. Maas

Over the centuries, philosophers and criminal justice scholars have argued about the justifications for punishment. Although opinions will differ, generally, they all agree on the four main justifications: retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation.

On April 19, convicted felon Judith Clark was granted parole (after Gov. Cuomo commuted her sentence from 75 to life to 35 to life in 2016), after serving 38 years in prison for her involvement in the infamous 1981 Brinks robbery at the Nanuet Mall. At her trial, Clark was found guilty of felony murder - her actions the day of the robbery caused the deaths of Nyack Police Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown and Brinks guard Peter Paige and wounding two other Brinks guards and a police detective.

In commuting her sentence and later granting parole, Cuomo and the parole board cited examples of Clark’s rehabilitation: her taking responsibility for her crimes (this after being uncooperative and even defiant in court - decrying those proceedings as racist and fascist), her earning of a bachelors and masters degree, her work with AIDS patients and training service animals. While these things are all commendable and show evidence of Clark’s rehabilitation, it is ignoring another goal of our penal system - retribution.

While retribution is often described in the biblical terms of “an eye for an eye,” it should not be mistaken for revenge. Retribution is not done for personal reasons or to gain pleasure out of the convicted’s suffering. It is a punishment inflicted that is proportional to the crime and prevents mob justice. Instead of family members of crime victims and the victims taking the law into their own hands, we trust the state to dole out an appropriate punishment and give them some closure.

At the time of Clark’s sentencing, the judge chose to sentence Clark to the maximum allowable time - three consecutive 25 years to life sentences for a total of 75 years to life. During sentencing, the judge said of Clark that she “hold[s] society in contempt, and [has] no respect for human life”. The judge saw no chance for future rehabilitation and noticed that she grinned mockingly during her sentencing - the same grin she wore while in police custody the night of the crime.

Predictably, the Clark case has become polarized across party lines. Those on the left call Clark a poster child for rehabilitation and prison reform and have cheered her impending release. Those on the right are calling her release a slap in the face to police officers which, according to Rockland County Executive Ed Day, is signaling to the “criminal element that it is open season on cops.” However, what both sides seem to be overlooking is the retributive prong of our penal system.

There is no doubt that in nearly four decades, people can change, as is evident by the good things Clark has done in prison. However, this does not make up for the fact that Clark’s crimes turned three wives into widows, left nine children fatherless, and left three others (including Brinks guard Joseph Trombino, who was killed on 9/11) with permanent injuries. It is Cuomo and the parole board’s right and prerogative to grant Clark parole. But to do so while making her the poster child for rehabilitation and ignoring the retributive prong of our penal system is a slap in the face to the families and victims of that day - all of whom who have spoken out are against her release.

Ari L. Maas is a police officer with 16 year of experience. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University, a J.D. from New York Law School and a Master of Public Policy degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. He is a licensed attorney in both New York and New Jersey.

Square Shooting - Putting My Loved Ones In Danger

By Officer Deon Joseph

To elected officials in Sacramento, California: You are putting my loved ones in danger.

As a law officer, I must let you know who my loved ones are before moving forward. They are the 700,000 men and women across this nation whom I serve with from all walks of life, and the people we are sworn to protect across this nation.

As we speak, an incredibly irresponsible (and in my opinion unlawful) bill is being pushed forward to change language as it relates to officers protecting themselves and the public from imminent and immediate threats of serious bodily injury and death.

In my strongest of opinion, this bill is driven by pure hatred for law enforcement officers and political pandering. Clearly the elected officials who support this bill, under the guise of “saving lives,” have eerily become influenced by fringe groups who desperately want to see more officers killed by suspects and jailed for even justified shootings to satisfy their bias toward law enforcement.

Do we not have rational leaders in Sacramento anymore? No more critical thinkers? Though clearly intellectual, it appears they have become increasingly intellectually lazy, as many refuse to understand the realities of police shootings, which are not slow-motion breakdowns in hindsight, but split-second decisions in tense moments, involving human beings, with fears, made of mortal flesh and blood.

What hope do we have when our elected officials become headline thinkers?

Not only is this move incredibly dangerous, but unlawfully removes the objectionable reasonable standard for officers in the heat of imminent danger to more of a subjective view of people in the controlled environment of hindsight.

In essence, a police officer’s freedom after having to defend him/herself or the public will literally be placed in the hands of Monday morning quarterbacks with either no real world experience, or a deep-seated hatred for police officers under the disguise of having a moral high ground.

As tragic and shocking as a few of the more controversial police shootings have been, we cannot put officers and community members at risk by hyper-focusing on the few of shootings that shock us all.

Why do I call them the few? Well, for those who will disingenuously draw from this that I am minimizing police shootings or somehow have a juvenile thought that I am advocating for police to be allowed to arbitrarily “murder with impunity because I have a badge,” please allow me to introduce myself to you.

I am a 23-year veteran of law enforcement. I have worked in three of the most crime-ridden areas of Los Angeles County. In one of those places, in the early 2000s, 3,800 parolees, 3,000 people on probation, 500 sex offenders and hundreds of gang members roamed in a 50-block radius. I spent 21 years there at its worst and never shot anyone. I’ll admit I came close on four occasions, but by the grace of God, and a suspect’s split-second decision to stop their dangerous actions, I was able to holster my firearm and not do something I dreaded since joining the force nearly a quarter of a century ago.

In that same division, most of the hundreds of officers employed there over those years can claim the same, and the ones who did had no choice based on what they were faced with.

In another division I worked for nearly two years, where murders from gun violence of black and brown people were at a staggering high, if there was a “Man with a Gun” call, you could be assured that when you arrived there, the suspect would either be there waiting for you, or somewhere in the vicinity lying in wait for you. Yet still, in those two years, I can count the number of police-involved shootings on one hand.

An average law enforcement officer anywhere in this nation and even in the most dangerous communities will go their whole careers without shooting anyone.

I am thankful to God that so far, I am not one, yet knowing the reality of the dangers of my profession, and the unpredictability of human beings, I still would like to maintain the right to give myself, my partner or a community member in imminent danger a fighting chance to survive it based on that reality. Not emotionalism, over reaching outrage and delusional idealism.

The verbiage in this new law runs counter to a Supreme Court ruling that recognized the humanity of police and suspects during uses of force, as well as intent and surrounding circumstances that trigger fight or flight instincts in any human being, especially cops who have to push past the urge of flight to stop imminent threats to the public.

If police unions do not challenge this disturbing circumventing of case law, then shame on them.

Years ago, I would never have expected something like this to come to fruition. But based on the current climate against law enforcement, nothing surprises me. I fully expect it to push through as politicians continue to pander to extreme leaning groups to stay in power.

I should rightfully expect a challenge to it when it happens. Lives depend on it.

No police officer I ever knew wakes up in the morning with criminal intent to take anyone’s life. What cop today would want that scrutiny? Especially if the person we encounter is a person of color?

This move is irresponsible; I get the intentions of the people behind it, but for our civic leaders to fall for it is frightening.

This decision will cause officers to second-guess themselves in instances where their decisive action or the lack thereof could mean they or a citizen in danger won’t go home.

Nonetheless, we as officers will always willingly put our lives on the line, but we should never have to choose to risk giving it away to satisfy public perception.

As I said, my fellow officers and the people they serve are my loved ones. I want them all to have every chance to get home.

I recognize mistakes can happen, and in even extremely rare cases, malice, but that is no excuse to put the honorable in harm’s way. It is just wrong.

There are other ways to reduce tragedy without causing the potential for more.

For more of my thoughts on policing, check out the blog section of my website at www.deonjoseph.org

Deon Joseph is a 23 year veteran of law enforcement in Southern California - 21 of those years working in the homeless community to create an environment conducive to change for those in recovery, as a Lead Officer. He’s been recognized for his work locally and nationally, and news stories and documentaries surrounding his work in crime fighting and community relations, featured him. www.deonjoseph.org

Lessons Learned - So What’s A Good Cop?

So What’s A Good Cop?
By Joel E. Gordon
“Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.” – Lawrence J. Peter The mastermind behind “The Peter Principle” concept of management.

We can all give clear examples of what defines a “dirty” or even just a “bad” cop, but what does being a good cop mean? In most professions, the goals that need to be met for competence are clear. A good doctor has healthy patients. A good lawyer wins cases. A good plumber keeps the water flowing and leaks from occurring. A good cook or chef… Well you get the idea.

In today’s environment with such divergent political viewpoints, a good cop is mostly defined by the view of the beholder. Self-identified progressives, liberals and conservatives will surely possess different views. Jurisdictional differences in ideology and policy also greatly impact the definition of what makes a good cop. Presumably, public safety and crime reduction should be universal goals.

One fact is certain, although many are quick to critique law enforcement duties and activities not everyone can or should do this job!

From Real Police to Security Monitors
In Illinois vs. Wardlow 528 U.S. 119 (2000) the Supreme Court held in a 5 to 4 decision that the police had reasonable suspicion to justify a stop because nervous, evasive behavior, like fleeing a high crime area upon noticing police officers, is a pertinent factor in determining reasonable suspicion to justify a stop.

But apparently this is no longer allowable in cities like Baltimore. Baltimore’s Consent Decree specifically states that police will not be able to stop someone just because the person is in a high-crime area, or just because the person is trying to avoid contact with an officer.

Will Consent Decree doctrines lead to the death of reasonable suspicion as we know it?

Consent Decree mandates include revised basic training for making stops and searches. It also commands officers to use de-escalation techniques and send specially trained units to distress calls involving people with mental illness.

The agreement discourages the arrests of citizens for “quality-of-life offenses” such as loitering, littering or minor traffic violations. It also requires a supervisor to sign off on requests to take someone into custody for a minor infraction. So while dealing with a suspect, will officers need to obtain a sergeant’s approval to arrest a violator for failure to obey a lawful order or even for resisting arrest? This seems like a formula to invite an escalation to assaults on police. When I think of city government combined with Department of Justice Consent Decree intervention, one word comes to mind: DELUSIONAL.

In a repudiation of broken windows policing policy, which historically has led to mass arrests, the pendulum is being swung in an opposite direction. If the goal is to identify lawbreakers and uphold reasonable societal norms of cleanliness and safety, then this new direction will continue to prove counterproductive to those goals.

Perhaps decades of concern over process and political correctness, along with adherence to the Peter Principle, have served to blur the lines to a definition of what is a good cop. Remember “The Peter Principle”? “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. In time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties. Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

To me, a good cop will always be the peace keeper who gets to know the community to be served and who takes an ownership interest in the community’s success. One who insists on autonomy within reasonable guidelines, in the effort to keep criminal activity to a minimum in a primary area of responsibility. All while staying true to their oath of office in upholding the constitution and without fear or favor, standing ground against tyranny and unlawful activity from any directive or source.

As has been said many times over, “An officer is someone who wrote a blank check made payable to the community that they serve for an amount up to and including their life.” While there is truly no way to repay such fearless and competent dedication to a job of such epic proportions, we take every opportunity to say thank you to all of the countless good cops that we see out there on the job each and every day and night.

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

Inside Perspective - Pursuits and the Clifton Police Department

Pursuits and the Clifton Police Department
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)

(Disclaimer: This article is the sole opinion of the writer, and does not imply that these are the views, opinions, or policies of the Clifton NJ Police Department or any of its personnel.)

Pursuits: What an adrenaline rush! For this reason, an officer must be well-trained and have an even temperament. The pursuing officer and the supervisor approving the pursuit have to take so many things into account and constantly reevaluate the situation as it unfolds. What is the violator/perpetrator wanted for? What is the risk to the motoring public and pedestrian traffic, as well as time of day and traffic conditions? The condition of the vehicle and how much experience the officer has in high-speed chases must also be considered. (“A man’s gotta know his limitations,” Clint Eastwood - The Enforcer)

Supervisors and administrators have become “gun shy” over the years involving pursuits. Years ago, the New Jersey Attorney General developed guidelines to be considered when making the decision to pursue a suspect vehicle or not. Higher echelons in law enforcement across the state interpreted these guidelines differently. Some thought that if they followed the guidelines, they would be shielded from liability. Others, however, read them in a different light, believing that the state was trying to discourage pursuits. If we don’t back down to a man with a gun, why would we back down to a pursuit, as they are both inherently dangerous for the police and the public.

When I was on the job, the City of Clifton had approximately 30 cars stolen out of its jurisdiction each month. Newark, New Jersey’s largest city to our south, had an alarming number stolen each month by comparison. We used to call Newark “the stolen car capital of the world.” As a result, I’d say that 2/3 of the cars we were chasing either came out of Newark or were fleeing to Newark. Newark has always had a high crime rate, and I don’t think that their “No-Chase” policy helped much. Cocky car thieves in Newark used to do “donuts” in an intersection, just to get the cops to chase them; a lot of fun I guess for these incorrigibles on a boring night. The Clifton chief at the time, Frank LoGioco, surmised that if we break off all chases, our monthly number would most likely double, and most of us knew that he was right and applauded his stand on the matter. I arrested suspects in stolen cars out of Paterson who told me they were advised to drive around Clifton by their friends, and they wished they would have followed their advice. Now we all know that you can chase a vehicle for first-or second-degree crimes, and also for certain enumerated third-degree crimes. One such case is when the stolen car is being driven in a way that’s a danger to the motoring public and/or pedestrians. While I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a good idea to chase cars for minor motor vehicle infractions, I’ve unfortunately seen some departments break off chases for robberies; which is of course, a second-degree crime in New Jersey. One Essex County town, I understand, told their officers to stay off Route 21 as they didn’t want to get “jammed up” and embroiled in a Clifton chase. It used to be upsetting years ago when a single, one-man Clifton radio car was in pursuit of a vehicle, and often couldn’t get help from a neighboring town when passing through. Cops from other jurisdictions shouldn’t leave another cop “out to dry” because they’re afraid to do their job! Or should I say, because their boss won’t let them do their job. But what if there’s a crash and the shooting starts? How would they feel at that cop’s funeral?

I continued to give kudos to Chief LoGioco when years ago, he made a statement to the Herald News; “We’ll chase you to Cape May if we have to,” (That’s the furthest town south, in the state of New Jersey before Delaware). A leader like that sets the tone for the department, builds morale, and gave Clifton the proud reputation of having “No Fear” when apprehending criminals. In 1992 alone, I was involved in 36 high-speed chases. Other cops like Sam Skidmore, Tommy Burrows (RIP) and Billy Stark, to name a few, also had high numbers back in the day. One thing that I learned early on was that people run for a reason. How many times do we find evidence of a crime inside the vehicle, or find out that there are several arrest warrants out for the driver? Over the years, I have found drugs, guns, assault victims and a body in the trunk one time.

You see, Clifton saw the Attorney General Guidelines as “permission” to chase felony vehicles, which is exactly what it does. This pretty much absolves the officers from any liability while performing their lawful duties, so long as they adhere to the guidelines. If they didn’t, who the hell would want to be a cop? State law reads that absent “Willful Misconduct,” an officer cannot be held liable as long as they adhere to the A.G. Guidelines and act in good faith. Federal law’s threshold is “Shocks the conscience.”

Years ago, I was working Clifton’s east-side traveling north on Hazel St. near Rt. 46 at the time of the call. Paterson was in pursuit of a vehicle that was wanted for street robberies using a handgun. A description of the car, its occupants (four black males), and license plate were broadcast by the pursuing unit. The suspect vehicle entered the Garden State Parkway South, off Hazel Street in Clifton, with two Paterson units pursuing. I, along with two other Clifton units, joined in on the pursuit. Remember, there were four occupants, and we didn’t know how many were armed. A State Police unit also appeared in my rear-view mirror as we crossed into Essex County. To my surprise, both Paterson units turned off their overheads and exited the Parkway in Bloomfield. Now, let me say this. I’ve witnessed Paterson police perform their duties in stellar fashion over the years, and I do not believe that this reflects on their department as a whole, as they’ve always had a lot of tough cops over the years. One supervisor, for reasons unknown, broke off those officers who must have been livid at the time. Can you imagine if we didn’t chase cars for second-degree crimes? Might as well turn in your badge and give up right there!

The chase, taking place in the late afternoon, was only hitting speeds of about 70 mph due to traffic. Suddenly, the pursued vehicle started to slow down to 60, and then about 50 mph. The back door on the left side swung open as the occupants threw one of the passengers from the vehicle. Clifton Officer Chris Vassoler and I were able to drive slowly around the person lying on the highway and continued pursuing the suspect vehicle, while Clifton Officer Bill Gibson, and the State Police unit came to a stop to protect the man from getting hit. Thinking he was pretty beaten up from hitting the macadam, Gibson and the trooper were surprised to see him now run like a rabbit toward the houses next to the Parkway. Gibson, being a former track star, was able to chase him down and tackle him. “One under,” Gibson reported to headquarters. I surmised at the time that they threw the guy out who suggested giving up, in order to cause a traffic accident and slow us down. Well, it worked, as they were now a distance between me and Vassoler, and took a quick exit in the area of East Orange. We also took the exit, but lost sight of the perps. Vassoler, checking a nearby project, found the vehicle abandoned and a gun under the front seat. THESE are the type of vehicles/suspects we should be chasing! Additionally, today, how many cars are valued at over $75k, which makes stealing one a second-degree crime! When you no longer combat crime, it only exacerbates the problem.

As public safety officers, we need to weigh the dichotomy of needing to apprehend felons and the desire to keep the public safe. I’m sure it would be difficult to have a consensus as to where to draw the line in relation to pursuits. Do we pursue violators for speeding, reckless driving, suspected drunken driving, disorderly persons offenses, or felonies only? Just like we have, rightfully so, use of force including deadly force policies/guidelines, we should not look negatively at the AG guidelines for pursuits. Simply follow the policy and you’re good to go. The problem that we face with feckless leadership in our departments is when bosses are afraid to let us do our jobs. It’s a sad state of affairs when both politicians and supervisors needlessly turn our hawks into doves.

Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (BN.com/Amazon), and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.

Featured Article- The Resurgence of The Marxist Threat in America

The Resurgence of The Marxist Threat in America
By Chief Rich Rosell

American law enforcement officers are constantly seeking to identify the next terrorist threat so they may prepare adequately to defend our nation and its citizens. The Jihadist threat is clearly here to stay, but are there groups in America that share the terrorist’s hatred of our way of life? Yes, and they are gaining strength and credibility with each mainstream media broadcast. Underestimate them at your peril. Beware the new wave of Marxism in American politics.

While it is true that right wing terrorist groups account for many more terror-related deaths than their left wing counterparts, perhaps as much as tenfold, let us not forget that Marxism has been said to be responsible for upward of 100 million deaths worldwide.1 And unlike the right wing threat, it is very clear that left wing violence appears to have strong support among the new extreme left politicians.

Only Mostly Dead

The violent American leftist movement seemed to have fizzled since the 1980s, largely due to the pressure brought upon them by law enforcement. Groups such as the Weather Underground (WU), the Black Liberation Army (BLA), the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), the May 19th Coalition and the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) took their battle against the American way of life to the streets with bombs, guns and terror, spanning over two decades. Their favorite targets were law enforcement officers and governmental buildings and functions. Oh, and let’s not forget the hapless collateral damage of civilians. Along the way, in the name of redistribution of wealth, they knocked off armored cars and banks to finance their cause. Apparently, wages earned through legitimate employment aren’t quite enough for an urban guerrilla to support a cause and keep food on the table for little anarchists. The most violent members of these groups ended up dead or in jail for the rest of their lives. Death and jail tend to have sobering effects on those comrades not quite as willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause, and so, their rebellion was over. But they did not simply disappear, nor did their cause. Could the remnants of the leftist cause from 30 years ago be the kindling for the recent upsurge in leftist violence? (No, Donald Trump does not cause violence. Violent people, using him as a scapegoat, cause violence).

In 2008, we saw the name of a repulsive violent left wing guerilla in the national headlines after a lengthy absence from the spotlight: Bill Ayers, former member of the Weather Underground, and unrepentant Marxist guerilla. Why were we blessed with his presence? He was an avid supporter of fellow Illinoisan, President Barrack Obama. Was it a coincidence that Mr. Ayers crawled out from under his rock, back into the spotlight, just as the nation elected the closest thing to a socialist POTUS we’ve had since FDR? For those of us still serving in law enforcement, this made our “Spider Sense” light up like the 4th of July.

In 2010, the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), a violent Marxist group thought to have been long extinct, resurfaced in Baltimore, more than 2,500 miles from when they were last spotted in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The BGF had ties to all of the American Marxist organizations back in the day, although they were not always happy with the direction of the movement. (It was a BGF member who killed Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton). In 2015, during the civil unrest that caused the City of Baltimore to burn while their mayor watched, the BGF was suspected of having been responsible for much of the violence, and was even rumored to have sought an alliance with the Bloods. (To refresh your memories, this is the same mayor who visited Cuba to share “Best Practices”).

Resurgence with Credibility

We are witnessing the unveiling of a socialist movement in American politics that has been brewing for decades. While (apparently) non-violent in nature, the leaders of this leftist political movement have unleashed their agenda with a fury over the past few years. Don’t be fooled, for they have a violent and willing armed wing at their beckoned call. Legitimate leftist politicians and celebrities are whipping like-minded Marxists in the streets into frenzy with promises of the Utopia their parents dreamed of, but never saw to fruition, hoping their shrill cries will convince them to take arms, and it is working. The brazenness of these new Marxists is alarming. In late March 2019, a conference featuring eight presidential candidates started off with a quote from Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur), a BLA radical, and convicted murderer of a New Jersey State Trooper.2 This is the same Joanne Chesimard to whom Colin Kaepernick is rumored to have donated $25,000 in 2018. In case you forgot him already, he is the poster child for the Black Lives Matter movement, yet another Marxist vehicle.3 In early April 2019, leftist darling Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, commuted the sentence of Judith Clark, member of the Weather Underground and getaway driver of the car during the Brinks armored car murders that left two Nyack police officers and a civilian guard dead. Oh, how the willing media spun this travesty of justice, putting a picture of Clark at the top of the headline alongside her cute emotional support dog which the New York Department of Corrections provided to her, at taxpayer expense, during her incarceration. Perhaps we are to believe that if she can love a puppy, then all should be forgiven. The zeal and vigor with which these new age Marxist politicians yearn for the end of our democracy is troubling, especially when there are those out there who appear willing to use violence to achieve their goal.

The New Violent Face of Marxism in America

Law enforcement didn’t have to conduct much of an investigation to determine who is taking over the violent wing of the Marist movement. It needed only to look as far as the post-inaugural violence in Washington D.C. and the ANTIFA (Anti-Fascists) group.

ANTIFA is the name given to a group of fanatical leftists whose mission is to overthrow not only President Trump, but the American government, and replace it with a Marxist regime. Their slogan says it all: “No Trump, No Wall, No USA at All”. They have shown a propensity toward violence since their infancy, and are difficult to infiltrate due to the fact that the group ANTIFA is comprised (loosely when dormant) of individuals from other groups, expertly organized for battle at the right time.

ANTIFA has become today’s violent leftist terrorism concern. The group’s manifesto openly rejects free speech and defends assassinations.4 So radical is the group, that at a 2018 rally in Portland, they pummeled a fellow liberal for daring to carry an American flag to a rally.

ANTIFA is not without its supporters in politics and Hollywood. Last year, the deputy director of the Democratic National Committee, and US congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, tweeted out a picture of the “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook”, a book he declared would “strike fear in the heart of” Donald Trump.5 (Minnesota, of course, being the home of Jacob Frey, mayor of Minneapolis, who recently banned “warrior style” training for officers in his police department.)6 Celebrities Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman and Debra Messing used social media platforms in early 2017, appearing to support the threat of violence at a UC Berkeley rally featuring Trump supporter, Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos.7

In a 2017 documentary film titled “America Under Siege, ANTIFA,” the film’s writer Trevor Loudon makes the claim that “Antifa today is like a franchise,” adding that “in many instances” it also has close ties to the Democratic Party. In this film, Loudon also claims the anarchist who won’t go away, Bill Ayers, is a supporter of the anarchy group Refuse Fascism, a group which Loudon claims is a branch of ANTIFA.

To get a feel for the violent and unrepentant nature of members of ANTIFA, one need only spend 10 or 20 minutes on Google searching videos, listening to the cavalier manner in which they refer to committing acts of violence on citizens of this country.

What Does This All Mean?

American politics has taken the leap from the center, to be fair, in both directions. President Trump is an unapologetic Nationalist. However, his Nationalist tendencies do not have violent supporters standing in the shadows, waiting to pounce on anyone who dares disagree with him. He has never condoned any violent act. It seems as though the response from the Democratic resistance was to leap in the opposite direction, embracing Marxism. Unfortunately for the left, with Marxism comes violence. American law enforcement faces a complex challenge in the very near future. Two worst-case scenarios immediately come into mind; 1) what happens if ANTIFA trades in their training wheels and hoodies for the bombs and guns used by their predecessors the WU, and 2) what if the remnants of WU, BLA, and BGF, et al decide to join together with them, forming some type of weird, yet very violent leftist Transformer? Will their supporters in leftist politics finally stand firm against this threat to our Republic, or will they rejoice in their creation?

Until such time, warriors, keep training for the worst (even those in the Minneapolis PD). Our republic needs you now more than ever.

1Courtois, Stephane, et al. (1999). The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Cambridge. Harvard University Press.
2Re, Greg. 2019. Fox News Online. Conference featuring 2020 Dems begins with fiery chant quoting fugitive cop-killer Assata Shakur. Retrieved April 2, 2019 from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/2020-dems-conference-begins-with-fiery-chant-quoting-fugitive-cop-killer-assata-shakur
3Powers, Thurston. 2016, The Federalist Online. How Black Lives Matter Is Bringing Back Traditional Marxism. Retrieved April 4, 2019 from https://thefederalist.com/2016/09/28/black-lives-matter-bringing-back-traditional-marxism/
4Yost, Zachary. 2018. ANTIFA’s Handbook: A Primer on Violent Liberalism. The American Conservative. Retrieved April 10, 2019 from https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/antifas-handbook-a-sinister-primer-on-violent-illiberalism/comment-page-1/
6Mannix, Andy. 2019. Minneapolis to ban ‘warrior’ training for police, mayor says. Police Online. Retrieved April 20, 2019 from https://www.policeone.com/police-training/articles/483600006-Minneapolis-to-ban warrior-training-for-police-mayor-says/
7Staff Writer. 2017. CBS News.com. Retrieved April 321, 2019 from https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2017/02/02/celebs-voice-apparent-support-for-uc-berkeley-riot-over-breitbart-speaker/

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.

Blue Suicide Awareness Event

Blue Suicide Awareness Event

A large group of officers from all over the tri-state area packed the Sedona Taphouse in Cliffside Park, NJ on April 04, 2019 to discuss the sensitive issue of Blue suicide, and what steps to take to address it. Blue Magazine proudly partnered with Moment of Silence Inc. to bring officers a high-quality program aimed at saving lives. Numerous career professionals working to end Blue suicide addressed the crowd and offered various tips and observations to facilitate a much-needed discussion. The room was filled with positive energy and passion.

Blue Magazine’s Publisher Daniel Del Valle said, “I want everyone—officers, mental health and other professionals and citizens of our country to work together with endless passion and commitment to solving Blue suicide. For many years Blue suicide has sabotaged our law enforcement profession. We can do better. We must do better.”

Blue Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief George Beck said, “Emceeing this worthy event was one of the highlights of my work at Blue Magazine. To see that many people come together--those who were affected by Blue suicide and wanted to work toward saving officers--even if just one officer—is truly humbling. There are so many good-hearted officers who do things for the right reasons. I am glad to be working with them. Together we are making progress.”

Blue Magazine is committed to helping the law enforcement profession thrive and prosper. Far too many officers have taken their own lives and it’s time we all work to together to solve this problem. Stay tuned for future events that are currently in the planning stages. We all have a responsibility to address Blue suicide. Will you join us? Follow us on social media and visit www.thebluemagazine.com for additional information and future events. Stay safe.

Blue Events - Police playing basketball with local kids: Residents were happy to see officers on their streets for something good.

Police playing basketball with local kids: Residents were happy to see officers on their streets for something good.
By Jeffrey Stewart

The Garfield Police Community Affairs Division joined forces with the founder of the Basketball Cop Foundation. You may remember Officer Bobby White. He was the Gainesville, Florida officer called to a neighborhood because of a noise complaint. But instead of busting the kids - he jumped in. The dash cam video went viral, receiving millions of views. Officer White used his fame to start the Basketballcop Foundation. Through donations, the foundation provides basketballs and goals to cities that need positive police influence - setting up neighborhood events like this to bring the community together.

After noticing Garfield juvenile resident Jared Morris playing basketball on a basket without a backboard, Sgt. Jeff Stewart reached out to Officer White via Instagram and sent a picture of the broken set asking if there was anything he could do. Within minutes he replied, asking for the address of police HQ to send the new Spalding regulation hoop set.

The guys and girls from the Police Department put the hoop set together wheeled it down the street and surprised Jared Morris and his friends with a 5 on 5 pickup game with the new set up. All are thankful for Officer White and the Basketballcop Foundation for his #Hoopsnotcrime initiative.

Sgt. Jeff Stewart is a 20-year veteran of the Garfield NJ Police Department, currently assigned to the Community Affairs Division. Jeff has had a career-long passion to bridge the gap between cops and the community. Jeff is currently the Vice President of the NJ State Community Affairs Officers Association, which has given him the opportunity to teach both in-service and criminal justice students the importance of positive community engagement and diversity within law enforcement as a whole. Jeff has collaborated with some of the top law enforcement leaders across the globe within the community affairs space. Jeff maintains an open mind and is always willing to learn and collaborate with others, both law enforcement and civilian, to make the world a little better for all of us.

Contact Email- jstewart@garfieldpolice.org. Instagram DM@officerstewart

Remembrance - Article & Artwork by Jonny Castro

Article & Artwork by Jonny Castro
Deputy Justin DeRosier

On April 14th, 2019, Deputy Justin DeRosier pulled up to a disabled motor home that was partially blocking a roadway in Kalama, Washington. What should have been a routine vehicle investigation, ended up with a suspect inside the RV opening fire on the Deputy. Justin managed to notify his dispatch that he was being shot at and provided the suspect’s description. Responding units found Deputy DeRosier critically wounded and defending himself with his patrol rifle. The officers immediately began lifesaving efforts once Justin lost consciousness but he passed away at the hospital a short time later. After an intense manhunt, the armed suspect was located the following day and killed. Deputy DeRosier was a six-year veteran of law enforcement and had served the citizens of Cowlitz County for the past three years. He’s the first and only officer to be killed in the line of duty in the department’s 165 year history. Justin leaves behind a wife and a five-month old daughter. He was 29 years old.

Entertainment - Just a Dude from Jersey: An Interview with Comedian Jim Florentine

Just a Dude from Jersey: An Interview with Comedian Jim Florentine
By Dan Lorenzo

Thanks to Steppin’ Out magazine, Jim Florentine reached out to me many years ago after reading my column. Jim has accomplished amazing things since then. He has appeared on The Howard Stern Show, Jimmy Kimmel, MTV, Monday Night Football and That Metal Show to name a few. Fame hasn’t changed Jim at all. He’s still, “Just a dude from Jersey with a bunch of dirty jokes who knows a little bit about heavy metal and can make crank calls. “I just got lucky in my career”. Jim’s book Everybody Is Awful (Except You) is a must read as is his comedy special I Got the House, which is partially about his wife cheating on him and the results of the divorce that followed.

When you first found out your wife was cheating, did you ever think something so positive will come out of it?

(laughs) No, you don’t think that. You know when you go through some shit in your life that there’s always going to be light at the end of the tunnel, but when it first happens you can’t see that.

How hard was it for you to go onstage after that to try and be funny?

It was tough because I always like working on new material, and I had just had filmed a new comedy special so I was working on a whole new set before it got released and then that shit went down and I had all these road gigs. I was out of my mind. I couldn’t think of anything. I had complete writer’s block. I wasn’t focused on new material so I had to go through my old stand-up from the past five or six years and just pick out the “greatest hits” so I could get through those gigs until I had a breakthrough and I started writing again.

Stand-up comedians travel a lot. I imagine a lot of times it’s just you out on the road- do you ever get lonely or are you too busy to get lonely?

Yeah, I mean you do because sometimes you’re just holed up in a hotel room for three or four days and sometimes you don’t have a car. It can get lonely, but it’s all about the show that night.

I picture you as a guy who can never relax.

No, I can do that definitely. I think you need one day a week to just do nothing. I don’t feel guilty about not working. As a comic you do for a long time, you think, “Man, if I’m not onstage five or six nights a week people are passing me by”, but you have to get over that mentality. As long as you’re funny, you’re funny. You have to have some kind of life.

Your book is hysterical. Did it offend any of your friends or family? I’m assuming you have family or friends who do some of the annoying things you described on Facebook.

I didn’t hear that from them. They all seemed to enjoy it. They all know how I am. They know what annoys me. I’m sure other people who read it thought, “What is this? Why is he so negative?” That’s what a comic does! We pick out shit that bothers people that most people can relate to.

If you hurt somebody does that bother you? Do you feel guilty?

I feel bad, but I won’t feel guilty and dwell on it. Anything can set somebody off. You don’t know. I could be talking about my divorce and somebody in the audience could be going through a really nasty divorce at that time. I’ve got that. A guy has said, “Oh man you reminded me of that. I just wanted a few laughs and you’re bringing up divorce.” I’ll tell him, “Well how would I know you’re going through a divorce? I can’t take a survey from the crowd every night.

I just listened to your podcast. You sound so angry, but I think of you as a happy person. You have a great life, right?

Absolutely, but look… people send me stuff that they know will annoy me so I can muster up the rage when I see something stupid on Facebook or Instagram. People taking pictures of their food and people writing, “Mmmm” underneath.

What was the best moment of your career?

I would say going on Howard Stern with him having me come in and sit in. That basically launched my career. He liked my prank calls. I got everything pretty much from doing that show.

I Got the House is on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other popular outlets.