BETRAYED BY BLUE

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BETRAYED BY BLUE
By: Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (Ret.)

On a hot and sunny July 16th in 2007 Totowa Patrol Officer John Sole awoke at 4 pm to the sounds of a television kept on to help him fall asleep during the daytime. He began his 6 pm to 6 am pre shift routine.

The movie “Superman Returns” was playing on the TV and Sole watched a part in the movie where Superman confronts people on a building top, one man armed with a Gatling gun that he turned on Superman. The rounds bounced off Superman’s chest. Sole recalls thinking then wouldn’t it be great if we had bulletproof vests that could stop bullets without the body feeling the concussion of the bullets. After his shower Sole watched the news about the funeral of NYPD Detective Russell Timoshenko who was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 9th. As Sole tied his duty boots, put on his body armor and listened to Timoshenko’s story, he had thoughts that his own shift might be an unusual one. A premonition perhaps?

When this seasoned 14-year Totowa Patrol Officer’s shift started there was no indication of what was to come. Sole’s shift began as typical as any other evening performing radar enforcement and responding to calls. His dinner break was spent at his Totowa residence with his wife and five children and his visiting sister-in-law and her children. Thirty minutes after his dinner break a deadly chain of events began to unfold at 8 pm.

Totowa Borough Municipal Court was held that night and former Totowa Police Officer Pete Riva, fired from employment decades prior, was angry about the Court’s decision to dismiss a matter involving his ex-girlfriend. Fearing Riva’s fury over that outcome, his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend would not leave the court complex without a police escort. Riva left the courtroom but returned wearing a windbreaker, an odd piece of apparel for a hot summer evening. Sole’s shift partner Officer James Eisele escorted them to their vehicle. Riva was waiting outside for them in the court complex parking lot in his personal vehicle, a black Jeep Liberty, and ran over his ex-girlfriend, clipped her boyfriend, just missed hitting Officer Eisele and fled the scene.

“Officer Eisele was screaming on the police radio ‘headquarters parking lot’ but I couldn’t understand what else he was saying” Sole said. “I turned up Crews Street and as I’m getting in front of Headquarters, Eisele calls out a black Jeep Liberty going up Peterson Road that comes out to Totowa Road, one block above Headquarters. So I headed to Peterson and Totowa Road to stop the vehicle still unsure what Eisele said on the police radio.

I spotted the suspect Jeep a block away from Police Headquarters on Union Boulevard and Crews Street. The Liberty turned towards me as I pulled up head to head to stop him. I recognized the driver as Pete Riva, a former Totowa Police Officer employed during the 1970s. He cut around a car and drove onto a homeowner’s lawn to get away. I radioed Headquarters it was Riva and that I was in vehicular pursuit. We traveled about a quarter mile down Totowa Road and he pulled over next to a huge tree. I pulled across to pinch him up against the tree. As I started to step out of my police vehicle, the siren was still on so I quickly leaned back in to shut it off.”

After Sole pulled him over, Riva emerged from the rear of his vehicle charging and firing at him.

“When I got out of my police car, the first thing I saw was the barrel of a smoking .357 magnum gun firing rounds at me. The sounds of gunfire were deadened by the siren until I shut it off.

Riva continued firing at me head on as I’m out of the car standing in the crook of the car’s door.

I reached for my .40 cal Sig Sauer but my holster’s arched safety guard caught the hammer of my gun probably caused by my pushing down so hard on the holster. Riva charged me and told me to give him my gun. He tried reaching for it but I pushed it back down. I barely had time to react as Riva jumped on me and we started scuffling in the street. Physically I felt something wasn’t right but my adrenaline was through the roof.

I was bleeding but didn’t know it at the time that one round went through my left shoulder and out my left bicep. A second round grazed the inside of my left bicep and almost cut it in half.”

With his left uniform sleeve soaked in blood, Sole was wrestling with Riva for control of the gun.

“Riva had me in a headlock with his left arm and told me to get down on my knees. Until that moment, there was no pause. I was thinking of the next step, finding a window of opportunity to get him off guard, to get to my gun, to stick it in his rib cage and unload. Riva placed his gun to my right temple and told me to take out my gun and give it to him. My opportunity to distract him came. I told him I had kids and not to kill me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man running towards us. I yelled ‘tackle him’. When Riva turned to look at the other guy he was tackled. I pushed Riva and his gun away from me.

Unbeknownst to both, the man coming to Sole’s aid was retired Paterson Police Captain Philip Bevacqua who ran out of his house when he heard the recognizable sounds of gunfire outside his front door and saw the confrontation.

“Riva and the Captain were scuffling in the middle of the road behind me and trading punches. I regrouped myself, took out my gun, and told the Captain to get back. Riva was about 30 feet from me and waving his gun from side to side. I knew I had to end it quickly. With the Captain out of harms way, I fired from a kneeling position until Riva dropped. My adrenalin came down. My portable’s mic was covered in blood dangling on my left side where I was shot.”

Sole got back on his feet and grabbed the mic cord until it got into his left hand, then grabbed the mic with his right hand. He radioed HQ that ‘108’ was shot and gave his location.

“After the shooting was over an off-duty Police Officer who lived nearby kicked the gun away from Riva’s hand. I remember hearing sirens off in the distance. I knew I was shot but didn’t know by how many rounds. A warm pulse of blood hit inside my left arm. I thought I was hit in the armpit or a round got underneath my vest. I had numbness, no reflexes but extreme pain. I was covered in blood, some light red in color and a darker red like arterial bleeding. I thought I was going to die in the street right there.

I went into survival mode. I thought about driving myself to the hospital thinking how pissed my kids would be that I am leaving this world early. A neighborhood friend of mine, Frank Andriani, came up to me face to face and then I collapsed to my knees. I never laid down out of fear that I would bleed out and die.

The first back up arrived and Totowa Officer Dan DiBlasio asked me who shot me. I pointed to the driveway where Riva was and told my Lieutenant David DeFeo ‘he friggin shot me’ and they both grabbed me and rushed me to the ambulance. As I got in the side door of the ambulance, my father arrived and went to the ambulance. He was heading home and came upon the incident. One of the EMTs recognized him and told him that I was shot but was going to be okay. The first thing I asked when I was inside the ambulance was where was I hit. I was told it was my arm and only my arm. It took a serious edge off.”

Officer Sole was transported to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson.

“On the way to the hospital I was sweating. I started undressing, pulling the velcro open and my vest off. I felt like I was under a water spicket. At St. Joe’s almost the entire emergency room staff was there working on me like a colony of ants. I was stripped down and one of the doctors gave me a quick assessment. The pain was excruciating. I kept asking about the gunman but received no response. As I was wheeled for an MRI I saw Paterson Police Officer Ricky Latrecchia who I grew up with. He told me Riva was dead.

That was the news I wanted to hear. I felt no emotion. He got what he deserved. I was okay with that.

I was brought into a private room and for about 3 ½ hours my arm was stitched up. The Prosecutor’s Office came in for my gear, gun belt, clothes and everything else I was wearing. I pleaded with the Trauma Surgeon to be able to go home. I wanted to get home because my kids knew what happened and if I wasn’t home when they woke up in the morning it would be tough on them. I was released and home at 4:15 am on Tuesday.

While hospitalized I received support from the hospital staff, my wife and family and the brotherhood of blue. My brother Totowa Police Officers on-duty, off-duty and those retired along with Totowa Mayor John Coiro came to the hospital to see how I was doing. Totowa Police Chief Robert Coyle stayed with me during my hospitalization and escorted me and my family to our home. The entire Paterson Police shift stopped in to see me. Officer Latrecchia went to my house and brought me a change of clothing.

In the days following the shooting, all my brother Totowa Officers, the Mayor and Council would frequently visit me at home to check on my progress. The outpouring of well wishes from Totowa residents, many whom I knew and those I didn’t, was overwhelming and Police Officers from Little Falls, Wayne, West Paterson, Woodland Park, Passaic County Sheriff and the State Police visited me during my recuperation. Their support aided with my healing and recovery from this traumatic incident. I was out of work for ten months and returned to the job on May 15, 2008.”

Officer John Sole was the first Police Officer in the Borough of Totowa to be shot in the line of duty. For his heroism Sole received many honors including a Valor Award from the Passaic County 200 Club; a Gold Valor Award from the New Jersey State PBA; a Medal of Honor, Legion of Honor, Combat Cross and Wounded in Combat Medal from PBA Local 80; a proclamation and plaque from the Borough of Totowa and was sworn in as a member of the New Jersey Honor Legion. The Borough of Totowa awarded Captain Bevacqua with a key to the Borough.

On September 1, 2009 Officer John Sole retired with an in the line of duty disability pension. Post retirement Sole works as a School Security/Resource Officer in the Totowa School District and enjoys coaching several Totowa PAL programs. He is an active member with the Cop 2 Cop New Jersey Wounded Officers Association and attends their monthly support meetings.

Totowa Police Officer John Sole used deadly force to save his own life and the lives of others. Sole cautions Officers “Shootings don’t happen like they do in the movies. You don’t get right back up after you’re shot. They leave out the emotional stress put upon the family and extensive physical rehabilitation the Officer endures. During the shooting my instincts were reactionary from my police training and what I learned as a young man. It’s critical to defuse your assailant, wait for him to drop his guard, psychologically turn the critical incident over into your hands and think of what your next step will be to save yourself.”

No law enforcement Officer is immune from a spontaneous armed encounter and Officers must be physically fit, tactically trained and mentally prepared to handle anything – even a gun battle with a crazed assailant who used to be a cop.

Contact Donna Roman Hernandez @ salsacop446@hotmail.com, www.blueforcefilms.com, www.thejerseybeat.blogspot.com

my wife - annamaria, kids - salvatore (missing from photo), jessica, daniella, alyssa, and john jr.

my wife - annamaria, kids - salvatore (missing from photo), jessica, daniella, alyssa, and john jr.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE AGENT WHO TOOK DOWN THE MAFIA

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Exclusive & Uncensored Interview
A Conversation with the “Don”
By: Julia Torres

Joseph Dominick Pistone, a man raised in the Sandy Hill section of Paterson, who graduated from Eastside High School, developed into Donnie Brasco.

His day-to-day upbringing in La Cosa Nostra’s neighborhood enabled him to become the sole FBI agent who took down the mob, ensuring 234 convictions. Here in this NJ Blue Now exclusive, he discusses the making of an operative, and the life of an undercover mobster.

NJ Blue Now: You went to Paterson State College (now William Paterson University), and studied Elementary Education and Social Studies. Was that your interest during high school?

Joseph Dominick Pistone: No, it was being a cop. I went to Staunton Military Academy on a basketball scholarship. After completing my studies, I enrolled at PSC and played basketball. When I was a senior, I took the test for the Paterson PD and passed. I thought that I could work both, but they told me I couldn’t. So I thought, I’m not gonna blow the last year of college, and that’s when I applied for US Naval Intelligence. While waiting for my appointment, I taught at School 10 for a year. (At Naval), I investigated crimes that were committed by military people or on naval facilities, did intelligence work, espionage. I had worked closely with the FBI and DEA, but at that time it wasn’t DEA. It was Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, so I took the test for both and I really wanted to go into the FBI, but it’s tough getting into the FBI. I guess I was lucky enough. I got the call from the FBI first.

Can you tell more about your experiences and background that paved the way for your undercover work?

Well, yeah, and remember Julie, I grew up in an Italian neighborhood. I knew wise guys… I mean, you know the guys. These are guys that you see every day. You know who the wise guys are, it’s no big deal because you don’t see all the behind the scenes. You hang out on the corner, and it wasn’t a big thing. You know what the mafia is, and growing up in an Italian home, you know to keep your mouth shut, when you’re not supposed to be talking. It’s all ears. When I go teach my undercover classes, I have a stick figure of a person with a small mouth and big ears. I say, what does this tell you? That’s a good undercover agent, keep your mouth shut, you got two big ears. We may be getting off the track here, but it might be good. A lot of undercovers, they think they gotta be talking all the time. I remember one time I rode from Tampa, Florida to Miami with Lefty (Benjamin Ruggiero). I guarantee you, I didn’t say ten words. You can do dead time. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was successful. My questions came when they weren’t expected. They weren’t in the form of a question, but it was part of a statement. I used to do that when I wanted to introduce another agent into an operation that the FBI had somewhere else, when I married up the Bonnanos with the Milwaukee family, married up the Bonnanos with Santo Trafficante in Florida. We were just hanging around and I say gee, I got a call from a guy I hadn’t heard from in ten years. He said he’s down in Tampa, Florida. He’s got a nightclub, and that’s it. I wouldn’t say anything more. And then a couple days later, I said, gee, that guy called me again. And then maybe half hour later, Lefty says, who’s this guy that called you? I never had any undercover training back in the bureau, so it was everything I learned growing up in an Italian neighborhood.

Did you create your own back-story or did somebody create it for you?

We created our own. I picked my name. I heard it somewhere. My middle name is Dominick so it was a name that I would answer to, Don, or Donald. With the Donnie Brasco, the mob one, you can’t have a profession of violence, I figured, what’s a non-violent profession? So I went to school to learn about diamonds and precious gems. When I felt that I could talk intelligently, I went out.

It started out as 6 months and ended up 6 years, so it just kept rolling and you had to stay on it?

Yeah. Look, we had a lot of mafia informants, but we had never infiltrated the mob. Once I got close to certain guys, then we just kept going.

For the people that knew you and called the office, they would say, oh, he doesn’t work here. You were pretty much a ghost. I’m assuming you had no contact with anybody.

Just a contact agent. I would meet him like once a month at a public library or museum uptown, ‘cause not many of these guys went to the library or museum, but most of it was by telephone. I would see my wife and kids maybe every seven, eight months, but never make a straight trip. Did it suffer, yeah, when you come back, you’re not the boss anymore. We’ve been living without you for six years, we’re very capable of taking care of ourselves, but there was no animosity or anything. I always had a good relationship with my wife and my kids. It was just, you know, until you prove yourself worthy of taking over the household, you begin. That really didn’t bother me though. That was small thing stuff.

Did it ever cross your mind that maybe you could be double-crossed by your agency if something went wrong?

You know, it never did. I only had surveillance a couple times. You can’t try to surveil in Brooklyn or little Italy, and I didn’t want that chance of surveillance to be made. The couple times I had surveillance was when I knew that Sonny Black was gonna give me a contract. We met at the Motion Lounge, the club. My contact gave me a small transmitter that I’d put in my sport coat jacket. The guys picked up the conversation riding around. I only wore a transmitter a couple other times. The other thing I wore sometimes was a mini cassette recorder. I’d just slide it in my cowboy boot or my sport coat jacket. Other than that, it was 24/7 on my own.

They never searched you, never questioned you?

In the beginning. That’s why I never wore anything in the beginning. With wise guys, every time you come to the club, you hug everybody, you give everybody a kiss on the cheek. The hug was to feel if I had anything. This is summertime, what you’ve got on is a shirt and a pair of pants, so it’s kinda tough to be hiding anything.

None of those guys carry guns?

No, the only time they carry guns is when they do a hit.

Did you ever feel like it got too heated?

When they had the sit down, when you’re accused of stealing money. One of the rules in the mob is that you don’t steal money from the family. If you do and get caught, you get killed, you get whacked. The problems I had with Tony Mirra were when he went to the families and said that I had stolen 250,000 dollars in a truck deal, and Sonny Black, you know, they called a sit down. And if Sonny Black calls a sit down, I know I’m gonna get killed. Fortunately, he went to all three sit downs. You’re waiting there and there’s no way out. If he (Black) loses, it’s all over. He (Mirra) testified at the sit down and said I took the money. They eventually killed him.

Your cover was so tight that the FBI and NYPD had you listed as Don Brasco, a Colombo family mob associate.

Yeah, they had me down as a Bonnano and Colombo associate because nobody else in the FBI knew about the case. Neither did the organized crime bureau.

Did you find that because you were so deep in, lines were blurred between who you were, and who Donnie was?

No, I never did. The reason being is that I never took an undercover case because I wanted to get away from something else. To me, it was just another investigation. So I never had self-doubts about who I was, where I was, or why I was doing it. I didn’t stop doing things that I normally did. I like to go to the movies so I would say to the wise guys, hey I’m going to see a matinee. I always worked out so, I still went to the gym. I still ran. Too many undercovers get the misconception, well, if I tell them I’m going to the movies, there’s something wrong with me. It’s the opposite. If you don’t do anything, there’s something wrong with you.

surveillance shot during operation sun-apple later known as donnie brasco

surveillance shot during operation sun-apple later known as donnie brasco

In the last hit that you were supposed to make, which is why the FBI decided to remove you, you were supposed to have been a made guy soon after that, right?

Right. I was having dinner with Sonny Black at a restaurant called Creesi’s in Brooklyn, not far from the Motion Lounge. He told me that he had proposed me for membership. He went before all the captains, all the captains approved it. But we’re not opening the books until December, he said. So in December, you’re gonna be inducted into the family. But then with the Bonnanos, the capos spoke about retaliation and blow out war, that’s when the FBI decided to terminate the operation on July 27th. They wouldn’t go until December because they were afraid I might get killed in between, because of the war within the Bonnano family and how close I was with Sonny Black, ‘cause you have to remember, at the time when the rest were still in jail, it was Sonny Black and Joey Massino as street bosses. Sonny in Brooklyn, Joey in Queens, and Sal Catalano who was head of the Sicilian capos. All the friction of the family, there’d be more shooting going on. Sonny had already had the okay to get inducted. I was that tight with him that he had vouched for me and said that I had been in on a hit.

Okay, you’re out. Trial time. Did they move you somewhere where nobody will find out?

I went to DC and sat down with everybody, all the prosecutors. I had a case in New York, Milwaukee, Florida. I kept moving from districts talking with the prosecutors, going before grand juries.

At what point do they figure out your real identity?

They don’t get my real identity until the actual courtroom. Once all the court proceedings started, then they realized I was an undercover agent. In the beginning, they didn’t believe it. They thought that the FBI had kidnapped me and was brainwashing me, trying to turn me into an informant.

Did you feel they’d come after you and kill you?

I wasn’t sure, but then after they killed Sonny, when they became convinced that I was an undercover agent, then the commission put that $500,000 contract out on me. Normally, the American mafia doesn’t try to kill a cop. But because I had spent so much time with them, I met wives, kids, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, they felt that I crossed over the line by breaking bread in their houses. That was the reason.

With these deep cover jobs, there are people that are really likable, did you feel that you made good relationships with some of the guys, and you felt guilty after they were arrested?

Well, that’s twofold. I had a good relationship with Sonny Black. I had a decent relationship with Lefty. Lefty was a hard guy to get along with. Lefty was all about Lefty. When they got arrested, I didn’t wanna see Sonny Black get killed, but it wasn’t my fault. They know the consequences for what they do. Sonny Black, Mirra, those guys were mafia guys before I got there. Did I wanna see them get killed? No. Do I lose sleep over it? No, because I was just doing my job. They made the choice of being gangsters. My choice was to be FBI.

Once you’re in DC debriefing everyone, how soon after that did you do another U/C and how can you top it off?

You couldn’t. I did undercover overseas, for Scotland Yard, in different parts of the country, but you can’t top that. I did six years with the mob. I used to live with Sonny Black. How many undercovers could say that they spent overnight with a mob boss? How many could say they had dinner at a mob boss’ house? I mean, I sat down with Santo Trafficante. Every time Sonny introduced me to these people, he introduced me as a made guy. They didn’t have any idea I wasn’t a made guy.

Did you need some time to decompress after the investigation or were you pretty good-to-go?

I took a week off and went fishing. I was pretty good-to-go because I spent so much time meeting with the prosecutors, and grand juries. A lot of the information for the commission case came from our case. We put all the bosses in the can.

You experienced the U/C high. How do you explain it?

You can’t. When you’re doing it, I guess it’s the adrenaline rush, but you also have to know that you’re doing it because it’s a commitment to your job, to yourself. It’s kind of like gee, I just went one on four with gangsters, you get that rush there, but you’re keeping in mind that it is just a job.

When did you officially retire?

I officially retired in ’96, but I stayed on a contract to teach undercover and organized crime classes.

At what point did you write a book?

I never went into this to get a movie and books. Lou DiGiamo, a kid I grew up with became a top casting director. He came to the trials, got in touch with me and said, I think you got a good story here. I said who cares. He said, do you read the papers? Every major paper had a story. Publishers started contacting the FBI and that’s how it went.

Do you feel the movie was pretty well portrayed?

They did a good job. The books are still selling, and the movie is still playing. The book is 100%. The movie’s probably 75-80%. Were there things I didn’t like? Yeah, I never slapped my wife. The director put that in on the day they were supposed to shoot that scene. Did I make a beef? Yeah, but it didn’t do me any good. I never had 300,000 dollars lying in my attic. But, you sign and that’s it.

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Any FBI backlash?

No, I didn’t give away any undercover secrets, didn’t tell stories how to school.

Doing U/C work today, how hard do you think it is because of technology?

As far as how you do undercover work, it hasn’t changed. But as far as how to build a legend because of the Internet, yes. Everybody, I don’t care who you are, there’s gotta be something in there with the name you give.

What advice do you have for aspiring undercovers?

My advice is don’t do it because you think it’s a glamour job, to run away from something. Do it because you’re committed to whatever the case is. And don’t fall in love with it. It’s just another form of an investigation.

Do you think anyone who wants to do it, can? Or do you think it’s a select individual group?


No, not everyone can work undercover. You gotta have that extra sense in you. Undercover is not for everybody and everybody can’t do it. It’s something innate. You have it or you don’t have it.

At this stage in your life, are you content with where you are?

Definitely. I’ve got seven books. I’ve got a movie. I’ve got a TV show that was about me. Right now, I’m working on a TV show called Deep Undercover, with Bellum Entertainment. What we’re doing is we’re taking undercover cases and making episodes out of them.

Do you think there’s still someone who is willing to hurt you or kill you?

There’s always a cowboy out there that thinks if I take down Donnie Brasco, it’s gonna make me a hero in the eyes of the mob. There are sons out there, relatives. So, yeah, I still try to operate pretty low key.

Do you think the mob is anywhere how it used to be as far as powerful?

No, not at all. To me, now they’re just another organized crime group. Still involved in everything, but not controlling the people like they did. I think it’s all the hits they took. There are no strong leaders anymore. All these young guys, the minute they put the cuffs on them, they wanna talk. They can’t do the time.

What do you consider your best strength?

Mental toughness and the ability to stay focused on the task at hand. And that’s what it takes to be a good undercover.

Weakness?

Chocolate, any kind. I do a lot of overseas work, and when I come home, my suitcase is filled with chocolate.

Special words you live by?


Integrity, honesty.

Favorite book?


The Art of War. All the undercover classes I teach, I tell them if you haven’t read The Art of War, start reading.

During Joe’s phenomenal career, he received the U.S. Attorney General’s Award, J. Edgar Hoover Award, and the FBI Medal of Valor. After retirement, aside from his seven published Donnie Brasco books (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble), he produced Wisegal, a Lifetime movie; Falcone, a CBS TV series; and feature Tenth and Wolfe. At present, Joe is a police training consultant, and U/C and O/C instructor for law enforcement agencies both domestic and abroad. He is also the Executive Producer of Deep Undercover, a docuseries filmed by Bellum Entertainment. Knowing Joe, he has many more unique endeavors in the making. Stay tuned.

Julia Torres earned a Master of Science in Homeland Security with a certification in Terrorism Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University; a Jersey City State College, K-12 Teacher Certification; and a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University, where she enlisted in the Army Reserves. Upon graduating Rutgers, she began a career in law enforcement, and later volunteered for the Gulf War. Once home, she worked undercover until retiring in 2001 due to a Gulf War illness. Since then, she has done volunteer work, acted, and written two non-fiction books.

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Shining a spotlight on 'Blue Suicide' can help save lives

Shining a spotlight on ‘Blue Suicide’ can help save lives
By: Robert Foreman

Suicides among members of law enforcement are continuing to spike at an alarming rate. Recently, the NYPD has been forced to make plans to implement an overhaul of their suicide prevention protocols after four officers took their own lives in June. However, it is believed that less than 10% of the police departments in the United States have a suicide prevention program. Of course, suicide among members of law enforcement, and other first responders, is not a recent problem. By June of 2019 there had been well over a hundred confirmed suicides among first responders, but it is estimated that it could be higher. Imagine what that number could be by the end of the year.

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The recent suicides of multiple NYPD officers helped to shine the public spotlight on the emotional and mental issues facing first responders. Much of the public is justifiably shocked when a first responder takes their own life. However, much of that shock comes from people who view first responders, especially law enforcement, as indestructible and larger than life. Yet they are flesh and blood people just like everyone else. They deal with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, divorce, and a myriad of other issues that the rest of the population deals with. 

According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and firearms account for 50% of those deaths. The suicide rate is highest among middle-age white men. Additionally, men are more likely to take their own lives than women. The AFSP also states that there are 129 suicides each day. Those numbers may seem shocking to most, but for anyone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide those statistics seem all too real.

For those who are considering suicide as an option, you should think twice. Once you go through with it there is no going back. Death is final. Additionally, suicide leaves a ripple effect that goes far beyond a person taking their own life. The family, friends and co-workers are left with a myriad of emotions to deal with, including anger, grief and guilt. The anger is often directed at the person that took their life while the grief comes from the untimely loss of the individual. Ultimately, those who are left behind often find themselves feeling guilty because they believe that they should have done something to prevent the suicide from happening. Having lost someone I love to suicide, I went through all of those emotions.

So, for anyone who is considering suicide as an option just remember that suicide doesn’t solve your problems. It just shifts the burden to your loved ones. No matter what you are currently going through, no matter how bad it is, you must remember that your life is of value. True, life can kick you in the ass and beat you down until you feel like you can’t take anymore. However, things can, and do, get better with time and patience. 

Many people, particularly in law enforcement, don’t want to reach out for help because they believe that it makes them look weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Talking to a trusted friend, or a trained professional, about the pain that is weighing on you is a sign of strength. It means that you recognize that you can’t carry the burden of all of your problems by yourself.  Nobody expects you to be Superman. Hell, even Superman has his ‘kryptonite’ and he always has to get assistance when he encounters it.

Depression is a real problem and you should find someone to talk to about it. Just because you carry a badge and a gun doesn’t mean you need to battle your demons on your own. If you feel uncomfortable talking to a family member or friend there are plenty of other resources. One such resource is the ‘Blue Suicide Dinner Night’being held on August 1, which is being co-sponsored by Moment of Silence and The Blue Magazine. The event, which is free to officers, will bring together both active and former law enforcement professionals to help combat the issue of ‘Blue Suicide’. The dinner will be held at The Village Inn located at 422 Runnymede Drive, Wayne, N.J.

“We need to discuss the suicide epidemic to tear down the negative stigmatism. The more we open up, the more we realize that we need to rely on each other by opening up at a time of crisis,” said Daniel Del Valle, owner of The Blue Magazine. “A conversation ends up with a smile and a smile may lead to a laugh, which leads to trust. If you laugh with someone then you can build trust and it all started with a conversation.”

If you are currently in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For those who are more comfortable using text you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting START to 741741. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Simply put, the life you save may very well be your own.

PBA Local #80 honors Totowa officers with monument

PBA Local #80 honors Totowa officers with monument
By Robert Foreman

TOTOWA, N.J. – Honoring the memories of fallen law enforcement members is never an easy undertaking and it is often bittersweet. However, the Totowa PBA Local #80 created a stunning memorial that stands as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by their brothers and sisters in blue. The monument was initially dedicated in October of 1997, but with the passage of time it became apparent that some upgrades were needed.

“The monument needed to be refreshed. The monument is double-sided, but the original set-up didn’t allow it to be viewed as such. We recognized that there was a lot of area surrounding this monument that was not being utilized. Our PBA worked closely with the Totowa Department of Public Works to create a more inviting space. The monument now has lights, drainage, refreshing landscaping and it will have a bench to allow a more inviting space,” said Daniel Di Blasio, President of Totowa PBA Local #80.

“This rededication was an important focus for me especially with my military background. As a Local, the importance of brotherhood and being inclusive to all members, both active and inactive, is to make sure that we continue to honor and support one another. This newly-created space allows our Local, including families of the deceased, to do just that.”

The updates have created a greater space for visitors and family members of the deceased officers to have time to walk around, sit and take time out for deep reflection. After the upgrades were completed, the monument was rededicated on May 26, 2019 by PBA Local #80.

“I think it’s great to honor the past members of our Local in such a way,” said Totowa Chief of Police, Robert W. Coyle.

The Monument Committee consists of Di Blasio, Jamie Titus, Gary Bierach, Carmen Veneziano and George Di Pasquale. Anyone wishing to visit the monument should definitely take the time to view it because you will not be disappointed. It is truly powerful to behold whether being viewed during the day or at night.

“The monument is dedicated to the memory of Totowa police officers who served our community with honor and distinction. The improvements to the monument, and the area surrounding it, are a fitting tribute to these officers,” said Totowa Mayor, John Coiro.

Retiring Lt. Herman leaves behind a legacy of service

Retiring Lt. Herman leaves behind a legacy of service
By Robert Foreman

PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. – Born in Paterson and raised in Totowa, Lieutenant Douglas Joseph Herman has lived a life of service to both his community and his nation that many would envy. Outside of his distinguished law enforcement career, he served proudly as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and even brought his expertise to the FBI SWAT School. Currently, he works for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office where he serves as the Firearms Range Master (Firearms Training Unit) and Swat Team Leader/Master Operator.


Herman has been with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department since 1995 and during his time at the Passaic County Police Academy he received the Distinguished Graduate Award and earned 1st place awards in both Marksmanship and Physical Fitness. While he has served the law enforcement community proudly, all good careers must eventually end. In Herman’s case, he is retiring. His terminal leave is set for July 2nd of 2019 and his official date is January 1st, 2020. His wife, Mercedes, is also a retired lieutenant from the Sheriff’s Department and the two met through work. The father of two daughters offered some advice to those young men and women who are just entering the law enforcement profession.

“As new law enforcement officers, continue to train for critical incidents and make every effort to focus on continually enhancing performance and personal skills,” said Herman.

Herman, a graduate of Passaic Valley High School, began his career with SWAT in 2006 and after diligently working his way up the ranks he became Swat Team Leader in 2017. Since 2013, Herman has been a Department Range Commander and he became a Certified N.J. State Range Master in 2018. In 2013, he also became a Police Training Commission Firearms instructor at the Police Academy. During his tenure with New Jersey Law Enforcement, Herman has earned numerous awards and citations, including the Triumphant Award (Firearms Competition), Meritorious Service (SWAT Team apprehension of five fugitives), Unit Citation (SWAT Operation related to a shooting of a police officer), Gallantry Star (SWAT Operation involving the apprehension of two fugitives wanted in connection for a police officer shooting), Honor Legion Member Recipient from the State Of New Jersey, and the Certificate of Appreciation (Renovation of the County Police Firing Range.)

From 1986 through 1991, Herman served with the United States Marines (Infantry) and he was attached to military intelligence for one year as a courier for highly-sensitive materials. A veteran of the Gulf War during ‘Operation Desert Storm’ in 1991,  he was deployed to numerous locations such as South America, Panama, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Iwo Jima, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He received training in Jungle Operations, Cold Weather Operations, Woodland Operations and tracking and survival training. After graduating boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., he went to Infantry Training School in Camp Geiger, N.C. where he tried out for Marine Recon yet he was not selected. Upon graduating Infantry Training School, he went into the Fleet Marine Force 2nd Marine regiment, 2nd Battalion (Marine Infantry Unit) at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“After high school graduation, I went into the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18-years-old. The reason I join the Marines was because their recruiting station was in Totowa, and the closest to my house, and I did not have a vehicle to drive to any of the other recruiting stations in Paterson,” said Herman.

“During my time with intel is when the Colombia cartels were starting to come into the forefront and the military was becoming more involved with intel for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). After the military, I then worked in construction, and did bartending and security while attending Bergen Community College. In 1995, I then decided to go into the law enforcement field. I took the test and was hired by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.”

For his service in ‘Operation Desert Storm’, he was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Southwest Asia Service Medal. Herman was also awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Navy Artic Service Ribbon and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with two Bronze stars. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps with the rank of sergeant.

Herman’s position as Swat Team Leader/Master Operator calls upon him to be involved with the transport of both high-risk federal and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) prisoners. His decorated career of service, at multiple levels, is one that must be viewed with both respect and awe. Any member of law enforcement would find themselves lucky to have access to his knowledge of firearm proficiency, as well as military and tactical procedures. So, while Herman prepares to close one chapter of his life we can be confident that he will undoubtedly be ready for whatever the next phase of his life brings.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned is that you have to be resilient,” said Herman. “You have to be able to change as circumstances change.”

Port Authority K-9 lost on 9/11 will never be forgotten

Port Authority K-9 lost on 9/11 will never be forgotten
By Robert Foreman

As many of us do, retired Lieutenant David Lim remembers the September 11th terrorist attacks vividly. A former Port Authority officer with the K-9 Unit, Lim was in the K-9 office that was located in the basement of the World Trade Center when the attacks began. Upon hearing the initial explosion after the first plane struck, he believed that a bomb had gone off. Immediately, Lim put his K-9 partner Sirius, a Labrador retriever, in his dog crate and left to investigate. Little did Lim know that he would never see his beloved Sirius alive again.

“The office was in 2 World Trade Center at the B-1 level (First Basement). After leaving Sirius, I went to 1 World Trade Center and I got to the 5th floor when the building started to collapse. After we managed to get out of the building, I tried to get back to 2 World Trade Center for Sirius, but I couldn’t get back inside,” said Lim.

Lim’s ordeal in the stairway of 1 World Trade Center has come to be known as the ‘Miracle of Stairway B’. He, along with 12 firemen, an engineer, a bookkeeper, and an office temp, miraculously survived as the tower began collapsing upon them. One can only imagine what thoughts were going through their heads as all hell, literally, rained down upon them in that stairwell.

Yet after surviving a building collapse, Lim’s focus was still on his partner and friend, Sirius. While Sirius was still listed as missing after the attacks, Lim had to move on with a new K-9 partner. Lim’s new dog, Sprigs, proved to be a faithful partner until passing away from cancer the day after Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast in 2012. However, Sirius has never been far from Lim’s mind.

“They recovered Sirius in February when I was training Sprigs. We were able to take his remains out with full honors. We took him to Bellevue Hospital and to the Port Authority Command with all of the cops saluting the truck as we went by,” said Lim. “They had a flag on him when we got to Bellevue and they handed me the flag. That’s when I lost it. We had a nice memorial for him in Jersey City. They even gave him a 21-gun salute.”

Lim became an officer in 1980 and joined the K-9 Division in 1997, where he remained until 2005. He eventually became a sergeant and finally a lieutenant in 2008 until retiring out of LaGuardia Airport in 2014. Despite his distinguished 34 years in law enforcement, the impact that Sirius had on him can never be understated.

“My first dog was Lena, but she had to retire in 2000 due to arthritis. I met Sirius at a park where dogs were being checked to be in the K-9 Unit. Sirius was there to be a hunting dog, but when they threw one of the toys in the water he wouldn’t go in the water. So, he failed at being a hunting dog. They asked if I would take him for Bomb Sniffing School and I did,” said Lim. “Now, he was a big dog. Like 90 to 100 pounds. But he was a good dog and a lot of fun to be with. I got to bring him home and he got along great with my kids. When he was at work he did his job, but when he was home he was like any other dog. He was just starting to come out of his shell when he was killed. We didn’t have a lot of pictures of him because we saw him every day. We never expected to lose him.”

Although he had four legs, Sirius proved to be as dedicated a law enforcement officer as any human. He served with distinction and honor and made the ultimate sacrifice as many first responders did on 9/11. As such, Lim firmly believes that Sirius’ service and memory should be kept alive with the greatest show of dignity and respect imaginable.

“Sirius does share a shadow box in the 9/11 Museum with his leash and my holster. But my heart’s desire is for my partner’s name to be engraved into the 9/11 Memorial. He was a police K-9 and he deserves this honor,” said Lim.

THINKING OF OPENING A BUSINESS? HERE ARE SOME OPTIONS YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER

CHOOSING A BUSINESS STRUCTURE
By: Malone Financial Services

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In March 2015, about 679,072 new business had been created in the preceding year.¹ All individuals pursuing the dream of exercising their entrepreneurial muscles, will face the same question, “Which business structure should I adopt?”

Each option presents its own set of pros and cons. To complicate matters a bit, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created several key changes that may benefit certain business structures. For example, the new law added a 20 percent deduction of qualified business income for certain pass-through entities. However, service industries (e.g., health, law, professional services) are generally excluded, except where income is below $315,000 for joint filers and $157,500 for other filers. This provision is set to expire December 31, 2025.

This overview is not intended as tax or legal advice and may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding the most appropriate business structure for your organization.

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

This structure is the simplest. But it creates no separation from its owner. Income from the business is simply added to the individual’s personal tax return.

Advantages: Easy to set up and simple to maintain.

Disadvantages: Owners are personally liable for the business’s financial obligations, exposing their personal assets (house, savings, etc.). It does not offer the prestige or sense of permanence of a corporation or LLC.

C-Corporation:

A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, making it easier to raise money, issue stock, and transfer ownership. Its life is perpetual and will survive the owner’s death.

Advantages: There may be tax advantages, including more allowable business expenses. It protects owners from personal liability for the company’s financial obligations and may lend a measure of prestige and permanence.

Disadvantages: More expensive to set up, the paperwork and formality are greater than for a sole proprietorship or LLC. Income may be taxed twice, once at the corporate level and when distributed to owners as dividend income.

S-Corporation

After forming a corporation an owner may elect an “S-Corporation Status” by adopting a resolution to that effect and submitting Form 2553 to the IRS.

The S-corporation is taxed like a sole proprietorship, i.e., the company’s income will pass through to shareholders and be reported on their respective personal tax returns.

Advantages: S-corporations avoid the double taxation issue associated with C-corporations, while enjoying many of their tax advantages. Owners are shielded from personal liability for the company’s financial obligations. It provides the prestige of a corporation for small businesses.

Disadvantages: S-corporations do not have all the tax-deductible expenses of a C-corporation. The cost of set up, the paperwork, and formality are greater than for a sole proprietorship or LLC. S-corporations have certain restrictions, including a "100 or fewer" shareholders requirement. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens and the business cannot be owned by another business.

Limited Liability Company

An LLC is a hybrid between a corporation and a sole proprietorship, offering easy management, pass-through taxation, and the liability protection of a corporation. Similar to a corporation, it is a separate legal entity, but there is no stock.

Advantages: LLCs provide the protections of a corporation, but are taxed similar to a sole proprietorship.

Disadvantages: Typically more expensive to form than a sole proprietorship, LLCs require more paperwork and formalized behavior.

Remember, the choice of business structure is not an irreversible decision. You may amend your business structure to accommodate your changing needs and circumstances.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 (latest data available)

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.

YOUR CREDIT HAS AN IMPACT ON YOUR AUTO, HOME & LIFE INSURANCE RATES

DOES YOUR CREDIT SCORE AFFECT YOUR INSURANCE RATES?
By: Malone Financial Services

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One landmark study found that credit-based insurance scores are used by about 95 percent of all auto and home insurers in calculating the cost of insurance to individuals.

While the vast majority of insurance companies use credit-based insurance scores to help determine the price of insurance, it is banned in the states of Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California. Some states only allow it as a factor for property insurance like auto and homeowners insurance. Other states allow it to be used with any type of insurance.

Several Factor

Generally, an insurance company will use a credit-based insurance score as just one factor in its underwriting process. Other factors may be considered, depending upon the type of insurance. For example, with auto insurance, other factors could include your zip code, the age of the drivers, the make, model and age of the car, and the number of miles you drive annually.

The use of credit scores to determine insurance rates is rooted in research that has shown individuals with lower credit scores had higher car insurance losses and higher claims payouts.

You can ask your insurance company if a credit-based insurance score was used to underwrite and rate your policy, and in which risk category you were placed.

If you want to improve your credit-based insurance score, you should consider taking the same steps you would to improve your credit rating: make timely debt payments, clear up past disputes and keep credit card balances low.

  1. Predictive Analytics: Achieving Greater Decision Accuracy, Better Risk Segmentation, and Greater Profitability, Fair Isaac Corporation, 2012 (most recent statistics available).

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.


Jon Stewart rips Congress on behalf of first responders

Jon Stewart rips Congress on behalf of first responders

By Robert Foreman

Comedian Jon Stewart went to Washington, but he wasn’t there to make anyone laugh. On the contrary, the former Daily Show host was pissed off and he made sure that Congressional lawmakers knew it. Stewart, along with many 9/11 first responders, had come to Capitol Hill to fight for the funds that were allocated to care for first responders in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Now, one would think that looking out for the first responders, who are dealing with a multitude of health issues stemming from 9/11, would be a no-brainer. However, this is Washington, D.C. where nothing is ever simple.

Congress had allocated well over $7 billion dollars to address the various health issues that first responders have endured. However, the money was only set aside through 2020 and the mounting claims from first responders who have endured Ground Zero health-related issues has strained the fund. In fact, there was a point where the amount of the payouts was being slashed. It is for that reason why Stewart, and the first responders, found themselves before the House Judiciary Committee. To add insult to injury, there were numerous members of Congress who did not even attend the hearing. Stewart, rightfully, said it was “shameful” that more lawmakers were not in attendance.

The often raw and emotional testimony given by Stewart, and some of the first responders, received widespread attention and praise. Perhaps, ‘shamed’ by the overwhelming media and public reaction the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill the following day that would permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. However, the battle is not over yet. The bill must still survive a full House vote and then be passed by the Senate. Any politician, regardless of political party, who votes against the bill can never stand before the American people with any credibility and claim to value the lives of first responders.

Thousands of American citizens lost their lives on 9/11 and those images that we saw play out on our televisions screens are forever burned into the nation’s psyche. I vividly remember worrying about my family and friends who were working in Lower Manhattan that day. Thankfully, none of them were hurt. However, there were many people who lost friends and loved ones, including first responders. Imagine what those first responders saw on that fateful day. As thousands of people were fleeing to safety, the police officers, firefighters and EMTs were racing toward the terror. They bravely did their jobs while some of their fellow first responders lost their lives. Yet they didn’t have the time to mourn their fallen brethren. They did their jobs of saving as many civilians as they could. Little did the surviving first responders realize that as they were working in the rubble that was once the Twin Towers that the toxic chemicals and fumes released that day would ultimately claim some of their lives years later.

One would think that a grateful nation would want to do everything in its power to help those 9/11 first responders. Stewart deserves to be applauded for his ongoing support of the first responders. However, neither he, nor the first responders, should have had to essentially shame Congress into doing the right thing. Congress should have done the right thing on their own and made taking care of the first responders a top priority. As a society, we often throw the term ‘hero’ around too freely. But those first responders who ran toward the chaos on 9/11 deserve that title. It’s as simple as that.

So, Congress, should treat them like the heroes that they are instead of forcing them to fight for the very funds that were promised to them. Many of these first responders survived the initial 9/11 attack in 2001, but nearly 20 years later they are fighting, and in some cases losing, the war against the health issues that were unleashed that day. We should allow these first responders to continue to fight their health battles with grace and dignity. Sparing them from having to trek to Capitol Hill to demand answers about how they are going to pay for their treatments is the very least that we as a country can do after the sacrifices they made on 9/11, and continue to make, on our behalf.

STRESSING ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN'S COLLEGE? HERE ARE SIMPLE TIPS TO CONSIDER

COUNTDOWN TO COLLEGE
By: Malone Financial Services

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Tip: Parlez-vous Francais? Many universities like to see multiple years of foreign language on a transcript. 

Source: Collegeapps.about.com, March 11, 2016

Most parents want to give their children the best opportunity for success, and getting into the right college may help open doors. According to the Census Bureau, 33% of American adults have a bachelor's degree, and those with a bachelor's degree earn 67% more on average than those with just a high school diploma.

Unfortunately, being accepted to the college of their choice may not be as easy as it once was. These days, preparing for college means setting goals, staying focused, and tackling a few key milestones along the way.

Before High School

The road to college begins even before high school. Start by helping your elementary and middle school children develop a love for learning. Encourage good study habits and get them dreaming about college. A trip to a nearby university or your alma mater may help plant the seed in their minds. When your child reaches middle school, take the time to find out which prerequisite courses may set the right track for math and science in high school.

The earlier you consider how you expect to pay for college costs the better. The average college graduate today owes $37,172 in debt, while the average salary for a recent graduate is $49,785.

Freshman Year

Before the school year begins, consider meeting with your child’s guidance counselor. Discuss college goals and make sure your child is enrolled in classes that are structured to help him or her pursue those goals. Also, encourage your child to choose challenging classes. Many universities look for students who push themselves when it comes to learning. At the same time, keep a close eye on grades. Every year on the transcript counts. If your child is struggling in a subject, don’t wait to get a tutor. One-on-one instruction can be a huge benefit when mastering difficult material.

In addition to academic performance, many colleges want prospective students to be well rounded, so encourage your child to engage in extracurricular activities, such as sports, music, art, community service, and social clubs.

Sophomore

YearDuring their sophomore year, some students may have the opportunity to take a practice SAT. The practice test is a good way to give your child an idea of what the test entails and which areas need improvement. If your child is enrolled in advanced placement (AP) courses, encourage good performance on AP exams. A solid grade shows universities your child can succeed at a higher level of learning.

Sophomore year is also a good time to get some depth in extracurricular activities. Help your child identify passions and stick to them. Encourage your child to read as much as possible. Whether they read Crime and Punishment or Sports Illustrated, they will expand their vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Summer may be a good time for sophomores to get a job, do an internship, or travel to help fill their quiver of experiences.

Junior Year

Near the beginning of junior year, your child can take the Preliminary SAT, (PSAT), also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Even if he or she won’t need to take the SAT for college, taking the PSAT could open doors for scholarship money. Junior year may be the most challenging in terms of course load. It is also a critical year for showing good grades in difficult classes.

Top colleges look for applicants who are future leaders. Encourage your child to take a leadership role in an extracurricular activity. This doesn’t mean he or she has to be drum major or captain of the football team. Leading may involve helping an organization with fundraising, marketing, or community outreach.

In the spring of junior year, your child will want to take the SAT or ACT. An early test date may allow time for taking the test again in senior year, if necessary. No matter how many times your child takes the test, colleges will only look at the best score.

Senior Year

For many students, senior year is the most exciting time of high school. They will finally begin to reap the benefits of all their efforts during the previous years. Once your child has decided which schools to apply for, make sure you keep on top of deadlines. Applying early can increase your student’s chance of acceptance.

Fast Fact: Pre-Approved. The U.S. Department of Education says that all students, regardless of financial status, are eligible for up to $31,000 in federal Stafford Loans over four years. 
Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

Now is also the time to apply for scholarships. Your child’s guidance counselor can help you identify scholarships within reach. Also, find out about financial aid and be thorough. According to research by NerdWallet.com, nearly $3 billion in free federal grant money goes unclaimed each year simply because students fail to fill out the free application.

Finally, talk to your child about living away from home. Help make sure he or she knows how to manage money wisely and pay bills on time. You may also want to talk about social pressures some college freshmen face for the first time when they move away from home.

For many people, college sets the stage for life. Making sure your children have options when it comes to choosing a university can help shape their future. Work with them today to make goals and develop habits that will help ensure their success.

South Paws Wanted

Your child doesn’t have to be the high school valedictorian to qualify for a scholarship. In fact, thousands of dollars are awarded each year for the most unusual things. Consider these:

  1. Right-handers need not apply. Frederick and Mary F. Beckley offer $1,000 to lucky left-handed students (who also want to attend Juniata College in Huntington, PA).

  2. Stick It. Duck Brand Duct Tape offers $3,000 to students who go to their high school prom dressed entirely in duct tape

  3. How Tall Is Tall? Tall Clubs International offers $1,000 each year to a tall person attending college. Get out the measuring tape. A woman must be at least 5’10” and a man must be 6’2” or taller to qualify.

  4. Candy Connoisseurs Unite.The American Association of Candy Technologists offers $5,000 to students who have exhibited an interest in confectionery technology.

  5. From “Mr. Top Ten” Himself.David Letterman offers $10,000 to students of Ball State University (his alma mater) who produce an original video, audio, written, graphic, or film presentation.

    Source: Financialaidfinder.com, 2017

    Census Bureau, March 2016; Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 20, 2017

  1. U.S. News and World Report, May 9, 2016; Time.com, May 12, 2017

  2. NerdWallet, January 27, 2016

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.

NYPD Officer Matos helping Bronx youth to succeed

NYPD Officer Matos helping Bronx youth to succeed
By Robert Foreman

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NEW YORK – As a parent, NYPD Officer Victor Matos understands how important it is to groom the future leaders of our nation in a safe environment. However, where other people will only talk about doing something to put young people first, Matos is actually following through with real action. He helped to co-found ‘Matters of Sports Athletic League’ (MOS), which is a sports league in the Bronx that was created with the objective of mentoring young people in a positive manner.

“Victor has worked as a liaison with the Police Athletic League, and other sports organizations, and I volunteer with community work and helping out with the schools and children. I wanted to do something more after I went to an NYPD event and one of the parents told me that they would not have brought their child there if it wasn’t a cop event. This was because they felt it was too dangerous to let their child play in the park.”

Matters of Sports Athletic League’  was created with two primary objectives; fill the void left by the absence of certain sports in the community and help to cement a positive relationship between the community, and members of law enforcement and other members of service. The founders of MOS understand that the strength of any community relies on the unity of the people who occupy that community and that young people are an essential part of the equation.

The league includes registrations for 180 boys and girls, ages 14-19, and is a 10-week program that offers a variety of sports during each period. Additionally, motivational speakers, scholarships, academic assistance and other resources are made readily available to the young people who participate. Each game offers an empowering message for young people to take with them long after the activities are over. In fact, ‘MOS’ lives by the motto of “One family, One team.” Essentially, each player has an understanding that despite the fact that they play on different teams that they are all connected as one.

MOS measures the success of the program by both attendance and the eagerness of the players to come back. The league wants to inspire young people to believe in themselves, and their goals, and to show them that they are always ‘good enough’ through positive reinforcement. The athletic league firmly believes that they have a responsibility to help young people grow both physically and emotionally in a healthy and safe manner. Since sports is universal, MOS, and its members, believe that such activities can be used to help foster stronger community relationships.

One of the driving forces behind the success of MOS is the strength of its volunteers, which includes off-duty NYPD officers, FDNY firefighters, EMS workers, teachers, students, and various other professionals. MOS not only allows them to provide a safe space for young people, but gives these volunteers the opportunity to better understand each other’s professions. MOS is not just an acronym for “Matters of Sports”, but it also gives meaning to “Members of Service” as the volunteers all come from professions that serve and contribute to their communities. This season MOS partnered with John Sanchez and Community Board 6 to continue the mission of developing and empowering young people in a safe environment.

“It’s amazing when you see kids who didn’t want to go to school, or play sports, now wanting to go to college and play sports. The parents love knowing that their kids have a safe place to be for 8 hours on a Saturday because they’re with off-duty NYPD officers, EMS workers, FDNY firefighters and so on. They couldn’t be in a safer place,” said Santana. “We love having this free program in the Bronx because a lot of parents can’t afford to pay to have their kids join other programs. Not only do we want to keep these kids safe, but we want them to have access to sports like tennis and squash that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.”

Anyone wishing to find out further information about ‘Matters of Sports Athletic League’ (MOS) can contact Rosaly Santana at (917) 569-7034. You can visit their website at: https://www.mattersofsports.org/ or follow them on Instagram at Matters Of Sports (@matters_of_sports) • Instagram photos and videos

 

 

Officer Machado keeps his mind and body in top shape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DALLAS POLICE CHIEF SPARKS CONTROVERSY WITH HER COMMENTS

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Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall has sparked outrage throughout the law enforcement community following comments she made during a news conference regarding violent crime. While Chief Hall was speaking about recent homicide cases she stated, “There are individuals in this city who have returned from prison who cannot find a job, who are not educated. In those instances those individuals are forced to commit violent acts.”

Chief Hall’s comments were met with swift condemnation from multiple individuals, including Mike Mata, the head of the Dallas Police Association. In a statement to a local television affiliate, Mata expressed his frustration with Chief Hall’s comments and made it clear that he doesn’t ‘believe anyone is forced to violently attack another person’.

As the outrage grew, Chief Hall sought to clarify her comments via the following statement: “Today’s point was simple – there is no excuse for crime. Crime in general, however, is on the rise in Dallas for many reasons. One of them being a lack of resources and opportunity. In no way am I using that as an excuse to commit a crime. However, we have to work together as a community to remain vigilant and pro-active. I’ve asked our pastoral community, as a beginning, to develop ways to teach people how to resolve disputes without violence and find opportunities without resorting to crime.”

I suppose Chief Hall should be given some credit for attempting to clarify her comments. However, the reality of the situation is that the damage has already been done no matter how much she tries to backtrack or clarify. If she were just a regular citizen claiming that some ex-convicts were forced to commit violent crimes due to lack of education, and being unable to find work, it could be brushed aside as just crazy talk. However, when the top law enforcement officer in the city makes that statement it has serious consequences.

How do the officers under her command feel about their chief essentially making excuses for the very criminals they have to arrest? Furthermore, how do the victims of those violent crimes feel when the top cop is saying that the person who assaulted them was forced to do it because they could not find a job or weren’t educated? In fact, some of those ex-convicts who aren’t committing violent crimes should likely be upset too. In fact, the only people who are probably happy about Chief Hall’s comments are the repeat violent offenders and their defense attorneys. It’s not hard to imagine that Chief Hall’s comments will be used by a violent offender, or their attorney, as a justification for why the courts should show leniency.

What makes Chief Hall’s comments even more offensive is that they are coming from someone who is a person of color and a woman. It just gives ammunition to those who believe that a person of color, or a woman, cannot be trusted to handle such a high-ranking position. On one hand, it comes off as if she is trying to excuse the behavior of those violent offenders of color simply because she is a person of color. While she never specified race many were able to pick up on which offenders she was speaking about. Additionally, her comments make it appear as if she is being ‘too emotional’ in her decision-making just because she is a woman. So, while Chief Hall may have believed that she was speaking for herself she forgot that her comments would reflect poorly on other people of color, other women and other members of law enforcement.

When I first read Chief Hall’s comments I was completely dumbfounded. What would possess a law enforcement officer, especially the chief, to try and justify the acts of violent offenders? Especially when one considers that there are plenty of former convicts who do not resort to violent acts just because they are unable to find a job or lack education. Hell, there are plenty of people who are uneducated, and unemployed who don’t resort to crime, violent or otherwise. So, Chief Hall’s comments become even more offensive and ridiculous when viewed in the larger context.

One has to wonder how the other law enforcement officers under Chief Hall’s command can continue to respect her after her comments. Obviously, they can’t publicly condemn her. But it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that she has lost the respect and trust of not only some of the officers under her command, but the larger Dallas community. How can the victims of violent crime feel confident that the person who harmed them will be properly punished if the chief is on record essentially saying that the perpetrators were forced to commit violent acts?

Now, the obvious solution would be that Chief Hall should be forced to step down in an effort to restore confidence to both law enforcement officers and the larger community. However, that seems to be an unlikely outcome. Yet if Chief Hall remains in her position she should have the decency to reach out to her fellow officers, as well as the larger Dallas community, to realize the full impact of her comments. Simply, backtracking, or attempting to clarify the comments, is just not good enough.  If nothing else, she should at least remember the position she holds before she attempts to excuse the acts of violent criminals. That should be the bare minimum that one should expect from a law enforcement officer, especially the chief.

MANAGING STRESS AND DEBT

DEBT STRESS
By: Malone Financial Services

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The average American household with debt owes $132,158. And credit card debt accounts for $15,675 of that.¹

Little wonder that money worries are a major cause of stress.

The Link Between Stress and Health

Humans have an innate response called “flight or fight.” It is nature’s way of launching our bodies into action; consider the physical responses we feel during moments of stress—faster heartbeat, accelerated breathing, tightening of muscles, and increase in sweating.

These are response mechanisms that prepared our ancestors to run from, or confront, a danger on the savanna. But they can be less useful in more modern times.

In the short term, stress can manifest itself in physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, an upset stomach, and general irritability.

These brief episodes of stress usually do not cause lasting harm to personal health.

However, debt—and the stress it causes—is typically a persistent problem. If your stress system stays activated over longer periods of time, it can lead to serious health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.²

Managing Stress and Debt

If you are experiencing debt-related stress, you should consider attacking the root of the problem. Generally, it takes time to work down debt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage the stress during the interim period.³

Developing a strategy to eliminate your debt is the first step to lowering stress, since the sense of control that a strategy gives you might furnish you with hope and optimism.

It’s also important that you keep your debt worries in perspective. Remind yourself that debt may not permanently ruin your life. Writing in a journal can be helpful as an outlet to the worried thoughts that can cycle endlessly through your mind. Seek social support—knowing that family and friends are in your corner can be a great source of strength.

Finally, find time for laughter and extending small kindnesses—each unleashes wonderfully positive chemical reactions that are good for the soul and the body.

  1. NerdWallet, 2016

  2. WebMD, 2016

  3. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific debt-reduction strategy or approach.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.

Why 'Black Lives' & 'Blue Lives' should matter to all of us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion:  Murphy Administration’s Directive Endangers Women & Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Jersey does follow specific laws that grant legal immunity in order to promote and preserve the health, safety, and well-being of our residents, including the following:
New Jersey’s Good Samaritan statute ensures that doctors, paramedics, and bystanders are able to, in good faith, provide assistance at the scene of an accident without fear of being subject to legal action.

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

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

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

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

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

This is nonsense. The finger is pointed squarely at this reckless Directive; with it, Attorney General Grewal himself has created disingenuous and dangerous conditions.
He continues: “If a judge says they are free to go, who are we to say otherwise, unless we have a federal warrant?”

As reported in this piece by the New Jersey Herald:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remember our heroes not just in May…. But everyday

Remember our heroes not just in May…. But everyday
By The Founder of BLUE LIVES MATTER-NY- Joseph Imperatrice

Today I watched a video online of President Trump inviting the family of Cpl. Ronil Singh onto the stage with him in Washington, D.C. for Police Week. I couldn't help myself as the tears rolled down my cheeks as Reggie, Ronil’s brother, and Anamika, Ronil’s wife while holding 10 month old Arrna, spoke. “ The Singh Family supports this man, anything he does for law enforcement…. We support him” said Reggie.

On December 26th, 2018, Cpl. Ronil Singh of the Newman, CA Police Department left for work. He had just spent Christmas with his wife, K-9 partner Sam, and then 5 month old son. He went to work just like any other night and at approximately 1 a.m. on December 26th, pulled over a vehicle he observed swerving, possibly under the influence. At some point during the car stop, Ronil was shot and ultimately died from his injuries. This incident hit me personally as I have a son who at the time was 8 months old. Unlike large police departments, Newman had only 13 officers assigned to their county. Funding and benefits are not as generous as other larger departments.

I immediately called my Co-Founders Chris and Carlos and said we have to set up a fundraiser here in N.Y.C. and we did. BLUE LIVES MATTER-NYC flew out Reggie and Newman P.D. Chief Randy Richardson and put them up in a hotel. We hosted a fundraiser on February 6th where even HollyWood Actor Chazz Palminteri made an appearance to hand deliver a check to Reggie. In April the founders along with NYPD widow Lisa Tuozzolo flew to C.A. and presented Mika with a check for $15,000.00. We also presented the family with a custom action figure of Ronil’s liking along with K-9 Sam so that his son always has his hero close to him.

Walking around Washington, D.C. during police week you see people with blue and yellow badges around their neck. This symbolizes an officer that was killed in the line of duty that they were related to. They walk around quietly not looking for attention. But I make it a point to always go up, introduce myself and say thank you. Each person always lights up, and an immense sense of pride overcomes them. See, National Law Enforcement Week is so special and much needed. But we shouldn’t just make it a point to honor our heroes one month out of the year. We should make it a point to honor and remember them daily. It seems like every day another officer, from another agency, is killed while doing the job they love. Being killed in the line of duty doesn't exclude a certain background or religion you practice. It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, young or old. The bad guys are acting with a depraved indifference for human life and they aren’t excluding anyone. 

We owe it to these heroes, both recent and years past, and we also owe it to family members like Reggie, Mika, and Arna, that show so much resiliency and class in front of the world, being the voice for all those alike that lost their loved one unexpectedly. 

Stay Safe & God Bless

The ‘Abortion Wars’ continue to heat up in America

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The ‘Abortion Wars’ continue to heat up in America
By Robert Foreman
America’s ongoing debate over the issue of abortion is heating up in 2019 as some states have passed restrictive abortion laws known as ‘heartbeat bills.’ These states include Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana and Georgia. The legislation, also known as a ‘fetal heartbeat bill’, makes an abortion illegal once a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six or seven weeks into a pregnancy.

However, Alabama has gotten the most attention in recent weeks for their passage of what is being called the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the United States. Under the Alabama law, which does not go into effect until later in the year, any doctor that performs an abortion could be subject to a 99-year prison sentence. Alabama’s new law also does not make any exceptions for young girls and women who become pregnant due to incest or rape.

Not surprisingly, these anti-abortion laws are being met with numerous legal challenges by pro-choice advocates who believe these laws are unconstitutional. Of course, people on both sides of the abortion debate believe that these new anti-abortion laws are being aimed at overturning the landmark Supreme Court case of ‘Roe v. Wade’.

The now-famous ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision of 1973 stemmed from a woman ‘Jane Roe’, real name Norma McCorvey, who took action against Texas District Attorney Henry Wade. This was due to certain legal statues in Texas that essentially made abortion a crime in most cases. The Supreme Court ruled that those statutes that criminalized abortion were a violation of a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. Of course, ‘Roe v. Wade’ has only served to embolden both sides of the abortion debate instead of settling the issue.

Many pro-life advocates oppose abortion for religious reasons. They staunchly believe that life begins at conception and that no one should step in to interfere with God’s plan for life. In some cases, this belief extends to the strict opposition of any form of contraceptives. It seems strange that someone would be opposed to the use of contraceptives that could prevent an unplanned pregnancy. One would think that even the staunchest pro-life advocate would be in favor of someone using birth control to avoid getting pregnant. After all, if the unwanted pregnancies are avoided in the first place then that lessens the need for an abortion.

On the other hand, pro-choice advocates believe that a woman has the right to decide whether or not to have a child since it is her body and that is a personal choice. While pro-life supporters believe that life begins at the moment of conception, many on the pro-choice side tend to disagree. Some believe that if the pregnancy is terminated early in the process that you are only ‘killing some cells and not a human life.’ However, our bodies are made up of living cells and if those cells die then we die. So, when a pregnancy is aborted early in the process then something is being killed even if it is just cells and not a human being yet.

Now, as a man, I’ll never have to go through the process of carrying a child. While I consider myself to be pro-choice, I do not believe that abortion should be used as a form of birth control. When I was a teenager, I knew a girl who had multiple abortions that were all paid for by her mother. I knew another girl who gave herself a ‘home abortion’ with a wire coat hanger. Once I was approached by a friend who wanted me to loan him some money to pay for his girlfriend’s abortion. My response was ‘I didn’t make the kid and I’m not paying to get rid of it.’ 

However, I do find it odd that with all of the talk about abortion that there never seems to be any heated debate over whether a man should have a vasectomy. If a man gets himself ‘fixed’, so to speak, then he’s making the choice to not father any children. So, if men are allowed to make decisions about their own reproductive organs then it seems only fair that women should be given that same courtesy.

Regardless of where someone stands on the issue of abortion it should be agreed that a woman shouldn’t be forced to have to carry a child that was conceived through incest or rape. While the child that was conceived through those acts isn’t to blame should the mother really be forced to have to prolong the mental and emotional trauma if she doesn’t want to? 

With America’s ‘abortion wars’ now heating up again on both the political and legal fronts, both sides will dig their heels in and stand their ground. Even if the opponents of abortion get their wish and legal abortions are abolished that doesn’t mean that abortions will end. It will only force women to take the dangerous route of getting ‘back alley abortions’ from unqualified doctors or finding ways to terminate the pregnancy on their own. This will only lead to more women and girls suffering serious injury and possible death.

The fight over abortion has raged for decades in America and will likely continue to be a contentious issue for decades to come. Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates make valid points that cannot be ignored. However, America is supposed to be the land of the free. That freedom means that a person should be allowed to make a personal choice regarding their own body regardless of whether anyone else agrees with it.

So, as the courts begin to weigh in on the abortion battle we should all ask ourselves one important question. Should our elected officials be focused on passing laws that benefit the public at large or simply passing laws that suit their own personal, moral and religious code of ethics? The answer to that question could have implications that will ripple through our nation for generations to come.

Newark officer fights to save his career after fatal shooting

By  Blue Magazine Staff Writer

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NEWARK, N.J. –Nearly four months ago Officer Jovanny Crespo’s life changed forever when he was suspended and ultimately indicted after a fatal police-involved shooting during a police chase through the streets of Newark. Crespo, 26, was suspended and ultimately indicted for aggravated assault, aggravated manslaughter, official misconduct and two counts of possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes. After spending a week in jail, he was released on the condition that he report to a court officer on a weekly basis and surrender any firearms he may own.

On January 28th, 2019, the chase began after Gregory C. Griffin, 46, of Newark, who had a history of drug offenses, opted to flee a traffic stop after a handgun was spotted in the vehicle by another officer. Crespo, along with Officer Hector Ortiz, began pursuing the vehicle. Crespo has stated that Dixon pointed the weapon in the vehicle at him. Dixon was subsequently charged with possession of an illegal firearm. The gun contained hollow point bullets.

Crespo was only doing his job and he should never have been indicted. Some of his law enforcement brethren have failed their fellow brother in blue by not offering him their unwavering support.  Crespo is being made an example of due to some of the other high-profile incidents involving officers who have been guilty of misconduct on the job. Crespo has been an exemplary officer and is being unfairly cast as a villain for political purposes.

“It’s not like he woke up that morning and decided that he was going to kill somebody,” said one of Crespo’s supporters. “People shouldn’t try to judge what he did unless they were in the same situation that he was in. Everyone should wait until he has his day in court and wait for all of the facts to come out before they judge him.”

Due to Crespo being on unpaid suspension, his supporters are rallying to help the married father of four. A fundraiser will be held for him on June 5th, 2019 from 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. at the Harmony Banquet Ballroom located at 620 Orange Street in Newark. Tickets are $25.00. Anyone wishing to make a donation to help with Crespo’s mounting legal fees can go to: GoFundMe.com/crespofamily.

Moving Forward - Legally Achieving the American Dream: Now Campaigning for Mayor

Legally Achieving the American Dream: Now Campaigning for Mayor
By Valerie Velazquez-Stetz (Ret.) J.C.P.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Valerie A. Stetz (Velazquez) retired on accidental disability from the Jersey City Police Dept. She was injured in a radio car accident responding to a robbery in progress call. Valerie is a member of the NJ Police Honor Legion. She is the radio host for the popular Internet show “Blue World Uncensored” on DDV RADIO.