Women in Blue

Pregnancy on the Job
By Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (Ret.)

As law enforcement agencies increase their numbers of female officers, they are bound to face the issue of pregnant officers.

Being a female in law enforcement has its unique challenges, one of them being pregnancy. Undoubtedly, being pregnant is a blessed event for the officer, but her good news could be her agency’s scheduling nightmare, especially for agencies with less than twenty officers.

All law enforcement agencies and departments should have a clear and concise pregnancy policy in place that addresses the employment rights and needs of pregnant officers, especially where to assign a pregnant officer while she is still able to work in some capacity.

The most important step a law enforcement agency can take in developing a comprehensive policy regarding pregnancy issues is to cover the following areas:

Eligibility/Duration of Pregnancy Leave
The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does not cover the full range of issues that women in law enforcement face when they become pregnant, but does provide agencies with a starting point for developing pregnancy leave policies. The FMLA provides minimum guarantees. However, it does not take away other benefits provided through employer policy or collective bargaining agreements.

Light Duty
One of the most critical components of a pregnancy policy is the inclusion of a light duty policy. Many pregnant officers will want the option of moving to a light duty assignment at some point in their pregnancy. Without this option, many pregnant officers may have to take an unpaid leave, creating financial and emotional hardships.

Range Qualification
Because of the exposure to noise, potential lead poisoning to the fetus or toxic-substance exposure during firearms qualification and weapon cleaning, many agencies have eliminated range qualification for pregnant officers until they return to work.

Uniforms
Providing pregnant officers with maternity uniforms makes them feel valued by their agency. The lack of a proper uniform for a pregnant officer’s comfort should not be a factor in her decision to take maternity leave.

Disability Insurance/Paid Leave Benefits
Employers should notify pregnant officers about what kinds of benefits are available and should have a designated person assist the officer in determining how much time she can take in a full-pay status as well as in a reduced pay status.

Workplace Issues
During an officer’s pregnancy, there are  several risks involved with firearms. There’s  always the obvious risk of being shot, causing injuries to the mother and fetus. Other risks involved with being around firearms must be considered as well.

Also, there are several social pressures that accompany being a pregnant officer in a male-dominated profession as law enforcement. Male officers may believe that a pregnant officer should not be working because she needs time to take care of herself during the pregnancy. On top of that, a supervisor or colleague may be unsympathetic and difficult to a female officer when she returns to the job from maternity leave.

Most supervisors and officers that work in patrol would agree that once an officer physically shows her pregnancy, she should take a light-duty assignment. The reason being her pregnancy could add stress to other patrol officers because they may worry about her health and whether she will be a good backup officer.

Also, there is a public perception that a visibly pregnant officer looks more vulnerable and should be ‘inside’ headquarters during her pregnancy.

However, if a pregnant officer is able to perform her regular duties and is not endangering herself or others, most agencies/departments cannot force the pregnant officer to take a temporary, lighter and safer reassignment that often means a move to administrative or traffic-based duties. The department can ask for documentation from the officer’s physician to make a determination about her fitness for a regular or light-duty assignment.

We know it’s inevitable the time will come when a pregnant officer will have difficulty performing tasks late into her pregnancy. Until that happens, she should be permitted to work during her pregnancy.
Pregnancy Discrimination

A law enforcement agency may not discriminate against its employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions that are unique to females.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law prohibits discrimination relating to pregnancy. It states that “discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions is defined as a type of sex discrimination and is prohibited.”

Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination often goes unreported even in agencies that have policy to prevent it. Employers should provide expectant mothers (officers) with adequate employment benefits so they can retain their professional status, just as expectant fathers do.

It is important for law enforcement agencies to adopt a favorable policy relating to pregnancy that supports parenthood without compromising their day-to-day police operations or violating anti-discrimination law.

Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (Ret.) is a domestic violence police specialist, domestic violence subject matter expert and consultant. She is the founder and President of Violence Intervention & Prevention Specialists, LLC. She is the host of Tough Justice Internet Talk Radio Show (www.toughjusticeddv.com) and The Jersey Beat Blog Talk Radio Show (www.thejerseybeat.blogspot.com). Her award-winning feature documentary-memoir The Ultimate Betrayal: A Survivor’s Journey is available for download or purchase at Amazon.com – Prime Instant Video. Contact Donna at salsacop446@hotmail.com or www.blueforcefilms.com.

Cover Story

The Killing of Our Nation’s Officers is Unacceptable: Blue Lives Matter
matters18n-1-webBy George Beck

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” said a resident to Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton as he lay mortally wounded in the street. “I’m trying to get to your radio to call for help.”

After being startled by a barrage of gunfire, a resident went outside his home on the evening of August 1, 2015 to see what had occurred. As other neighbors too came out, all the horrors of the world unfolded before their eyes. There on the pavement they found Officer Bolton, 33, an Iraq War Marine Corps veteran, who nearly five years ago swore an oath to protect and serve the community, laying fatally wounded at their feet. Moments before, Officer Bolton had been investigating an illegally parked car. When he approached the vehicle, interrupting an apparent drug deal, one of the occupants opened fire on him. It all happened in 
seconds.

“Please… Please hurry up!” came the shaking voice through Officer Bolton’s portable radio.
Officers raced to the scene to try and save Officer Bolton’s life. But it was too late.
He succumbed to his wounds and in the wake of this violent murder; there was no public outrage, no rioting, no demands from so-called activists to end the killing of our heroic law enforcement officers. Nothing. The media coverage came and went in days.

While funeral services for Officer Bolton were underway, the media shifted focus, rather preferring to feature the repulsive display outside the Ferguson police station on the 1-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, once again inflaming a false narrative that somehow Brown was an innocent victim shot and killed by a racist white police officer, when all credible evidence indicates to the contrary. Images and videos of those excitedly assembling around a roasted pig wearing a police hat and with “Killer Cop Darren Wilson” written on its side appeared in a community that a year ago was literally turned to ash. One protester said he thought it would be “funny” to get a pig, roast him, dress him up symbolically as Officer Daren Wilson, and since they couldn’t get a conviction, cut him open and eat him.
Sheriff David Clarke immediately condemned the renewed protests on “The O’Reilly Factor,” telling how it was “nothing more than a return to the scene of the big lie, the hands up, don’t shoot, this whole Black Lives Matter movement. This false narrative that came out of Ferguson… I would like to think that this phony movement would have come back to Ferguson one year later to apologize to the people, the good law-abiding people of Ferguson, Missouri.”
Instead, these warped protesters gleefully posed with the roasted pig and paraded around with its head, in a barbaric and divisive display that brought hordes of national media attention, and once again the discussion about the murder of law enforcement officers was set aside.

Many in the law enforcement com-munity took to social media to ask: Do Blue lives matter? Have we reached a point where the killing of our nation’s officers is acceptable and no longer newsworthy?

Recently, tons of anti-law enforcement videos and images have flooded social media. We’ve watched some so-called American protester groups stomp on and burn the American flag – the same flag that thousands have fought and died defending, and for which allows all Americans to enjoy freedom. Thousands of images, such as “All My Heroes Kill Cops” and “Keep Calm Kill Cops,” have clogged up the social media pipelines by anarchists seeking to destroy the safety and stability of our great country. We have seen opportunists looking to make a quick buck on the Internet, selling T-shirts that read: “Shoot Cops.” As concerning as this reality is, much of it is glossed over and not challenged by many of our nation’s leaders and the majority of the mainstream media.

Officer Bolton’s death was not an isolated incident, but rather a result of an increasingly violent society that thrives on a distorted reality of truth. It ignores the truth that officers are being injured and killed, while the public is continually served a lie that they are the ones who are blood thirsty and lusting to kill innocent people.
Had the media and our nation’s leaders been paying attention, and not mesmerized by a frenzied group gutting and eating a roasted symbolic pig outside the Ferguson Police Department, they would have realized that Officer Bolton’s death came only ten days after another officer was killed in a similar way.

In the early morning hours of July 22, 2015 Hayward Police Sgt. Scott Lunger conducted a motor vehicle stop. Sgt. Lunger, 48, approached the vehicle when an occupant opened fire killing the 15-year police veteran and father of two daughters. It, too, all happened in seconds. The frantic voice of a fellow police officer followed, “Partner down, partner down… Sgt. Lunger is down.”

In the days following Sgt. Lunger’s death, the same pattern as in the aftermath of Officer Bolton’s was present. There was also no public outrage, no calls to stop the killing of our nation’s police officers. Again, nothing. Where is the leadership from our nation’s leaders? Why is no one paying attention?

Lt. Randy Sutton (Ret.) took to social media to vent his frustration, calling out President Obama. “Did you once, just once, attend one police funeral?” Sutton said. “Did you send a representative of the White House like you did to Michael Brown’s funeral? Did you come onto the news and decry the violence that took him as you did when thugs and criminals were killed? No you didn’t, Mr. President, and I’m sick of it. Just as hundreds of thousands of cops and citizens across this country are sick of it.”

Bravo to Lt. Sutton for standing up for law enforcement.

Sgt. Lunger’s death came only six days after another officer was violently killed.

On July 15, 2015, Texas Dept. of Corrections Officer Timothy Davison, 47, a father of two children, was escorting a prisoner from a dayroom to his cell when he was viciously attacked with an iron bar used to open slots in cell doors. Officers responded and endeavored to save Officer Davidson’s life, flying him to a hospital in Texarkana where he succumbed to his injuries. The inmate who murdered Officer Davidson was serving a life sentence for aggravated assault and had several prior convictions for assaulting corrections officers.

Where is the outrage? The minimal media coverage evaporated in days. This is unacceptable.

Many in the law enforcement community refuse to remain silent any longer. The truth is no officer wants to kill anybody. But sometimes they have to because the world is not absent of very bad people who don’t care who they kill or how they do it. This nation needs to come to terms with this reality. There are hundreds of videos on the Internet where officers are attacked and nearly killed by homicidal lunatics, yet these videos are marginalized as isolated incidents while the extremely rare incidents of egregious police misconduct are viewed millions of times and aggressively promoted as an epidemic.

Officers go to work every day hoping to do their jobs without having to use force, and that they and their partners will return home to their families. They know how fast an incident can turn from routine to tragic. Officer Bolton, Sgt. Lunger, and Officer Davidson were simply performing routine tasks when in a flash their lives were taken. So while the mainstream media and some in our national leadership continue to turn a blind eye, it’s time for our voice to be heard.

It’s time for the world to know that Blue lives also matter. Too many officers are bleeding on our streets and correctional facilities and it is unacceptable. Our media needs to get the nerve to stand up and refrain from pandering to so-called community activists and false movements whose hidden objective is to divide our great country. The temptation to indulge in the sensationalism by irresponsibly offering false narratives that place our nation’s law enforcement officers at great risk must be stopped immediately.

All the men and women in law enforcement who wear their badges proudly upon their chests know that all lives matter, including theirs.

“It is time to realize that those who choose to serve their communities and literally put their lives on the line every day do so because they believe in something greater than themselves,” Lt. Sutton said. “They believe in the justice and freedom that can only come when citizens are free of the fear of crime and violence and terrorism. They are willing to fight for that ideal and they are willing to die for it, just as Officer Sean Bolton, Sgt. Scott Lunger and Officer Timothy Davidson did. It’s time for the nation to stand up and stand with them.”

May Officer Bolton, Sgt. Lunger and Officer Davidson and all those who died in the line of duty rest in peace.
George Beck is a police detective, writer and a Drew University Ph.D. candidate. He’s earned several degrees including an associate’s, bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. He is the author of The Killer Among Us (Noir Nation Books) and several other books. His nonfiction and short stories have been featured in magazines and anthologies nationally and internationally.

Remembering 9/11

FOURTEEN YEARS OF STARFISH
By Damon DiMarco

I heard a story once about a man who went for a walk on the beach. A storm had struck the night before and the shoreline was littered with starfish which the waves had tossed up out of the surf and stranded on the sand.

Starfish dotted the beach for miles. There were hundreds of them, thousands, tens of thousands, as far as the eye can see. And therein lay the problem.

Starfish are beautiful creatures, but they’re delicate. Take them out of water and the sun will dry them out fast. They’ll die.

The man saw this and began to despair. He wanted to save all the starfish, but he saw right away that he couldn’t. There were too damn many. Even if he worked all day, he knew he’d barely scratch the surface.

I often feel like that man on the beach. I’m a writer. My job is stories — hearing them, telling them. Trying to keep them alive. It isn’t easy. Yes, our world is chock full of tales, but this only makes a writer’s work more difficult. Focus on Project A and Project B gets left in the dust. Celebrate one perspective and another perspective will atrophy, perhaps to be lost forever.

In other words, stories are starfish. Each is unique and each deserves to live.

When you write about 9/11, thoughts like these begin to stick in your mind.

A week after September 11th, I began interviewing people who’d been involved in or affected by the terrorist attacks. Since I live in New York City, my focus gravitated somewhat naturally toward events that took place at the World Trade Center rather than, say, at the Pentagon or in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Why did I start collecting interviews? Our country had just been dealt a great blow. I wanted to help, to contribute something to the greater good. But my skill set didn’t seem up to the task. I’d never trained as a welder, couldn’t cut I-beams. Couldn’t do rescue work. I just had a long list of questions and a micro-cassette recorder.

So armed, I began to approach total strangers, asking, “Would you mind if I talk to you? How did you experience September 11th? What do you want future generations to remember about what happened?”

Most people I approached were generous with their time and reminiscences. They told me their stories and referred me to other people they knew who had also done extraordinary things. Policemen, firemen, and paramedics. Volunteers of every stripe. People who had survived the Towers. The family and friends of those who did not.

Over the course of 18 months, my archive grew substantially. I heard the story of a window washer who saved his own life and the lives of five others by using his squeegee to saw his way out of an elevator in Tower One. And the woman working in Tower Two who was five months pregnant. Two men she barely knew refused to leave her side. They helped her rush down 55 flights of stairs and eventually reunite with her husband.

There was the story of a man whose wife went to work that morning and never came back. High school sweethearts who’d waited to tie the knot, their wedding had been held that June. They’d only been married for 94 days. And the story of the homicide detective from NYPD who got assigned to a murder case with nearly 3,000 victims.

Eventually, my collection was published as the book Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11. Reviews have been complimentary, which is flattering of course. But part of me always anguishes over the stories I didn’t have time to collect, those starfish that weren’t returned to the sea to live as perhaps God intended them to.

Why am I telling you this?

September 11th is here again. It’s fourteen years and counting this time, which sometimes feels like eternity though more often it feels like a couple of minutes.

Most people learn a few things over a decade and a half. I confess that I haven’t learned much although I have a lot more questions than I did way back in 2001.

Maybe the best thing I’ve learned is this: that story about the man on the beach has a punchline.

The man sees a small boy walk over a dune. The boy sees the starfish, the multitudes of them. Stooping, he picks up the closest one and tosses it back in the churning sea.

The man asks the boy, “Son, what are you doing?”

The boy continues to work. “I’m saving these starfish. What does it look like?”

“There’s way too many,” the man points out. “We can’t save them all so what does it matter?”

The boy just shrugs and picks up another. “It matters to this one,” he says, and tosses the starfish back in the water.

DamonDiMarcoDamon DiMarco’s most recent book, The Brown Agenda, with Richard Fuller, was just released (August 2015). If you care about the environment, or if you’d like to help save the lives of millions of children worldwide, visit www.brownagenda.com. Damon’s first book, Tower Stories: an Oral History of 9/11 features a foreword by Tom Kean, former Governor of New Jersey and Chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Right now, Damon is working to adapt this book for the stage. To find out more about the Tower Stories book and play, visit www.towerstories.org.

Preparation

Ambushes: The New Threat in Law Enforcement
By Rafael Rosa

Throughout history, human beings have developed ways to adapt to their environment. When life has seemed dim and uncertain, human ingenuity has always been able to elevate humanity to a higher purpose, thus providing comfort and assurance to the living. This was certainly the case during the Paleolithic Age, a challenging time when primitive men relied on their senses to subsist in an unpredictable and dangerous world. Yet through sheer grit, men were able to transcend from the unfamiliar and dark to the familiar and obvious.

Along with the groundbreaking discovery of fire, animal domestication, irrigation and the wheel, humans have also relied on ambush attacks for survival. From the fruitful gains of hunting and gathering to the ills of war, ambushes have been employed as a combative strategy to take down one’s enemy with precision, guile and deceit for centuries. The schematics of an ambush attack follow a simple premise: to afflict a mortal wound upon someone, or something, by surprise. At times, ambushes are essential to liquidate a nefarious threat or enemy, but on other occasions the practice is used purely for selfish reasons without any legitimate purpose. Perhaps with the exception of the military who has suffered countless loss by these ambuscades, law enforcement officers across America are becoming some of the most common victims to this fast-approaching and dangerous phenomenon.

Since the sudden death of NYPD Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu there have been many other officers who have been ambushed by these callous cowards. Recently, Detective Terence A. Green from the Fulton Police Department (Georgia) and Officer James Bennett Jr. from the New Orleans Housing Authority were reluctant victims to these surreptitious, swift and cruel attacks. In part, the unrestrained vitriolic consensus towards law enforcement is to blame for these impromptu attacks, but equally damning is the animus of the media, which often stokes the fire that causes the conflagration. Overall, statistics show that ambushes on law enforcement are on the rise and officers must take these real bloody numbers as signs of sadder days to come. Yet not all is grim, with proper training and awareness the survival rate of officers can increase significantly.

One obvious way to prepare for an ambush attack is to always be alert. Officers are not clairvoyant and cannot predict where an ambush will occur, but being alert and scanning the area being patrolled may help officers to notice certain behavioral patterns–which can heighten awareness and protect lives. Perhaps the greatest blunder among law enforcement officers is complacency. Complacency kills, and leaves family and friends grieving for years, some for a lifetime. Essentially, officers should always be mentally and physically active, and in the event of an ambush attack, the officers should move quickly and fight forcibly to minimize the threat. Surely, an expedient reaction can offset an ambush attack and increase an officer’s chances for survival. For more information on how to counter complacency, see the article in the January 2015 edition of NJ Blue titled: “Complacency in Law Enforcement: A Deadly Habit in Our Profession.”

One last word of wisdom. As officers we should always be vigilant whether on or off duty. We, like all people, can be victims of a crime. Take for instance, a recent attack of an off-duty female New York Police officer as an example. On her way to work, in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, an assailant ambushed her. She was brutally punched and her service weapon taken. Thankfully, she was not killed, and the suspect was later apprehended, but this scenario could have been more morose. The moral of this story is this: Always be watchful and ready to meet danger in any given situation. By applying this approach to our daily lives, officers will be more properly disposed to protect themselves and their loved ones. As always, stay alert, stay alive.

Rafael Rosa has been a police officer since 1999. He presently holds an associates and bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, two master’s degrees and is a doctoral candidate.

Corrections

The Importance of Sharing Intelligence
By Efren Almodovar

Law enforcement work in our present time is not an easy task, especially when it comes to sharing information. There are many incidents where information sharing has prevented acts of terrorism. The recent arrests of American citizens gearing up to join ISIS are a prime example. Sharing intelligence with other agencies and fellow officers can help prevent or stop incidents that will forever change our history. It can also help combat the growing gang problem.

Gangs are a massive problem in America, and not having all the tools is hurting law enforcement’s ability to effectively respond. Sharing pertinent intelligence has the ability to counter that deficit and make a huge impact.

From my personal experience working in a gang unit, I noticed many officers want to hold onto pertinent information with the mindset “It’s mine and I don’t want to share it with others.” Similarly, I was recently watching a television show about homicide investigation and the detectives from a large department were trying to find a way to communicate with a resident to gain information on a potential suspect. In this particular show it was interesting to learn that even within a large department, gaining intelligence is a big issue and how difficult it is to reach out to another department without getting the run around.

Being a corrections officer is a dangerous job but it has its perks. Officers find they enhance their communication skills since they are outnumbered and unarmed behind the wall, so their best skill is often the ability to effectively communicate. The county jails and prisons are full of information that can make a huge difference in police work. Most prisoners who are charged with a crime and are arrested do not really stop talking. The criminal mind in a correctional facility loves to speak freely about the crimes or snitch on others for personal gain. A good officer can listen inside the wall and develop important information that has a higher value to the detective on the outside working to solve the crime.

Gang members are talking 24/7 to each other and to those they are trying to recruit. With the use of social media, gangs now extend their recruitment reach outside of their communities. Gang members are quick to send messages that the police are out in force or if one of their homies was shot in a drive-by. All of this information is at our fingertips, yet often times it is not shared.

So let’s call attention to the elephant in the room. This whole issue of not wanting to share because of any selfish reason is crazy, and also it could affect officer’s safety within the department. If we are going to get better as a profession then we need to be more proactive when it comes to sharing good intelligence. Let’s all have the same common goal to share because information that is not shared is information that is not really doing anybody any good. We must understand there is a job to be done and if you are sharing worthy intelligence and making a difference, than who cares who gets the credit? Knowing you were instrumental in solving a case or preventing a horrible incident is the rewarding part of the job.

EfrainDet./Cpl. Efren Almodovar has been in law enforcement since 1996. He is a Gang Detective for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. He holds an Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree and is proud to serve as a police academy instructor.

Radical Threats

THE RADICAL ISLAMIC THREAT AGAINST THE WEST INCREASES
By Bernard Kerik

According to the federal authorities, there have been about 70 attempted Islamic extremist attacks on American soil since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with increasing attempts over the past few months.

The radical Islamic terror threats against Australia and Europe has also seen a substantial increase over the past several months including the capture of five teenagers who were arrested for planning terror attacks in Australia.

Most recently, in Tunisia, 39 people were killed when a 24-year-old opened fire on a beachfront with an automatic weapon. At least 30 of his victims were British.

In Kuwait, a Saudi suicide bomber carried out what the interior minister called, “one of the country’s worst militant attacks” at a Shiite Muslim mosque where he killed 27 people.

In France, an Islamic extremist decapitated his boss, and drove a truck into a US owned chemical warehouse, setting off an explosion and then hung his employers head on the factory gate.

ISIS, or The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two of these most recent attacks, but terror experts around the globe are confident and concerned that these types of attacks will continue with increased rates, with the help of social media and the Internet.

By all reports, the Tunisian attacker was radicalized over social media and the Internet.

On June 26, 2015, the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to local and state law enforcement authorities, warning of extreme concerns of possible terror attacks over the Fourth of July weekend. This warning is the direct result of three different attacks on three continents, by radical extremists that killed dozens of people.

In the aftermath of 9/11, our intelligence capabilities and the coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement is better than ever. However, our local and state police departments need to consistently train on how to address and respond to possible terror attacks in their communities. As it has been said over and over, it’s not if there will be another attack — it is when.

In addition to our proactive policing and terror response plans, social media and Internet sites that promote radicalization and inspire others to commit these lone wolf type attacks, must be monitored.

These radical groups are telling us what they believe, and what they intend to do. They are increasing their recruitment – creating more training camps then ever in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Asia. No one should be surprised, no one.

The fight against this evil must continue abroad as well as home. We have to ensure that our local state and federal law enforcement agencies have the resources, intelligence and training they need in the years to come to defeat this enemy.

This threat is here to stay for decades, and until the American people come to that realization and take this fight to the enemy, our chances of victory are slim.

There are no diplomatic solutions when you’re dealing with an enemy that wants to die. The reality is, that with this enemy, we need to kill them, or be killed – that is the bottom line.

 

Bernard Kerik was New York City’s police commissioner during the 9/11 attacks, who became an American hero as he led the NYPD through rescue and recovery efforts of the World Trade Center. His résumé as a public servant is long and storied, and includes honors from President Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, and the NYPD’s Medal for Valor for saving his partner in a gun battle. In 2004, Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush to head the US Department of Homeland Security

Cover Story – Sheriff Dave Clark Exclusive

Exclusive & Uncensored Sheriff David Clarke
By Daniel Del Valle, John Welsh, and George Beck

Four time incumbent Sheriff David Clarke holds no punches when it comes to expressing his thoughts about attacks on law enforcement. Known for his outspokenness and “keep it real” attitude, he has gained national attention for his comments on Al Sharpton, the Ferguson riots and his accusation against President Obama and other political leaders 
for fueling the tensions between police and the black community. Despite being vocal on controversial issues, Sheriff Clarke uses the platform of the media to get his message across, stand up for police and make a difference. In his “no sugar coating” interview with NJ Blue Now Magazine, Clarke talks about his national spotlight, the subculture of the black community and the future of law enforcement.

 

NJ Blue Now: Who is David Clarke?

David Clarke: What you see is what you get. I’m pretty straight forward. Most opinions about me are pretty black and white; they like me or they don’t. There is not a lot of in between with people. I am comfortable in my own skin. I’m not afraid to share my opinion, and if it’s been researched by me, I’ll provide the supporting documentation as to why I think I am right on a particular issue, but I approach most of the things I deal with from the standpoint that there are two schools of thought. I’m just one of those schools.

What do you like to do on your downtime?

I listen to a lot of talk radio. I read a lot. I’m an avid reader. I’m always commenting on some of the stuff that is said. It drives my wife nuts. My wife will attest to the fact that what you see in public is the way I always am.

What made you choose a career in law enforcement?

My dad was not in law enforcement. He was military. Every once in a while he would say to me do you ever think about going into law enforcement. Never really gave it any thought. Before I got into this law enforcement career, I was working for a beer distributor. I would drive a beer truck and make deliveries… Somewhere it was a defining moment when my dad brought it up again, and I thought I’d try this.

How has your life changed since all of this national media attention?

It’s extremely chaotic now. My time is really not mine own anymore. It’s tougher to manage. Being in the public light is a strange phenomenon. You belong to the public; you lose a lot of privacy. For my wife, I’m gone a lot—the last six or seven months. I’ve been the sheriff for 13 years now, going on my fourth term, but in the public life, even though this here elevated it to national, I was still a public figure in Milwaukee County. I was getting this public scrutiny to begin with and I’m used to it. The national level is a lot different. There are more people that come after you and want to talk to you. That dynamic is different than just focusing on the internal operations of the organization. It was Colin Powell who said to prepare the organization for the day you are not there—in this case now I’m gone a lot.

Does that hurt your department or has it made it better since now you are occupied with national attention?

Even as a public figure here I had an elevated status in Milwaukee County. Now it’s been raised a little bit higher, but I don’t think the people in the organization see that much of change. I was really detached as the sheriff here because I represent the public. Obviously, I am concerned about everybody in this organization, but I have to keep a clear line of distinction otherwise the public starts thinking they are not represented anymore.

Has there been overwhelming support in the organization?

I’m getting the love from cops all across the country. I think they have come around and see it as a positive.

Do you give the correctional officers the same attention as the street cops?

You’re damn right! I made it clear. I’m the one who brought in the corrections officers position. When I first came here we had all sworn sheriff deputies including those working in the jail. The reality was budgets were being cut and if they are starting to cut your budget you have to somehow do what you can to save that money. I started looking at the corrections officers’ position. The agreement I made was that I would backfill all retirements with corrections officers and start there. We didn’t lay anyone off…

Who do you admire in law enforcement?

Pretty simple to me. Bill Bratton. First of all I read his book early on. I first met him at a Governing Inc. conference in Austin, Texas, and I knew he was going to be a keynote speaker so I went. I wanted to meet this guy. I just went up there and start talking to him. I introduced myself; I was sheriff at the time, and he was with LAPD at the time. I was asking him a lot of questions, so I think he understood I was trying to learn from him… He gave me an autograph copy of his book Turn Around. He was just down to earth; this guy is the king.

How does Bratton fit right now with Mayor de Blasio?

I ran into Bratton in Washington, DC, when he started a consulting company. He seemed pretty happy. The pressure is off, he is making money and traveling. Then he gets back into the belly of the beast and I just asked myself why. He comes back under Mayor Bill de Blasio. Bill de Blasio has no use for police. Bill de Blasio is anti-police. Bill de Blasio ran on a campaign of ending stop, question and frisk and Bratton’s hands were tied. I went out to see him a couple of months ago and shadowed him a little bit. I didn’t want to say why did you come back or what you think about de Blasio. I didn’t want to put him in that position, but he is not having any fun. That’s my personal opinion, but I sense that he is not because de Blasio really tied his hands and Bratton knows what needs to be done. I don’t know why he got in— that’s his personal decision, but I think his legacy may end up being compromised.

Nationally, law enforcement is experiencing a lot of negative sentiments. In your opinion how did it get to this point and did you see this coming?

I only saw it coming in the post days of the Ferguson riots. This is a political movement. A lot of people have misdiagnosed this thing. This thing was seized upon by the occupying crowd as a rallying call to arms of the anarchist movement and they seized on this issue of race. If you look at the data, I think law enforcement officers use of deadly force may be 300 to 400 times a year; it varies but it’s consistent. They took a very local issue and tried to raise the national consciousness over this white cops shooting black males and it caught wind because the president of the United States and the attorney general of the United States gave it fuel—started talking that we need to have a national discussion. It’s a cycle now. You get your protesters and people calling for cops to be charged and fired. What’s different is the political class got in on it this time.

What would you say to the officers who may worry about scrutiny regarding their job performance?

Cops are not afraid to do their job. They are like if I stop this car and it turns into a deadly force situation I may be the next Darren Wilson. That’s not afraid to do the job; that’s a valid concern. Do I want to have my life and world turned upside down? Do I want to become a household name? Now my career is destroyed. I have a family and I’m sending my kids to college. I’m paying a mortgage and I may lose my career. That is a valid concern. We saw what life without police looks like in Baltimore. It ain’t very pretty. All these cops want to know is that somebody has their back, so when you get into these ugly situations you are justified in what you did. You want to know if that chief executive is going to fight for you.

What would you tell that chief or dept. head who is not supporting their men if you were face to face?

First of all they would have to resign. The reason is it is a part of your job to protect your people. With Darren Wilson, it was kind of known before all the facts were in he was probably in the right. The grand jury cleared him but he still lost his freaking job. Where is the fairness in that! What’s happening now in these cities is that the political class are making political decisions, and they are succumbing to the angry mobs out there. Certain demographics are not looking for justice; they are looking for revenge. We don’t have the backing of the political class. Someone has to have their backs. No one was doing it and I had the availability of a platform so I stood up—not to speak for every cop in America—but I speak for the profession.

How do you respond to the Sharptons of the black community who’ve claimed you’ve sold out?

I don’t pay attention to Sharpton and these race hustlers and race-demi gods. When I get a chance I will deliver some blows to them, metaphorically speaking. Sharpton is a loser. Sharpton is one of the most self-serving, self-indulged, self-interested human beings I have ever seen. I think he is despicable. First of all the guy is not even a reverend. He is a self-proclaimed reverend. I don’t know if you know anything about his reverend status. It’s fake; it’s phony. No man of the cloth would ever act like him. He is a disgrace to the divinity class. Race is an explosive issue in this country and he always likes to put a camera and microphone to his face to spew his vulgar rhetoric, his race-based rhetoric. He is a racist and he has turned it into a way to support himself, but he exploits other people’s misery like a leech. He latches on to these situations, and he uses these people who are grief-stricken at the time and he uses them to get anything he can out of the situation. He puts nothing back into it then he gets out of town. That’s the kind of person he is.

What advice would you give to another black leader who shares your beliefs but is concerned to speak up because of the potential pushback from members of their community?

Be not afraid; fear not. They got to get over that especially if they are in a position where they have a voice and a platform. I realize it’s hard. It’s not easy for me, but I don’t care. What are they going to do? If you are in position like me who embrace mainstream values like hard work, responsibility, reliability, and you are in the position where your voice can make a difference, shame on you if you don’t really exploit that for the overall good. You can’t think of yourself all the time. It is hard. There is no doubt about that. You have your friends to think about. You can be an outcast in your neighborhood but who cares.

Now that you have seen a lot of the national mainstream media, and you’ve been around a lot of the journalists has your impression changed a little bit of them?

No. Coming up as a lieutenant and detective, I was in charge of these crime scenes, and I had to give a media briefing. I always had an attitude anyway that you can’t trust them. When I say that I don’t mean with a broad stroke. I have some local ones here I trust, but overall you have to realize their role is different and if they have to, they are going to throw you overboard. I have found the more conservative news entities are a little more inviting. I don’t care if they don’t like me, but they have the platform that I need because I don’t have my own platform, so I have to use theirs. The liberal mainstream media isn’t as inviting because they don’t want my message. I’ll go anywhere in the media if they happen to invite me. If I want to get my message out to defend cops, I have to have a platform, so I thank them for that.

In the news there has been a lot of cop bashing. How would law enforcement let the world know that cops are hardworking, decent people who are being portrayed in a negative image?

That’s the thing about our profession. In the early days of this cop hating we didn’t have a voice to counter that message: we are racist, blood-thirsty. We didn’t have a counter narrative which is why I stepped up and tried to be that counter narrative. The liberal mainstream media really doesn’t want to hear the real side of us because they fan the flames of that Hands Up, Don’t Shoot cop bashing. They don’t have a problem painting us with a broad stroke. What I suggest to cops continuingly is screw all of them and do your job. Go out, serve the community, follow your training, policies and constitution and do what you know to be the right thing.

Do you think because you are a minority you are getting the national attention?

I have some leverage that other people don’t have. I realize I can say some things that others can’t. I can talk about sensitive issues that my counterparts who are not black can’t. I get that, but such is life. There is still ways of getting around these limitations, but don’t worry about the limitations. We all have strengths and if people aren’t stepping up because of whatever then shame on you.

You have criticized the president of the United States and the attorney general. Do you have any fear right now about your future?

No. I realized once I started taking on the attorney general and the president of the United States I was in the deep end of the pool. It is dangerous in the deep end of the pool. Again, I feel in my heart I am doing this for the right reason. I’m in a position to make a difference. I don’t want to leave this looking back saying, “I wish I would have…” when I had the chance to make a difference. All I want people to think about me when all this is said and done… I want people to know I was here.

You are the cops cop. Do you lose any sleep at night and are you concerned you may be a target?

It’s a possibility but I don’t think about it too much. I’m very cautious, but again, if you fear too much it’s debilitating. Maybe it wouldn’t allow me to be forthright with people and voice my opinion strongly on the American police officer; it might piss this person off. I got over that shit a long time ago. I used to be afraid of a lot of things in life. It came a point in time when I said to myself you are missing a lot of opportunities because you are afraid. I just learned to not let that stuff get in the way.

In law enforcement today what is something you feel could be improved?

We have to do a good job creating relationships with people. We have a tendency to keep the public at arm’s length. What I learned as an elected official is you have to get out and interact with people. You got to get out there, shake hands with people and introduce yourself. I tell people all the time, everyone you come in contact with and you have your uniform on, you have a chance to give an impression of the organization as a human being. Take as many opportunities as you can to let people see our human side.

Is there something wrong with some minority youth, particularly within some subcultures of the black community?

What we are dealing with today is a subculture—not the general black population—not by a long shot. It’s a subculture called the underclass. They live by different values than you and I live by. They live by different values than the average black person lives by. Kids out of wedlock are growing… They don’t raise their kids’ right. They are not engaged positively in their communities. They don’t stay consistently in the workforce. They are government dependent. So you have these generation of kids growing up as offspring of this underclass, growing up with no male role model to help them develop emotionally as well as physically. What I mean by that is installing values and virtues, making sure their kids are being educated and engaged in school. You have these young males growing up without fathers, at least 70 percent in single parent families. Fathers are responsible for the socialization of young boys and to teach them how to become young men. These kids are growing up with no values, and they are going to gravitate to something. That is why you need that male role model.

What would you say to single mothers who are raising their sons but not instilling values and virtues?

We have to have effective parenting. Another blown opportunity to raise young kids. We are all for the church but the church has been marginalized in our society. The church took care of a lot of these social skills appealing to the good nature of man. It’s a mess right now; it is a disaster. If I had the answer to that I would be giving lectures charging $100 thousand dollars a lecture. I think what we have to do is break it down into workable pieces and try to fix one thing at a time.

Do you believe our leadership in this country is turning a blind eye and not working on trying to solve this problem?

We have to get away from this notion that government can solve all these problems. Government is contributing through policies and funding things that are not working. We need more money for schools but the schools continue to not educate the kids. Well, what are you giving them more money for. We don’t have a lot of courage; we don’t have a lot of moral convictions for individuals in these positions. They are more worried about their own sustainment than they are of the people that they serve. A lot of these politicians are capitalizing on the dysfunction. These people aren’t about solving problems. They are about protecting their own existence—talking a big game but not backing it up.

We took a poll and the question keeps coming up if you will ever consider running for the president of the United States.

No. Never. (laughing) I know better. I’m flattered by that but that’s a thankless job.

Is there something else you would like to do beyond this position in the future?

Well, why do I have to look beyond? I take one day at a time. I live in the moment not for the moment.

The next time you run for office how is the support of your officers?

I try to leave the organization out of it because elections are tough for sheriff’s officers because it divides them—especially if you get someone in on the inside to run against the seating sheriff; it could really tear an organization apart. People take sides; it get ugly and then when it is over if the insider wins and knocks the incumbent out now you have incumbent’s support from part of the community and organization that is left with a bitter taste in their mouth and vice versa. I keep them for the most part away from me.

What’s your favorite baseball team?

Chicago Cubs.

Favorite movie?

True Grit.

What does your wife do that’s your pet peeve?

She is constantly changing the house around.

What is your strongest and weakest quality?

A belief in myself and I have a sharp tongue. I just say what I feel and don’t even worry about what people think about it. Sometimes you have to watch that.

Who do you think is going to be the next president?

It’s too early to tell.

What’s your favorite football team?

Dallas Cowboys.

Who’s your favorite president and why?

George Washington. Can you imagine being in that position trying to pull this nation together? We almost didn’t have a nation over the constitution. You couldn’t get the constitution ratified today. It was tough back then. You had to bring them through the war taking on the greatest military force in the world—at the time Great Britain—take them on and had to bring the nation together. I got another one, Abraham Lincoln, following the civil war. Can you imagine the country almost coming apart at the seams and having to bring it back together?

Do you have a favorite TV show?

South Park.

Do you have a favorite actor?

Denzel Washington.

What’s your favorite curse word?

“Fuck. Because it’s very versatile. You can say ‘that was fucking great’ or ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ It’s very versatile.

The Ethical Compass

The Ethical Compass
By Ronald E. Calissi, Esq.

If you want to be within the law anywhere in the world, try using the 3-step Ethics Check and the 5 P’s of Ethical Decision Making found in a little book published by William Morrow and Company, Inc. back in 1988 and titled The Power of Ethical Management written by Norman Vincent Peale and Ken Blanchard. This wonderful book can help anyone avoid trouble, lawsuits and will reduce stress significantly.

Here’s how it works: ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Is it legal?
  2. Is it fair and balanced?
  3. How does it make me feel?

Let’s start with number 1: Is it legal according to criminal law, civil law, rules and regulations, standard operating procedures, company policy (whether formal or informal and in writing or accepted). If the answer is yes and only yes, then you can proceed to question number 2. If the answer is no, then stop right there and seek advice or counsel to be sure you don’t get into hot water and to find out if there is a legal way of accomplishing the goal. You might also reframe the problem into an opportunity which might result in avoiding getting involved or confronting the situation (while on solid ground with all the unfiltered facts).

The second question regarding fairness and balance begets discriminatory, and unbiased even-handed treatment in all aspects of life. For example, when hiring it is extremely important to find the right fit for the organizational culture and the job. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exclude anyone from consideration if they don’t meet the criteria of background, education, experience, and congeniality.

For question number 3, how would it make you feel, consider your actions within the frame of your family or friends finding out about your decision, or if it was made public through the media and the scrutiny of adversaries. You might have second thoughts about engaging in the perceived opportunity that could become a disaster for you, your reputation, and your career, not to mention the toll it will take on the physical and emotional health of you and your family. Here is a technique that you might want to use–view yourself on the outside observing yourself and the actions you take. Do you practice empathy, sympathy, understanding, and acceptance, not just tolerance of other people’s values and opinions? The goal here is to not only protect yourself, but to also protect, not injure, or exploit, others.

Now if the answer was yes to all 3 Ethics Check questions, then further test your ethical decision making by using the 5 P’s.

1.Purpose – positive and constructive intention only and a very good reason to proceed.

  1. Pride – humble pride, so no egotism or narcissism allowed. Just do the right thing right.
  2. Patience – consider the long-term consequences of your decision as opposed to a quick fix and band aid approach. Aim for solid solutions that take time, energy, and precise planning and strategy. What might seem effective and efficient now may be quite different five years from now. Be sure your decision can stand the test of time.
  3. Persistence – never give up. Stay dedicated, determined, focused, and persevere through the ups and downs, disappointments, setbacks, sabotage (self and others), and derailments. It has been said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Just stick with it.
  4. Perspective – see the big picture, not just the narrow view and a one size fits all attitude. Respect others points of view without judgment or assumption. Be open-minded, flexible, and collaborative.

Here is a bonus sixth “P”: Price – think about the cost of unethical conduct, i.e. embarrassment, shame, guilt, suspension, dismissal, and, maybe worse, incarceration. Your name and reputation should be paramount so protect yourself and your occupation.

If you aren’t sure of the answers to some of these vital questions, check with senior administration and or, if need be, a lawyer. Take the high road by transcending the easy and expedient and pursue a well thought out and reasoned decision. This will speak to your character, self-confidence, and courage for handling even the most difficult decisions you’ll surely have to make during your lifetime.

Hope this is of help to you, your colleagues, and your family.

Ronald E. Calissi, Esq. JD, MBA, CPM, CFP, CPC is Executive Associate Dean of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies. He served 30 years in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Education and oversees four graduate programs in Administration, Homeland Security, Sports, and Student Services