Cover Story

Featured Interview with New Jersey State P.B.A. President Patrick Colligan

By Daniel Del Valle, John Welsh, George Beck, and Joseph Uliano

NJ Blue Now Magazine: What was your major goal when you first became PBA President and has that goal been accomplished?
Colligan: The major goal was re-establishing relationships with politicians. Tony Wieners at the time, and correctly so, shut the books on politicians after Chapter 78. We were let down by not only Republicans but Democrats also. But, unfortunately, you know there’s a point where you have to reestablish those relationships. So part of that was the Political Action Committee starting with the PAC fund and literally meeting every senator and assembly member over six months and Marc (Kovar) and I hit the road. I came back months later and said it is going to take a year to accomplish this, because it’s a pretty big state.

What is your major goal right now, where you sit currently in your position?
I think what’s been lacking not only in the New Jersey state PBA but almost every national law enforcement group is re-engaging the membership. I think in 2017, not only in the police field but in any organization there just seems to be less involvement and I get the people have big schedules and are dealing with families, but you know my joke is call “CrossFit” when you get in trouble, because if you can’t make it to a PBA meeting, I’ve said it and Marc has said it, everybody is the PBA, it’s not just Marc and I. We can’t vote for you, we can’t get involved locally for you. So there’s no magic bullet. What we are trying to do is education for the locals. We’re doing the Quick Book seminars. We are doing things to help the locals be successful locals. If you don’t have a successful local, you are not going to successfully negotiate a contract or deal with your administration.

What goal has been established by the PBA moving forward with a new governor in office?
Well, we have the club called Chapter 78, they hit us all over the head. My goal with the new governor and the reason we came out so early is being realistic with the 2% cap, not the arbitration cap, but the 2% property tax cap. It’s virtually impossible to reset Chapter 78 and I don’t think any politician really has that appetite, but we can get pieces of that back and that’s really the goal that I set with Phil Murphy and it’s the reason that we came out so early for him.

What can be done to make law enforcement a powerhouse player in New Jersey politics in the years to come?
You nailed the question. It’s New Jersey politics. We started the PAC, $18 per person per year. There was a point just a few months ago, where we ended up with over $800,000 in that PAC account. That PAC account was designed for this election cycle where you have every assembly person every senator and the gubernatorial race; there are only two gubernatorial races in the country this year. So that from its inception put us in play. I’d love to see a Super PAC established. It’s something we’ve been working on now for a little over a year. A Super PAC dedicated to law enforcement.

Is there a goal or a timeframe to establish the Super PAC?
The requirements to run a Super PAC are very stringent and pretty difficult to work around, so we of course want everything done legally. So we are probably within a few weeks. I was hoping to get it set for this election cycle, which is still a possibility, but it’s going to probably be too tight.

In November of 2016, there was a pro-law enforcement push created by the Trump campaign that has really taken off since being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, which was evident at the National Law Enforcement Memorial. We were there in the crowd; you were on the stage, so you saw the rally. Why should a conservative police officer cross the lines and vote for Murphy?
Well, we have a lieutenant governor, who I have said and I will say it to her face, a great woman, a nice woman and past law enforcement, I know she was an F.O.P. member, to me, I understand she was working under Chris Christie and I get that. I understand that may not be the easiest place to work, but if you are going to be a law enforcement officer, you need to stand up for law enforcement and there should have been a period, especially in the beginning when Chapter 78 was being formed. There should have been a period that she said, look the men and women of law enforcement are different, because I’ve said that in the very beginning and I’ve believed that since I put my hand on the Bible in 1992. We are different, and I don’t have to tell any of you in this room why we are different. There had to be a point where she should have stood up and said, stop, don’t hurt our men and women in law enforcement. She didn’t and to come in now in the 11th hour of the 7th and 1/2 year and say hey, I’m standing with law enforcement, I just think is disingenuous.

Again nice woman, but if you look at her website the answer should be evident to anybody in law enforcement. I’m not sure what it takes for the men and women of law enforcement in New Jersey to stand up and say stop. She wants to give us our pension, but she wants us to take the liabilities too. We have a Constitutional Right to our pensions. Why would anybody want to give that up? She talks about consolidation. It’s obvious how she feels about the 2% arbitration cap, which has literally put a belt around our necks. We have a permanent 2% cap on our salaries, we have the recruitment problem that’s evident nationwide and we’re starting to see it in New Jersey. We have additional one and half percent towards our pensions and when does it stop? She can say she’s pro-law enforcement, but her actions haven’t brought that out.

Many officers express concern for Phil Murphy’s pick for lieutenant governor, believing that Sheila Oliver doesn’t have the best interest of law enforcement in her heart. How does the P.B.A. plan to address these concerns?
We met with Phil Murphy the night he announced that and we addressed our concerns prior to that announcement. Quite frankly, it was disappointing. It was one of those things that you look back and say that that’s not where we wanted him to go. We now know from the meeting with him that it’s part of the bigger picture and I said it in my article in New Jersey Cops this month and I hate going back. I feel like it’s arguing with your wife. Your wife always brings up the past but I hate to keep bringing this up, but if we hadn’t voted as a block–law enforcement and teachers for Chris Christie–nobody would know who Sheila Oliver was. So you know, I’m not in love with the pick, but I now know the reasons why and we’re going to move forward. The lieutenant governor as we saw with the governor now, is not a position that really generates much policy and procedure. That was probably in place before she was picked, and as I also said, there is no perfect politician. We are not going to be in love with everything Murphy did or does. We’re not going to be in love with everything Trump does. Trump is going to have a major impact on the Supreme Court and those Supreme Court picks are not going to be helpful to law enforcement, so you have to take the good with the bad. If anybody is looking at these candidates and saying, oh this is the perfect pick, sorry I have some oceanfront property in Ohio to sell you.

Going back, do you believe that if you were president at the time when Christie took over that you would have a different relationship with him?
I would probably have a relationship with him, but being perfectly blunt, this was in the makings and in the works long before he took his hand off the Bible. He knew how to take out the Public Employment Relations Commission and make it the disgrace that it is and the Civil Service Commission. I think that this was a plan that was a well-established plan and I don’t know, as much and as hard as I work and as passionate as I know I am, I’m not sure if there was anybody in this seat that wouldn’t be able to stop that tidal wave what happen when Christie was elected.

You mentioned and just to go back to the super PAC and I just quoted you with the perfect pick, do you think that the intent and the objective to build a Super PAC is to at some point have the perfect pick or close to the perfect pick as we can?
You know a PAC doesn’t develop a candidate, the candidates develop themselves. So, can we look in the future at a candidate and help push them? Yeah, at some point we probably could, but I don’t want to sound like a defeatist because I’m certainly not, but there is no perfect candidate out there. It’s kind of like your chief, you end up with a great chief and as much as you like him or her and as pro-union they are, he or she may be, they have to make a difficult decision at some point. We have a state that is almost in a financial meltdown. There’s no candidate that can come in and say, yeah we’re going to roll back Chapter 78 completely and we’re going to completely fund the pension. There’s going to be a give and take. When our economy improves, which you know is the answer to a lot of our questions, then we may end up with closer to the perfect pick, but I really don’t believe that we will. I said it, is there a perfect politician? I think your readers could answer that. We know they’re not out there, but sure I’d love for Phil Murphy to be right of center on some of those issues, but we will take the good with bad right now. We have two options in 2017, and it’s either Phil Murphy or Lieutenant Governor Guadagno.

What good do you see coming out of New Jersey law enforcement today?
Well, if you look nationally, there’s been some incredibly bad press out of some areas. I’ve always said that we are better trained–that we attract a better candidate a more professional candidate–and I think that is why there’s been no major incident in New Jersey. This goes back to what I said before, as we’re starting to see a recruiting problem and my fear is with this permanent 2% cap and all the other issues surrounding New Jersey Law Enforcement. You know some Senate and Assembly people that just don’t embrace what we do and feel that we should have a 2% cap, then we’re going to get back to not attracting the best and the brightest New Jersey recruits at some point going back to what we had pervasive in the sixties, uneducated and I don’t want to say this is a blanket, because I don’t want to disrespect those that were doing a great job in the sixties, but generally we were a group that didn’t have advanced degrees and didn’t have advanced training. I think our academics are doing a great job with self-defense and less than lethal. My concern and to just get a little off topic, I see now you have the City of Camden is giving awards for not engaging some people and I hope that we’re not getting into a dangerous realm of handing out teddy bears to everybody, but we have a great group of law enforcement officers in New Jersey.

What needs to be improved upon not only in New Jersey but throughout the nation for law enforcement officers?
I think our officers have to realize that no matter whether they are on duty or off duty, in a pursuit, sitting in the car, they’re on video and we unfortunately, have been exposed to some embarrassing situations. It’s not an easy job. It’s a job that that those who aren’t in law enforcement don’t understand and unfortunately, there’s no other career on the planet where people can watch one episode of a police show and suddenly be experts on police policy and procedure. So I’d like to stay out of the press. That doesn’t help our profession. It doesn’t help moving our agenda forward. It’s difficult to see our people stealing money and you know, we just had a murder-suicide, tragically on the corrections side. I think our officers need to know that not only are they in the limelight, but they are in the limelight 24/7.

Where do you see our pension in four years and do our retired members get to see the return of COLA?
I’ve been very public about it and my number one priority is to get COLA back, because I know what it’s doing to guys and gals who retired 30 or 40 years ago. And I’ve said this to our retiree group, it’s not like I hide from the facts. Returning COLA back to the way it was will have a pretty profound and heavy hit on our pensions. I’ve said this in testimony and I’ve said this to our retirees, we need to figure out a responsible way to phase it back in. If we just turn it on, it drops the system significantly.

I never hide from my answers. I’m going to give you the answer, it may not be the answer that you like, and it’s very difficult for a retiree, whose COLA is greater than their pension, it is disheartening to me. It actually eats at me that we have retirees delivering Chinese food and driving Ubers. It is bullshit to me that we’ve disrespected our police officers and firefighters like that. So the first responsibility is to get COLA reinstated in some responsible fashion. You know, respectfully, a person that just retired a few years ago is not in the emergent situation that people who retired in the 70s and 80s are. We need to get it turned on fiscally, responsibly, and it is it is also bullshit to me that we have two police officers in the same car on two different tiers of employment. How you have a Tier 3 and Tier 1 officer in the same car, and a legislature can say that’s a good idea is a disgrace and I’ve been public about that.

So where do I see the pensions? I know we’ve developed a responsible plan to take it from the state and unfortunately, the governor didn’t sign it in the 11th hour because I think there was another chief that retired with a $500,000 check, which we don’t see. I find it amazing that with our PFRS plan to take from the state, it’s my pension too. I’ve said it, I’m not a trust fund baby, my wife is a school teacher, I’m a few months from poverty if I lose my job today, like many other cops and firemen, especially after seven years of decreases in our pay. So for those who seem to think that I’m going to make a crazy amount of money out of this, point out where it is. I just want a pension and I don’t want to be dragged down by the other systems that are there. We were always the responsible kid on the playground. When we had the opportunity to drop our side of the pension contributions, like the teachers did, we refused and it wasn’t an easy position from the State PBA President at the time to find out that, hey, we are over 100% funding, let’s reduce our pension contributions. The teachers did and then a short time after that the teachers also lowered their retirement age. So it was the death knell of their system. They were near a hundred percent funding, if they weren’t over a hundred percent funding then. So now you look, we were the responsible kids on the playground and now we know we had that close call of the blending of the systems just two years ago.

If you have the opportunity to address some of your critics what would you say to them?
I wake up in the middle of the night. I wonder what else we could do. I wonder if I’m missing something on some issues, you know we’ve had some losses, Atlantic City to me is devastating and living with that. I went down to address their PBA meeting and it was not an easy meeting. It was “what’s the PBA doing?” I stood before them saying I don’t know what else we could’ve done. Were there missteps with some of the things that we did, possibly! But I don’t lose sleep that it was something else we could have done. I just wonder if there was the magic bullet sometimes. So you have Atlantic City, you know consolidation is still on the plate and it’s something important. You know we are going to have some losses on consolidation too.


Do you see more of that coming, consolidation?
I do! This 2%, again not arbitration cap, but 2% property tax cap, is strangling some towns, some communities and it was passed to force this. It was passed to force consolidation on those towns. So to the critics, I don’t know what else I could do. I’m always open to somebody calling me and giving me an idea they have. Sometimes politically there is a reason why we can’t do something, but there are some issues that I wake up in the middle of the night that I’m fearful that we are missing something. Even with the PFRS that plan and I’ve said it at the meetings, we even went to the F.O.P., we went to the State F.O.P. meeting. It was the first time the PBA ever presented at an F.O.P. meeting. It was historic and I said to them, please tell me if I’m missing something,  because I fear that when this legislature goes through and you know, it was endorsed by the two previous presidents, the F.O.P. came on board which was great, it was kind of almost like a relief and a win that okay, other than one public safety union, everybody seems to be on board with it.

You mentioned suicide earlier. What do you say to the officer that is contemplating suicide today?
That’s another frustrating issue. I sit here sometimes and I ask our professionals, what are we missing? What else can we do? Every suicide is a blow because somebody somewhere saw that, and we are a vocation.Nobody really took this job, well some did just because it’s Civil Service, but we have a special bond, a brotherhood, sisterhood. We are in an environment that unfortunately, our suicide rate is higher and I just beg people, not so much the officer that’s contemplating, but the co-workers to keep an eye out and don’t be ashamed to ask. It’s one of those frustrating things, one suicide is devastating.

The stereotypes and the stigmas are still there. The officers are afraid to get help! Is the PBA in communication with the chiefs and the directors, advising them that they have to find a way to tell our guys that they’re okay to go get help and when getting help their law enforcement career doesn’t end there?
I agree with you, but the problem is we still get those chiefs. We have the case of Frank Marchione out of Hightstown, who asked for help and then was subsequently sent to seven psychs, who I guess in their minds was lucky enough to find someone to fail him (said with a smirk).

And that becomes damaging to the other officers who may be in crisis, because now they’re afraid to go get help, due to the possible repercussions.

Yes, that has a ripple effect throughout our community, which is why Dr. Stefanelli is here at no small cost to the PBA. We spend a lot of money to have somebody here two days a week. We put a lot of effort into being able to call “Cop 2 Cop.” If you are concerned about your EAP, then come here, that’s why we’re here. I get it! Believe me! There is still a stigma. I’m not sure if that stigma will ever completely go away and yes one of the first things I did when I became president was develop a relations with Chief’s Association, which it’s like the politician, we’re not always going to agree with the chiefs, but it’s been a great partnership and you know even dealing with that quote, unquote “psychologist” up in North Jersey, who seems to be a henchman for the chiefs. We’ve even exposed that. It’s my goal to have him not evaluating anymore because the danger that he presents to our membership, the amount of people that he had terminated. Call here. We don’t want anybody to think that they’re going to have a stigma, they can come here and they can deal with it privately. This was setup as a triage, but some people are here longer terms because of those fears with their chiefs. Call me! We will find the right service for you depending on what are your issues are. I didn’t coin it, but suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and there is always an answer, things do get better.

What do you feel or what do you think corrections should be striving for in law enforcement?
I really embraced the corrections group when I took over. Corrections has always suffered from the stigma of you know, lesser than law enforcement. I’m supporting the police title bill but not sure how much traction that’s going to get, we’ll see with the new governor. I’ve said it every time I address them, I could never walk into a jail every day. They definitely walk to the worst beat in the nation. At the end of your career, you’re locked up for a third of your life, literally. You are searched, you have no phone access, so the average law enforcement officer sitting in his or her car, I think needs to realize to put yourself in those shoes of the kind of job that really is. I know the working conditions. You are locked up. If the prisoners don’t like the jail cell, then the officers don’t either. As a matter of fact just before you guys got here, there’s a professional corrections group that I want to make sure we are going to keep, that make sure the correction chair and vice chair still want to be part of that. The first mini convention, I had a separate break out and then we had a couple of assembly people come in. I’d like to continue that as long there’s interest. They are the unsung members of law enforcement that deserve a lot more respect that they get not only from sometimes the rank of the police officers but from the general public too.

What do you want to be remembered for? What’s going to be your legacy?
I think that it’s really getting into the political process. You know, I’ve joked about it that sometimes when you’re involved in New Jersey politics you want to step away and take a shower when you are done, because sometimes it’s pretty dirty, but there is no other way to move our agenda forward if it’s not through the legislature. Yeah I might be a nice guy and yeah I can go have a drink with somebody, but at the end of the day they need money to run a campaign and we need to get our message delivered in the Senate and Assembly. We have to develop relationships with the politicians. So I think being heavily engaged in the political process put us on the map. I’d love to see this PFRS legislation put through. So hopefully we can expedite the issues of COLA and Tier 1 and Tier 3 members, so that would probably be my two top priorities.

When law enforcement is over for you where do you see yourself?
I have a dream of standing under a Sabrett hot dog umbrella until 2 pm. Seriously this is an extraordinary labor-intensive job. This job is sometimes seven nights a week, sometimes four nights a week you know it’s difficult to juggle with a family. I’m lucky that my children are a little bit older. You can’t do this with young children, and you would be doing a disservice to your family. I have a great wife, Lynette who’s a school teacher who understands why I’m out driving around the state and flying around the country, because public service to her is important and she didn’t deserve what this governor did to her. She’s a dedicated school teacher. I love this job. I love the people I work with, but we’ll see what happens at the end of my career, whether to continue a heavy work load or I want to literally stand under the Sabrett umbrella.

Managing Editor’s Perspective

Celebrities and Athletes Cling to a False Narrative. They Should Take A Lesson From Each Other.
By George Beck

Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you if you tell a lie, you’ll have to keep telling more lies until eventually it catches up to you? For celebrities and athletes, it’s time to re-learn this valuable lesson.

Lies, lies, lies is where it all begins in Ferguson, MO. Allegations that Michael Brown cried “Hands up, Don’t shoot,” before Officer Darren Wilson justifiably shot him was debunked but that still doesn’t stop the agenda-driven folks from clinging on to it as gospel. It fits this pseudo-narrative that police officers are out there lusting to kill innocent black men.

Who can forget the celebrity video last summer: 23 Ways You Could Be Killed if You’re Black in America. In more than half of these incidents, the person killed bore direct responsibility for their death by either resisting arrest, participating in a violent crime or posing an imminent threat to the officers or others. Take for example, Jada Pinkett Smith’s part, “Holding a Fake Gun in Virginia.” She was referring to India M. Beaty, shot and killed by Norfolk Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division Detectives, who were conducting a surveillance operation when they came across a fight in a parking lot. The officers saw that Beaty was involved in the altercation and was threatening another person with a handgun. When she refused to comply with the officer’s demands, and when she made a threatening motion, she was shot and killed. Tragically, the gun, it turned out, was a fake but as the image released by the Norfolk Police Department showed, it possessed the same appearance and details as a real gun. Or let’s look at Adam Levine’s claim, Jamar Clark was killed by police for “Attending a Birthday Party.” Levine forgot to mention that Clark fought with paramedics and then grabbed a cop’s gun before being shot and killed. And the list goes on and on.

To be fair, out of the 23 incidents there were some that were deeply troubling. Five out of the 23 cited were clear cases of homicide that resulted in the loss of life. In all of these cases, those responsible have been brought to justice.

A more accurate framing of the problem is seen in a response video: 23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You’re A Police Officer in America. This NJ Blue Now video depicts 23 officers who were law-abiding citizens sworn to protect and serve their communities. They were not thugs, convicted felons, resisting arrest, or intent on causing others harm. They lost their lives while serving this country. They were all targeted and murdered for the uniform they wore, and yet, this is not part of the national discussion? Why? Because it jams up the pseudo narrative—the great big lie.

Americans see through the lies. The Emmy Awards ratings were down again and it looks like the NFL is set to suffer a larger plummet in ratings and in turn decrease profits. Many patriotic Americans watching the NFL are aghast at such blatant disrespect to a flag and National Anthem that symbolize the freedoms they enjoy today—the kind of freedom that allows athletes to be paid enormous salaries to play a game they love. Yet, how could a league of intelligent and talented people on all levels make such a mistake? Are they foolish enough to double down in response to spontaneous comments made by President Donald Trump calling players taking a disrespectful knee an expletive and calling for the owners to fire them?

Tread lightly. Doubling down on a bad strategy in response to the President’s comments will not serve them well. If this continues, by the end of the season, the NFL ratings will be tanking so badly they will wish they never permitted this. But, maybe the damage is already done. The NFL’s ratings are declining. Videos of fans burning team jerseys, season tickets, and memorabilia are emerging en masse on social media. Many Americans are vowing to boycott the NFL by not watching or spending a dime on anything NFL related. President Trump is seen as defending the flag, while the opposition is deemed anti-patriotic and anti-American. Direct TV is shelling out refunds to fans who no longer want to keep their Sunday Ticket package that gives fans every Sunday football game for around $280 per season. And the damage has only begun.

This translates into serious economic pain for the NFL, perhaps the only kind of pain it really understands, but that does not compare to the emotional pain Americans everywhere are suffering as a consequence of its confused values and disgraceful conduct.

George Beck is a police detective, award-winning journalist, and managing editor of NJ Blue Now magazine. He’s a Ph.D. candidate at Drew University. He is the author of The Killer Among Us and several other books. His nonfiction and short stories have been featured in magazines and anthologies nationally and internationally.

Insanity

Stupid Is As Stupid Does
By Julia Torres

Mike Isaacson @VulgarEconomics, an adjunct-professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice has had the gross audacity to post multiple tweets, stirring students, union leaders, and media. On Aug. 23, 2017, at 12:51 pm, he outraged police union leaders in New York by tweeting, “Some of y’all might think it sucks being an anti- facist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops.”

The dismissal of Isaacson from John Jay was quickly sought, but has it occurred?

Despite Isaacson’s recent appearance on Fox News’, Tucker Carlson Tonight leading to the exposure of other abhorrently offensives tweets, namely but not limited to: “Just like a killer cop.”; Hopefully I get rehired and a pay raise like them too!”; “I don’t carry a gun to work nor did I sign up for a job where I can kill civilians with impunity.”, and “What’s even the point of a cop that isn’t dead?”, John Jay College’s response appeared to be a careless and bureaucratic statement simply made to appease the masses.

On Sept. 19, 2017, at 11:39 am, the College’s tweet read:
“The college is following due process to resolve the situation. “Read more below:
Statement from John Jay College.” John Jay College has a proud history of educating law enforcement officers, veterans, and other public service officials who keep our families and communities safe. They deserve our utmost respect and support as they represent the best in our country. The College community stands in solidarity with all those who work so hard every day to ensure our security. As indicated in the statement from President Mason last Friday, the College is reviewing the status of the adjunct faculty.

The disciplinary process is governed by the City University of New York’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which establishes grounds for disciplinary actions by the College. Under the Disciplinary Provisions of the CBA, adjuncts are subject to discharge for just cause but have grievance rights under the Grievance Provisions of the CBA. The College is following due process to resolve the situation.”

The College–having placed Isaacson on paid administrative leave–seems to be more concerned with liability than removing an arrogant, irresponsible, adjunct professor who expresses disdain and violence against law enforcement, imposes radical beliefs on students, causes division within society, and threatens present and future officers as a whole.

Who protects the lives of the protectors? Where does a student’s right to a fair education in a credible institution factor in? Can’t the public opt for unity? Why must a person be at risk in their career?

I believe in the 1st Amendment, but when an individual in an academic setting can influence a student’s future, the tongue must be refrained. You may say what you want in your free time, but if you do, be prepared for the consequences. Appalling, harmful, and antagonistic remarks have a price; the person making them cannot claim stupidity or misunderstanding for them.

Many threats have been posted on Twitter against Isaacson, and the media has sought additional comments from him, yet, not surprisingly, Isaacson has not responded. At present, PBA President, Pat Lynch has demanded Isaacson’s immediate dismissal, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated, “New York City won’t stand for the vile anti-police rhetoric of Michael Isaacson and neither should John Jay College.”

Let us see if Isaacson will assume responsibility for his original audacity or if he will cower away, declaring ignorance. Only time will tell.

Julia Torres is a Doctoral candidate at Drew University. She 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 Visual 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.

National Voice

THE PLAYERS GETTING PLAYED
By Lt. Randy Sutton (Ret)

NFL players and other sports figures have taken a stand, well actually a knee, as a symbolic statement disrespecting the flag of the United States and the National Anthem. This has escalated to a point where the President of the United States has dramatically weighed in, and Americans across the country are voicing their opinions vocally and emotionally on social media, around water coolers, and the kitchen table, and even going so far as burning team jerseys, hats and jackets. Interestingly and rather poignantly I must say, one player on the Pittsburgh Steelers had the guts to break away from the pack and while the rest of the team hid in the locker room while the National Anthem played, he appeared in front of everyone with his hand over his heart. Alejandro Villanueva showed his courage by standing alone against what must have been enormous peer pressure. But, courage comes second nature to this West Point graduate. He served his country as an Army Ranger and was deployed to Afghanistan where he was awarded the Bronze Star with V for combat Valor. And while sales and ratings of the NFL plummet, the American people have spoken as sales of Alejandro’s jersey have skyrocketed to number one.

But allow me to remind all of those sports figures, celebrities and supporters of this misguided political statement that you have been duped. You’ve been played and in your haste to join in on this popular limousine liberal fad, you have forgotten this…this disrespectful action of kneeling for our National Anthem was built upon LIES. The lies of institutionalized police racism. The lies of law enforcement hunting down and killing innocent unarmed black men. The great lie of Ferguson, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”. Lies, lies and more lies perpetuated by agenda driven race exploiters bent on driving a wedge between the people of this nation, and a complicit mainstream media together with politicians who gleefully repeat the myths while feathering their own political nests with votes and riches. I wonder if you even care about the facts anymore? Or is the anti-Trump hysteria simply too powerful for you to resist?

When I watch these self-entitled millionaire players display their ignorance of the issues and their “follower” mentality, I cannot help but feel not just disappointment but outright disgust. Tens of thousands of men and women of our military and our law enforcement have sacrificed their very lives for what our flag and our anthem symbolize. It is because of those sacrifices that these players can run around a field tossing a ball around making millions of dollars doing what is truly nothing more than a form of entertainment while American cops actually give their lives protecting the very communities they are accused of oppressing!

Let me be very clear about my feelings here. When it comes right down to the worth of a human being, the size of your bank account or the amount of fame you have means nothing. Human value is found in service to others, courage in the face of adversity, compassion shown to those in need and sacrifice for the greater good. In other words, the traits that American Law Enforcement embody every single day.

So I’ll say this loud and clear. When you look at the contribution to the people of our nation, when you tally up the displays of courage, compassion, integrity and sacrifice of sports figure and law enforcement officers and compare them to each other… One good cop is worth a hundred NFL players.

Randy Sutton is a 33 year Law Enforcement veteran. He served ten years in the Princeton, New Jersey Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant thousands of Law Enforcement Officers in the United States on the subject of “POLICING WITH HONOR”, and has been recognized by the President of the United States while receiving the “POINTS OF LIGHT” award. Randy is a Journalist for every major Law Enforcement publication and Commentator for “FOX & FRIENDS, the e America. He is recognized as one of the most highly decorated officers in the LVMPD history, having awards for Valor, Community Service, Exemplary Service and multiple Lifesaving awards. He has trained News Network and is the Crime and Safety Expert for KTNV TV, Las Vegas. He is the author of “TRUE BLUE Police Stories by Those Who Have Lived Them”, ‘A COP’S LIFE”, “TRUE BLUE To Serve and Protect” and “THE POWER OF LEGACY, Personal Heroes of America’s Most Inspiring People”. Come visit Randy at www.randylsutton.com

Operation Rebound

A close-up with Dr. James Ford, College of Saint Elizabeth: Educating our Police and Military Veterans
By Michael Boll & Caroline Angel, Ph.D., RN

No matter what age you are, when the calendar hits September and the sight of children carrying their backpacks as they board yellow buses flooding local neighborhoods, there’s only one thing on the minds of our communities: it’s back to school! Whether you have children of your own who are heading off into polished classrooms or it has been a long time since you have sat in any principal led assembly, the fall is a good time to start thinking about education, especially your own.

In the State of New Jersey, to become a law enforcement officer one must at a minimum, have a high school education or GED and college experience to become a NJ State Trooper. One individual who has done amazing things to advance the educational development of police and those who have served in the military is Dr. James (Jim) Ford. Dr. Ford is currently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and the Director of the Graduate Program in Justice Administration and Public Service at the College of Saint Elizabeth. Dr. Ford began his law enforcement career in 1976 with the Chatham Township Police Department in Morris County. Over his career, he served in the patrol, investigative, and administrative divisions.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Dr. Ford a few questions about why he wants to see police and veterans further their education, and how the College of Saint Elizabeth can be part of that.
Here is what he had to say:

Why do you want to see police officers further their education?
Dr. Ford: I think it’s important for police officers, especially in the 21st Century, to be more educated than before. I started teaching criminal justice at the College of Saint Elizabeth when I retired from the Chatham Township Police Department. During my tenure at the college, I have been able to reach out to law enforcement and criminal justice professionals and encourage them to further their education. It’s important for the officers to be well prepared in dealing with a diverse community, especially when facing community challenges on a daily basis. I have discovered that more police officers today have their bachelor’s degree and are interested in earning their master’s degree. Earning their master’s degree helps them with advancement in rank, potential raises and will fully understand today’s social, ethical, and political cultures.

What goals do you have at the college and with your program?
First and foremost, the College of Saint Elizabeth is law enforcement and veteran friendly. Our college offers a straightforward pragmatic approach to helping active and retired military personnel and their eligible family members obtain their college education. How do we do this?
• We actively participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, providing additional tuition benefits for military and their families.
• CSE has been selected as a top school for 2016 by the Military Advances Education and Transition Guide.
• A personal evaluation of past academic endeavors and work experience to determine the most efficient way to further your education. CSE is also an active member of the Concurrent Admissions Program, also known as ConAP.
• Credit for past education and life experience through Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), and the American Council on Education (ACE).
• On-site financial assistance evaluation and explanation of the GI Bill Benefits for you and your family.
• Personal attention by our admission counselors, who can be reached at 973-290-4700

I have personally worked with veterans and have reviewed their military training through the ACE process and have awarded these individuals college credits.

Full-time sworn law enforcement officers are eligible for a 25% tuition discount for their bachelor’s degree and a 50% tuition discount for their master’s degree. Our bachelor’s degree can be completed online depending on the number of transfer credits. Our highly rated and very successful master’s program is fully online and consists of 30 credits and does not require a thesis. There is a Capstone Seminar at the end of the program. We also offer a combined degree program whereby the student has to have at least 72 credits and can enroll in our combined degree program where they can register for up to 12 graduate credits at our undergraduate rate.

Lastly, CSE will award college credit for sworn law enforcement officers who have completed the basic police academy. Some colleges and universities offer the same services, but the student has to pay for it to be reviewed; however, we don’t charge for this service. There is also some in-service training that is eligible to receive college credit such as MOI (Methods of Instruction), EMT, Crash I and II, and for Certified Public Managers, which is just a few examples.

What do you think about Operation Rebound?
At first, I wasn’t sure if I could help out because I thought only veterans were members. I soon found out that Operation Rebound is a program that helps provide mental and physical strengthening to our veterans, military personnel, and first responders with permanent physical injuries and mental stresses. Utilizing sports and fitness opportunities will assist them to reintegrate back into society. It’s basically a
program that empowers and is very successful.

I had never participated in a 5K run/walk event, but last fall was the first time, and the event was held on the Campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth. I knew I was not in shape to do the run, but I supported the effort and veterans by doing the walk and was joined by my son Brian who completed the run. It felt wonderful to take part in the event and to contribute to such a meaningful cause. I may not participate in every event, but I do support every event that they hold.

To answer why I want to see police and veterans further their education is simple for me. I enjoy teaching and helping them by empowering them to do better for themselves.

Michael Boll: Mdbollio@uniontownship.com
Caroline Angel: caroline.angel@teamrwb.org. www.teamrwb.org

Cover Story

An Exclusive Interview with Michael Barasch, Esq.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

By Joseph Uliano, M.A., Ed.S.

In 2003, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund closed their doors on literally thousands of first responders and current or former residents of New York City. The decision to conclude all medical benefits for those suffering from 9/11 related illnesses would soon prove to be premature, irresponsible, neglectful, and downright hurtful, especially to our first responders.

On 9/11, our first responders unselfishly ran into the darkness of the unknown, while everyone else was running away from it. Unfortunately, our brave first responders would once again be left in the dark and with the feeling of the uncertainty, as their health began to fail long after walking away from “Ground Zero.”

However, in 2004, the sun would once again begin to shine on the darkness, just as it did on September 12, 2001, the day after New York City turned into a war zone. This next battle would not be fought at the WTC or on a battlefield, rather in a courtroom, by Michael Barasch, a skilled and aggressive attorney that had empathy and compassion for those who were carelessly being left behind.

It is of great honor and privilege to introduce Michael Barash, Esq. to our readership in this exclusive interview with the man who fought for so much, when others like Det. James Zadroga had so little.

First and foremost, please tell us a little something about who Det. James Zadroga was and how he lived rather than how he died.

Jimmy Zadroga was a dedicated police officer, a wonderful husband and devoted father. Even when faced with certain death, he never lost his will to live, his sense of humor and his love of life.

In 2004, you began the fight to reopen the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Did this battle begin with Det. Zadroga or were there other factors that captured your attention?

The first Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) closed at the end of 2003. But, so many of my clients continued to get sicker and new responders were calling me every day. It was heart breaking to tell them that the VCF had closed and that there was nothing I could do for them other than put them in a lawsuit which was far from a sure thing.

Tragically, in 2006 Det. Zadroga succumbed to his long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. How significant were his autopsy results in terms of securing a victory against those who opposed his Bill?

Jimmy’s death, and the subsequent autopsy results, gave the medical community the ammunition to link the WTC toxins with severe pulmonary illnesses and cancers. They found ground glass, asbestos, chromium, lead, and benzene in his lung tissue samples. These are known carcinogens. These findings enabled the New Jersey Medical examiner to conclude that Jimmy’s death was caused by the environmental exposure to the WTC toxins.

In 2011, former President Obama signed the Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund into law. How many individuals have registered with the VCF since the signing?

As of June 30, 2017, the VCF has received 28,609 eligibility claims and it has rendered 13,413 compensation decisions. Thousands of other people have registered but either have not completed their applications or are awaiting a decision.

We now know that there are sixty eight cancers directly linked to 9/11. However, the majority of these patients suffer from pulmonary related illnesses. Is this a direct result of the EPA erroneously advising “Ground Zero” workers that the air was safe?

That’s a complicated question. The majority of the VCF claimants awarded compensation (9,976) have been awarded compensation for their Gastro-pulmonary illnesses (i.e. -GERD, Asthma, Sinusitis, Barret’s Esophagus, and pulmonary fibrosis — the disease that killed James Zadroga), and 1,618 people have been awarded compensation for cancer only. Another 1,819 claimants have been awarded compensation for both cancer and non-cancer conditions. Yes, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has linked 68 cancers to the WTC toxins.

Does the Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund cover Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? If not, how are these patients being compensated?

When Congress passed the 9/11 Zadroga Health & Compensation Act, it created the Victim Compensation Fund and the WTC Health Program. They are two separate entities and the rules are different for both. Regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is a mental illness that nearly every responder suffers from, medical treatment is available from the health program, but compensation is not offered by the VCF. The law specifically limits compensation to those who have been certified with 9/11 physical injuries and illnesses.

Many believe the VCF is exclusive to first responders. Please tell our readers who else is eligible for these benefits.

Thank you for asking this question. There is a misconception that the VCF is limited to first responders. In fact, compensation is available to downtown residents, office workers, teachers, school children, and volunteers. Sadly, my firm alone represents over a dozen former school children, now in their late 20s, with skin cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, colon cancer, and blood cancers that have been linked to the WTC toxins. We represent dozens of volunteers, mostly retired firefighters and police officers who came from all over the country. Their illnesses have also been linked.

Billions of dollars have been set aside to fund the 2011 VCF, which is said to guarantee health services and compensation for the next seventy five years. Will these funds run out?

Wow, another great question. The truth is that no one knows. My firm is signing up an alarming number of new cancer cases every day. The medical community doesn’t know how serious this is. All I can tell you is that it is a national health crisis. We have been retained by hundreds of people outside of the NY Metropolitan area who came here to help. And, doctors warn us that because there was so much asbestos in the WTC towers, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing outbreaks of mesothelioma. To date, over $2.8 billion has been awarded to the 9/11 community (and mostly all of it to responders). There is another $2 plus billion available, but it remains to be seen whether that will suffice. I fear not.

Have there been any issues related to fraudulent claims and what is put in place to prevent such claims?

Thankfully, I haven’t heard of any fraud, which is surprising considering the amount of money that Congress has earmarked. But, the Department of Justice has done a great job to ensure that applicants prove that they were exposed for a sufficient amount of time to be eligible, and the health program is ensuring that only people with 9/11-linked illnesses get certified. As a result, the VCF hasn’t given money to anyone who isn’t eligible. I applaud their diligence.

Where can an individual go to be screened for 9/11 related illnesses and how does one register with the VCF? 

The first thing that one must do is register with the health program. You can either call 888-982-4748 or go on line at https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/apply.html. If you like your current doctors, stay with them. But, you should register anyway for annual screening and in order to get your current illnesses certified. That is the only way to get compensated by the VCF. To register with the VCF, you can either go on line at VCF.gov or ask an attorney to help you. Congress capped attorney fees at 10% and there is no charge if the attorney is unsuccessful. There is also no charge to register a claim. To learn more about your legal rights, or for a free consultation, I invite you to visit my law firm’s website at www.wtclawyers.com. Or, call us at 1-800-562-9190.

How did comedian Jon Stewart end up becoming an advocate for the Bill and how instrumental was he?

I don’t think that the Zadroga Act would have become law in 2011, let alone been reauthorized in 2015, without Jon’s help. It “took a village” to pass this legislation. It required a concerted effort by the police, firefighter, and construction unions, and several politicians from NY and NJ. But, it is not an exaggeration to say that without Jon shining a spotlight on the issue of sick WTC responders, this bill would not have become law.

The 2011 VCF filing date is set to expire in 2020, do you plan to reopen a second legal battle?

At this point, the VCF is supposed to close on December 18, 2020. Anyone seeking compensation MUST register a claim by that date. However, we all know that people are going to continue getting sick after that date. That is why it is critical that we extend it another 50 years, or for as long as the health program has been extended.

If you could say something to Det. Zadroga today what would it be?

I would say, Jimmy, you will never be forgotten. Thanks to your selfless work at the WTC site, your heroic struggle with pulmonary fibrosis, and your willingness to have an autopsy, thousands in the 9/11 community are receiving free health care, as well as much-needed and deserved compensation for their illnesses. Thank you for your sacrifice.
On behalf of our staff at NJ Blue Now, we commend and thank you for your continued dedication to those who may have been forgotten, if not for your relentless fight. 

This interview is dedicated to the brave men and women who have fallen since 9/11, and of course Det. James Zadroga, whose voice is still being heard today and long after his death, as he continues to serve the victims of 9/11 through the Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund.

Joseph Uliano has served as a police officer for the last fifteen years. During his time serving, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Caldwell University, Master’s Degree in Human Resources, Training and Development from Seton Hall University, and an Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S.)in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Management from Seton Hall University. He is also currently enrolled as Doctoral Student at Seton Hall University, where he is studying educational leadership.

Young Voices

The Day the World Stood Still
By Johnny Chiusolo

I whispered to my mom, “Mommy, I hope you get the bad guys and don’t get hurt.” She thought nothing of it because I always said that. September 11, 2001 started off as a normal day in my house. My mom was getting me dressed in my blue Polo shirt and jeans, while she put on her police uniform. She was a Jersey City Police Officer in the North district. She always cooked me eggs and a piece of white toast with butter dripping off the sides. We ate our usual breakfast together and watched the news as we did every morning. On the way to school, the day started to feel sadder in a three year old’s eyes. We were listening to our favorite radio station while singing together in the car.

At 7:35 am, my mom dropped me off to my teacher and I kissed my mom good-bye for the last time before our lives changed forever. I ran to see my friends and played with them next to the television. As my friends and I played with our toys, we were also glancing at the TV. At 9:00 am the TV stopped with a ‘Breaking News’ and a loud sound. I looked at the TV, watching as the destruction of a building fell in a place called New York City. I saw New York Police, and Jersey City Police on TV. I thought to myself, Mommy is going to get hurt. What else is a three-year-old going to think if he sees the place his mom works at on TV with smoke and fire destroying everything?

As I stared at the TV wondering if I would ever see my mom again, I dropped to my little three-year-old knees, crying. The teachers were also crying because of this tragedy, but they tried to comfort us. I did not want to talk to anyone, or see anyone. Laying on the floor with my head on the floor, sobbing and screaming, I heard a voice say, “Johnny.” It was my mom. I jumped up and ran full speed toward her, jumping into her arms. I said, “Mommy, why are you here?” She came to pick me up and take me to my grandma’s house because she was afraid something would happen to me while she was at work. As we went to her car, I noticed she didn’t have her regular car, she had a police car. I thought to myself, This is the best day ever. We could smell and taste the smoke all the way from New York City, a scent I will never forget. I hopped in the front seat, and said, “Mommy, can I turn on the lights and sirens?” As a loud “Boom” echoed the whole car as we sped down the street, looking over the bridge to see the second tower get hit. I turned to mom with fear in my eyes to notice she was crying. Tears dropping to her uniform, with sorrow and horror. I said to her “Mommy, it’s okay, you’re going to get tears on your shirt and bad guys love tears so you can’t show them you’re scared.” As we were zooming past cars, we could feel the rumble throughout our bodies. We saw the fear on every single face.

We arrived at my grandma’s house and she was the happiest person alive when she saw us. I could smell the home cooked meal she made for me. We all watched the news as my mom’s radio was going off. Dispatchers were screaming through the radio, telling her to get back to work. Soon, she grabbed her gear, and gave us

both a kiss good-bye as she went to go save people and block traffic. As she walked out the door, I saw my best friend leave me to go save others and protect the city we held dearest to our hearts, a job that police officers are faced with in times of terror. My mom worked nonstop for days on end. We didn’t see her, or talk to her.

I know now that my mom was a hero that day. She ran into the face of danger to save people. Since that day my mom and I share the same emotions on the 11th of September. We might have never seen each other again. Instead, we have formed a bond like no other. My mom is a hero to many people, but especially to me. “Bravery is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear.”

Johnny O. Velazquez-Chiusolo graduated Donovan Catholic HS. He’s 18 years old and a Sophomore at Georgian Court University, Majoring in Criminal Justice, Eagle Scout, Volunteer Firefighter at Pleasant Plains FD. Toms River, NJ. An Intern at Ocean County Prosecutors Officer, Major Crimes Dept. A graduate of the NJ State Police Trooper Youth Week. He’s also an employee at Ryans Deli, Seaside Heights.

Police Chaplain’s Perspective

Police Chaplain’s Perspective – Are you in the Faith?
By Chris Amos

FAITH is one of the most important attributes in a law enforcement officer’s arsenal: Faith in his or her training, abilities, peers; Faith that if in a questionable incident, his superiors will support him; Faith that if she was following the rules and regs, she will be covered; Faith that no matter what happens, if done in good faith, all will be okay.

However, in this day and age, sometimes our faith pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.

I want to share with you another kind of faith that is 100% effective 100% of the time no matter the outcome of a given circumstance. It is a faith that pays off big time–if we don’t somewhere along the journey of life lose or misplace it; a faith that will lead to the ultimate promotion. I’m speaking about a faith firmly placed in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross which paid the penalty, the price for our sins. But, what exactly does that faith look like, how is it fleshed out in my life, and how do I know if I even have such a faith? I want to answer those questions using the acronym F-A-I-T-H. If you can say yes to these 5 attributes of faith my friend, you have it!

F – FOLLOW: True Biblical sin, forgiving, life-transforming, eternal life giving faith involves a change of course. Quite simply, we make up our minds to follow Jesus Christ and not the crowd, the latest fad, the lusts of our own flesh. No, we turn from those things [repent] and follow Jesus. I assure you this doesn’t mean we become everyone’s doormat.
In ’96, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I was forced to kill a suspect that had shot me twice. Just last month, my son, a police officer and follower of Jesus, shot and killed a suspect that seconds earlier had shot his sergeant. His sergeant was wearing a vest–thank God and is okay. True faith involves following Jesus into some pretty precarious situations at times!

A – ALLEGIANCE: True Biblical faith instills within us an allegiance, devotion, and loyalty to Jesus Christ. Not just in a church when surrounded by other Christians but in roll call, on a Friday night, at the bowling alley, the golf course, or whatever you do and wherever you go to unwind. It’s easy to see fanatical devotion displayed by fans of the Giants or Jets. Large sums of money are spent to attend games and to eat. Horrific weather is endured in November and December and yet a true fan doesn’t quit when the going gets tough. Our allegiance and devotion to Jesus should make that of a football fan’s pale in comparison. I’m not talking bumper sticker faith, I’m talking deep-seated, unshakeable convictions and beliefs that will not be compromised no matter the cost.

I – INSTRUCTION: The Bible IS NOT a book of recommendations or advice. It is a book of God-given instruction to help us navigate this thing called life. The instructions provided on a medicine bottle are meant to be followed. The instructions given by your Range Master or Armorer are meant to be followed. The instructions for disassembling and reassembling your firearm are meant to be followed. Failing to follow the instructions provided in the instances above can get someone seriously injured or killed. How much more important is it to follow the instructions provided in the Bible? True faith understands this and takes the Bible seriously, going to it early and often.
T – TRUST: True Biblical Faith trusts in what Jesus did on the cross. We do not have to earn our way into Heaven by trying, by hoping, by praying we will do more good in our lives than bad. Faith encourages us to TRUST in what Jesus did on the cross. When he said “It is finished”, He meant, “It is finished!” Faith understands the folly of trying to earn our place in Heaven by good works. No, we receive Heaven as an unearned, undeserved gift from God by simply placing our unwavering faith in Jesus Christ.

And finally…
H- HAPPY: True faith will lead us to be happy, happy, happy. Psalms 144:15b tells us “yea, happy [happy, happy] is that people, whose God is the Lord.” Once we fully grasp the significance of FOLLOWING Jesus, pledging our ALLEGIANCE to Jesus, consuming the INSTRUCTION of Jesus, and TRUSTING in the finished work of Jesus, we can’t help but be HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY as we live life in the very presence of Jesus.

Friend, if your FAITH in Jesus looks like this, then relax and keep on believing in Him. If it doesn’t, the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith”.
We examine our equipment and car to make sure everything is functional before each shift because we know our lives may depend on it. So too, should we examine our FAITH because I assure you, our eternity does depend on it. Take care and be safe. God bless and see you at the finish line.

Chris Amos is a retired officer and former spokesperson for the Norfolk Virginia Police Department. He is currently the pastor at Chr1st Fellowship Church in Norfolk. He is married for 30 years and is the proud father of three children, two of whom are police officers. He serves as the volunteer Chaplain for Norfolk Police Dept. and Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.