Spotlight

Exclusive Interview with Lt. Randy Sutton (Ret.)
By George Beck

Lt. Sutton is an intelligent law enforcement leader whose insights are crystal clear. He’s written for many major publications, including the New York Post. He is routinely featured on national media stations where he stands up and defends the noble law enforcement profession. He’s a best selling and award-winning author. He is recognized as one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He’s trained thousands of officers nationwide on the subject of “Policing with Honor.”

NJ BLUE NOW: You’ve acted in some major blockbuster movies, wrote bestselling books, and have appeared in national publications, what was this experience like for a cop?

Lt. Sutton: Of all my experiences first and foremost, the most satisfying and challenging was being a cop. The other stuff gave me a different dimension and experiences to draw on. The acting was very fun and allowed me to meet people that I never could have if I didn’t pursue the opportunities. I love pursuing challenges. The writing has been life-changing for me. Not only does it allow me the ability to express myself, but the written word is incredibly powerful and touches lives.

Did your department welcome your celebrity?
Well let me put it this way, I had a lot of support from some people within the department but it also caused resentment and jealousy among some. I got sideways with one of the Sheriff’s that I worked for and he actually did not allow some episodes of the TV show “COPS to air because as he told the producer, “This isn’t the fucking Randy Sutton show!”. It’s amazing though, how many letters and communications as well as face to face meetings where police officers on my own department and many others said that they grew interested in policing from seeing me on that show and some of the movies. I consider that, as nothing but positive.

Your written and speaking talents are impressive. What is it you did to develop these skills?
I’ve been asked where I was trained to write and what classes did I take in college many times. The truth is, I barely got out of high school and never took a writing class in my life. I guess I was self-trained because, as a child, I was very sickly and was relegated to bed for much of my childhood. I couldn’t go out and play like other kids often and so found solace and entertainment in books. I love to read and grew to love stories and adventures in the pages of my books. That love of reading continues to this day. But it was policing that created the writer within me. Being a witness and participant in the greatest dramas in life are part of ‘A Cops Life’ (hence the name of one of my books) and those experiences created a need within me to express them and share them.

You began your career here in NJ with the Princeton Police Department, and left it for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Many officers often think about switching departments, what was it that made you decide to pack up and head to Las Vegas?
It was one of the most difficult decisions that I ever made and in my case one of the best. I liked being a Princeton cop. It was my hometown, I knew everyone, I was comfortable, but there were two major issues. The leadership of the department sucked and more importantly, I was bored doing small town policing. I wanted action and in the immortal words of some wise man. “Be careful what you wish for” because going from a small town like Princeton to Las Vegas was a true culture shock. I had to go through the Academy again and start all over but it was all worth it. The greatest challenge was leaving my family and just picking up and starting over. Of course I was almost halfway to retirement in New Jersey and at the top of my pay scale as a Detective so taking a $10,000 pay cut was a bit tough as well. But I never looked back.

What was it about policing you enjoyed the most?
Two things really. I loved the action. I’m definitely an adrenaline junky and getting into the mix of a hot call was something that I still miss even after being retired a few years. But most importantly, I enjoyed playing a role in the lives of others, both the people whose lives mine intersected with on the streets, and as I became a Sergeant and then Lieutenant, my cops. I believe that there is no greater honor than being chosen to lead and being part of the lives of my officers was the most satisfying part of policing to me.
What did you dislike the most about policing?
That’s the easiest answer. The politics of policing. As I go around the country and speak to officers from small towns and big cities when I present my seminar “Policing With Honor” I hear the same complaint over and over. The men and women whonserve are not afraid of going out and facing the bad guys, they are afraid of their own administrations and their politics. That’s exactly the way I felt. I was constantly fighting the bosses because some wanted to make political sacrifices of my cops or “make an example” out of them. Being a cop means being a seeker of justice and that shouldn’t stop when you put on some stripes or bars or stars.

Right now you are a dominant force defending the law enforcement profession on social and mass media. What promoted you to get involved on this level?
When I was a still working I was pretty vocal about my views and that often got me in trouble with my bosses. Things have gotten much worse for those who are actively serving and they are powerless to voice their concerns and opinions because they know that their agencies will destroy them. It’s happened time and time again. Out of frustration, an officer will make a social media posting or public comment and the wrath of the Chief or Sheriff will descend upon them and punish them for their point of view. They didn’t have a voice. Since I have somewhat of a forum, all I did was say what they were feeling and things snowballed from there. A few months ago, after I did a video directed at President Obama accusing him of his anti-police strategy that was seen by almost two million people, many of them police officers, the Huffington Post referred to me as “The Voice of American Law Enforcement.” Of all the things that I’ve been called over the years, and there have been a few, trust me, that is the greatest honor I could ever have been given.

What is causing all the negative sentiment against law enforcement?
That’s a topic we could spend days on. America is going through social upheaval and the police are always on the front line of social change. They are an easy target because they are the most visible representation of government. Add to this the revolution of camera and social media and sprinkle in an organized and well-funded liberal campaign, a media that feeds on drama even if they know it isn’t true, and you have the perfect storm of anti-police movements. Then, of course, let me not leave out our own President and his Department of Justice who would much rather investigate police officers and agencies than organized criminal elements masquerading as “social and civil rights movements.” I think this is the most difficult time to be a police officer in history.

Is there something we can do to counter all the negativity against law enforcement?
Yes there is and that is part of my mission. I believe in one really simple concept when it comes to confronting the critics of American Law Enforcement. It’s called ‘The Truth.’ The truth is that policing is the most misunderstood concept in the government. The truth is the vast majority of those who serve as law enforcement officers do so out of a sense of honor and integrity and perform their duties well. The truth is if the public knew the realities of policing and the men and women behind those badges, they would support them to a much greater degree. But the truth is law enforcement as a whole sucks at getting this message across. I am currently working on a national effort to change the perceptions of the American law enforcement officer. Watch out for it cause it’s coming!

What would you say to an officer out there who wants to get involved and speak out against the injustices against our profession, but is worried about retaliation from politicians and others who may try to destroy their career?
There are forums for bringing those views public but they have to be very careful. They need to read and understand the policies of their agencies first and foremost. Publications like NJ Blue Now and other law enforcement news sources are interested in a well-put-together article that expresses viewpoints. And I make myself available on Facebook and my website both for public discussion on my page and private conversations where I can be their voice.

Do you believe policing in America has changed drastically since you retired in 2010?
Policing itself has not really changed since the first Constable put on a badge. When I say that, I mean that people have always faced temptation, internal struggles, mental illness and so on. The human condition created challenges for police officers throughout history. The things that have changed on the positive side for law enforcement is training have vastly improved, equipment and technology including protective equipment is vastly better and accessible and education has improved. On the other side though, the dangers facing officers have never been greater. Physical danger from physical confrontations have always been part of the job but with the current breakdown in American society, lack of respect for any kinds of authority and a lack of fear of repercussions, more and more people who never would have thought of assaulting the police are feeling empowered to do so. The misuse of social media and lack of true leadership in police agencies has cost careers as well as lives.

Who do you admire in law enforcement?
I admire those cops and deputies and troopers and agents who still believe in the importance of what they do and go out every freaking day and do it with honor and integrity. I admire those who despite the rhetoric and biased news media are not afraid to make the car stops and pedestrian stops and face the criminal enemies that prey on the people they serve. And I admire those who still act with kindness and compassion and aren’t afraid to reach out with empathy when they feel they should. In other words, I admire most working cops.

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.

Entertainment

Ink Masters’ Winner Dave Kruseman
By Dan Lorenzo

Love it or hate it, Spike TV’s Ink Masters has helped popularize tattooing to the main stream. Season six winner Dave Kruseman owns and works out of Olde Line Tattoo in Hagerstown, Maryland with his wife Kim. Kruseman’s specialty is American Traditional. I recently met Kruseman in Atlantic City. He was kind and humble with me as well as with his fans.

Dan Lorenzo: Right before you arrived in Newark, NJ to film 
Ink Masters what were your fears if any? Were you afraid to leave your family?

Dave Kruseman: Yeah, I think that my biggest fear was leaving my family for a long period of time. I didn’t know what to expect, you know what I mean? I didn’t know if I was going to be gone for a month or two months… for a week. I think it was more a fear of the unknown and not knowing who I was going to be competing with until once I got there.

You knew Duffy (his former apprentice) was going to be there, but no one else?

She was the only one that I knew. Other than her I didn’t know anybody else.

From my understanding you are really cut off from the outside world once you sign on. Could you at least speak with your wife Kim?
I got to talk to Kim every night on the phone for about an hour, but other than that we were pretty much on “tattoo lockdown.” We couldn’t leave or go anywhere. All the windows were blacked out. We basically just lived in the dorm rooms with a bunch of guys that we had never met that we were competing against.

I heard there were times you wanted to throw in the towel because you missed your family so much?

Yeah, I think that a couple of times I wanted to throw in the towel because I missed my family and a couple of times because I thought that the challenges were so ridiculous that I almost refused to do them, but my wife being the awesome person that she is and the voice of reason, talked me into staying multiple times.

Reality television has a way of spinning your worst moments into common occurrences. For somebody who saw your persona just via Ink Masters was that a fair representation of the real you?

I think that the show is pretty dead on. They portrayed me exactly as I really am so I can’t really speak for anybody else. I look at it this way: If they put it on there, you had to say it. They can’t create words that come out of your mouth.

Were there any artists you met on the show who you think you’ll be lifelong friends with or did everybody go their separate ways after the show ended?
Everybody pretty much went their separate ways, but I will definitely be lifelong friends with Duffy and Matt and Katie McGowan are friends of mine. I also think I will be lifelong friends with Craig Foster. We really hit it off.

The tattoo convention circuit features really long days. Isn’t it a much harder work day than it would be at your shop  in the mall?
I think the typical Friday is really hard because you’re in a new environment and need to set your stuff up a certain way, but once you get through that first tattoo then it’s a cakewalk. It’s like moving into a new shop and you get used to your surroundings and you roll with the punches.
The fact that the finale was live and it seemed like the audience was so loud it must have been hard to hear. Was that more pressure?

The finale was definitely the most pressure that I felt through the whole season just because it was live. I mean, I’ve never been in a band or anything like that so I’ve never been onstage. As soon as the people started coming in and the crowd got louder and louder I got really really nervous, but at the same time I kinda felt like a rock-star that night. It was really cool to look out and see the sea of people that were supporting us.

Tell me something about your personal life. Are you into sports? What music are you into?
I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan. I’m a huge Waylon Jennings fan. I’m really into painting in my spare time and my children. We’re nerdy moms and dads that just happen to be cool. (laughs)

Every tattoo artist I know is against tattooing the name of a loved one’s romantic partner.
I try to steer people clear of that, but if they are going to do it I try to get them to do it in a color so it’s easy to cover up.
Do you have Kim’s name tattooed on yourself?
I do. Very very small! (laughs)

Interview

Short, Sharp Interview Detective Sergeant Anthony Damiano (Ret.)
“I Ain’t Your Papi!”
By John Welsh

NJ Blue Now: You spent over 25 years in law enforcement and all over the country you are known for your appearance on the television show COPS and that classic “I ain’t your papi!” phrase. What was that experience like?

Anthony Damiano: I hear that phrase all the time and everywhere I go. The COPS show was a great experience. At first I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little nervous on COPS. There was a camera guy in the front seat and a soundman in the backseat and I didn’t know these guys. But, once I got into a foot chase and the cameraman kept up I knew working with these guys was going to work out just fine. After that I was a little bit more open to the COPS crew riding with me every day. Hey, plus the free dinner every night didn’t hurt either.

I also remember thinking at that time how everybody would react to my style of policing. Looking back, being on COPS was one of the best experiences of my life.

Did your department welcome the attention you received?
The department got a lot of good feedback from other police departments all around the country after I appeared on COPS. The sheriff at the time, Jerry Speziale, would call me and tell me ‘hey you got another 20 letters and emails that came in.’ He also told me anytime he would go out of state, people always asked him how’s the guy from Cops doing. I also hear to this day people still call headquarters and ask if I still work there.

When did you decide to pursue a career in law enforcement?
As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a police officer. I grew up watching my dad, Carmine. He was a Clifton Special Officer in the late 60s up until 2014. It was great seeing him in uniform. When he was on patrol he often stopped home for dinner with the squad car. My brother, Steven is a sergeant with Prospect Park PD. Our father was our role model. Because of him, we wanted to be cops.

If you didn’t become an officer, what would have been your plan B?
Right out of high school I started taking law enforcement entrance exams. I received a call in 1987 for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department Courthouse Division.  Prior to that I worked in the Shearson Lehman kitchen at the World Trade Center, so I guess it was a blessing that I got called for the Sheriffs Department job or I may not be around to talk about it today.

What did you like most about being an officer?
Besides all the action and outsmarting and arresting of criminals, I would say the most rewarding part of being a cop was when you would help someone with something basic, like having them follow you when they are lost in the city somewhere or pushing them to safety with the squad car when they were stuck on the highway. Also speaking to the kids and being a good role model. I always like when children ask all kinds of question and their faces light up when you speak to them.

What have you learned after retiring that you’d like to share with all the officers out there right now?
Make the best out of your law enforcement career while you’re in it because everyone is replaceable. Don’t think for a second your department needs you.

When you retire all you have left is your legacy and how you wish to be remembered and your fellow officers are either going to say you were either a good person and cop, or good for nothing. Your career goes by as fast as a blink of an eye.

What do you plan to do in your retirement?
I plan to continue to enjoy retirement by traveling, drinking good wine, enjoying good food and smoking a nice cigar. It’s that simple. I’ll spend my summers in Italy and during the year head out to Aruba, Costa Rica and wherever else a plane can take me. It’s all about enjoying life.

Any advice you can share with officers?
In this new world we live in, you need to have a new way of policing. You have to always be aware of your surroundings and always know someone is watching you even when you think that they are not, so make every decision wisely. Someone is always ready to scrutinize your work. Treat everyone as if you want him or her to treat you. And remember a bad decision is better than no decision at all.

Also, don’t take the job home with you. Leave it at work. Enjoy your days off with your family. They put up with a lot from you working holidays and weekends and your occasional bad mood when you get home from work. And lastly, your main objective is to keep yourself safe as well as your fellow officers and the community. Always remember you chose this profession, you wanted to be a cop.

Do you have any regrets?
I have no regrets. I had an outstanding career. I’ve made lots of friends on my department as well as other police agencies from all over. Throughout the years, I’ve celebrated birthdays and many holidays with my brothers and sisters in law enforcement. They became part of my cop family. Who else knows you better than your fellow cops about what you go through day in and day out. And, seriously, I have nothing to regret. My most important accomplishment was making my dad proud of the work I’ve done in my career. That’s good enough for me.

Awareness

It’s time to rethink the allowance of Syrian refugees into the U.S.
By Bernard Kerik

In October, FBI Director James Comey testified before a U.S. House Oversight Committee, telling how there was no way the U.S. could properly vet or account for the thousands of Syrian refugees scheduled to be released into the United States in the coming weeks, nor could there be a guarantee we weren’t allowing in radical extremists. Director Comey said that unless we had a record of the refugees as a result of something they may have done in Syria, nothing would show up in our vetting process. I cannot agree more, and Congress and the President should take him at his word.

Although we have some of the most integrated intelligence databases in the world today, starting with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and National Counterterrorism Center, CIA, NSA, and surprisingly one of the best, the DEA, if the refugees released into the U.S. have never been entered into one of those systems, and given we’ve had not diplomatic relationship with Syria in years, there is literally nothing to vet. We’re not going to have a clue who they are, where they really come from, or if they are in fact, a real refugee, or an ISIS substitute posing as a refugee, which we already know has happened in Paris.

In the aftermath of the invasion into Iraq in 2003, we attempted to vet recruits and commanders for the Iraqi Interior, and came to realize quickly that without Iraqi databases to review, or the slim chance that the U.S. Coalition had intelligence on these people in some coalition database, the only way to vet them was through their peers. To say the least, that proved a quite imperfect process. Yet, now we’re talking about vetting Syrian refugees, solely dependent on our own national security databases and not much of anything else. More problematic, is the fact that ISIS has infiltrated a number of major cities in northern Syria, storming and taking over various government offices and buildings. They have the ability to forge and fabricate any Syrian document they want, including passports and residency documents.

Knowing that at least one of the attackers in the Paris terror attacks have been confirmed to have entered France disguised as a refugee, this should be a warning sign that with thousands of Syrian refugees scheduled to enter the U.S. in the next several weeks, it’s time to re-think this program.

If this attack would have happened in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, or Los Angeles, and one or more of the attackers were disguised as refugees, would we even be having this argument? Absolutely not!

We do not have the ability to vet these refugees properly, and until we do, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Until we can guarantee we know who these people are, where they come from, and if their background is clean from terror or associates thereof, our citizens’ safety and security are going to be even more vulnerable than it is today. Given what we’ve witnessed over the past fourteen years, that is not an option.

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.

Legal News

When a Cop is being 
investigated or charged with a crime
By Robert (Bob) Bianchi, Esq.

Around the state “overkill prosecutions” against police officers is rising at alarming rates. Often aided by the abusive Official Misconduct statute and its draconian penalties, officers are often forced to plea to a lesser crime.

Cases against cops are a challenging environment for the criminal defense attorney. But, that job is made even more difficult by two major factors:

1. Securing Aggressive and skilled Lawyering:
We represent many police officers after they have already chosen another attorney who began “work” on their case. In some instances, the critical first steps that a skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney would perform, have been missed, opportunities lost. Get the best attorney you can secure at the very beginning of your case. This is not a time to bargain shop!

2. Keep your mouth shut!:
The hope that you will “talk your way out of it” or that the officers investigating will “have your back” is a disastrous thought process.

In a recent blog post, I wrote on the 3Rs to anyone being investigated or charged with a crime, and this includes cops. I hope that the advice in the blog will someday save a good police officer’s job and/or liberty:

In the beginning of a criminal Investigation or case….

Relax
1. Try your best to relax. You are frightened, typically alone, and understandably intimidated. This is a factor prosecutors and police know very well and they will use those emotions against you in a number of ways to secure information/data.

Remain Silent
2. There is no truer advice, more valid a statement, more important a choice for a client under investigation or charged with a crime than to keep your mouth shut! Many times the case was only provable by the admissions of the client. And yes, I have seen countless cases where a client (even an innocent one) rehearses a story thinking they will outdo, or fool law enforcement. Not one criminal defendant I have ever seen in 26 years of criminal trial practice got that one correct. Many also feel that if they exercise their 5th Amendment rights, that they will look guilty. Police, prosecutors, and judges all know that even innocent people assert their rights. The 5th Amendment, as they say, is “to protect the innocent as well as the guilty.” Police often offer promises of leniency if you speak with them. Don’t do it. Only the prosecutor can offer you anything for a statement and it has to be in writing. Many times a person speaks to the police with promises of leniency and they get nothing in return.

Retain the best Criminal Defense Attorney that you can
3. Retain the best criminal defense attorney you can afford. This process of choosing an excellent attorney is difficult with approximately 93,000 lawyers in NJ. So what is the best way to get a great criminal defense attorney? Here are some good places to start:

a) Hire a former head County Prosecutor or Assistant Prosecutor. Now, not all former prosecutors and assistant prosecutors are as skilled, aggressive and effective as are others. But, former prosecutors know best how prosecutors think, act, and prosecute. It is a tremendous advantage to any criminal defense attorney. They know the weak spots in investigations. And, former prosecutors were typically in court all the time. They have far more courtroom time trying and negotiating cases. Having been a prosecutor is an invaluable training ground for any good criminal defense attorney.

Also, ask any former prosecutor what units they served in while serving as prosecutors. Not all former assistant prosecutors have the same level of experience. If the prosecutor was in the homicide, sex crimes, or major crimes units of a prosecutor’s office, for example, chances are that their colleagues and bosses felt that they had special trial talents, as these units are demanding, intense, and the most important in any prosecutor’s office. Usually, the “crème of the crop” winds up in these units.

b) Hire a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Criminal Trial Attorney. The certification process of the New Jersey Supreme Court is the most intense, independent, objective, and exhaustive review of a criminal trial attorney’s skills and successes. In New Jersey, there are only 250 attorneys out of 93,000 attorneys that are NJ Supreme Court Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys. To receive this certification the application alone requires many trials, arguments in court, education credits, years as an attorney, peer review, judge review, and then an intense test to determine the skills of the trial attorney. It is run and monitored by the Supreme Court and every four years, you have to renew your certification and demonstrate continuing excellence in the area of criminal trial practice.

c) Pick an attorney that cares about you as a person, as much as he does about your case. The best attorneys are passionate about what they do. They care for their clients’ well-being, and respect that they have the lives of human beings in their hands. They will not stop advocating vociferously for you, until they have achieved the best result possible, given the facts and law of your case. You need the comfort of knowing your attorney is doing his best for you. While no attorney can guarantee a result in a criminal case, he cares about you and will fight his  best to achieve the best outcome he can for you.

Picking the “right” attorney in a criminal matter is the singular most important decision you can make. It has literal consequences and is not a time to “bargain shop.” Hiring a great criminal defense attorney may cost more money, but look at it as an investment in your future.

And know most importantly, no matter how bleak your situation looks; no matter how dark and cold it may seem; no matter how much you are weighed down by fear and regret; there is always hope.

There may be some pain like in all things in life. But, a proper mindset, a proper attitude, and a great attorney are the essential keys to success or mitigation of the consequences of any criminal case.

Robert A. Bianchi, Esq., served as the Morris County Prosecutor from June 22, 2007 through February 8, 2013. The New Jersey Supreme Court has awarded him the distinction of being a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney, with less than 1% of the attorneys (approximately 250 attorneys) in this State who are so qualified. Mr. Bianchi is a nationally recognized TV Legal Analyist on many networks and regularly appears weekly on Fox News Network.

Crime Beat

The War on Heroin Intensifies as New York and New Jersey Team Up
By Joe Uliano

On November 20th, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced the arrest of Shawn Flemmings, 33, an alleged drug dealer from Paterson. Flemming was charged with Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths (2C:35-9). The arrest comes via a joint operation involving both New York and New Jersey Attorney General Offices, working under the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Heroin Task Force (NEMA-HTF).

The investigation stemmed from the discovery of a 27-year-old male, who suffered a fatal drug overdose in Warwick, New York on Oct. 17, 2015. During the investigation, officers from the Warwick Police located the victim’s cellphone and Fentanyl-laced heroin that was packaged under the name “Ball Room,” at the scene. The cellphone was later turned over to the New York Attorney General’s Office, who was able to determine that the victim had been communicating with a dealer known as “S,” out of Paterson, New Jersey.

As the investigation progressed, investigators determined that the victim had direct communications with “S” on Oct. 16, 2015, and in fact purchased heroin from him at a location on Vreeland Avenue in Paterson. After “S” was identified, members of the New York Attorney General’s Office teamed up with Detectives from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, who were already familiar with “S,” a street name that belonged to Shawn Flemmings. Their familiarity originated from an unrelated arrest that alleged Flemmings participated in a drug deal on October 27, 2015, while he was in possession of and distributing heroin labeled “Ball Room.”

Through a collective effort and the sharing of valuable information from across state lines, investigators compiled an exhaustive amount of evidence, linking Flemmings to the death of the 27-year-old victim.

“This case demonstrates resolve to hold heroin dealers accountable for their conscienceless infliction of addiction, misery, and death upon our community,” Attorney General Hoffman stated in his press release.

This case sends a clear and concise message to drug dealers that they will be hunted down and held accountable for the deaths of drug addicts that they supply. “The heroin crisis doesn’t stop at state lines and neither can our fight against it,” New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneidermann said.

It appears that a major precedence has been established and the law enforcement community can anticipate more arrests of this nature in the future.

Flemmings is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but if convicted, faces a 10 to 20 year prison sentence.

Photo Courtesy: NJ Attorney General Press Release

Cover Story

ETHICAL SURVIVAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
By Lt. Randy Sutton (Ret.)

That dreary autumn day death walked with Sgt. Philip Ross. He felt its cold presence, like a stalking shadow, as he headed into the wooded area behind his home. He thought of his wife, his daughter, his fourteen years at the police department where his fellow officers were more like extended family than co-workers. Tears welled up and blurred his vision as the fall leaves crunched under his boots. Even though his fully loaded 9mm Sig was stuffed into his waistband, he knew he had no defense against the thing that pursued him. He stopped and leaned against a tree, resting his forehead against the rough bark while tears welled up and blurred his vision. There was a note in his pocket; it said, simply: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Attached to it, held by a paper clip, was the indictment bearing his name. He raised his duty weapon and opened his mouth –
“Phil?…”

He heard his wife’s voice then he heard her soft footsteps as she ran across the dirty leaves in her bedroom slippers.
“No!… No!…”

And then she was throwing her arms around him, hugging him, kissing his tear-streaked face.
“Please, don’t,” she whispered
.
They held each other for a long time. Then she eased the gun out of his hand and they walked back to the house without speaking. He showered, dressed, and together they drove to the court for his sentencing.

Seven years later, with pain still etched on his face, former police Sgt. Phil Ross told me, “For years I trained… firearms, tactics, officer safety, and in the end I destroyed my own career and almost my life with one stupid decision.”

What was that decision? While investigating a major drug trafficker, Phil and his team developed enough probable cause to get a search warrant for his home. Because of circumstances, they made entry to freeze the premises while the warrant was in progress and discovered several kilos of cocaine. To bolster the case, Phil wrote that he found the cocaine after the warrant was issued. The suspect was convicted and sent to prison but on appeal it was discovered that the cocaine was actually found before the warrant was issued. He was released from prison, given a large cash award and Phil was fired and prosecuted.

The New Survival Challenge

Physical danger is one of the most fundamental aspects of law enforcement and so, in order to survive, we train to protect ourselves both physically and mentally. Yet the last decade has seen a leveling off of “line of duty” deaths of law enforcement officers. Common belief is that better equipment, body armor, and training is responsible and as a police trainer for one of the largest police agencies in the United States, I must agree. The training budget in most police departments is heavily geared toward firearms training, tactical training and officer safety and, accordingly, those are the concerns in the minds of our nation’s law enforcement officers each day as they pin on their badges and strap on their gun belts.

But ethical danger, as Sgt. Phil Ross experienced, can also be fatal. And if not fatal, then with permanent repercussions. For example, in my department alone, for every officer lost in the line of duty in the last five years, seventy did not survive ethically and were terminated. And unlike those who died honorably, these officers were alive but disgraced.

The Concept of Ultimate Responsibility
I recently saw an interview with a corrections officer who had been caught on video forcing prisoners in his care to sexually abuse one another while he watched. He denied that he was in the wrong, saying that there was no written rule specifically forbidding his behavior. This ignorant justification, this denial of personal responsibility, is far too similar to what every law enforcement officer hears out on the street every day. The constant exposure to the array of excuses that spew from criminal suspects, the non-stop bombardment of denial of responsibility for what occurred, is one of the contributing factors to the hardened cynicism in street cops. But we, as law enforcement officers, cannot allow either the ‘I’m-not-responsible mindset’ or unchecked cynicism to pollute either our guiding perspective or our actions. We possess an incredible amount of discretion and autonomy; we must accept a degree of responsibility commensurate with our positions. We are given the latitude to make decisions each and every day that run from the mundane to the life-changing. What we must keep foremost in our mind is that each of these decisions is “owned” and that ownership lies with the one who makes it.

“If I make a decision, 
however big or small, then 
I am accountable for it.”

This is the concept of ultimate responsibility and if we embrace this simple idea we can avoid a myriad of ethical pitfalls. Will you or I always make the correct decision? Not unless we are blessed with some sort of celestial wisdom. But this is where it all starts – with self-accountability, the ultimate responsibility.

Let’s take the case of Officer John Black, a three-year police officer in a large urban police department. He came under investigation for logging out for an unauthorized coffee break during a follow-up investigation. When questioned, Officer Black lied by denying the coffee break, unaware that he had been observed by another officer. Where he faced minor disciplinary action, he now faced – and received – termination. He made a mistake but he compounded that mistake by not being accountable. Statistically, law enforcement agencies across the country are seeing higher rates of termination for truthfulness issues than ever before and the most incomprehensible aspect of this is had the officers not lied about the initial conduct under investigation, they would have not been terminated in the first place.

Aside from simple ethical duty, there are a number of pragmatic reasons why law enforcement agencies nationwide are increasingly holding officers strictly accountable for truthfulness. Among them is public awareness of officer conduct and oversight scrutiny such as Citizens’ Review Boards provide. Court decisions like U.S. vs. Henthorn which allow a law enforcement officer’s personnel file to be examined by a judge in order to determine an officer’s credibility is another factor. Should a truthfulness issue be on record, the officer’s usefulness as a witness is basically forfeited.

Lack of truthfulness, however corrosive, is not the most potentially destructive enemy of an on-duty law enforcement officer – complacency is. Complacency has destroyed more officers than all things combined; it is our mortal enemy. Complacency means more than dropping our guard, physically and ethically; it means not taking the extra step, walking the extra mile; it means only doing the minimum necessary to get by; it means shortchanging yourself and the quality of your life. Complacency means not doing anything above and beyond the minimum: ethical survival requires preparedness and this means training the psyche with the same vigor one prepares to survive tactically.

A highly respected and decorated 20-year police veteran was asked how he had escaped ethical pitfalls during his career. He said simply, “I know myself and I respect who I am.” He had discovered one of the most important strategies in mental preparation: “self-definition.” Each of us is unique in our life’s experience, our personal values and our goals. But few of us take the time to reflect on who we truly are. How can we do this?
Complete a personal inventory

This isn’t as easy as it may sound. It requires that you take a long introspective look at yourself. If you like what you see, then you can probably clearly see the hard road of self-evolution you went down to get were you are. Who you are is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. If, however, there are areas that you feel need improvement this is the opportunity to make those changes.

Believe
Religious belief and spirituality have long played a vital role in guiding the decision-making of those who contribute to their communities. Our nation’s law enforcement officers come from every religious background known to man and many have been drawn to the profession because of the corresponding values that law enforcement represents. The label you attach to your set of beliefs isn’t as important as the existence of those beliefs; those officers who have strong belief systems are far less inclined to stray ethically than those without.

Honor yourself and your co-workers. Law enforcement officers are special people. Unfortunately, we honor ourselves rarely, funerals and retirements being the most frequent occasions. But each day heroic actions are commonplace; celebrate them. How often have you watched a professional sports game where a player accomplishes a difficult play? More often than not, his teammates acknowledge him with encouraging words and vigorous pats on the back. Law enforcement is the ultimate team sport; so when another officer accomplishes a good arrest or makes a positive difference in someone’s life, celebrate it. Be vocal, be congratulatory, be encouraging. Honor your co-workers and, when your moments come, they will honor you.

In Conclusion
Law enforcement has lost, and continues to lose, many dedicated, talented officers to ethics-related issues. Just as we prepare ourselves tactically for physical threat we must prepare ourselves mentally for ethical threats. By embracing the concept of ultimate responsibility–the principle of accountability–we can take charge of our own professional destinies. By equipping ourselves with belief and self-definition, we protect ourselves with the armor of thought and the shield of professional honor. Otherwise, as Sgt. Phil Ross can attest, it’s a long and lonely walk into the courtroom for sentencing but it’s an even longer walk into the woods.

Randy Sutton is a 33-year Law Enforcement veteran and the National Spokesman for ‘THE AMERICAN COUNCIL ON PUBLIC SAFETY.” www.defendingtheshield.org 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. 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 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. 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.” His website is www.thepoweroflegacy.com.

 

Awareness

Sex for sale: at what price?
By Capt. Lori Mambelli (Ret.)

Recently I listened to a presenter who spoke about the elements of human trafficking and how widespread the problem is. I was intrigued when I heard her describe what goes on right here in our country, and sometimes even in our backyards. Human trafficking for sex is the most common type. It is a modern form of slavery. It breeds in casinos, on the streets and even through your handheld devices. Victims could be the girl or boy next door as well as illegal foreigners. Sometimes victims are lured into believing it’s a better way of life, and other times, they are kidnapped, abducted, and beaten into submission. All drawn into a held-against-their-will, abusive type of slavery prostitution, which by definition 
is rape.

33464018_mRape, such a hard word–a four-letter word, a word that has such a negative connotation that most of the public media refrains from using it. Rape often times is grossly misstated as inappropriate behavior or misconduct.

Prostitution, on the other hand, also a crime, is unfortunately downplayed and considered a sometimes socially accepted type of illegal behavior. Some don’t see the big deal, believing the prostitute chose this lifestyle, right? But, just because he or she is soliciting and being paid for sex, does that mean they are consenting? Is the person under these circumstances truly capable of giving consent? Consent is based on a wanting. Is the want there? Isn’t a man or woman considered to be in an altered mental state or incapacitated if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or sleep deprivation? Or under the duress of a pimp or madam? Or by feelings of terror, fear, depression, worthlessness, guilt, embarrassment and other emotions. Research shows that almost 80 percent 
of prostitutes are not acting on their own 
free will.

How many of us law enforcement officers actually thought to ask a prostitute if they needed help? Do we ask if they are being held against their will? Are they performing against their will? Do we try to engage a conversation to get to the bottom of what was really going on? Do we ask if they felt they were raped or if they were subjected to violence and coercion? Sometimes we should ask ourselves if we did anything to investigate further.

A female pop singer has a very popular video where she portrays a young woman who is auctioned off as a sex slave to rich men drinking their whisky. It begins with youthful innocence and progresses into raunchy aggressiveness. She is dressed in scantily sexy provocative outfits throughout the video. At one point, as she looks into a mirror, she sees her dark and confused side in her reflection. It goes on to show men bidding for her service and she becoming a sex slave for the highest bidder. The video ends with her lying in bed next to the burnt charred body of her lover whom she killed. The takeaway: Those involved in sex for hire have something very emotional going on and feel there is no way out.

And the pimp? Well, first, to deal in human trafficking and prostitution is a much safer and more profitable enterprise than, say, dealing drugs or guns, which can both only be sold once. In contrary, a prostitute can be sold many times a day and the pimp can collect as much as he (or she) wants of the earnings. Some pimps have openly admitted the profits are worth the risk of jail time.

And what about the so-called ‘John’ (the person soliciting, condoning, and creating the demand for the behavior?) Sometimes, so much more dangerous than the pimp, what really happens to them? Clients are often middle and upper-class white men, some being influential businessmen, politicians, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers or doctors. A secret underworld. Do they understand what they are contributing to? Do they even care? They may get arrested, their story may make the press, and they may be embarrassed, lose their jobs and maybe go to jail. But does this really have any effect on the problem? Human trafficking and prostitution is a market-driven criminal industry generating billions of dollars. The demand for sex will always be there.

More troubling is there is an increasing number of young girls and boys reluctantly entering the industry, and the average starting age is 13 according to a Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, an organization based out of Harlem that rescues young women from sexual exploitation.

Therefore, the importance of being a role model to young men and women is critical. We cannot just turn a blind eye. Reach out, pay attention, talk to our youth, become a mentor, make a difference. Together we can combat the human trafficking and prostitution problem.

Lori Mambelli is a retired Captain from Passaic County Sheriff’s Dept., former Adjunct Professor FDU School of Criminal Justice, former President New Jersey Women in Law Enforcement. She has a masters degree in Administrative Science, a Certified NJ Public Manager, Academy Instructor, EMT. Experience includes Commander of Bureau of Criminal ID, Evidence, Patrol, Court Security, and Communications,  Domestic Violence Liaison, Emergency Response Team, background investigations, media requests, Sheriff’s representative County Law & Public Safety Committee, Grant Administrator & Internships. Received Dept. of State Award for Excellence, commendations for police work and leadership, & meritorious awards for Exceptional Service.