Training

Situational Leadership: The Answer to the Civil Service Promotion System?
By Eddie Molina

If the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Promotion System is anything–it is fair. But it’s certainly not without its flaws.
In most private sector organizations, individuals are promoted based on performance, experience and sometimes the bosses just have a ‘gut feeling’ an individual will succeed in the new position. A major downside to this merit system is that it sometimes leaves room for interpretation in regards to favoritism and if someone simply ‘knows the right people.’

The CSC aims to eliminate any possibility of favoritism and relies solely on a test score to gauge a person’s ability to manage and supervise others. It focuses on fairness and even credits individuals with more work experience. However, this system has its flaws too: It does not take into account a person’s experience in supervising others.

This ultimately leads to sometimes individuals getting promoted to a supervisory position without any formal management, leadership or supervisory experience. These newly promoted individuals will make mistakes as they go along and learn from them. They should, however, do a little bit of research into current leadership and management principles that exist today to better equip them with their new roles and responsibilities.

One of the leadership theories that many experts believe can help a supervisor with limited experience is known as the Situation Leadership Theory. In short, the leader adapts himself or herself to the situation and adjusts their management style accordingly. To put this in perspective, other theories exist that encourage the leaders to change the environment in which subordinates work, or change the subordinates roles and responsibilities to suit the leader or organizational needs. With situational leadership, the leader is adapting to the current environment or situation.
The theory works likes this: There are four basic types of subordinates. They are labeled M1 through M4, with the ‘M’ representing professional ‘maturity’ level.

• Type M1: A highly committed individual that wants to accomplish all tasks, is motivated to achieve stated goals and has the knowledge, wisdom and experience to successfully complete any mission.
• Type M2: A highly experienced individual that has knowledge and wisdom but has little to no motivation to go beyond the minimum required amount of work. There are often specific reasons for their lack of motivation and can be improved with proper leadership.
• Type M3: A highly committed individual that wants to accomplish all tasks, is motivated to achieve stated goals but lacks the wisdom, knowledge and experience. This person is typically new to the organization and is eager and willing to learn.
• Type M4: An inexperienced person with little to no knowledge or wisdom about the job and shows little to no motivation to improve their knowledge base or gain useful experience. This person ‘just wants to get by.’
These are the four basic types of subordinates. Each person generally falls into a category. It is also important to understand that subordinate level types (M1-M4) can change over time due to their assigned current leader’s skill level, outside influences and/or change in responsibilities.

A leader who understands the four subordinate types can then adapt to each person and adjust their management style. The manager will adjust their leadership style depending on the subordinate level type and the task at hand.
Situational Leadership Theory suggests there are four basic types of leadership styles that will match and suit the four types of subordinates. These four are known as Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating. They are defined as:
Directing: The leader clearly states the directives and primarily uses one-way communication to ensure the subordinates fully understand the goals and the end state. The manager closely monitors progress and if change is required, solely decides on the type, level and severity of change needed with little to no input from subordinates. The management style is specifically geared toward the M4 type of subordinate that needs close supervision and proper guidance.

Coaching: The leader works closely with the subordinates to develop solutions to meet the stated goals. There is more of a two-way communication but the leader makes the decision based on having increased knowledge and experience. This management style is geared to the M3 subordinate that is willing to learn but lacks the skill to accomplish the task without direct oversight.

Supporting: This approach is most appropriate for M2 subordinates, who have the knowledge and experience but lack the motivation to give 100%. The leader in this case should focus on motivating the subordinate and finding out the root causes of their lack of motivation. This is significant in the CSC system as many subordinates lose motivation due to routinely working with inexperienced supervisors that often employ micromanagement as a form of leadership. Interpersonal skills are paramount for the supporting leader and requires training and experience to master.
Delegating: This leader has high confidence in the subordinate and need only to state what has to be done with minimal direction and guidance. The subordinate has the experience, knowledge and motivation to fully meet every goal with little oversight from the leader. This approach works best with an M1 type of subordinate. Inexperienced leaders must recognize this type of subordinate and resist the urge to closely monitor and micromanage the subordinate.
Remember that this leadership style is only a theory. But most of us would agree that sometimes a person in a CSC system can make their way to a leadership position with no formal leadership experience. This can be challenging especially for subordinates that are good at what they do, have the experience to achieve any goals and have the motivation to properly finish the task. It is, at the very least, a simple solution to help alleviate one of the weaknesses of the CSC promotional system. Through proper leadership it can bring a subordinate that was once motivated to work back to life.

So if you or someone you know falls into this category, then perhaps suggest using a Situational Leadership style. It may serve them well and more importantly, serve subordinates even better.

Women In Blue

Domestic Violence: The Batterer & Victim Wear Badges
By Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (Ret.)

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Generally speaking, domestic violence is a learned behavior exhibiting a pattern of coercive domination and control based on or supported by violence.

Domestic violence batterers are manipulators and predators who use physical intimidation, emotional control, their authority and the vulnerability and loyalty of their victims to fuel their lust for control and domination. Batterers make their victims feel as though they are responsible for the abuse.

It’s a painful reality for victims of domestic violence to face when loved ones turn on them, but it’s an extraordinary challenge when the batterer and the victim are both law enforcement officers.

According to research by the National Center for Women and Policing conducted in the 1990s, two studies found that at least 40% of law enforcement families experience domestic violence in contrast to 10% of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24%, indicating that domestic violence is 2-4 times more common among law enforcement families than American families in general.

Underreporting or Not Reporting the Abuse
Because domestic violence abuse is often shrouded in secrecy, and frequently incidents go unreported and misreported, no one knows precisely how often domestic violence occurs or how many people are affected. However, domestic violence incidents are often discovered in divorce statistics, medical reports or as homicides.

Underreporting of domestic violence among the general public is a problem but it is likely to be an even greater problem among female law enforcement officers. These victims have their own unique reasons for not reporting the abuse perpetrated by their spouses, boyfriends or family members who are also law enforcement officers. Based on my personal experience as a survivor of officer-perpetrated domestic violence, I know that female officers are less likely to self report the abuse or call the police because: they work within a male-dominated police culture; they might be perceived as weak for tolerating the abuse; and fear their jobs could be in jeopardy.

In her book, Crossing The Threshold: Female Officers and Police-Perpetrated Domestic Violence, Diane Wetendorf believes that a female officer may prefer to hold herself responsible for ‘allowing’ the domestic violence to happen, thus implying that she can control it and can do something different the next time that will prevent an attack. Wetendorf stresses, “The female officer’s denial is a coping mechanism that helps her maintain a sense of control, strength and invulnerability. She simply cannot afford to identify herself or have others identify her as a battered woman.”
Female officers know their officer abusers misuse their institutional powers and know how to work the system. They use physical and non-physical methods to make their victims feel helpless and ashamed and know where to assault their victims in concealed areas without leaving marks. Both officers take their firearms home with them, making the level of violence even more dangerous.

The Coercive Control Model
Dr. Evan Stark, the founder of the first shelter for abused women in the United States and an award-winning researcher and a leader in domestic violence advocacy, has an international reputation for his work on interpersonal violence.

In his book, Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life, Stark talks about the coercive control model being a pattern of behavior focusing on control and dominance that men use as a form of subjugation that more closely resembles kidnapping or indentured servants than assault. And how abusers extend their domination over time in ways that subvert women’s autonomy and infiltrate the most intimate corners of their lives and exercise control over their decision making. Stark said, “Coercive control entails a malevolent course of conduct that subordinates women to an alien will by violating their physical integrity (domestic violence), denying them respect and autonomy (intimidation), depriving them of social connectedness (isolation), and appropriating or denying them access to the resources required for personhood and citizenship (control).”

Zero-Tolerance for Abuse
A July 2003 Concepts and Issues Paper, “Domestic Violence by Police Officers” prepared by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center, acknowledges that the problem of domestic violence by police officers deserves careful attention. It says, in part, “A tone of zero-tolerance to officer-involved domestic violence may be the most crucial prevention method for law enforcement departments/agencies to implement. Zero-tolerance is accomplished through comprehensive baseline education and training for all officers, implementation of a policy, and consistent policy enforcement.”

All domestic violence offenders must be held accountable for their actions, even when the offender is a law enforcement officer.

Captain Donna Roman Hernandez (Ret.) served 29 years in the Patrol Division of the Essex County and Caldwell Police Departments (NJ). She is a domestic violence and sexual assault subject matter expert and a keynote speaker/writer on law enforcement topics. Her book, Domestic Violence Kills, will be available on Amazon.com in November.  Donna is the President of Violence Intervention & Prevention Specialists, a multi-faceted training company.  She is the Host of Tough Justice Talk Radio Show (www.toughjusticeddv.com). Contact Donna at Violenceips@yahoo.com or www.blueforcefilms.com.

 

Corrections

Gang Life is Often Regrettable
By Efren Almodovar

Being a corrections officer allows me an inside look into gang members, and here’s a trend I noticed: Most members eventually (if they live long enough) get to a point where they regret ever joining.

Here’s how the cycle works: Gang members are not born gang members; they choose the lifestyle believing it’s the easiest and best way of life. They come in all shapes and sizes and from all racial, social and economic backgrounds. They become who they are because they want to belong to something. Once affiliated, their desire to compete among each other becomes an often tragic quest to see who is the tougher, more loyal member. The gang lifestyle is typically short-lived because when they are arrested, all financial support is gone. The “bond” that was formed is broken and everything they perceived as truth was revealed as an illusion.

Over the years, I have always questioned gang members about their reasons for joining because, to me, it seems undesirable to choose a lifestyle that is wrought with constant worry about rivals killing you, or struggling through unending fights, multiple incarcerations, and enough legal trouble to make your head spin. Surprisingly, there is never the same answer, but many, if not most, claim they did not receive the expected “benefits” they were seeking.

Through constant dealing, speaking, and interviewing gang members, I have learned that as members become older, they undoubtedly become wiser in the game. Many realize that joining was a mistake. They confess that incarceration was never worth it and wish they could hit a reset button and start over. But by the time they realize, they have already developed an extensive criminal record and constantly live in fear. There is always that lingering anxiety about who is going to get them next. In addition, a large percentage of gang members cannot read or write past the fifth grade level—a contributing factor as to why some members do not understand the written laws. Many will tell you the time spent in the gang was valuable time they could have gained employment skills.

I have seen many members become ensnared in the gang lifestyle for the simple reasons of honor and pride. Long-time members feel the need to secure a reputation that fits the standards of a gang. This makes it hard for some to leave because their life can be in danger if their reputations isn’t up to par. Age can be another dangerous factor because gangs typically get rid of the old and bring in the new. Local gangs become more high-tech and cannot afford older members not understanding how things work or not looking like a stereotypical gang member. Gangs build reputations for themselves which they maintain at all costs.

To sum up, the life of a gang member is dangerous and regrettable. Many have spent countless years incarcerated for criminality stemming from their roles in the gang. Rivals may seek revenge and kill them on the spot. Even if they leave the gang, they still live in fear because their lives are always at risk. In the gang lifestyle, only two things are guaranteed: death or suffering. They will die defending their perceived honor or suffer in a cell contemplating their horrible deeds that gang lifestyle guarantees. Unfortunately, by the time they realize their easiest choice wasn’t the best choice, it is too late to restart.

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

Out-Front

Let’s Not Be So Quick To Condemn an Officer
By Chief Steven Jones, Trinity Texas Police Department

As Chief of Police, I face situations daily that are quite overwhelming. One overwhelming obstacle involves handling complaints from people who allege an officer was rude, unfair or 
aggressive.

The majority of the time, with the help of video, I am able to debunk the complainant’s allegations. For example, I reviewed a recent traffic stop that led my officer, Randy Wheeler to draw his weapon.
As I watched the dash camera footage, I saw the driver’s vehicle moving south on Highway 19. It appeared the driver had on his parking lights and not his headlights, just as I had been told. I saw the officer slow down and prepare to turn around with his emergency lights on in an attempt to stop the vehicle.

I released this video and one of the questions I received was: “Why does it matter if the guy continued to drive south, move into the left turning lane, and pull into the gas station?” It matters because officers are trained to pay special attention to vehicles that fail to pull over immediately when an officer attempts to stop them, as it is an indication of criminal activity. In a little over a week the video was viewed nearly 600,000 times on YouTube.

A popular argument made with regard to vehicles failing to pull over immediately is that people prefer to drive until they find a well-lit area. If a driver chooses not to stop immediately, they should expect the officer to have a heightened sense of alertness. If it takes them an excessive amount of time to stop, they can potentially face criminal charges, and expect the officer to be aggressive until he or she determines they are not a threat.

In this particular traffic stop, dash cam footage shows the officer approaching and engaging the driver shortly before placing his hand on his duty weapon, then drawing and pointing it at the driver.

The dash camera video catches a perspective from outside of the driver’s vehicle. This footage doesn’t show the officer’s point of view, and makes it appear that he was being overly aggressive toward the driver. It appears the driver has done nothing to warrant the officer’s aggressive behavior as he is seen ordering the driver out of the vehicle and handcuffing him. It isn’t until you view the footage from the body camera, that the officer was wearing; that you learn the driver committed an error in judgment that demanded swift and aggressive behavior from the officer.

The body camera footage reveals the officer approaching and engaging the driver, and a pistol sitting in the driver’s passenger seat. The officer asks, “Is that a real gun?” The driver, seemingly instinctively, reaches for it.

Within a split second, the officer draws his duty weapon and stops the driver from grabbing the pistol. Currently, Texas law allows you to carry a pistol in your vehicle, even if you do not have a concealed carry permit. The pistol can be loaded or unloaded. One of the conditions, however, is that the pistol has to be completely concealed in your vehicle. The driver having the pistol in the passenger seat, in plain sight, is not in accordance with the law.

Even though the driver was in violation of the law, the footage clearly shows that the officer stayed calm and did not draw his weapon until the driver reached for his pistol in the passenger seat. At that moment, the officer was faced with a decision that many officers face more times than many people realize: shoot or don’t shoot; live or don’t live.
In this case, the driver didn’t have malicious intent, but there was no way for the officer to know that. The two videos that accompany this incident offer a valuable lesson: It’s imperative to evaluate all aspects of a situation before coming to a conclusion. The dash camera excluded the officer’s point of view, and if that footage were all we had, viewers would argue that the officer unjustly acted in an aggressive manner toward the driver.

People sitting in the parking lot could have easily filmed the incident on their cell phones, recording footage that, like the dash cam, excludes a perspective that is paramount in understanding the situation. The video(s) could have later surfaced on the Internet like so many others have, possibly leading to an outcry demanding the officer be terminated or prosecuted. The body camera footage allows us to show that there is, and may be, more to these incidents than the limited perspective often offered to the public via video footage.

The man the officer pulled over was later charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance as well as other crimes involving his alleged attempt to conceal the controlled substances, showing that criminal activity was involved.

In conclusion, I hope this is another lesson that footage from a dash camera or cell phone isn’t always sufficient in telling the entire story. So let’s no be so quick to condemn an officer until all the details are known.

chiefJonesChief Steven Jones began his career in law enforcement as a deputy jailer at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and in 2003 became a patrolman with the Trinity Texas Police Department. In 2007, to complete a vacated term, the County Judge and Commissioner’s Court appointed him Sheriff. Chief Jones led one of the first departments to utilize social media, becoming their own source of reporting their activity. This led to his department featured as a reality show showing the lighter side of law enforcement and the inner department brother/sisterhood. His “All Lives Matter” photo went viral on social media, pushing the attacks against law enforcement front and center.

Women in Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering 9/11

FOURTEEN YEARS OF STARFISH
By Damon DiMarco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I telling you this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparation

Ambushes: The New Threat in Law Enforcement
By Rafael Rosa

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

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

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

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

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

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