Sheriff Clarke Speaks Out

God is the Source of My Strength
By Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr.

This isn’t something I talk about a whole lot, but as I’ve been talking about my new book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, it’s something that has come up. So here’s the truth.

My faith in God is how I make it through every day of my life. Without it, I’m nothing.

My worldview, my politics, and my strong defense of law enforcement in our country has made me a target for character assassination. Someone is always trying to destroy and discredit my reputation. That comes with the territory as a sheriff and I accept that. But believe it or not, it’s still hard and can wear the strongest of men down. Though my persona is something that’s viewed as tough and unshakable, I’m still human. Some days, it’s harder than others. That’s when I turn to God for strength. I pray for guidance, compassion, empathy for others, and strength to endure the attacks coming from all sides.

Here’s how I deal with it: I pray every day, knowing I’m guided by my faith. Only through the strength of God and the faith that I wear on my sleeve, can I get through this. I’m willing to put myself out there and serve; that’s why I chose a career in public service. It’s like Jesus said, he who wants to be great must first become a servant of others. That’s what I do, and that’s what every American law enforcement officer does every single day.

In my book, Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America, I talk about my upbringing. I was born in a Catholic family and my mom and dad sent me to a Catholic grade school and then a Jesuit high school. Later, when I was an undergraduate, I attended a Lutheran college. The belief in the Bible, to understand the Bible, and to be guided by it, began at a very early age for me and has sustained me in my life. It is a central part of who I am. Now, I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, nor am I trying to be. The Lord understands that we are all sinners, and the good news is, Jesus offers us forgiveness.

Without that faith and prayer, I couldn’t get through this tough environment.

I also draw strength from those who came before me. Folks like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and even further back to the Old Testament leaders like Abraham, Moses, and King David — they all reached a point in their lives where they realized they were mere mortals and needed God’s strength to get them through. That’s what I have to do daily because without His strength, I couldn’t do this.

Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is the 64th Sheriff of Milwaukee County and is currently serving his fourth full term. He has appeared on many of the national news stations to defend the law enforcement profession.

Cover Story

Blue for Good
It’s More Than A Job
By Sgt. Anthony Espino

In our busy modern world, many parents are hard workers, always striving to support their children, while providing a home that’s filled will love. Children with this upbringing are blessed with parents, who teach them to be respectful, civic-minded, and responsible.
However, there are many children who are less fortunate and are raised by parents who have alcohol, drug, emotional, and or mental problems. In this difficult environment, children can become less receptive to being respectful and responsible. But, let me be clear, I have met children who have come from broken homes, who were good and respectful kids, whereas children that came from loving homes were mean and disrespectful. Yet, the law of averages dictates otherwise. My point is that many children do not have the fortune of being surrounded by positive role models, and this is where police officers can bridge the divide.

Police officers are peacemakers, law-abiding citizens who enforce the laws to keep society safe. Whether we realize it or not, police officers are put in a position to model healthy traits, such as self-esteem, physical wellness, safety, and respect. These are the traits that we were taught at the police academy. Police officers are supposed to be the model citizens who respect and enforce laws. Unfortunately, not every child responds positively to an officer’s modeling. Many are being taught disrespectful attitudes by friends and family, but that shouldn’t stop us from being a model officer.

As a police officer, it’s very important to interact with children in a positive manner. As a juvenile officer, I spend a lot of time at my local schools talking to children on topics such as bullying, stranger danger, saying no to drugs, and being respectful to their peers. This type of interaction can make a difference in a child’s life. Connecting with children is an important part of good policing. Officers who are open and interact with kids stand out in their minds and help develop opinions of those who wear a uniform. Being approachable and answering questions about what you do and how you do it, could be the beginning of a child’s desire to one day want to protect and serve. It’s also the time when a child starts to form favorable and admirable opinions of law enforcement officers.
However, this type of interaction should not only be geared toward juveniles. Police officers need to interact in a positive manner with adults, as well. A simple hello or thank you for opening a door, or letting you enter a lane of traffic, can go a long way to bringing everyone together. Engage in conversation when you’re standing in line at your local coffee shop.

Let people know we are human beings just like them, and not the lunatics the media has lately portrayed us to be.

Police officers are viewed as authority figures–someone who has all the answers and makes problems go away. It’s important that we behave in the manner we represent. Police officers enforce the laws; therefore, we must follow those laws. Remember, with great responsibility and power, comes being held to a higher standard.

Over the years, teachers, parents, and friends have told me that children watch and admire me, and many want to be just like me. Think about that for a second. I am not a celebrity, nor am I a professional athlete. Yet, I have the ability to make an impact in a similar way and on a personal level.

Here are some tips to become the best possible role model as an officer in the community.

1. Be Respectful – As the old saying goes, “Respect is not given, it’s earned.” Respect has always been a two-way street—those who give respect, more often than not, are treated with respect. At times we as officers can feel that nobody respects us, and can fall into a cynical and negativity trap. As a role model we have to rise above this and make sure we are modeling the appropriate behavior. Even in the most difficult of times, being respectful will show others that you are a leader and can adapt under pressure.

2. Integrity Matters – Think about someone you consider a role model. Now ask yourself why you chose that person. Chances are you selected him or her because of the high level of integrity he or she demonstrates on a consistent basis. Good role models never compromise their integrity in any situation—good or bad. Having the upmost integrity with every decision makes others want to model your behavior.

3. Accept Responsibility For Your Actions – Anyone in a role model position is quick to preach to others about accountability, yet, how many are willing to accept it for themselves? True role models know accepting responsibility and being held accountable is the appropriate behavior to model for others. If one is not willing to hold himself or herself to this high standards, how can they expect others to do so.

4. Words Matter – Take a moment to pause and think before speaking. Make certain your words are chosen to inspire and support others, especially when around children. Slow down the conversation with them. And if for any reason, especially when you are out in the public’s eye and become angry, take some advice from Thomas Jefferson: “When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to 100.”

5. Be A Good Listener—Your most cherished and important mentors in your life are not only wise when it comes to decision making, they are expert listeners. When someone is facing a situation in their life and they seek a friend to help, they routinely select those who are good listeners. Only when you fully know the problem someone is facing, is when you should respond. So ask questions, and make sure you are listening. Being a good listener is essential for all role models.

6. Demonstrate Confidence and Leadership – A good role model is one who is confident and can inspire others to increase their self-esteem. Confidence includes being direct when speaking to subordinates and also showing you are fair with everyone. Be confident in your actions and decisions, and who you are as a person and officer.

7. Follow The Rules – As simplistic as this sounds, it must be strictly enforced. A good role model follows the rules and does not break them for any expediency. If you want others to act appropriately, make sure you are also following the rules.

8. Be Involved – As an officer in the community a simple wave and smile to residents as you are patrolling the streets can go a long way, but take it a step further. Get out and speak with them. Let them know you are available to help if they need your assistance. Get involved with the schools and programs for the youth. Showing them you vale them by sharing your time with them is a gift worth more than anything money can buy.

When I chose this career 18 years ago, it was to help people–to be someone the community can trust–and not a person looking for accolades or personal gain. As officers, we are fortunate to play an influential role to the children in our communities. We must seize this role. Take as much time as it takes to speak with the youth and provide them with information that is educational, inspiring, and positive. As they move ahead in life, these interactions and experiences will help them be better people, and they can make the right decisions when confronted with a bad situation.

Over two decades ago in a Nike commercial, former basketball player and current sports commentator Charles Barkley said, “I am not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

I agree with that statement; it’s the parents’ responsibility to mold their children, teaching them proper manners, respecting one another, and preparing them for the future, but we as police officers can also make a difference in a child’s or adult’s life. Clearly, we have a role to play. Make sure we are modeling the appropriate behavior. Future generations of Americans will be glad we did.

Sgt. Anthony Espino is a 18-year veteran police officer, assigned to the Patrol and Crime Prevention Unit. His passion is to lecture to community members, teachers, and students to promote awareness and offer tips to prevent crime and victimization.


A Warrior Who Once Fought for Our Country and the Streets of Jersey City, Now Fights Against Breast Cancer
By PO Valerie Stetz

This story really hits me hard. I met Gina Sandwith twenty-three years ago, when she was nine. Her dad Det. Harry Sandwith had been my Police Officers Benevolent Association (POBA) Union President. I had the pleasure of becoming good friends with this family who served the residents of Jersey City–Gina’s stay-at-home, PTA mother Debbie Sandwith, and her siblings, JCPO Joe Sandwith, and her twin sister, Nicole Sandwith-McCabe, a JC Medical Center EMT, and former Marine.

Gina also had a servant’s heart. After graduating from Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, and briefly attending New Jersey City University, she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in July of 2008.
Gina did three tours overseas, one included a one-year combat tour in Afghanistan.

She earned the rank of sergeant, and later completed her contract with an honorable discharge.

Gina’s lifelong dream was realized on July 16, 2012 when she joined the Jersey City Police Dept, proudly receiving her Dad’s retired badge #2251. Currently, she is a South District Union Delegate and runs the explorer program for Jersey City PAL.
In February of 2017, Gina received the devastating news that she had breast cancer, which had stemmed from a small lump under her left arm that she had discovered a month earlier. When the lump had grown bigger and had become more painful, Gina sought the professional opinion of her doctor. It was determined that the cancer was environmental, and she had probably had it for five to seven years.
Always forward thinking, Gina–who is unmarried and without children–sought to freeze her eggs for the future, so that she could have children. However determined to beat the cancer and return to a normal life, her attempts were unsuccessful–another devastating blow.

Currently, Gina has completed two of the 20 required chemo sessions, and has been taking a medication that helps promote white blood cells but leaves her run-down, nauseous, in pain, and in bed. Yet, Gina is a fierce fighter who will not allow feelings of hopelessness to dominate her thoughts. Instead, she has decided to live on her terms, not on cancer’s terms. Bravely, she shaved her own head before the chemo made it fall out, and before arriving at the South District where she witnessed Blue love. Standing in front of her with heads shaven, were her partner, 24 officers, and supervisors.

Gina received another pleasant surprise after the first chemo treatment on Feb 28 when she was greeted by the Pink Heels Bergen County Chapter, escorted by the Untouchables MC of NJ, Fourth watch MC, and the Knights of Inferno MC, along with many friends and family.

On March 12, the NY/NJ Port Authority Police held a benefit for Gina with a barbeque, selling shirts, and raffling a weekend rental in a Porsche.

It is overwhelming and humbling to see the support and love people have for another person in need. Gina is extremely grateful for all the support and kindness she has been shown since her diagnosis–something that along with a positive state of mind–is necessary to beat this disease. Gina is a strong, young, beautiful woman who is going to beat cancer.

She has fought for us in the USMC, and on the streets of Jersey City. Let’s ban together and fight with her. Please pray for a full recovery, and help her in any way possible.
The Jersey City P.O.B.A. is hosting a benefit for Gina on May 6th, at Hudson Catholic HS from 6-11pm. Tickets are $50.00 each. Anyone seeking to purchase a ticket, make a monetary donation, or a gift basket, can call the JC POBA at 201-963-3484, or Joseph Sandwith at 201-870-3621.

You can also donate on her Go Fund Me page at “Gina’s excess medical expenses.”

God bless Gina, the Sandwiths, and her blue family.

Valerie A. Stetz (Velazquez) retired on accidental disability from the Jersey City Police Dept. She was injured in a radio car accident responding to a robbery in progress call. Valerie is a member of the NJ Police Honor Legion. She is the radio host for the popular Internet show “Your World Uncensored” on DDV RADIO. She is also the Public Relations Manager for Nj Blue Now Magazine. Valerie is married, with a son and daughter.

An Inside Look


The PolitiChicks
By Debra Ann Faretra, M.A.

The PolitiChicks are three lovely and patriotic family women—Ann-Marie Murrell, Morgan Brittany, and Sonya Sasser—on a mission. Collaboratively, they stand up to the hypocrites that plague our nation with their contorted political views. They fight Hollywood’s elite, liberal media, and left wing extremists who are attempting to bully conservatives into silence. Their efforts are soaring with many national media outlets taking notice. By addressing the nation through their conservative values, morals, and ethics that are reflected in their writing and outreach, they are hopeful this will change the lives of future generations of Americans. Their new book “PolitiChicks: A Clarion Call to Political Activism” is a writing masterpiece that is comprised of various opinions of respectful conservative activists and politicians, who have collectively come together, as a show of force to be reckoned with. 

The causes that PolitiChicks collectively represent are our military veteran’s welfare, ObamaCare repeal, the elimination of Common Core, gun rights, and prolife, while also speaking out against radical Islamic ideology. They are passionate about assisting military veterans and first responders by contributing to fundraisers that truly make a difference. In this interview, you will hear from three patriotic and fiery women, who speak their minds, call it as they see it, and stand up against those seeking to silence their freedom of speech, and conservative views. 

The PolitiChicks are led by Morgan Brittany, a renowned Hollywood Diva best known for her roles in the ABC Series “Dallas” and “The Love Boat”. Brittany’s leadership involves tons of film and stage experience, playing various characters in different movies since she was five years old. Along with Brittany is PolitiChicks creator and CEO, Ann-Marie Murrell, a former actress, once a Democrat, and now a Conservative Republican. As an actress in the 80s, she appeared on the daytime soap “The Young and the Restless,” television series “Sledgehammer,” and HBO Films “Sunset Strip”. She is the proud daughter of a United States Naval Officer (Ret.), and not short on words by any stretch. The spokesperson and third writer is Sonya Sasser, who is born from a family of first responders.

The PolitiChicks formed by Murrell was “negatively impacted by the disastrous outcome by the Obama Administration.” This led to Andrew Breitbart to influence her to attend political events, unite people for a great cause, and make a difference. Murrell tells how the audience she wants to reach are those malcontented with their representation by their affiliated political party. By way of example, she spoke of the Democrats and their role in the outbreak of rioting during the Obama Administration. As Murrell claims, “The Democrats falsely portrayed themselves innocent and morally constructed, when in fact they systemically incited violence, rioting, and socially defiant behavior.” Her hope is that those blindly supporting politicians because of a false sense of party loyalty will stretch their thinking and form their own opinions, irrespective of the group’s thoughts. She is currently finding ways to bring unity to our country through intellectual debates, not hatred.

Murrell has a strong message to Hollywood’s McCarthyism: “Shut up!”

Instead of being offended by the slang word “pussy” utilized by men in a private setting, they should be more offended by wearing “vaginas on their heads,” shamelessly, which is more of an embarrassment to women. Murrell goes on to expose “how those in the entertainment industry have endorsed violence in the law enforcement community by openly contributing to Black Lives Matter,” and how she believes the current goal of many Hollywood entertainers is to have the President impeached or for the more extremist, “assassinated”. 

Sasser’s activism, spirit, and desire to unite her voice with others that shared her beliefs led her to become involved in politics. She tells how she wanted to make a difference and be a role model to encourage others to speak out and advocate for the topics that they’re passionate about. Direct and passionate, Sasser spoke about how women were misled by liberals, specifically Hillary Clinton after the election. She believes Clinton and Obama are the masterminds behind the anti-Trump marches, riots, and anger exhibited by protesters. 

When asked if liberal mental health professionals plastered a diagnosis on Trump, she replied “They attempt to marginalize and discredit him, because they don’t truly understand his out of the box and politically incorrect stance. The mental?health practitioners mislabel his behaviors, because they aren’t able to relate to all people equally and effectively.”

Sasser goes on to tell how building a foundation and legacy for conservative children to grow from rather than be influenced by the boisterous and dominating approaches of the left are efforts worth making. The left leaves behind footprints, because they lack any boundaries to respect others and create such havoc to be the center of attention, which ultimately can influence others to think they are the stronger party, Sasser implied. Sasser believes when the conservatives fight back it circumvents the lefts agendas. 

Morgan’s message to Hollywood, is just as blunt as Murrells: “Be quiet!” In a passionate discussion, Morgan says “Hollywood should respect all audiences and collect the facts before speaking to the world and erroneously misinforming them. Hollywood doesn’t emulate the good people anymore.” They are using their celebrity platform to indoctrinate hatred into people. Entertainers are responsible to make people feel better about themselves not placate one side and not abandon the other side of their audience.

The problem herein lies with, Hollywood and the music entertainment industry sending subliminal messages of hate about cops to society, which inadvertently gets cops killed. “First responders need to be rebranded and respected through Hollywood’s depiction of them as heroic members of society, not villains.”

We at NJ Blue Now thank the Politi-Chicks for their strong support of our law enforcement and military professionals. If you’d like to meet the PolitiChicks, they will be in the New York area for a book signing during mid April 2017. Check out their website @ for more details. 

Debra Ann Faretra, M.A., is a Mental Health Educational Consultant for law enforcement. She has a masters in Police Graduate Studies from Seton Hall University. She attended Caldwell University for two years as a graduate in Clinical Counseling Psychology Studies and is completing a second master’s degree at Seton Hall University in Psychological Studies. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She currently works in Essex County, New Jersey.

Operation Rebound

Brandon Holiday: A Warrior Mindset to Overcome Against All Odds
By Michael D. Boll

Brandon Holiday attended University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he played on the tennis team, was enrolled in the ROTC program, and competed for two years in the Ranger Challenges. Only the best compete in the Ranger challenge, an event where the military compete against others schools in a series of challenges. He transferred to Duke University and while attending there became severely sick and was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Not long after being diagnosed with Lupus, he had his first heart attack. Due to these medical complications, he was unable to continue his goal of serving as an officer in the Army, so he pursued a career in law enforcement. While an officer, he was injured in the line of duty and further medical complications from Systemic Lupus prevented him from continuing to serve as a police officer. 

In 2006, Brandon lost his leg below the knee, which was caused by a blood clot and an infection associated with Systemic Lupus. After the loss of his leg he went through stages of depression and coping with the loss, and dealing with his chronic disease that caused fatigue, pain and other severe symptoms, like blood clots. It was difficult at the time because there was a lack of a regional support network. After attending the Extremity Games, which is an extreme sporting event for participants who have suffered amputation and spinal cord injury, he was able to meet other athletes that were active and competitive in sports. The games provided him with new motivation to train and use sports as a catalyst for healing. 

Since attending the games, he has been partnered with his service dog Dyson, who he travels with during competitions. Brandon has competed at the U.S. National Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, and is the 2014 and 2015, 200 and 500 meter, and master class 35+ National Champion. In 2016, he made the USA National Paracanoe team, and competed at the ICF Canoe Kayak World Championships to qualify Rio Paralympics. Now, he speaks to groups about overcoming adversity, and empowers patients to educate themselves in the face of illness and disease. 

Currently, Brandon is an Expert Patient Advocate, and the Executive Director of Athletes with Disabilities Network Northeast ( He has organized a network of peer mentors to assist area healthcare providers with mentoring and outreach. Mentors assist patients and their families with transitioning after facing a devastating disabling event. In 2017, he was also elected into the United States Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council as the alternate. He helps in promoting the Olympic and Paralympic movement, and creates events which provide opportunities for disabled community members and their families to have interactions in social settings with other disabled members, their families and mentors. This allows the newly injured person to see that a better quality of life is possible, expands preconceived notions of disability, and focuses on the abilities of what a person can achieve.

Come meet Brandon on May 13th, 2017 at the Cooper River Park Pennsauken, NJ, where athletes with Disabilities Network 5k-1 mile fun run walk will be held. This supports programs and a portion of the proceeds goes toward injured police officer Josh Vadell from Atlantic City Police Department. Go to and search for Athletes with Disabilities Network. 


Drones and Law Enforcement
By Peter DeLisa

Live PD broadcasted on Feb. 10, 2017, treated viewers to a look into our future. Four individuals had robbed a store in North Carolina and were chased over 70 miles while shooting at pursuing officers. When they crashed, they ran into a car lot and subsequently into the woods, at night. In an extremely dangerous situation, officers with rifles and K9’s went into the dark searching for the suspects.

Then, something very different happened. A deputy arrived and deployed a drone equipped with a thermal camera. Thermal images appeared on screen for all to view. Soon thereafter, the criminals were captured.In the past, the use of aerial and thermal imaging cameras were only from those agencies with helicopters. Now, drones are being used with the same or even better results. Unfortunately, the use of a drone is not without challenges. In Aug. 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration put into effect rules under 14 CFR Part 107. Those rules specify pilot licensing requirements, operational parameters, and training. Public safety agencies are NOT exempt. In the past, agencies could apply for and obtain a certificate of authorization or COA. Those certificates are no longer being issued and operators and agencies have to comply with Part 107 licensing and obtain necessary waivers.What is necessary to operate a drone? A pilot must pass an FAA knowledge exam. Then,a license for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will be issued. The drone must be no more than 55 pounds and registered with the FAA. Drones must be operated no higher than 400 feet above ground level, in daylight, not above people, and only in class G Airspace (uncontrolled airspace and generally not near a busy airport). Drones must also remain in the pilot’s sight and cannot be operated from a moving vehicle without a waiver.The next obstacle to deploy a drone for your agency is if you are near an airport. What can you do? If it’s not a busy airport, you only need to make notification by phone. If it’s in controlled airspace--Newark, Teterboro, Trenton, etc.--you can apply for a waiver that will allow you to operate. Waivers take about 90 days to obtain and are valid for four years. How do we fly at night? That rule is also subject to waiver. For night operations, you will need a trained observer to help you operate safely. Although drone technology may not be easy, it is certainly easier, quicker, and cheaper than using a helicopter. 

Law enforcement drone usages include: suspect search, search and rescue, crime scene documentation, fatal accident documentation and measurement, SWAT operations and scene control. I would caution against using drones for surveillance. The public is extremely sensitive to the perception of ‘surveillance’ by police and most states are enacting laws to prevent this. Don’t be a test case! Also keep in mind, drones typically fly 20 to 30 minutes without a battery change.

Your agency can add a drone to their apparatus. It’s really not difficult to make happen. Just like the training on the Intoxilyzer, being on a SWAT team or riding a motorcycle, it’s all about training, education and experience. Locate a professional or take a training class. If your agency already has a pilot, the process is easier. Take the test and get your UAS license. 

Select a drone that will fulfill your agency’s needs. A commercial drone with camera and software and thermal camera can cost between $12-15,000. 

Start small and practice, practice, practice. Most drones have a flight simulator program. Some have an autopilot function that will completely fly the mission for you! As you become experienced or if you collaborate with an aviation professional, you can expand the operation and apply to fly at night, fly higher, and fly in controlled airspace. Many agencies across the United States and some in New Jersey are already doing just that.

The Monmouth and Ocean County Sheriff, have programs and operate several drones. Bergen County OEM has a program. They have successfully used drones in a variety of situations. 

Welcome to the future! An autonomous drone is being developed for use by patrol officers. The television show ‘APB’ showcases drone technology weekly and ‘Live PD’ has shown us their actual use. We have a saying in aviation, “It is best to be on the front side of the power curve.” Now is the time to get out there with this technology.

Peter DeLisa is an aviation and law enforcement professional. He is an Airline Transport Pilot rated in Jet aircraft, certified flight instructor, and Part 107 Drone instructor and pilot. He has also served as an officer, detective, supervisor, and instructor with expertise in narcotics, firearms, and animal cruelty. He owns and operates Eastern Drone Solutions in Monmouth County NJ. He can be reached at

Cover Story

The art of the interrogation:
By Joseph Pangaro

What is an interview?
An interview can be defined as a conversation between two people during which information is exchanged, questions are asked and answered, and understanding is reached. During a criminal interview, there is another aspect to an interview–one side usually wants to limit the information that is given to protect themselves from trouble. In these instances, the person usually lies, bends the truth, or makes up facts to confuse the investigator.

So, how does an investigator, detective, or patrol officer who is tasked with talking to a suspect and finding out what happened during an incident, overcome these road blocks and get to the truth?

The simple answer is to develop an understanding of human nature and some interview skills. One of the first things we need to understand is this: A person’s motivation to lie to you is in direct relationship to the jeopardy they face, or in other words, the more punishment they face, the more incentive to lie.

A key skill for an interviewer is to develop patience. You have to have patience so you can use the skills of interviewing to overcome the denials by the person you are talking to. You can’t get angry with them for not telling you the truth; they are trying to protect themselves. It is the interviewer’s job to find a way to get the person being interviewed to lower their guard and talk to you honestly. To reach this goal, the number one rule for success is this: You must develop a relationship with the person.

If you are new to this game or not as successful as you want to be, that might sound strange, especially as it relates to police work. Most of the people we have to talk to are criminals, and some of them are very bad people who have done terrible things; the last thing we want to do is to develop a relationship with them.

You have to move past that; our job as investigators is to get confessions and admissions. We can’t allow our personal feelings to prevent us from winning the interaction because the person we are dealing with is a bad guy or girl, no matter what they have done. We have to go forward with the goal in mind of clearing the case, helping the victims, and bringing the guilty to justice. This is big stuff and takes the right mindset for success.

Developing a relationship has some basic parameters, whether you are dealing with a criminal or a new friend–developing trust. Trust is essential; the person has to trust you. You show them that they can trust you by being honest with them about what you are going to do. Tell them you want to discuss the assault (or whatever you are investigating), and that you want them to be honest with you, and you will be honest with them.

This is another thing that seems strange: Are we really going to be totally honest with them? Isn’t our job to put them in jail? The answer is yes, but telling them you are going to be honest, sets the tone.
I found out a long time ago that you “Tell people what you want them to know” and it usually sticks. So tell them you will be honest and you want them to be honest.

Always remember that “Words mean things”. So listen to what they say, the words they choose. Being a good listener is another skill of good interviewers. In many cases, if you spend the time to listen to the person, you will hear clues you can use to further the conversation or uncover things they are trying to hide.

It is a reality that if someone is trying to hide something and they are lying to you, the truth is always close by in their mind. In fact, it is so close in their mind because they are trying to avoid the truth at all costs. If you are patient, calm, and listen, you might hear them say something that reveals some truth and gives you a place to focus.

One time, my partner and I were interviewing a man whose million dollar house burned down while he and his family were on vacation. While we listened and let him talk, he told us that before he left for vacation he, “Set up the house”. This simple phrase was the truth, and it slipped out as he spoke. We heard it, targeted it, and he eventually confessed to burning down his house.

Interviewing is an art. Practice the techniques that we know work, and you will become a great interviewer.

Keep these tips in mind: When conducting an interview there are some very important points to know:
1. Before you begin to ask Crime Questions. Don’t rush your conversation during this important time in your interview. Talk about things not related to the crime or incident you are investigating such as hobbies, family, sports, and music etc. As you listen carefully to the person, you will hear things about their life you can use later in the conversation. If you are investigating the theft of money from an office, wouldn’t it be nice to know the suspect has a sick mom at home that needs expensive medicine?

2. Set the Base Line for the person’s responses. This means understanding and actually seeing how the person responds to your questions when they are not concerned with jeopardy. So don’t dive into your crime questions; talk about sports, their family, their hobbies or anything else that will not make the uncomfortable. When they answer these questions you will be able to gauge how quickly the respond, if they look you in the eye, and if they have good recall of facts. Once you know this and launch into crime questions you can see a difference in their truthful and un-truthful responses.

3. Use “Diminished” terms to describe the crime under investigation. By diminishing the words we use to describe the crime we make it easier for a person to admit being part of the crime. Examples: Don’t say Burglarized say “went into the house”; don’t say Stole, say “Took”; don’t say Assaulted, say “ Hit, Slapped, or Punched.” This technique makes the crime sound less serious and therefore more socially acceptable.

4. Help the person “Rationalize” their actions. This does not mean to make excuses for the person’s actions; it means to help them explain their actions in a way that they can admit being a part of it. If they stole money, maybe suggest they took it to feed their kids and see if that sounds reasonable to them. Many people will admit to something that sounds like it was done for a good reason.

5. Show “Compassion”. We don’t have to like the people we interview, and in fact whatever they have done can be offensive, but by expressing compassion for the person you can help build a short term bond with the person which can help them trust you enough to let their guard down and provide important information to you about their actions.

6. Build a Bond. A person is more likely to tell you things if they feel you are their best chance to lessen or eliminate any punishment. By talking to them professionally, actively listening to them, diminishing and helping them to rationalize the crime and showing compassion you can become that lifeline to the best outcome they can hope for.

7. Use Push Lines. A push line is something you say when the person seems to be on the verge of making admissions, but is holding back. At this point they may be holding back for fear of things other than punishment of the crime; they could be embarrassed that their family will find out what they did, or they could be overwhelmed at having to tell a spouse or partner that they violated that trust. Some examples might be: “I know how difficult this must be for you to tell your family you did this, but, isn’t it better they hear it from you than in the newspaper?”; “You didn’t mean for things to work out like this did you?”; “You never meant to hurt anyone did you?”

8. Look for Possibilities. A “Possibility” is something you learned during your pre-crime question conversation with the suspect that you can use to help them rationalize their actions. An example might be: “Is it possible that you did this because you need to feed your kids”, “Is it possible you did this because you were trying to protect yourself?”

9. Two kinds of Guys. This technique involves giving a suspect two choices of answer, but both of them indicate guilt. An example: “Did you do this because you’re just a bad person and don’t care about hurting a child? or, Did it happen because you didn’t realize how hard you spanked the child?”

These specific techniques all work to overcome a person’s denials of involvement in a crime. It is our goal as investigators to establish a couple of important facts: A crime was committed; the person being interviewed was on the scene and took some action that caused the crime to take place. No matter what the suspect tells us, if we can establish these facts it doesn’t really matter what they give as their motivation.

Lt. Joseph Pangaro retired after serving 27 years at a police department in Monmouth County, NJ, having served as the Lead Training Officer. Pangaro is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickenson University’s Certified Public Managers Program (CPM). He’s a newspaper columnist who writes about the rigors and joys in law enforcement. Joseph Pangaro is the CEO and President of Pangaro Training and Management, and Pangaro Global Training, an online training company. Email Lt. Pangaro @JPangaro194@yahoo. com or Twitter: @Pangarotraining.

Angel Mom

Angel Mom – Laura Wilkerson
By George Beck

When Laura Wilkerson found her son, Josh’s truck abandoned in a parking lot on Nov. 16, 2010, she phoned the police to let them know something wasn’t right. Unbeknownst to her, her 18-year-old boy had been savagely beaten, his body set on fire, and left in a field. Josh’s killer was still in the area, and moments later Mrs. Wilkerson would come face-to-face with him.

Mrs. Wilkerson, a member of Angel Moms, a support group for mothers who have lost children, later learned Josh’s killer was a criminal illegal immigrant. She soon found other families in the same situation as hers. She began to speak out. She has testified before the U.S. Congress twice. She’s also testified before the State of Texas to advocate for stronger border security and the defunding of sanctuary cities. Her “Enforce the Law” initiative is gaining national media attention. Her hope, as she tells, is “to do whatever she can so another family doesn’t find themselves in her family’s situation.”

Please tell our readers about your son, Joshua.
My son, Joshua, was 18 years old and a senior in high school. He was enjoying his life and was focused on graduation. He was a very kind, quiet, compassionate guy. He was a tall and lanky young man weighing only a 100 pounds. He was loved by everyone. He was not a threat to anyone and he had never been in a fight in his life.

What were Joshua’s dreams in life?
Joshua’s dreams in life were to be a help to people who needed it. He had such compassion. When he would see kids on the news that had been hurt, he always wanted to help. He told me on more than one occasion that he would not live to be old here and he would not marry or have kids. He was an old soul.

If I can take you back to the days just before Joshua’s murder, what was he focusing on at that time?
Josh was focused and excited about graduation. He was also focused on building himself up and putting on some weight. He went with a friend of his and his father to the gym three to four days a week. He ate about a gallon of Blue Bell Ice cream a week, mixed with milk and protein powder. I found a list of his workout goals in his room after he died.

Did he ever consider following you and your husband, George in the family’s plumbing supply business?
No, he was thinking of graduating, then either Junior College for basics or he talked about following his big brother into the military.

Can you tell us what happened on Nov. 16, 2010?
Joshua went to school that day just like any other day. He was asked for a ride home from a classmate and Josh told him yes, not knowing he was being lured to his death. The kid that murdered Josh was an illegal alien from Belize. He was also a black belt in MMA and weighed about 150 pounds. The killer testified from the stand that he first punched Josh in the face so it would blind him and he would not fight back. Next he said he kneed Josh in the stomach, which sliced Josh’s spleen in half. He said Josh went to the ground but kept moving and trying to get up. The killer was aggravated it wasn’t over. He then said he strangled Josh, let go to see if he was dead. He wasn’t, so he continued doing this until the bloody bubbles quit coming from Josh’s nose. He watched him die. He then tied him up with professional knots. There were 16 loops around Josh’s neck, running through his back belt loop, to his hands and feet behind his body. He washed the blood off, put Josh in the backseat of our vehicle, went and bought gas, dumped him in a field and set his body on fire. This killer then parked our truck close to where he was living with a friend. He walked home then went to see a movie.

In law enforcement, we often see tragedy unfolding in real time, and we deliver the tragic news to families. Can you tell our readers what your experience with law enforcement was like during that difficult time?
My experience was surreal. I found Josh’s truck that day and called the police, so it was unfolding for them and our family at the same time. They were very quick to recognize this as a crime as opposed to just a kid that didn’t come home. We were standing in the parking lot where I found his truck. The killer was coming back from his movie and saw the commotion and walked back to the crime scene. He was peering through the hedges, and a policeman spotted him and asked him if he knew Josh. He started shaking and then tried to leave the scene. He failed to fully identify himself and was taken to the station. When he got there they found Josh’s truck key in his pocket. We waited over the next 36 hours until he finally told where he left Josh’s body.

This crime horrified our community. Every policeman worked until they were forced to go home and sleep, then they really went home and helped to look for Josh. This meant so much to our family. A lot of them had kids that knew Josh or were in school with him. Everyone was devastated. But how our police officers worked looking for my son will be something I can never repay. They agonized over telling us how Josh was found. We will never forget how good they were to us.

Tell our readers your experience in the months after Joshua’s death—the time when the phone calls and condolences slowed down and the media attention moved on?
Everything did slow down after the funeral and attention goes away. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It took months of literally being in a fog. Then finally the fog rolls away and the real pain began. I felt like I was no longer a part of this earth. My bones ached to have Josh back—to see his smile, to hear him laugh.

Our entire family fell apart. Each one of us were having difficulty to just survive each day. I could not help my kids and that made me feel horrible. I remember when Josh’s brother had to return to the military, I rounded the four of us up and told them we are gonna make it. Somehow we are gonna get through this. After he left for the military, I cried for days thinking what a horrible mom I was. I thought that was the first time I had ever lied to them, because I didn’t know if I would make it. Days and weeks of tears that didn’t stop. They felt like boiling water just running down me. Then two years into the grief we have a trial and all of that begins all over.

When did you know that you would become such a powerful voice on the national level in an attempt to make a difference? 
There was legislation being considered in Texas on Sanctuary Cities, and we were asked to come and tell our story. I was horrified at what we heard while we were there. I remembered asking a detective on our case if the killer’s family was in this country legally. His response was that he could not ask them and that always stuck with me. I wondered why they couldn’t ask that question. While we were there we met a couple that were already involved in a group called The Remembrance Project. I learned of how many of these stories just like mine that were out there and of so many hurting parents. The Elected Officials were not willing to even acknowledge that this was a problem. I knew right then that my story needed to be told in hopes of preventing another family from this horror and to make officials stand up and take notice.

On the presidential campaign trail of 2016, you were often seen at Donald Trump rallies speaking on behalf of then presidential candidate Donald Trump. Can you identify those other than Mr. Trump, who have heard your concerns and had taken them seriously prior to Mr. Trump?
Prior to Mr. Trump, I had worked with Congressman Steve King, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Chuck Grassley, and many others. We walked many halls in D.C. going into offices to see who was in support. At that time many said they were, but nothing was behind it. The majority of these officials were just walking the fence. Not wanting to commit either way. I was disgusted by it and at the same time it was refreshing to see the ones that weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believed in.

Do you feel people on both sides of the political aisle hear your message?
I am trying to make sure they hear it. What they take away from it is another story. The fact that we are giving away America to a group of people who snuck into this country should make every American stand up and fight back. It’s not about who you are; it’s about legal versus illegal and nothing more.

What message do you have for those out there who believe your efforts are partisan politics?
I believe they have forgotten we are on the same team. We are Americans.

Stepping into the national spotlight is something that often can come with inherent stressors, like constantly being harassed on social media and through other mediums, are you finding that people are questioning you based on political positions? 
Not much of that bugs me at all. We dealt with some of that when Josh died. People from around the world created Facebook pages and posted horrible things. That’s on them, not me. I stay true to the fact of this—it is my true story. I am not leaving out that Josh was killed by an illegal alien to make some people feel better. I am not including it to make some people feel worse. It is what happened in my life. If I can prevent even one family from having to endure this, then it will be worth every ounce of effort.

Your new initiative “Enforce the Law” is aimed at ensuring President Trump secures the border, cancels all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities, and begins removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants currently in the United States. What is your position on a person who’s crossed the border illegally, say over ten years ago, and since has a family with now young American-born children and has never committed a crime here in the States–and by all accounts is hardworking law-abiding person–should he or she also be deported?
I realize there a many of these people here. How do we know they have not committed a crime if we don’t know who they are? Do they have fraudulent SS numbers? If so, that’s a crime. Have they forged documents to obtain business licensing, etc.? If so, that’s a crime. Do they have a driver’s license based on real and accurate documents? Are they receiving government benefits, when they have not paid into the system? This makes it very difficult. But I also believe they also are the lucky ones. In the event their family were to be separated, they have choices. They can take family with them. They have a chance to pick up the phone and call their relative or go and visit. That choice was clearly taken away from our families.

Will canceling the funding to Sanctuary Cities fix the problem as you see it, or is there also additional things that need to be done?
No, but its a start to make the point that state officials must follow what the federal level tells them to do on the subject of immigration. It is just enforcing current immigration laws that are on the books.

You are traveling the country speaking about the dangers of Sanctuary Cities, and the beautiful blessings that come from the most horrific tragedies. Can you tell us more about the beautiful blessings?
There have been so many blessings in Josh’s tragic death. God has seen us up to this point and will continue to be with us as we go through this for the rest of our lives on earth. We basically died that day and started life over. I have been blessed to meet so many people who have similar stories. I hope that maybe even one person struggling through this will hear my story and know that they can make it too. In the beginning of grief with child loss, you say to yourself, ok I have this, I can make it. You revisit this four to five times a day. It is exhausting to revisit whether you can live or whether you can’t. I never wanted to not live, but I desperately needed to learn how to live again. It is second by second for so long. It is a forever road, but God continues to help me make each step.

When all is said and done, what do you want to be remembered for?
Josh and I talked many times about life and death. I always told him if I died, all I ever wanted on my headstone was MOM.

That is the most important thing to me. There is no greater gift.

Laura is available for speaking engagements. Please contact Judy Landreth Wilkinson