Cops Speak Out
What a Difference 30 Years Makes E-mail
I am what a lot of people refer to as "an Old School, Old Dog." I've been in the business of corrections and police work since 1977. When I went to school, criminal justice was known as police science.

The instructors were all retired or active cops and each taught in their area of expertise. The range instructor was a retired F.B.I. agent who taught us to get the most out of the 18 rounds we had. There was no excuse for not hitting your target, and each shot had to be accounted for. We learned defensive tactics from another retired Fed, and learned a kick-ass wrist-lock that beats anything I've learned since.

We learned what, at that time, was state-of-the-art investigation, interrogation and evidence gathering techniques. I went forth into the world of 1977 with more knowledge than my predecessors, knowing that none of the "book-smarts" equipped me for what was waiting.

Leaders tackle the issues E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

The basic idea behind American Police Beat is that everyone wins if law enforcement professionals have access to relevant information and are able to communicate with each other on issues impacting their lives and work.

The concept that the police need and deserve the opportunity to study the complicated issues they deal with daily and then talk to each other about their own unique experiences is what this magazine is all about. And nowhere is that mission more accurately reflected than in the annual Police Union Leadership Seminar, hosted byAmerican Police Beat and Harvard University’s Labor and Worklife Program and held at Harvard Law School.

This past April was the 11th consecutive year that the leaders of the police associations of the 50 largest cities in America came to the Harvard Law School for  lectures, panel discussions, and round table conversations about the most pressing issues of 2010. A testament to the success of the program and its influence in the industry is the impressive list of public policy experts, political leaders and business people who come to Harvard every year to talk to the group.


John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School and veteran of four presidential campaigns and dozens of other high-profile political races in the U.S. and abroad, talked about his studies of people under the age of 30 known as “The Millennials.” Della Volpe spoke about the challenges police union leaders face communicating and motivating this demographic group which make up the majority of the membership of most police unions. He  pointed out that Millennials communicate differently than people over 30, and that it takes an effort to understand where they are coming from. In addition, they have trust issues, especially with traditional media, older and more established institutions, and one-way communicators. It was the second year that Della Volpe presented at the seminar. Many big city police union presidents say his talks have prompted them to steer more resources into using social media and digital technologies to communicate more effectively with their members and build a more cohesive organization.


A panel discussion facilitated by Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, addressed the controversy surrounding the videotaping of police activities and whether this technology has positive or negative ramifications for law enforcement. The panelists included Bobby Lopez from the San Jose Police Officers Association, Sean Smoot from the Chicago Sergeants’ Union and Mark Tyndale of the Sacramento Police Officers Association. The panel discussed how department-mandated audio-visual recording systems, such as dash-mounted cameras or body-mounted cameras, are impacting the members. Also discussed was how recording officers’ activities can impact the union’s legal defense fund, finances, public relations agenda and efforts at the bargaining table.


Woody Benson, a venture capitalist and one of the country’s leading experts on social media, talked to the group about the power of these new mediums to create opportunity for organizations who are willing to devote the resources necessary to learn about and understand these new technologies which are having a dramatic impact on the way people communicate and get information.


Kevin Casas-Zamora, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, and the former minister of National Planning and Economic Policy and second vice president of Costa Rica, talked about the political minefield most high profile law enforcement labor leaders work in. He also discussed the potential repercussions of becoming the targets of political opportunists as well as diehard association members who will fight change no matter what. Casas-Zamora said that police union leaders have to learn to walk a virtual tightrope spanning the gap between the interests of the political powers that be, the members, and an increasingly hostile media and citizenry, and that they must learn how to balance those interests with their own agenda for progress and change.

Above, left to right: Attorney Rocky Lucia, who represented the officers in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System shootings; Jacky Parks, president of Fresno Police Officers Association, who spoke about the Fresno School shooting incident; Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association of New York City, and Attorney Philip Karasyk, who spoke about the Sean Bell case. Palladino said of the commitment he made to invest all the resources of the union to defend his members, “I told Phil to do whatever it takes to get these guys justice.” All the officers were acquitted.

High-profile shootings

Casas-Zamora’s presentation was followed by a discussion of three high profile officer-involved shootings and the challenges faced by the respective unions to not only defend their members in the courtroom, but get them help for the emotional toll that is frequently a given. Panelists included Attorney Rocky Lucia, who represented the officers in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System shootings; Jacky Parks, president of the Fresno Police Officers Association, who spoke about the Fresno School shooting incident; and Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association of New York City along with DEA Attorney Philip Karasyk, who spoke about the Sean Bell case.

Critical incidents

Elizabeth Koller, the executive director of Perspectives on Growth, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing education about the science of brain chemistry and behaviors in youth and adults, is an expert on brain chemistry and its link to drugs, violence, and addictions. She spoke about the ways a traumatic incident impacts the brain. Her research indicates that officers involved with a shooting or other traumatic experience on the job, should not be questioned for at least 48 hours and perhaps even longer after the event. That delay gives the brain the ability to return to normal after the time of extreme fragmentation and disassociation that occurs following a trauma. Koller told the group that police officers regularly face tremendous stress which can be traced directly to the uniqueness of the functions and responsibilities which line officers contend with every day. “Prolonged stressful situations can put officers at increased risk for experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is often referred to as the invisible wound,” she said.  “The classic symptoms of PTSD are not commonly understood to be psychological problems. Traumatizing events can physically change the brain including communication pathway links between regions of the brain. “These communication pathway changes are what drive the unique and painful behaviors which are associated with PTSD.”

Labor relations

At the invitation of Gary DeLagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the new chief of the SFPD, George Gascón, spoke about the changing role of police chief in the 21st century and how those changes are impacting labor relations. Gascón talked about how the dynamic between the chief and employee organizations have gone from paternalism, cooperative submission, and at times open hostility, to a more collaborative model. But Gascon is worried that a clear divide continues to exist between management and labor. “Chiefs, officers and union directors must be willing to cooperate, collaborate and compromise in order to accomplish their goals,” he told the group.

“The destructive power which both sides of the equation wield in many agencies is similar in concept to MAD, the Cold War Era theory of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ which prevented either side from attacking the other. This does not presume that labor and management are always at odds, but an unprovoked attack by one side can release an extremely destructive response from the other.” During his talk, Chief Gascón drew on his unique and varied experiences as a law enforcement leader in three of America’s largest cities – Mesa, Los Angeles (28-year veteran) and now San Francisco, to make his argument that a collaborative leadership style on the part of the chief can and will attain better results than the autocratic model still prevalent today in many agencies across the country.

Forgotten heroes of 9/11 are dying E-mail
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, we all said "Never Forget."

In that spirit, it's important to keep in mind that people from all over the country came to the aid of New York City. Every state in the country, including Puerto Rico, sent responders.

The Police Aid Foundation has created a team of active and retired officers who have come together to aid officers and their families who courageously performed their duties are now suffering and dying with 9/11 related illness.

Stop your whining and get to work! E-mail
Written by James Lewis   
I've been "on the job" now for around 17 years or so, give or take, in various locations and positions. I've worked with good cops and some not so good. However when I started in law enforcement, there was never any question about what we were doing. It was "the" job. We all had a part in it and we knew the consequences of a bad day. What never seemed to falter was the mentality required to do it. We were always there for each other. No fight, or call, or situation stopped us from backing each other up. On or off duty. It's a mentality I still enjoy and promote to my officers to this day.
A grand debut at the Las Vegas Speedway E-mail

The new police car from Ford, developed by the people who drive them.

The iconic patrol car of the last decade, the Crown Vic, is soon to fade away into history when Ford ceases its production next year.

The questions on the minds and lips of police leaders, fleet managers and, most importantly, law enforcement officers, have been: "What will be taking its place?" and "Will it be as good as the Crown Vic?"

Those two questions and many more were answered at the Las Vegas Speedway on March 12 when Ford unveiled the next generation Police Interceptor before a crowd of about two hundred law enforcement personnel and media. Judging from the smiles and comments coming from the men and women as they stepped out of the demonstration vehicles and removed their protective helmets after a few white-knuckle laps around the speedway, I'd say that Ford answered those questions quite well.

Still waiting on interoperability E-mail
Written by Jamie Barnett   

What if a massive earthquake struck the U.S.? How prepared are we for interoperable communications during emergencies (or day to day)? Even as the U.S. rushes to aid Haiti, we have to ask ourselves that question. By coincidence, the day the Haiti earthquake hit, leading police chiefs, fire chiefs, and sheriffs representing tens of thousands of public safety officers throughout the U.S. visited policymakers and members of Congress in Washington. Their purpose was to request that Congress devote more radio frequency spectrum for the creation of a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network.

Body armor, bad guys and weapons: a deadly mix E-mail
Written by Paul M. Weber   

Criminals are packing more heat,” proclaimed a USA Today headline of December 16th, 2009. The story – based on a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum – confirmed the trend many law enforcement professions have witnessed in recent years:  criminals are increasingly choosing high-powered firearms as their weapons of choice. Little did we know when we read that story the added significance and urgency it would take on within the same week, when the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles overturned a 1998 California law that bans possession of body armor by anyone with a violent felony conviction.

Go home Mrs. Terrorist! E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

In Amherst, Massachusetts recently, hundreds of cops and their supporters showed up in force to protest the scheduled speaking appearance of a terrorist and a cop-killer. The demonstration was a powerful reminder of the fact that police officers never forget the loss of one of their own and the scumbag that did the murder. Thankfully the cop-killer, one Raymond Luc Levasseur, was not allowed to leave the state of Maine to make the appearance after the conditions of his parole were changed. So instead, the terrorist's ex-wife showed up. That made little difference to the law enforcement professionals and their families that made the trip.

Officer's Kidney Is Saving Two Lives E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   
In what can only be described as a massive kidney swap, highly skilled surgeons recently performed 26 operations on people in desperate need. The first of a kind organ exchange was the brainchild of a quick-thinking organ transplant expert and pulled off thanks to big-hearted donors like Police Officer Tom Otten.

Otten took part in the recent record-setting kidney swap in the nation's capital that was part of a major push to get transplants to patients who might not usually qualify. When it was over, all 13 people hoping and praying for a second chance had received lifesaving kidneys, according to a news story by the Associated Press.

Resisting Arrest: Not A Crime E-mail
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in the Portland, Oregon area recently sent out a memo regarding a resisting case (State v. Oliphant) and its decision's effect on Oregon law enforcement. In essence, the ruling says: an arrestee may defend himself against a police officer's use or imminent use of force if the arrestee believes, as much as a reasonable person in his position would believe, that the officer's use or imminent use of force exceeds the force reasonably necessary to make the arrest.
When the Device Is The Evidence. E-mail
As you read this article, you are no doubt surrounded by various technological devices, be they your iPhone, netbook, Kindle, or MDT. You rely on these devices everyday for communication with others; sometimes as far away as the other side of the world, or as close as your partner in the next patrol car.

Sure, you're familiar with how to work these devices and are completely comfortable texting and emailing, but what happens when you're dispatched to a call where the electronic device is the crime scene?
A Place For Women In Need E-mail
As police officers, we see first-hand the devastating effects an unplanned pregnancy can have on the young women of our communities.

Often these young women are forced into a life of prostitution, drugs, and other crimes, as well as homelessness.

For young pregnant women, under the age of 25, with nowhere else to turn, there will soon be an alternative in the South Florida area.

Cop-Turned-Doc a Blessing E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   
There are lots of cops who have also worked as emergency medical technicians, but this is the first time we've ever heard of a real-deal street cop becoming an M.D.

As an undercover cop, Pete Gutierrez helped bust some of South Florida's biggest and dangerous drug dealers.

These days Gutierrez, now Dr. Gutierrez, is running a clinic for the homeless, continuing his lifelong mission of public service.

We must never forget why we do what we do E-mail
Written by Jim Gilbert   

As we continue on in our personal career path, it's important for each of us to remember to keep the "spirit of a good police officer" in mind. This mantra is something I have followed during my 16 years on the job. Before I was elected president of my local FOP Lodge, I worked third shift, 11 precinct "C" company, in a very busy area in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio. I always started my shift by going over several things in my head, no matter what bad news came down: from the administration above; that the division of police may have delivered more policies/procedures to follow etc.; or gossip among the sarge and other coppers.

Bringing the Fight to Their Turf E-mail
Written by Lynn Lyons-Wynne   
"When lives are at stake, America's first responders do not hesitate to rush into harm's way. We do our jobs, searching for, rescuing, and aiding victims regardless of what dangers and health hazards await."

This was the recent testimony of 24-year veteran Detective Tom McHale of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police Department before a Congressional Subcommittee. Few in law enforcement history can match the bravery and determination of Detective McHale, whose areas of expertise include solving homicides and fighting terrorism both at home and abroad.

We Never Stop Looking Out For Each Other E-mail
Written by Robert Mladnich   

Retired NYPD detective Greg Boyle spent 21 years on the job, working the streets of Brooklyn without ever firing a shot. After leaving the Department in December 2002, he worked part-time as an armed security guard in Cellini Jewelers, which is located in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan. The 54-year-old Boyle never foresaw the events of November 15, 2008 when a young man entered the store, smashed a display case with a .45 caliber handgun, and started taking whatever he could get his hands on. Boyle pulled his weapon and grabbed hold of the gunman. The next thing he remembers is lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Blowback, unfairly second-guessing the use of force E-mail
Written by Dr. Lawrence N. Blum   

Editor’s note: The author is responding to an article in the Los Angeles Times slamming cops after an officer-involved shooting.

The Times’ report on Inglewood police shootings ignored the challenge cops face when confronted by potentially lethal threats. I am a police psychologist in practice in the Los Angeles County area and have worked solely with peace officers since 1981.

Since that time, I have been called to the aftermath of 25 murdered police officers and more than 200 cases of officers being shot, stabbed, beaten or bludgeoned. In reading studies by the FBI and others of the causes and conditions underlying such losses, I was struck by a continuing phenomenon: many of the victim officers were those who delayed using force by maintaining verbal controls.

Swimming against the tide E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

As some police officers and their agencies try and figure out how to handle changes regarding the law and criminal penalties for low-level drug possession, many others in public safety have turned into unabashed and extremely vocal critics of American drug policy. One such critic is Terry Nelson – a man whose resume leaves little doubt that he knows something about the subjects of narcotics and public safety. Terry Nelson worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years, serving in the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Today it's my city, tomorrow it's yours E-mail
Written by Matt Mustard   

Local governments all across America are caught in a budget squeeze and looking for something - or someone - to blame. They look for a villain, instead of having an honest conversation with taxpayers about the realities of a weak economy, the impact of a mortgage crisis, and skyrocketing demands for services without revenue streams to pay the costs. On top of our natural disasters, many municipal governments carry the weight of bad decisions made by elected officials whose primary sources of information are their own, often-weak staff. Those who want to roll back the clock on our pensions and benefits have us in their sights and are firing away.

Written by Spc. Shawn Miller   

As a young California Highway Patrolman, Joe David never imagined that he would soon be at the forefront of the war on drugs. Nearly 20 years after developing the groundbreaking Desert Snow program, David is considered the leading force in highway interdiction. Just recently, David and his team of experts teamed up with the Pennsylvania National Guard's Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC) as they rolled into Willow Grove NAS to bring the Desert Snow course to law enforcement agencies from across the country.

Memorial signs a powerful reminder E-mail
Written by Walter Olsen   

It's happened 42 times in the history of Phoenix and it cannot be forgotten. Our first brother fell on February 5, 1925; the last one was on September 18, 2007. We have lost 33 police officers and nine firefighters. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and the City have partnered to erect historical markers at or near the locations where Phoenix officers and firefighters have made the ultimate sacrifice.

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