Letters to the Editor
January 2010 issue letters to the editor E-mail


I can't believe what happened in that incident with the fake robbery that occurred in New Jersey that you wrote up in the November issue of your magazine where the employer came up with the idea of a practice robbery with a pretend gunman without telling the employees first. The employee, who is now traumatized, will press for a lawsuit.  I believe she has every right to do so. The shock of a holdup where hostages are involved is bad enough, but to find out afterward that it was not a real event would send me over the edge.

On the other hand, I can see where the employer is coming from, but only to a certain extent.  The practice drill was a good idea so workers would know what to do in an actual situation, but it was a horrible idea not to alert them first. What if the terrified employee was screaming for help and someone across the street realized what was going on and tried to hurt the gunman? Innocent lives were at stake for an unnecessary situation.  An obvious solution to this problem would be to tell the employees first, then there would be no lawsuit. - Morgan Smallwood

Role model

She is small woman, but criminals know better than to attempt to intimidate her. Her bravery and quality of training was amply demonstrated during the recent incident at Ft. Hood. Wounded in her legs and right wrist, she is expected to recuperate. Sgt. Kimberly Denise Munley, 34, has joined the ranks of American heroes who are willing to put their lives on the line to save others. She will become the poster girl for all women who aspire to become police officers. In WrightsvilleBeach, she earned the nickname of "Mighty Mouse" after saving her partner from an attacker. She is married and has a three-year-old daughter. Her husband, who is a member of the Special Forces, has been recently assigned to Ft. Bragg, N.C. and they plan to move there soon.

As for the killer of Ft. Hood., he has shattered the armored "shield of trust" that exists among those who fight wars and face danger every day. Nidal Malik Hasan made a mockery of the oath he took to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America and he failed the Hippocratic Oath of a physician too. The killing and wounding of fellow soldiers in Ft. Hood by a major and a physician is a despicable act. This man has disgraced the uniform of and hurt the reputation of physicians in uniform. Without doubt, there will be many investigations of the mass murder that occurred at Ft. Hood, Texas. There will also be a lot of discussion and speculation about Hasan. As painful as it might be, the factors that created the monster of Ft. Hood must be examined and corrected as quickly as possible.

It is a well-known fact that violent gang members, including some from the much feared Salvadoran MS-13 group and others, have infiltrated the U.S. Armed Forces and particularly the U.S. Army. And it is also a well-known fact that many potential terrorists have found their way into the army. These individuals must be identified and discharged without delay. Stop the deployment of troops until the bad eggs can be found and discharged from every branch of the military services. - Louis Dominguez Law enforcement officer and a U.S. Army veteran

Catch 22

Concerning the article in your November, 2009 issue, "Police told to wait for the Fire Dept.," I would say the following: whoa, police safety is a concern for all law enforcement officers. However, one shoe does not fit all. We have a great fire department in my community. Its members would probably all recommend that cops wait for their expertise. I don't know of any fireman or cop, if off duty, who would not rush into a fire. Spotting a fire while on patrol may be very different than being sent to a fire. There are just too many variables that affect an officer's decision to take action. - Sheriff Ralph Froehlich Elizabeth, New Jersey
(The writer is a former patrol officer with the Elizabeth, NJ Police Dept.)

Watch for the warning signs

Concerning the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood, I think it is important not to let these deaths be in vain. I am deeply saddened by the loss of more brothers and sisters on the home front. Below are some recommendations from the book, Officer Down: Lessons from the Streets, by Brian McKenna, a retired lieutenant of the Hazelwood Police Department in Missouri. Brian gives us good advice about what things we need to focus on to reduce our vulnerability. o Indicators. Some are easy to spot and some are very difficult.

Imminent threats of violence, behavioral changes, argumentative with others were warning signs of potential violence. o The best defense in all matters is being proactive and early detection via indicators and potential threat assessments. o If some people are concerned about behavior,  pay special attention and discuss it. Anyone who is alert to the warning signs can help prevent a tragedy by coming forward. Go with your instincts if something does not feel right. Overacting is easier to live with than doing nothing at all. o Recordings, internet postings and conversations with others can be clues to upcoming attacks, planned or otherwise. Once again, if it bothers you enough to think about it, share your concerns. It may turn out to be nothing, but action beats reaction every time. o Increase security during large gatherings or deployments with armed MPs or law enforcement. A large police presence on the scene will be a deterrent.

Had someone at Ft. Hood been armed, this could have been dealt with quickly via an active-shooter protocol which means most likely there will be fewer victims and people with serious injuries. o Find out who is monitoring  mental health and providing counseling services for the staff. There's far too much bureaucratic red tape to gain access to stress management, peer assistance groups, conflict-resolution, etc. for those seeking help. Providers may need assistance as well. o We must always remember that the events that cause stress, humiliation, frustration, depression, or rage only add more fuel to the fires that are burning inside people with intense psychological problems.

It's like a wildfire that can quickly spin out of control if it's not dealt with in the early stages. The type of weapons used and updates to this incident say it all - I will not go into this now as investigation is on-going but the motive and goal are clear to me! We have plenty of armor and protocols to deal with an outside threat, but we have neglected to pay attention to threats within our own midst. We need to transcend our own denial and deal with these issues. - David J. Moore (S-55/Ret USAF) Osan Air Base South Korea

Gun Rights

For years, the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, (I.U.P.A.) has not ventured into the debate concerning the private ownership of guns.  Our efforts have remained confined to the issues related to the wages, working conditions, and the administrativeprotection of "America's" law enforcement professionals. Of late, however, we have been asked more frequently to state our position on the private ownership of guns and our beliefs and experiences as to how gun ownership relates to the Second Amendment and to self defense. In brief, we believe that the private ownership of guns is not only guaranteed by our Constitution but also directly and positively related to a citizen's ability to protect himself and his family in his own home.

Here's why: In the best departments, the response to an emergency call will take between 5 and 7 minutes from the time you dial 911; and in most departments, those times are goals, not realities. Those minutes are an eternity when you are the person with the emergency and the crisis is in the form of an intruder threatening you and your family's lives. Our police departments are not and have never been structured to provide everyone with protection within their homes. Their job is to maintain the public safety. With a population of 300,000,000 and about 800,000 cops, when one figures the three shifts, days off, vacations, and assignments not related to patrol, there is generally about one cop on the street for every 4,000 to 6,000 people.  In many communities, that ratio is much less.  These numbers do not allow for us to guarantee one's safety within the walls of their own home. That responsibility then, by default, falls upon our citizens. Furthermore, we know intuitively that an armed person is in a far better position to defend himself and his family than if he were unarmed. Are guns dangerous? Of course they are.

So are chain saws and ladders. Anything capable of harming you requires training and attention to safety rules concerning its use. Guns are no exception. However, ten years ago, a federal report implored the medical industry to cut in half the annual death toll from medical errors, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs, and hospital-related infections, which was estimated at 200,000 per year. In America, each year about 43,000 people are killed in automobile accidents and 15,000 from falls. In addition, reportedly 8,600 people in America die from poisonings while 4,000 Americans drown each year.  During the same year, about 1,400 are killed in gun related accidents in the U.S. There are more deaths related to over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. We acknowledge the tragic role that guns play in suicides in America. More than half of those who kill themselves in this country use firearms. We believe that families who know of mental health issues within the home should give serious consideration to this fact when debating the wisdom of gun ownership.

However, there is ample information to show that disarming the public does not protect them.  Law abiding citizens obey gun laws; crooks, by definition, do not. A comprehensive study into fatal and nonfatal attacks on police officers was conducted by the FBI team of Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, clinical forensic psychologist, and Ed Davis, criminal investigative instructor, both with the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit, and Charles Miller III, coordinator of the LEOs Killed and Assaulted program. Mr. Davis, in a presentation and discussion for the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, noted that none of the attackers interviewed were "hindered by any law - federal, state or local - that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws."

One need only look at the crime rates in Washington, D.C. to be convinced that gun laws restricting private ownership of firearms are contrary to the safety of the public. Washington D.C. enacted a virtual ban on handguns in 1976. Between 1976 and 1991, Washington D.C.'s homicide rate rose 200 percent, while the U.S. rate rose 12 percent. The Supreme Court, in 2008, found in D.C. v. Heller that the Second Amendment is an individual right intimately tied to the natural right of self-defense. The Scalia majority invoked much historical material to support its finding that the right to keep and bear arms belongs to individuals.

More precisely, Scalia asserted in the Court's opinion that the "people" to whom the Second Amendment right is accorded are the same "people" who enjoyFirst and Fourth Amendment protection. Most police officers view their guns as tools. Not much more and nothing less. They are a necessary part of their equipment, and carrying one daily removes much of the aura and stigma some others attach to these weapons. They teach their family, including their children, about them.

Some have gun safes, many do not. Most keep them loaded. The IUPA has no argument against the laws that pertain to the illegal use, sale, or possession of firearms by felons, addicts, or others deemed unsuitable for gun ownership. We support sentencing enhancements for persons armed at the time of their offenses. We likewise support those laws restricting the ownership of automatic weapons and will not take a position on reasonable laws concerning silencers, armor piercing bullets and background checks.

We remain, however, committed to the idea that the wholesale laws restricting the right of gun ownership or the possession of otherwise legal firearms in one's home to all persons, simply because they reside within a geographical area, violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution and the basic rights of law abiding Americans to make this important decision for themselves. We are absolutely committed to the notion that the judgment as to whether or not a law abiding and sane American citizen has access to the ownership of an otherwise legal firearm should not be made by any city, county or state or federal government and that the Second Amendment guarantees Americans that right. - Dennis Slocumb International Vice President International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO


I was fascinated to read the story about the so-called company named American Police Force getting the contract for running a jail in Hardin, Montana. Here's a synopsis of the facts, which border on bizarre.
1. A brand new jail sits empty in Hardin, Montana for two years. (The area is suffering from high unemployment.)
2. American Police Force, a private company, proposes running the jail under contract. CEO Michael Hilton pitches himself to the city as a military veteran turned private sector entrepreneur - a California defense contractor with extensive government contracts who promised to turn the rural city's empty jail into a cash cow. Guantanamo Bay inmates, he says, will be moved to Hardin and lots of jobs will be created in Hardin in a "Gitmo West." He promises that the jobs will be created.
3. Local city officials sign contract.
4. Michael Hilton and other personnel from American Police Force show up. Hardin is driving a black Mercedes SUV with "Hardin Police" logos.
5. It turns out there is no Hardin P.D. and the city didn not contract with APF. Hardin is patrolled by local sheriff. Public and city baffled why cars say "Hardin Police."
6. A background check if done on Michael Hilton. Turns out he is a convicted felon from California, a foreign national, has filed multiple bankruptcies, owes a lot of money in fraud judgments, claims to have federal contracts that he doesn't, and uses a company logo that is the Serbian national crest.
7. UNREAL. - Joe Strong Police officer in California

Recent letters E-mail

Lame coverage

Over the years I have enjoyed the articles in Police Beat. Usually the news is relevant, the articles educational and informative and the editorials to the point. In your last issue however, there seems to be far more politically correct fluff and fodder that diminishes the relevant on-point reporting. For example, the article by a middle manager promoting community policing with recycled rhetoric was as useful as day-old donuts. Then there was the filler article about the low numbers of women in law enforcement. This was another example of irrelevant recycled drivel. In twenty years on the job, I’ve never heard an officer say “Gee . . . I think we need more female cops in our department . . . wonder what the problem is?” I don’t think the Troopers in West Virginia care either. And lastly the articles about police administrators telling us that the economy is in the toilet and crime is on the rise made me want to ask you, “That’s a news flash? Really?” What happened to the former reporting you did that gave tactical situations we can learn from or the relevant developments? Let’s cut the nonsense; personally I would rather read advertisements. – B.K. Byers, Salem, OR

February letters E-mail

Cops trained to "run away?"

There was an article on the Secret Service that ran on January 4, 2009 in Parade magazine. In it an ex-Secret Service agent and current colonel at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Florida, James Previtera, makes a very bad statement. He states, "Cops are trained to retreat when gunfire starts, but the Secret Service has to stand tall and go into the gunfire."

I think APB readers would want to know what Previtera thinks of us lowly cops who "train to retreat" and hopefully Colonel Previtera will get an earful from the thousands of law enforcement officers around the country who have run towards gunfire to save a life or stop a threat. For those interested in reading the entire article, it can be viewed at www.parade.com. The offending remark occurs right at the beginning of the article: "Secret Service agents have a job that they must literally be willing to die for. 'Cops are trained to retreat when gunfire starts, but the Secret Service has to stand tall and go into the gunfire,' says James Previtera, a Secret Service agent from 1998 to 2005 who now runs Florida's Hillsborough County Jail.

To serve and protect all

Besides protecting, a big part of what we do is serve.

Our line of work offers us a chance to come in contact with people who really need help and how we treat them is a reflection not only on our agency but ourselves as well. Recently I met an older man named Donald. Donald had severe mental health challenges that required comprehensive professional attention.

For police officers, it is not uncommon to have calls involving persons suffering some type of psychiatric disorder or mental health problem and on this particular day, Donald was being stubborn and confrontational at the institution he was staying at. Refusing to take a shot to calm him, Donald was in a standoff with staff, who called for our assistance. Despite efforts to negotiate with him, Donald was having nothing to do with it. Prior to speaking with him, I said a prayer for a certain saint's intervention to help us accomplish our objective to assist him.

When I had the chance to speak with Donald, I gently told him that I wanted him to be treated with the respect he deserved. Despite his severe handicap, Donald recognized I was offering him a chance to not only avoid a pending physical escalation, which I felt was beneath him, but also to maintain his personal dignity. In short order, he complied with staff's request and the other officers and I were on our way. In our special line of work, we have a unique advantage in having regular opportunities to make a difference in the lives of all God's children, particularly those most in need. By presenting small gifts of respect and kindness toward them, we also have a chance to make prayerful offerings to the Almighty in our tours of duty. And whether we appreciate it or not, there is more than meets the eye when we run into those that society has deemed our lowest.

Sadly, Donald died a while later; but while here, he offered so many people the chance to praise God through kindness to him. Our world is filled with Donalds, and as police officers, we are remiss if we don't recognize the opportunities that they offer us. - Lt. Tom Wetzel

In the line of duty

On January 31, 1791, Constable Darius Quimby of the Albany County, NY Constable's Office was killed by hostile gunfire. He was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a man on a trespassing warrant. The suspect was found guilty of murdering Constable Quimby in the July session of the New York State Supreme Court and was hanged for his crime on August 26, 1791. Constable Quimby is the first known law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in the United States. Since that day 19,494 US law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. In 2008, the first loss to law enforcement came on New Year's Day when Maryland Transportation Authority Police Corporal Courtney Brooks was struck by a hit-and-run driver on I-95 in Baltimore City at approximately 11:30 PM Dec. 31, 2007. In the year 2008, a total of 132 US law enforcement officers lost their lives in the line of duty in the United States, its territories, protectorates, on its railways and tribal lands. 14 of the officers were female, and 118 were male. New York State lost five officers in 2008. Detective Christopher A. Ridley was off duty when he observed a fight between two homeless men in White Plains, New York. He attempted to break up the fight, but was violently attacked by the aggressor.

During the struggle, Detective Ridley's handgun fell to the ground and discharged, attracting the attention of two Westchester County police officers who were in an adjacent county building. The officers approached the scene as Detective Ridley picked up his weapon from the ground. Not realizing that Ridley was a police officer, the two officers ordered him to drop his weapon. When he did not comply, they fired, fatally wounding him. Sgt. Edward Thompson of the NYPD died from lung cancer that he contracted as a result of recovery work performed at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001. During his work at Ground Zero, Sergeant Thompson inhaled various toxins which were present in the air, which led to the onset of the cancer. Officer Kenneth Duncan, a New York City Corrections officer, was shot and killed while taking police action in an off duty incident. Officer Duncan was in his driveway with a friend, working on his motorcycle when two males approached. One produced a firearm in an attempt to steal the motorcycle. In an exchange of gunfire Duncan was shot once in the face. He engaged his assailant but did not hit the suspect.

Officer Aldo Rossi, Port Dickinson Police Department, was struck by a drunk driver while waiting for a DOT truck to remove a tree that had fallen across the roadway. He was speaking to the driver of a car that had stopped near the fallen tree when another car struck that car, and then him. He was 42 years old. Trooper Shawn W. Snow, New York State Police, was electrocuted while assisting a driver changing a flat tire on an antique fire truck near the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

The fire truck's ladder came in contact with overhead power lines. Trooper Snow and the truck driver were both killed instantly. Of the three New York State losses attributable to criminal action, two of the cases have been cleared. The murder of Kenneth Duncan remains an open case. God be with each of them, their families and friends, and their departments, now and always. We remember. Lord, hear us. "When we lay down our nightsticks, enroll us in Your Heavenly force, where we will be as proud to guard the Throne of God as we were to guard the cities of men." St. Michael protect us. We will see you in Elysium.- Respectfully submitted by Officer Mike Ryan, Brockport, NYPD. Background information for this letter came from Officerdown.com.

Domo arigato

I would like to thank American Police Beat and the other sponsoring organizations for hosting an incredible reception for the California Police Chiefs Association at IACP in San Diego this month. It was a wonderful event with over 400 chiefs attending and we were proud to be able to assist in raising money for the National Law Enforcement Museum. We appreciate your support and thanks again. - Chief Jerry P Dyer Fresno, California P.D. President, California Police Chiefs Association

January 2009 letters to Editor APB E-mail

Officers exonerated

I wanted to send you an update and a thank you from the Seattle Police Officers Guild. We were notified that the misdemeanor gun charges against the Seattle Police Officers and two Border Patrol Agents involved in the Sturgis incident were dropped. We want to thank each and every person and organization that took the time to write letters to the South Dakota Attorney General and the Meade County States Attorney, on behalf of our officers. We truly believe that these letters served an invaluable purpose in the pursuit of having these charges dismissed. Your support will be always remembered by the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

– Rich O’Neill, President Seattle Police Officers Guild

December 2008 letters to APB E-mail

Right to carry

As president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild, I would like to bring to your attention a situation which has impacted one of our officers and has the potential to affect the safety of all law enforcement officers throughout the nation. On August 9, 2008 Seattle Police Detective Ron Smith was vacationing in Sturgis, South Dakota with members of a fraternal law enforcement motorcycle club. Detective Smith was attacked by a member of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Gang in what South Dakota authorities described as a "violent and premeditated" incident.

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