January 2010 issue letters to the editor E-mail

Really?

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

Wow!

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


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