Letters to editor E-mail

American Police Beat, February 2008.

Criticism misplaced

The Taser Foundation was recently criticized in a national daily newspaper for hosting a poker tournament dubbed, "Beauty and the Bet." The event featured Playboy bunnies to help raise funds to benefit the families of officers killed in the line of duty. The article intimated that there was some controversy between the Taser Foundation and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). I don't think that is so. But you have to read the article carefully. It says that "holding a poker tournament with Playboy bunnies isn't something we (COPS) would do or encourage." I agree with that.  It would be very inappropriate for COPS, which has near hallowed status from law enforcement officers, to conduct such a fundraiser.  But there is nothing inappropriate with the Taser Foundation doing so, particularly in Las Vegas at the Palms Hotel where the owners are very pro-police. Law enforcement officers engage in their virtuous duties in the sewers of society and cops rely on Tasers which have become one of the most valuable tools in our tool box. They are just giving back to us. I hope that national newspaper which tried to stir up controversy realizes there is nothing more American than the Playboy Jazz Festival, which is now celebrating its 28th year. And there is nothing more American than its emcee, Bill Cosby, who represents the very best of American virtues. My wish is that we never had to raise funds to help families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. But as long as evil roams the countryside and takes the lives of women and men who wear the badge, then we must do what we must do to protect the families of our own. The fundraiser should not be controversial nor should we mix the sanctity of the work done by COPS with the less revered work of fundraising. I, for one, thank the Taser Foundation and all other foundations which help law enforcement officers for their efforts to assist the family of my partner, who was killed in the line of duty.

- Patricia Andrews San Diego, California

Museum news

I wanted to share some very good news. Late last year, the National CapitaPlanning Commission in Washington D.C. approved our preliminary design and site plans for the National Law Enforcement Museum. This is a crucial milestone and gets us closer to a Museum groundbreaking in 2008. This approval was three years in the making. The nation's capital has very tough design standards that must be met on any new project, especially those built in an area like Judiciary Square, which is home not only to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, but also to DC's original City Hall - built in 1820 - and so many other historic landmarks. Kudos to our extremely talented project team, which secured the approval of the plans. Much more work still lies ahead, but we are getting closer to the finish line.

Please support the National Law Enforcement Museum. Go to www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org or call 866-446-NLEM (446-6536).

On same team

I wish to take exception to points made in the recent article, "Everyone wants to be Police." The reason why our raid jackets and tactical vests say "POLICE" in large letters and "ICE" in smaller print is two-fold - the primary reason for such lettering is to prevent confusion among different agencies when responding to a scene. As a member of a fugitive operations team, I am constantly conducting surveillance and serving warrants. Most often I work with other members of my own agency and have no problem identifying them during warrants, with or without raid jackets on. The same cannot be said for responding officers from local and state agencies. I don't think I need to point out the number of times an undercover or off-duty officer has been shot by responding uniform officers. I have been at arrest locations where homeowners and/or nearby citizens have called 911 to report armed men "breaking in" or "kidnapping" the target of the operation. The use of raid jackets and ballistic carriers labeled "POLICE" have certainly helped everyone stay safe. We often call the local or state agency prior to conducting an operation to let them know we are on the scene. Sometimes we get a desk officer, sometimes a dispatcher, sometimes we are greeted with indifference. Once in a while we might even have a unit respond to assist. Either way, I do not want to be on the receiving end of a blue-on-blue force situation. The second point is that the term "POLICE" is more recognizable by both native and non-native speakers than any combination of three-letter agency designation. POLICE translates into most languages in some form or another, such as POLICIA, POLIS, POLEZI etc. There is a far greater chance that someone who doesn't speak English may recognize large letters on a jacket or vest and realize that the person wearing it is a law enforcement officer. This is not to confer any additional authority on our part, nor is it meant to create a false sense of identity to the general public. It is simply meant to identify ourselves in the form most-recognizable to the public in general. On a daily basis we may not be "the same people doing the same things" in a strict sense, as you so eloquently stated. I do not conduct routine patrols, respond to 911 calls of domestic violence or lost children, nor do I respond to active shooter calls. What I do do, however, is stop and assist state and local officers conducting traffic stops on my way home. I do work closely with my state and local brothers and sisters when they ask me questions regarding criminal illegal aliens in their communities. I do participate with local fugitive and gang units when they conduct operations and ask for ICE assistance. I am also a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. As a matter of fact, I have never had a state or local police officer refuse my help because I wasn't the real "POLICE." Regardless of what you think the back of my raid jacket should say (or not say) I am a law enforcement officer. I don't view or judge any other law enforcement officer by their title, rank, or organization. I don't care if you are local, state or federal - when the chips are down and shots are being fired you are either part of the thin blue line or you are not.

- Jeffrey E. Grant Deportation Officer Firearms Instructor National Fugitive Operations Baltimore Field Office

Moral compass

Concerning Jeff Baker's moving account of the Westroads Mall shooting in last month's issue - there will be a litany of excuses from the left and the media will be searching for things to blame, like gun ownership. I am not interested in analyzing the shooter's mental health issues. Rather he should be portrayed as the weak, psychopathic loser that he is - someone who couldn't handle his girlfriend breaking up with him and losing his job at McDonalds. This was another attempt at fame after playing a real life video game. This shooter and others like him are weak, spoiled losers who can't handle life's disappointments, nothing more. I believe this misfit was the result of current "no fail, feel good" education programs where children are not allowed to fail. In some places, schools won't even let them play tag because of the 'stigma' of being 'it'. Failure is a part of life, just like success; but some of these kids go through life never experiencing failure and they aren't made to try. So when something bad happens, they crumble like stale bread. I also think that violence in movies, on TV and in video games play a part. The fact is that our society is losing its moral compass and its sense of balance.

- Rich Walton Hawk Associates/ Ridgeline Products

Privilege of serving

My name is Michael Hicks and I am a police officer for the Town of Coventry in Connecticut. Below is an email that my lieutenant sent to all of us a few days ago. I wanted to share it with my fellow officers around the country. My shift on Christmas Eve found me in the home of a nine-year-old boy who accidentally hung himself while playing cowboys with his three-year-old brother. I arrived and found a lone fireman kneeling over the child who was unconscious and struggling for breath. As I ran to his side, the fireman cut a bathrobe belt from the child's neck. The young boy started to breathe and cry and scream. He was flailing his arms uncontrollably. Other firemen arrived and put an oxygen mask on the child. The parents entered the room in tears as they watched their boy and prayed we got there in time. As I carried the boy out to the stretcher and said a prayer of my own, I thanked God for giving me the privilege of being a police officer and serving this community. We should all be proud of who we are and what we do. I thank each and everyone of you for the job you do every day and I am proud to serve with you. Have a safe holiday season. Hug your loved ones.

- Lt. Nancy Thurnauer
(It should be noted that this nine-year-old boy's 13-year-old sister was the one who found him and cut him down. She then courageously started CPR until the first firefighter and Lt. Thurnauer arrived.

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