Saturday, December 1, 2007

The terrible tragedy involving Sean Taylor

I’m sure most of us, football fans or not, have heard the tragic story of 24-year old Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor. On Monday (November 26th), Sean Taylor was at his home, located in an affluent Miami suburb. He was with his wife and his 18-month old daughter. Because of a serious knee injury Sean hadn’t gone with his team (Washington Redskins) to Tampa Bay where they played the Buccaneers on Sunday. Washington lost that game, but when we consider what actually happened to Sean Taylor and his grieving family, the loss of a mere football game doesn't really seem to be that significant.

Sean was home recuperating from that knee injury when four subjects apparently broke into his home and then eventually shot him. The bullet hit and damaged the femoral artery in Sean's leg and this caused a significant amount of blood loss. Sean Taylor never did regain consciousness and he died Tuesday, a little more than 24 hours after he’d been shot.

Besides the obvious, that a human being’s life had suddenly and senselessly been cut short, there are other factors that make this crime also tragic. Sean Taylor grew up and lived on the so-called “mean streets” of
Miami. He apparently had some past associations he was now trying to end. People who knew him well said he had changed dramatically, ever sense the birth of his young daughter. He was now more focused and more mature. But, according to some of his friends, former Miami Hurricanes and current NFL players themselves, Sean Taylor had enemies. These were individuals who were jealous of what Taylor had become, and their envy and greed made Sean a likely target.

Yesterday (Nov. 30th) the Miami-Dade Police Department announced they had made four arrests reference the murder of Sean Taylor. It would be nice if the one who actually pulled the trigger received a death sentence, and then WAS executed. But, I can confidently predict that this will never happen. Why? Well, I'm sure Director Robert Parker (Miami-Dade Police) had very good intentions when he spoke to the media about the arrests of the four subjects. But, Director Parker, who is a 31-year veteran of the Miami-Dade P.D., broke one of the Cardinal Rules of law enforcement when he said more than he needed to, AND more than he should have.

"They were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone," Director Parker reportedly said. "They were expecting a residence that was not occupied. So murder or shooting someone was not their initial motive." As an ex-homicide detective myself, I cringed in disbelief when I read these quotes from the head of the Miami-Dade Police. Where did Director Parker get this information? Well obviously, this is what the suspect(s) told the homicide detectives. Director Parker wouldn’t discuss how many of the suspects confessed, or what specifically they said, but it was obvious they were saying murder was not their original intent. But, why would the Director report what they said as if it were fact? He should not have said what he said, period!

Okay, they didn't initially intend to shoot anyone, right? Well, the media reported that Sean Taylor and his wife were awakened when they heard loud noises coming from other areas of their home.
Taylor reportedly kept a machete in the bedroom, for protection, and he grabbed it. Someone reportedly broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missed, but one also hit Sean in the upper leg. So, my question to Director Parker is this: If these four individuals "...were certainly not looking to go there and kill anyone" then why did they bust down Sean's bedroom door and start shooting? When they realized that the home was occupied, and not empty as they supposedly first thought, why didn't they then just flee, instead of shooting?

When we also remember the previous burglary at Sean’s home, when the subject(s) apparently left a kitchen knife on one of Sean’s beds, it is obvious to me that there are still so many unanswered questions surrounding this tragic event. Sorry Director Parker, but you goofed badly when you made the statements you did. They will only complicate the prosecution of these individuals and I suspect if they are charged with a capital crime, and they face the death penalty, YOU will be called as a defense witness. After all, YOU have already proclaimed to the world, through the media, that they guys never did mean to kill Sean Taylor.

Final note: The Washington Redskins' web site has a nice tribute to Sean Taylor.

Monday, November 19, 2007

America's Bravest of the Brave

Here's one of my recent posts from
(Infinity Publishing created for people who like to write)

Although my own book is about law enforcement in south Florida during the violent 1970s, I respect and admire all of the brave and dedicated men and women of our military. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been brutal and bloody. But, regardless of a person’s personal opinion concerning these two conflicts, we should still consider the men and women fighting in these wars to be nothing less than true heroes.

We all know the gruesome figures.
Thousands of our best have been killed and many more thousands have been wounded. All of these brave individuals of our military volunteered to serve and this includes the many thousands of reservists who have also been called up to active duty. Some of these reservists called up are police officers and I’m sure most police departments around the country have at least one or two officers who are now on active duty. I recently read a tribute to the first New York City (N.Y.P.D.) police officer killed in Iraq. He died back in August of 2005, and even back then N.Y.P.D. had over 270 police officers on active duty with our military. Many police officers from around the country continue to serve.

Captain Martin Steiger, a sergeant with the N.Y.P.D. narcotics division, was activated in January of 2002.
Over the past two years Capt. Steiger, who is a member of the Army Reserve’s 800th Military Police Brigade, has traveled to Afghanistan (Bagram & Kandahar), Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Oman and Kuwait. In each place he has been he has flown the N.Y.P.D. flag which is embroidered with these words, “NYPD Gone but not forgotten, 9-11-01” (23 N.Y.P.D. officers died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th).

On the web site I created to help promote and market my book I’ve added a new section where I intend to pay tribute to police officers who have been called to active duty and who were then either killed in combat, or seriously wounded.
In my opinion these men and woman are definitely America’s Bravest of the Brave" and I want to honor them.

From the research I have already done I have located the names of approximately a dozen police officers who were called up and then killed while on active duty.
I know there are many more and I request that anyone who may know of a deserving officer please forward his/her information to me. Initially, I intend to focus on those officers who have died, but I would also like to hear about those who have been wounded too.

Gary P. Jones, Captain (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Police Department
Author of: Badge 149 – “Shots Fired!”
My book’s web site:
My e-mail:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freedom of Speech: a right that should not be abused

Here's one of my recent posts from
(Infinity Publishing created for people who like to write)

Late last night I read two different pieces of news that left me feeling sad, angry, disgusted and even a little bit confused. The first article I read was about those misguided and heartless individuals who belong to the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) in Topeka, Kansas. These are the people who profess to believe in God’s word, but then they go out and protest and picket at the funerals of our slain military personnel who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They hold up hateful signs that read: “Thank God for maimed soldiers” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.” These homophobic idiots believe that the United States is being punished by God because of our nation’s supposed tolerance of homosexuality. According to their twisted and obscene logic, this is why our brave men and women are being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. We, as a nation, are being punished. They also believe that they are entitled to protest at these funerals because of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.

One source I read said that these protests by the WBC have taken place in at least 22 states and as a result eleven states have already enacted legislation restricting demonstrations like this at funerals.
More than 30 other states are considering similar legislation. The president also signed a bill that made it a violation of federal law to protest at military funerals at federal cemeteries. Fred Phelps, the head of the WBC, has supposedly vowed that he and his church will challenge all of this new legislation. Good! Maybe it will bankrupt them and they will cease to exist.

Before becoming infamous because of their disrespect to America’s dead military personnel and their grieving families, the members of the WBC were picketing and protesting the funerals of gay people, or people they believed were gay.
One well known case in 1998 involved the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard, in Wyoming. Shepard’s brutal murder brought national attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. At his funeral WBC members held up signs reading: “No Fags in Heaven” and “God Hates Fags.” According to the WBC web site, since 1991 they have staged “over 22,000” protests across America and around the world.

I’m all for freedom of speech, but it has been established long ago that there are definite limits to this cherished right that is guaranteed by our Constitution.
I’m sure most of us are familiar with that well known example that an individual can’t falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, if there is no fire. That’s not freedom of speech, that’s a crime! An individual’s freedom of speech is not endless and without any boundaries. And, what about a family’s right to bury their son, or daughter, with dignity and honor? Should they be subjected to the hateful emotions of a few malcontents, who apparently don’t have a clue about what God’s message of love and compassion truly is?

Well, Albert Snyder (God bless him!) sued Phelps and his church after they protested at his son’s funeral last year.
Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder had been killed in Iraq. Mr. Snyder claimed that the church’s protest intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and it sullied and forever corrupted his memory of that somber event. A jury agreed and on Wednesday the church and its leaders, including Phelps, were found liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress. These pathetic morons, who smiled as they walked out of the courtroom, were ordered to pay nearly $11 million in damages to a father who is still grieving over the loss of his son. The WBC members vowed that the verdict would not deter them from conducting more protests at future military funerals.

I visited the WBC web site (I want to know what hate groups and other sickos are up to) and I looked at their upcoming schedule for future protests.
Almost all of them were reference gay churches and organizations, but they did have one non-gay protest scheduled for November 10, 2007 in Washington, D.C. This protest will be at the Vietnam Memorial's 25th Anniversary Parade either at, or near, the National Mall. There was also the following disgusting comment: "This is a major squall and worship the dead who served with honor (Barf!) fest.” I imagine this comment will anger many of the brave men and women who served so valiantly in that brutal war so long ago.

At the beginning of this post I said I was sad, angry, disgusted and a little confused.
I’m sad that an obnoxious and arrogant person like Fred Phelps, who is obviously a cold and uncaring human being, can have such a huge negative impact on so many people’s lives. Regardless of what a person’s feelings are about this war in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, the men and women of our military are ALL heroes and they don’t deserve to be dishonored in the cruel way that Phelps and his gang of brainwashed disciples have done. I know that there will always be the Fred Phelps of this world, who will make it a hell here on earth, and we just have to live with them and do the best that we can. But, it is still sad, and disgusting, just the same.

You bet! For the record, I am not gay. I never have been and I don’t plan on changing. But, I’ve spent my entire law enforcement career trying to do the right thing and I know it’s not right to hate a person just because they are gay. This is wrong. How can Phelps, who professes to be a man of God, believe and preach the ugly hateful things that he does? I guess this is one of the places where I am a little confused.

When the jury awarded Mr. Snyder the nearly $11 million, they specifically ordered $2.9 million in compensatory damages and then another $8 million in punitive damages.
Juries don’t usually award punitive damages unless they are convinced that a person’s conduct was so egregious that it warrants that person being punished. That’s why they’re called “punitive” damages. Well, Phelps and his immoral band of hate mongers have been ordered to pay $8 million. That’s a lot of punishment! But, it’s also, in my humble opinion, well deserved. Unfortunately, if Phelps is anything like the elusive O.J., he’ll find numerous ways to avoid paying. In fact, they’ve already begun and he and his other cohorts are now apparently claiming that they don’t have the money to pay. The total assets of the WBC and the other defendants are supposedly less than a million dollars (mainly in homes, cars and retirement accounts). The church reportedly has about 75 members and it is mostly funded by tithing. Gee, I wonder, where did they get all that money to pay for those “22,000” protest trips?

When Mr. Snyder heard the jury’s verdict he reportedly sobbed.
His lawsuit was never about the money and he hopes the success of his suit will encourage other families of the fallen, who have been victimized by the WBC, to also sue. As far as Phelps is concerned, he is confident the jury’s award will be overturned on appeal. I hope, and pray to God, he’s wrong!

One of Mr. Snyder’s attorneys, Sean Summers, reportedly said that they would go after Phelps and get the money from him, wherever it is.
"We will chase them forever if it takes that long,” he said. I hope that attorney is part bloodhound, because I suspect it’s going to be a long and difficult pursuit. Fred Phelps, who was an attorney himself, was disbarred by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1979. They asserted that he had “little regard for the ethics of his profession.” Although he originally continued to practice law in Federal courts, he eventually ran afoul of the Federal courts too and in 1989 he agreed to surrender his license to practice law in Federal court. So, I’m sure this man knows the legal system well, and he and his lawyers will do everything they can to avoid having to pay Mr. Snyder the judgment the jury says he deserves.

Earlier in the day, apparently before the jury’s verdict was announced, WBC members staged a demonstration outside the federal courthouse.
The small group reportedly wasn’t well received and passing motorists shouted insults and blew their horns. It may have been because one of the group (one of Phelps’ daughters) stood on an American flag as she carried a sign proclaiming “God hates fag enablers.” Or, maybe it was because members of the group sang “God Bless America” BUT, they changed those powerful words to “God Hates America."

People like Fred Phelps are a cancer to the very fabric of what makes America the great nation it is, and I believe ALL of us should take a stance against such hateful and vicious individuals.
The fight to get Phelps to pay what he should will be a long one, just like it has been with the O.J. saga. I, for one, feel so strongly that Phelps should pay, that I wouldn’t even mind contributing financially to this effort myself.

Oh, what was that second news article I read, that caused me to think about this entire issue of how some people treat and/or honor our dead military personnel?
Well, General Paul Tibbets, who was a Colonel when he piloted the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, has died. He was 92. Before Tibbets transferred to the Pacific and flew B-29s, he flew B-17s over Europe. Tibbets unit in England was the 97th BG, which supposedly even served as a model for the famous World War II action movie Twelve O’Clock High. Tibbets was even reportedly depicted in that movie. He flew 25 missions in B-17s and this included the first American Flying fortress raid against occupied Europe. Later, he was in Algeria leading the first bombing mission in support of the Invasion of North Africa. But, without question, Tibbets is best known and remembered for that single mission on August 6, 1945, in the empty skies over Hiroshima, Japan. The exact number of people killed by that one bomb (Little Boy) will never be known for sure, but it is thought that approximately 230,000 people probably perished, from either the initial blast that consumed most of the city, and in subsequent years from Toxic radiation.

Before he died General Tibbets may have been thinking of the Fred Phelps’ of this world, because he apparently left instructions that he wanted no funeral, and no headstone.
He feared that if he were laid to rest in the ground this would provide his detractors, and there are many, with a place to protest. He didn’t want this, so he requested that he be cremated and his ashes be scattered over the English Channel. He loved flying over the Channel.

General Tibbets was probably right.
I’m sure idiot Phelps and his mindless blog of followers would have protested at General Tibbets grave, if given the opportunity to do so. After all, Tibbets named his B-29 the “Enola Gay” – after his mother. Even though her middle name was Gay, I don’t believe she was gay herself. But, I’m sure that wouldn’t stop someone like Fred Phelps.

This stirring of my emotions, and my intense desire to see that justice is done in this case, has made me realize one other thing, as well.
In addition to being sad, angry, disgusted and confused, I find myself just a little bit ashamed of myself too. I admit I’ve heard of Phelps’ WBC before, as well as some of their gay-bashing activities, yet it wasn’t until they began to dishonor our military heroes that this became a BIG issue for me personally. I realize now, long after I should have, that we ALL need to confront hate mongers like Phelps immediately. We should not wait. No matter what their twisted cause and agenda, we should not wait until they actually attack and hurt us personally, or those we love and respect. This is the valuable lesson I learned from this whole disgusting and nauseating affair.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Suicide, 2-1-1 and Me

Suicide and I are old friends! I guess “friends” isn’t the right word to use, so I’ll just say we are “acquaintances” instead. And, throughout my thirty-six year career in law enforcement I unfortunately have had to renew this acquaintance all too often. I was even a homicide detective for four years and I routinely saw the raw ugliness and horror that successful suicides often leave behind them. When some desperate and pathetic soul puts the barrel of a shotgun in their mouth and pulls the trigger there is no way to adequately describe what that horrible scene looks like, nor do I want to. Let me just say it is a sight I will never forget and I can’t imagine the pain, suffering and the total feeling of helplessness a family experiences when confronted with such an obscene discovery.

Not all of the suicidal encounters I’ve been involved in have been so gruesome. And, like most police officers in America
, who want to save lives if they can, I’ve even been able to play a role in salvaging a few of these potential victims. Once, when I was a homicide detective, I tried to wrestle a loaded automatic from a young lady who was high on valium and alcohol. She wanted to end it all and she had already fired some bullets into her bedroom walls and ceiling. During the brief but desperate struggle for the gun it suddenly discharged and the bullet hit my sergeant who was also involved in the struggle. I ended up with the gun and my sergeant ended up on the floor, writhing in agony. The bullet, thank God, hit him in the leg and he would survive. So would the shooter and instead of being charged with a crime she was taken to a local mental health care facility. I’ve always been proud of the fact that my sergeant and I were named police officers of the month because of this incident, but I was also very sorry he had to be wounded in the process.

Later in my career, when I was assigned back to the Patrol Division in uniform, I had other close encounters with suicidal individuals. Once, without even thinking about what I was doing, I rushed into the path of a charging tractor trailer truck that was headed westbound on busy State Road #84, in southwest Ft. Lauderdale. A young lady wanted to end her life and she decided that stepping in front of a truck would be a quick and a sure way to accomplish this. She was almost right. After I grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the front of the speeding truck, and then somehow managed to elude this huge metal monster myself, by only a few inches, I started to shake uncontrollably as I suddenly realized just how close to death I had actually come - again!

Another time, I kneeled down a few feet away from a teenager who was sitting on the floor with his back against a wall, and who threatened to kill himself with the large kitchen knife he was holding to his own throat. Unlike the two girls that I've previously mentioned, who were both white, this lad was black. The ugly demon called suicide doesn't give a damn about race, age, gender, sexual orientation or social status. As his worried family quietly stood nearby, hoping that we could convince him to put the knife down, I tried my best to reason with him. To be honest, even though I know the topic of suicide did get mentioned during my initial training at the police academy, I really wasn't totally prepared to handle such a unique and stressful situation. I did my best, and like the family, I hoped things would work out for the best. Eventually, when it seemed that we weren't making any real progress, I lunged at the youth and took the knife away from him. In hindsight, I don't think that he really wanted to die and he was probably relieved, like I was, when the incident was finally over. Again, he was taken to a mental health care facility for evaluation and treatment.

everal years after I retired from law enforcement I decided to do some volunteer work in my own community. I saw an article in my local Tallahassee newspaper about an organization called 2-1-1 Big Bend. I’m sure almost everyone knows that when you dial 9-1-1 you get emergency help, fast! And, 4-1-1, of course, is directory assistance. Heck, Florida even has a 5-1-1 which is a statewide Travel Information System. But, I wondered, what exactly was 2-1-1? My last ten years in law enforcement was as a captain with Florida’s Department of Insurance (Division of Insurance Fraud), so I was no longer involved as a “first responder” and I really hadn’t heard that much about 2-1-1. As of June 2007, approximately 65% of the U.S. population (198 million Americans) were being served by 2-1-1, so I imagine many other people just like me are not that familiar with 2-1-1. It seems to be one of America’s best kept secrets, but hopefully this will change soon. By the end of 2008 it is estimated (hoped) that 80% of the U.S. population will have access to 2-1-1.

I'm almost positive that all of the different 2-1-1 organizations across America operate pretty much the same way. But, I'll still just discuss my own 2-1-1 Big Bend because that is the 2-1-1 I know the most about. Among other things, 2-1-1 Big Bend is the crisis hotline for the north Florida/Big Bend area. The newspaper article I read indicated they were always looking for new volunteers to be crisis counselors for their hotlines. The training was extensive and the only requirement was that you faithfully attended all of the training sessions and you committed to doing 200 hours or one (1) year of volunteer work after your training was completed.

uring my long police career I’ve had more training, reference all sorts of different topics and issues, than I even care to remember. Yet, I can truthfully say that the training I received to become a phone counselor with 2-1-1 was some of the best, if not the best, training I have ever received. It was very detailed and it involved lots of role-playing. I’m sure the thought of role-playing in front of others might turn some would-be volunteers off, but to be honest, it was very informative and helpful, and it was even kind of fun too.

Even with all
of my past experience, training and job knowledge, becoming a good telephone counselor became a definite challenge for me. I quickly found that I needed to change the overall way I viewed and sometimes even interacted with people. One of the very first things the 2-1-1 training covered was the need for a phone counselor to be able to empathize with a caller. Could I put myself in the caller's place and imagine what they were feeling? Police officers, unfortunately, sometimes develop a hard outer shell and they purposely condition themselves not to become emotionally involved with the many different people they encounter. This defense mechanism is what often keeps an officer from losing his sanity as he/she deals with the cruelty and unhappiness they often see. Could I empathize? I didn't know.

counselors are also required to be non-judgmental when they talk with the people that call in. Non-judgmental? I’d spent my entire law enforcement career making judgments and now 2-1-1 wanted me to turn this trait off completely. They also don’t want their counselors to come across as being authoritative. Again, being a cop is one of the most authoritative jobs there is. If you’re not authoritative then there’s a real good chance you might not survive. As a cop you need to take charge of situations and be in control, but now 2-1-1 wanted me to turn this trait off too. Phone counselors are also requested not to give callers advice and/or suggestions. The 2-1-1 philosophy is to empower the individual callers to come up with their own solutions, if possible. I admit, these challenges made me wonder just how successful I would be as a 2-1-1 phone counselor. I’ve been with 2-1-1 Big Bend for several years now, and I fulfilled my 200-hour commitment long ago. In fact, before this year is out I may even reach 500 volunteer hours, which is not that far away.

2-1-1 Big Bend
is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology and it is a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Even though there are areas of America without their own crisis hotlines, people can still dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and they will be connected to the crisis center that is nearest to them.

Because 2-1-1 handles the Suicide Hotline for the north Florida/Big Bend area, the suicide related training they give their telephone counselors is extensive. All the things I wish I had known before, when I was face-to-face with that young boy who threatened to kill himself with a knife, now I learned these
things after my law enforcement career was finally over. I only wish I had this valuable training before I became a police officer. I think it would have made me a better officer, and probably a much better human being too.

any of the calls we get at 2-1-1 are very routine in nature, and occasionally a caller probably intends to get 4-1-1, instead of 2-1-1. In addition to counseling people who are in crisis, 2-1-1 counselors give out all sorts of referrals, ranging from A to Z. Some people call because they need help paying this month’s utility bill. Some need shelter, some need support groups and the list of referrals 2-1-1 gives out is almost endless. And, in any one 24-hour period, 2-1-1 Big Bend will get approximately one (1) call reference an individual thinking about and/or threatening suicide. This might be a first-party type call, from the person themselves; or a second-party type call from a concerned friend or family member.

A couple of nights ago I worked a three-hour volunteer shift at 2-1-1. It was unusually quiet and I didn't have a call all evening, not until "Dave" called. Dave is not, of course, his real name. 2-1-1 takes the
confidentiality of their caller's information very seriously and that's why I can't go into any great or descriptive detail. But, Dave said that he wanted to die and he saw no other way out. I talked with him for almost forty-five minutes and again, without going into detail, the call was concluded in a positive manner and Dave got the help he so desperately needed. A successful call like this one always makes me feel so good inside, because I know I've been able to help someone who really needed it. And, I didn't have to jump in front of a speeding truck, or wrestle a gun or a knife away from someone, to do it. When I think back on all the gruesome and bloody suicide investigations I've been involved in during my career, it is such a rewarding experience to be able to intercede before things get so bad that the only thing the police can do is to call for the medical examiner.

I would suggest that anyone thinking of pursuing a career in law enforcement might want to seriously consider volunteering with their local 2-1-1 first. The training will be invaluable to them and being able to mention 2-1-1 as a reference on their resume won't look that bad either.

Author of book: Badge 149 - "Shots Fired!"
My book's web site:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Why I believe we still need the death penalty

The Wynne Unit is one of the oldest in the Texas prison system and it was established way back in 1883. Along with two other prisons, which share about 1,500 acres with the Wynne Unit, it is located approximately 80 miles north of Houston, in Huntsville. It straddles the main north/south highway between Houston and Dallas. The Wynne Unit is home to approximately 2,600 inmates of various custody levels. Monday morning; September 24, 2007, a sad and senseless thing happened there. But, it shouldn’t have.

Corrections Officer Susan Louise Canfield, a 59-year old grandmother, and a seven year veteran of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), was murdered by two inmates who were attempting to escape. These two inmates, along with more than 70 other prisoners, were working outside the prison’s fence at the Wynne Unit. They were assigned to what is sometimes called the “hoe” squad, which is when a group of inmates literally use hoes to clear farm lands of weeds and other unwanted brush and vegetation.

A group of six corrections officers, which included Susan Canfield, plus a supervisor, watched over this large group of inmates. All of these corrections officers were armed and on horseback. I’ve read several different accounts about what happened, and although basically they all tell the same tragic story, I’m not really sure what happened, and when. But, I’m sure in time, after the investigation and reviews are fully finalized, we will know exactly what transpired, but right now some things are just a little unclear.

The two white male inmates, Jerry Duane Martin, 37, and John Ray Falk Jr., 40, approached one of the male corrections officers on horseback. They used the pretext that one of them had a watch and he wanted the officer to hold it for him. Martin handed the watch to the 29-year old officer and that’s when he pulled him down off of his horse. He struggled with the officer for his weapons and then when he got possession of them, he tossed the officer’s rifle to Falk.

One version I read said that when Falk got the rifle almost immediately he began to fire at Canfield. She reportedly returned fire. Three other corrections officers also apparently returned fire. Although a number of shots were exchanged between Martin and Falk, and the officers, no one was hit during this brief but intense gunfight. Later, after everything was finally over, it was learned that Corrections Officer Canfield’s horse had indeed been hit, apparently by the suspect’s fire.

After the initial struggle with the first male corrections officer, when they got his rifle, Martin and Falk went over a fence that separated the field they’d been in from the nearby City of Huntsville Service Center. Martin and Falk stole a City of Huntsville flatbed truck that was parked there. The truck was parked behind the fence, on city property, right next to the 1,400-acre vegetable field being tilled by Martin, Falk and the other inmates. Two street sign workers were apparently picking up street sign materials at a municipal building which was adjacent to the prison and, contrary to policy, they left the keys in the truck’s ignition. I’m almost certain that when all the reviews are finally concluded, these two city workers will more than likely be disciplined for their failure to follow policy. Unfortunately, this “wake up call” for them will come to late to help Corrections Officer Susan Canfield.

As the other corrections officers fired at them and their now stolen vehicle, Martin and Falk drove the stolen truck into Canfield’s horse as she tried to stop them. She, and I assume the horse, fell to the ground. She reportedly died instantly. The two inmates then grabbed her rifle and handgun and fled the area. I believe this is the way things happened, but I’m not 100% sure. Did Martin and Falk have a previous struggle with Corrections Officer Canfield, to get her weapons, as one account I read seemed to indicate, or was she already dead when they took them from her? I’m sure the investigators in this case already know exactly what happened, and in time we will know too. And, of course, none of this will change the brutal fact that these two vicious thugs murdered Susan Canfield!

After their violent escape Martin and Falk quickly abandoned their stolen truck, about a mile away from where they had murdered Susan Canfield. They then confronted a woman at a bank drive-through lane in Huntsville, and took her car by force. I believe the woman in question was also taken along with the vehicle, because one account I read said they had taken a hostage. Huntsville P.D. officers, who were already apparently looking for the two escapees, quickly took off in pursuit of the carjacked vehicle. They shot out one of the vehicle’s tires and Martin and Falk jumped out of the car and again tried to flee on foot.

In addition to officers from many different agencies, the massive manhunt to find the two killers included at least one police helicopter, lawmen on horseback and eager and hungry bloodhounds. The TDCJ reported that Falk was captured within an hour. They found Martin hiding in a tree about 3½ hours later. He was in a wooded area just west of the I-45 Interstate, and south of state highway 30. And, when they did find Martin he was reportedly shirtless and wearing nothing but his boxer shorts. He did this in an attempt to throw off the search dogs that he knew would be trying to locate his scent.

Unfortunately, there seems to have been a major violation of policy that allowed Martin and Falk to put their escape plan into motion. According to reports, TDCJ policy says that mounted corrections officers working with “field squads” are required to stay a minimum of 30 feet away from the inmates they are guarding. No inmate on foot should ever be allowed to approach an officer on horseback. The officers on horseback form a kind of perimeter around the field workers, and they act very similar to the officers manning the guard towers at the prison itself. No inmate is ever allowed to get near an armed officer, and for good reason. Again, I’m sure the corrections officer who violated this policy, and allowed Martin and Falk to gain control of him and his weapons, will eventually be disciplined. But once again, this will be too late to help Susan Canfield.

Initially, the horse Susan Canfield was riding was thought to only have cuts and bruises. Later, they noted a wound that they thought was a cut that resulted from the horse skidding along the gravel driveway. Eventually, after the horse exhibited symptoms of a more serious injury they examined the horse again and found a bullet hole under its girth strap. Sadly, the horse had to be euthanized. Pecos may have been the name of Corrections Officer Canfield’s horse, but I’m not really certain of this. In none of the accounts I read did they name her horse, but I did find a picture of Susan Canfield happily sitting on a pretty horse named Pecos and I assume this may have been the same horse she rode that fatal day.

Susan Canfield’s husband is a training officer with the Houston Police Department. She also had two daughters and a son, plus two grandchildren.

So, getting back to the title of this narrative, why do I think we need to keep the death penalty? First of all, I do realize that not all fifty states have the death penalty, but in Florida, where I live, we do.

Most police officers probably favor the death penalty. I know I do. But, I do agree it should only be used for the worst of the worse and it should only be imposed if there is absolutely no doubt at all about the person’s guilt. That means (in my opinion) that for most homicides, which are mostly “heat of the moment” passion-type crimes, the death penalty would not be appropriate.

I do believe that when an individual murders a law enforcement officer, the death penalty is definitely appropriate. But, sadly, even cop killers do not always get the ultimate penalty. A perfect example involved the guy who murdered Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Bryant Peney in 1996. I use this specific example because I was a Ft. Lauderdale officer myself, and I knew Bryant Peney. He was an outstanding young man and an excellent officer. He should not have died at such a young age. His killer was convicted and the jury did not recommend the death penalty. In Florida, the judge has the final say, and the judge in this case felt that the death penalty was indeed appropriate, so he disregarded the jury’s recommendation and he gave this bad guy the death penalty. Well, in Florida, if a judge disregards a jury’s recommendation for leniency in a homicide case, the Florida Supreme Court will almost always overrule that judge. That’s what happened to the killer of Officer Bryant Peney. He was sentenced to life, without parole.

I know that many good and intelligent people don’t like the death penalty for a variety of reasons, and they want it abolished completely. This is an emotional issue and I do understand some of their arguments. But, if we do away with the death penalty completely, don’t we make it a lot easier for the violent thugs in our prisons (like Martin and Falk) to kill our corrections officers? If a guy is already in jail for murder, doing “life without parole” (as Merle Haggard says in one of his song), then what is there to prevent these low-lifes from killing a prison guard, or two, or three? What are they going to do to him, give him another “life without parole” sentence? I have absolutely no statistics to back up my beliefs, but just good old-fashioned common sense tells me that if we do away with the death penalty completely, then attacks and murders of corrections officers around the country WILL go up.

Let’s get back to Martin and Falk who killed Texas Corrections Officer Susan Canfield. Martin had been convicted of attempted capital murder and he had served just 10 years of a 50-year sentence. He had been charged in Collin County with two counts of attempted murder after a domestic dispute he was involved in turned potentially deadly. Somewhere along the line Martin apparently indicated that he intended to shoot himself and he eventually ran from the cops who tried to stop him. One account I read of the Collin County incident said that Martin fired on police negotiators that had tried to stop him from shooting himself during a four-hour standoff. In all, he reportedly fired seven rounds from a .38 caliber revolver at the police negotiators and Collin County Sheriff’s deputies. In 1997, Martin was convicted of two attempted murder charges, along with a charge of aggravated assault. And, documents from TDCJ’s web site indicated that in addition to the 50-year sentence, Martin was also facing another 60 years for some other additional charges. I don't know if these other charges are connected with the Collin County incident, or are from some other violent event.

Falk? Well, our boy Falk was already a grand prize winner! He had been convicted of murdering a lawyer in Matagorda county and he had served 21 years of a life sentence. Falk reportedly confessed to striking the man over the head with a piece of lumber and then cutting his throat with a knife. He and an accomplice then stuffed the victim’s body into the back of a car and drove it into the Colorado River. Falk was up for parole in 2006. It was denied.

So, why were these two walking time bombs of violence allowed to work outside the prison’s confines? Because, according to the TDCJ, based on their good disciplinary records while in prison, they were only classified as “minimum” security inmates and they could do field work outside the prison while under the supervision of officers. Okay, sounds good to me. But, I wonder what Susan Canfield’s husband, her children, and her grandchildren, think about this cockeyed explanation. As with everything else, I’m sure the TDCJ screening procedures will be reviewed, and maybe even revamped, but this won’t help Susan Canfield.

I know many individuals are still not convinced that the death penalty should be used, under any circumstances. Okay, I respect their right to have that opinion, even though I don’t agree with it. But, I would ask just one more question: What about the Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh? Didn’t he deserve to die for what he had done? He coldly and brutally killed 168 men, women and children. Children! Nineteen of the victims were children, fifteen of which were in the building’s day care center when the bomb went off. Three pregnant women and their unborn babies also died. Later, when McVeigh once spoke about the bombing, he coldly called these deaths “collateral damage” - as if he could care less.

Whenever I might start to wonder if the death penalty should be imposed, especially for the worst of the worse, I take a quick look at the famous Pulitzer Prize winning photograph taken by Charles Porter. It is the picture of firefighter Chris Fields holding a dying infant in his arms. The baby's bloodied and battered body speaks volumes about McVeigh's cruelty and inhumanity. Timothy McVeigh was a monster and no one will ever make me believe that executing him, and other animals like him, isn't the right and the just thing to do!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Here's a big "Thank You!" to Fort Lauderdale P.D.'s Aviation Unit - It is long overdue!

Here's one of my recent posts from
(Infinity Publishing created for people who like to write)

From our favorite t.v. cop shows, and action flicks at the movies, most people do know that helicopters are routinely used by the various law enforcement agencies around the country. Heck, who could ever forget that dramatic low-speed pursuit with O.J. and the white Bronco. And, thanks to the many helicopters that were overhead, we all got to watch this drama unfold in real-time on our t.v. sets.

But, I bet most people don’t know that even before helicopters became the favorite high-priced toy of the police, some departments experimented and used single-engine fixed-wing aircraft for patrol and surveillance duty. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department, in Florida, was one of these. In fact, I believe Fort Lauderdale P.D. was one of the very first in Florida, if not the nation, to do this. Fort Lauderdale’s plane was a single-engine Cessna and “Aerial 1” was its radio call sign.

In the mid-1970s there was a dramatic increase in violent crime in Fort Lauderdale. One of the things the police department did to combat this was to create a special tactical unit, called the Tactical Impact Unit (T.I.U.). Thanks to a federal grant, this unit was equipped with some of the newest and most sophisticated equipment available (see my previous post under the “Guns” Forum which tells about the .22 cal. laser-sighted machine gun).

In the mid-1970s T.I.U. was involved in a couple of major surveillances. These surveillances, which lasted for many weeks, also involved the Department’s Aviation Unit (“Aerial 1”). In fact, without the assistance of this unit, and its dedicated pilots and observers who were all sworn F.L.P.D. officers, it is highly doubtful these surveillances would have succeeded, as they eventually did. T.I.U. received most of the glory and the accolades, but the Aviation Unit really deserved much of the credit.

For anyone interested in these events, they are described in detail in my book published by Infinity in August of 2006. If you like stories about true crime, guns and aviation themes, with lots of action, then I believe you’ll enjoy reading my book. My book is titled: Badge 149 – “Shots Fired!”

Sadly, Fort Lauderdale P.D. no longer has an Aviation Unit. Thanks to modern budget considerations, declining manpower, or what have you, F.L.P.D. did away with its Aviation Unit (which did eventually use helicopters), and now they rely solely on the Broward County Sheriff’s Department for aerial support. Fort Lauderdale’s Aviation Unit is just a fond memory for those of us who worked and served with its proud members. It is now just a piece of law enforcement and aviation history.

Here is a brief excerpt from my book’s Epilogue:

“On August 3, 1981, ‘Aerial 1’ crashed while on routine patrol over the southwest section of the City. Kenneth Petersen, one of the original members of our department’s Aviation Unit, and another officer pilot/observer, John Alexander, were both killed instantly.

Joe Gerwens, one of my sergeants from my old T.I.U. days became Chief of Police of Fort Lauderdale P.D. in 1987. Unfortunately, Joe also had to endure the unthinkable during his tenure as Chief and on May 25, 1989, tragedy again struck F.L.P.D. when ‘Aerial 1’ crashed during a return flight from the City of Tallahassee. Both the pilot, Officer Frank Mastrangelo Jr., and his passenger, Detective Norman Eddy, were killed.”

* * * * * * * *

If any readers of this post are ex-officers who worked in an Aviation Unit during the mid-1970s, I would love to hear back from you. Or, even if you were not in law enforcement yourself, if you know of a specific law enforcement agency that employed single-engine fixed-wing aircraft in the 1970s, I’d like to hear from you too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Are these people just stupid, or what?

Let me see if I have this weird story straight:

A 19-year old college student went to Boston's Logan International Airport to meet her boyfriend who was arriving there. This student, Star Simpson, is a sophomore at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology
. I don't know that much about MIT, but I do believe you have to be at least a little bit smart to go there. According to the attorney who was appointed to represent her, Ms. Simpson is a graduate of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy, a private boarding school, and she is now the secretary of MIT's Electrical Research Society. She has also won school prizes for chemistry and leadership and has even received a Congressional citation for her work in robotics. So, MIT is definitely not a school for the intellectually challenged.

Anyway this girl Star (I hope she doesn't mind me calling her Star), she apparently approached an information counter at the airport's arrivals terminal around 8:00 a.m. At least one of the counter people noted her unusual attire, which consisted of an object strapped to her body (chest), that looked like a possible bomb. It was a white circuit board measuring roughly 2 inches by 6 inches, with protruding wires, lights and a nine-volt battery. The device, whatever it was, apparently was functioning because the nine lights were flashing. Oh, she also reportedly was carrying a lump of something that was either modeling clay or Play-Doh. For those who might not be that familiar with explosives, plastic explosives (like C-4) is
a relatively stable, solid explosive that has a consistency similar to Play-Doh and/or modeling clay.

Because I'm talking about plastic explosives, I guess I should also mention the nut Richard Reid, a member of al-Qaeda, who tried to blow up American Airlines Flight #63 on December 22, 2001, just a few short months after 9/11. Reid is the so-called "shoe bomber" and that's because the plastic explosive he used (PETN) was hidden in the lining of his shoes. Flight #63 was headed from Paris to Miami, but when Reid's actions were interrupted the plane was quickly diverted to Boston's Logan International Airport.

After Star inquired about the arriving flight, she walked back outside the terminal. The person manning the information booth inside the terminal notified a nearby trooper. That trooper, along with other law enforcement officers with machine guns, confronted Star in front of the terminal. According to Major Scott Pare, Logan Airport's commanding officer of law enforcement, "She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands and not to make any movement, so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any type of device." Major Pare then noted that had she not followed instructions, and had she done something unusual, deadly force could have resulted. "She's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue," Major Pare reportedly said. Amen to that! I can just visualize what would have happened if the poor girl had decided to put the Play-Doh in her pocket.

Because Star was arrested outside of the terminal airport operations were not affected. The terminal was not evacuated and no flights were affected either. Authorities quickly determined that the device she wore was not a real bomb. And, even though Star said it was just a piece of "art" she had created, they did charge her with possession of a hoax device and she was eventually released on a $750.00 bond. The prosecutor reportedly wanted a much higher bond ($5,000.00), but didn't get it. Even though the "hoax" bomb charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, I seriously doubt she will be sentenced to any jail time. That is, of course, if she's even found guilty. I say "if" because nothing is certain in this sometimes crazy Post-9/11 world we live in.

Speaking of 9/11, some of the news sources I read said the authorities were amazed that someone would wear such an odd looking device after the tragic events of September 11 (2001). Two of the jets hijacked that dreadful day took off from Logan Airport. American Airlines Flight #11, bound for Los Angeles, struck the World Trade Center's North Tower; United Airlines Flight #175, also bound for L.A., hit the Trade Center's South Tower. Both of these planes departed Logan Airport. "I'm shocked and appalled that someone would wear this type of device to an airport," Major Pare stated. I would have to agree with him.

Although I do feel that Star used some very poor judgment, I also believe she did not really intend to cause a problem at Logan Airport. In my opinion, she's probably naive and immature, just like so many other young people her age and she really didn't have a clue that what she was doing could turn out so wrong. Young people often don't think about the possible negative ramifications of their actions. I know when I was 19, many years ago, I didn't. Now, I often wonder how I managed to survive. As a teenager I did some incredibly stupid things. I'm sure we ALL did. Then, even after I became a police officer, when I turned 21, I was still immature and didn't have a clue about the real world. Unfortunately, I think that's what Star's problem was too. So, I think a mere $750.00 bond was definitely appropriate. I don't see her as being a risk to either repeat this experience, or to flee.

Even though I can sympathize (a little) with Star, I still feel it is disgusting that her court appointed attorney (Ross Schreiber) is so quick to blame the police for what happened. In the news articles I read it indicated the attorney used words like "overreaction" and "off base" to describe the charges Star now faced. He also reportedly said,
"I would characterize it as almost being paranoid at this point." According to the attorney, Star was at the airport for "legitimate purposes." In his argument before the court, I imagine to get the bond lowered (as it was), the attorney said that Star did not act in a suspicious manner and she even told the person at the information counter that the device was just her "art" project she created.

Once piece I read said that when Star was originally asked about the device she was wearing, she didn't even answer and turned and walked back outside the terminal. I don't know if that's true. But, let's go ahead and suppose she DID answer and told the person what she had on was her "art" work. So, Star says the device she's wearing is just art, and the person who first saw her is supposed to take her at her word? Give me a break! It's to bad that someone at Logan wasn't a little "paranoid" back on 9/11! I read that 3 of the 5 hijackers of American Airlines Flight #11 were selected for further screening by CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System). So, apparently the computer was at least a little "paranoid" about these three. It's to bad someone human wasn't "paranoid" too.

Law enforcement officers are just like everyone else on this planet; they're human, and they have to rely on their senses, training and experience to influence their decision-making. Sorry Mr. attorney, but police officers are NOT mind readers! I wish we were. It would be nice to be able to read a person's mind and instantaneously know what they're thinking, and what their intentions are. But, unfortunately, we don't have that ability, so we have to reply on our own good common sense. So, it would have been nice for Star's attorney to have talked about her lack of serious intent, rather than blame the cops for what transpired. He did a huge disservice to the men and women who were out there on the front lines trying to do their jobs and protect the public.

One of these days, I'm sad to say, I do expect that there will be a suicide bombing somewhere here in America. There are so many of these lunatics and fanatics out there, that to me, it almost seems inevitable. Remember homegrown American terrorist Timothy McVeigh? Back on April 19, 1995, this nut coldly and deliberately killed 168 innocent men, women and children in Oklahoma City. I'm not sure if this is true, but I seem to remember McVeigh once saying (after he'd been caught) that if he had been approached by anyone, including a police officer, when he left that Ryder Truck in front of the Federal Building, he was prepared to blow himself up with the truck, just to make sure his plans succeeded.

Unfortunately, if that day does come, and a suicide bombing does eventually occur here in America, there is also a very good possibility that some of the people killed will probably be law enforcement officers trying to stop it.
Paranoid? You bet! Only a fool doesn't worry about these nuts and what they might do someday.

I guess the best thing I ever heard was something
Henry Kissinger supposedly once said:

"Even a paranoid can have enemies."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unruly college student meets the Taser

Well, I'm sure we've all at least heard about that poor innocent 21-year old college student who got introduced to a police taser the hard way. I also know that many of us have viewed the various videos of this incident. One article I read said that as of Tuesday afternoon the videos of the arrest had been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube.

Monday's incident started when the University of Florida student refused to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up. Most of the original videos that were shown only showed the confrontation with the campus police and not what led up to it. But, on the web site there are two (2) different videos, taken from different angels. One of these two videos even shows Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) on stage as he calls on the student in question. But, instead of asking a specific question, the student makes a speech and he even recommends a book that Kerry should read. Kerry says he has. This is when the campus police officers first try to talk with him.

You can't really hear or see what the officers are saying, but it seems they are telling the student to either ask a specific question, or telling him that his time is up. Instead of being co-operative he is rude, obnoxious and confrontational. It is obvious he could care less what the officers have to say. They are bothering him and they are interfering with his own personal agenda. "I'll ask my question!" the student says forcefully, apparently not intending to be denied this moment in the spotlight. He pretty much just dismisses them and it seemed very apparent to me, from watching this video, that this student has absolutely no respect at all for the police.

Shortly before the microphone is cut off, the student says something like, "I'm gonna inform people and then I'm gonna ask you my question." Kerry can be heard in the background, but I'm not sure what he's saying. He may have asked the student to go ahead and ask his question. When the officers apparently try to intervene again, he says something like, "I'm not even done yet and I have two more questions." Shortly after this is when he asks Kerry about the secret organization at Yale (Skull and Bones) and did he and President Bush belong to it. The microphone cuts off shortly after that.

The student is clearly agitated that the microphone has been turned off and he obviously blames the police. I'd bet money the police officers didn't cut it off themselves and someone with the event probably did. Maybe the Tech-guy. "Thank you for cutting my mike. Thank you," he says disgustedly at the officers. They try to escort him away from the area and that's when he really becomes unruly. At one point the audience applauds, but we don't know if this is because of a remark Kerry has just made, or because the officers were taking this disruptive and disorderly individual away. Or, maybe they were applauding the actions of the student and letting him know they were behind him. We don't know. For the most part, the audience just sat there and watched the incident in silence. The only person really heard is the disorderly student as he yelled at the officers, and the crowd too.

At one point in the altercation, in the main audience area near the microphone stand, one officer is standing there and pointing what looks like a Taser at the student, while other officers are trying to control him. I think it's important to note, I don't believe they used the Taser then, and they were able to remove him from the audience area to the back lobby area by physical force alone. This shows me that the officers didn't want to use a Taser if they didn't have to.

It took up to four officers to remove the student from the main audience area to the back lobby-like area. As he was being pushed backwards he continued to scream for help as he tried to break away from the officers. His arms were flailing at them and I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of them had been struck by the student. As the officers tried to force him to the floor so they could handcuff him, they ordered him to stop resisting.

At the back of the audience area the student momentarily breaks away from the officers trying to control him and he backs up away from them and he even seems to take up a fighting stance. He also yells angrily, "Get away from me man! Get away from me!" I'm sure the officers felt that he was going to continue to struggle and he may even attack them with his fists and/or legs. He almost looked as if he was ready to kick out at the officers, but then they quickly took him down to the floor. On the floor, as the officers tried to handcuff him, he yelled, "Get off of me!" It wasn't until the student was on the floor, still struggling to get free, that they used the Taser. And, I believe they verbally warned him that if he didn't stop his resisting, they would do this.

Was this an unnecessary and/or an excessive use of force? To be honest, I don't know. There is no doubt in my mind that the subject was fighting the officers and resisting arrest. No doubt! I have been, and most officers have been too, in numerous incidents just like this. Years ago, before we had Tasers, we had Mace. So, in a similar incident years ago, would I have used Mace? Maybe. The only reason I might not would have been my concern for the crowd, and how the Mace might effect them. But, with a Taser, you don't have those same concerns. It's a one-on-one weapon. And, that's why they give nightsticks, Mace, and yes, even Tasers, to police officers. When an individual resists arrest an officer can use whatever force he needs to overcome that resistance. If the individual increases his resisting, then the officer increases the level of force he needs to use.

But, was the use of a Taser in this instance, when the subject was on the floor, with 3-4 officers trying to control him, and HIM still struggling to get free, was the use of the Taser justified? Could be. The college, the police department and F.D.L.E. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) will all look at this incident and investigate it. I would suggest before anyone rushes to judgment, they give these reviews a chance. I looked at a number of different videos and each showed me something different. On one video it even sounds like, just before the microphone is turned off, that the student said the word "Blowjob." Did he? Is that why the mike was turned off, because he used profanity? I don't know, but it sure sounded like he said that Clinton got impeached for a "Blowjob." He was asking Kerry why he wouldn't impeach President Bush. I looked at a few of the other videos and I didn't hear this offensive word. Maybe the offending word was deleted before the video was turned over to the media. That's one possibility. A review of all available video should be done and this will, and should, take some time.

I listened to the Sean Hannity radio show today and he was very pro-police and his opinions and comments very much mirrored my own. All this student had to do, to avoid the incident he caused, was to obey the rules and when his time at the microphone was up, his time was up! What made HIM so special that he could stay there at the microphone and continue to make a speech and monopolize Senator Kerry's time? After all, the audience didn't come to hear the student spout off, they came to hear John Kerry. As usual, I wasn't disappointed by Sean Hannity's insightful reasoning and his good common sense logic. I am still a fan!

But then, later today I stumbled upon the Michael Savage radio program and I was really appalled by some of his harsh criticism. In fact, I couldn't believe some of the things he said. And, in addition to him personally verbally attacking these campus police officers from the University of Florida, when a caller called in and tried to defend them, Mr. Savage verbally attacked the caller. Perhaps what bothered me the most about Mr. Savage's tirade was the fact he was so wrong in some of the things he said. He said the officers involved in this incident with the student were not really certified police officers and I think he even referred to them as rent-a-cops. Well, the University of Florida has its own nationally accredited law enforcement department and all they do is protect and serve the University. Yes, Mr. Savage, they are real cops and according to the department's web site there are approximately 89 of them. If you're going to state something as fact, how about first getting your facts straight?

I went to the web site of Mr. Savage, hoping to send him an e-mail telling him how wrong he was about the rent-a-cops he had verbally attacked. Well, on his web site I found the following disgusting and offensive title:


Wow! Like I said, I'm still a huge fan of Sean Hannity. What about Michael Savage and the Savage Nation? Will I ever listen to him again? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Thank you!" Sheriff Ken Jenne

I would just like to say "Thank you!" to Broward County (Florida) Sheriff Ken Jenne. According to news reports Sheriff Jenne resigned Tuesday after he finally agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and federal tax evasion charges. Sheriff Jenne will reportedly plead guilty to one (1) count of mail fraud and three (3) counts of tax evasion. Jenne faced a possible grand jury indictment on more serious charges, which even included money-laundering, and his plea agreement apparently helps him avoid these other charges. Jenne won't get off lightly though, and the once powerful Democrat, because of federal sentencing guidelines, will more than likely go to prison for up to two years.. The guilty plea also means that Jenne will probably be barred from holding any future public office and he will likely lose his license to practice law in Florida. His State of Florida pension could also be adversely effected too.

In 1998, then-Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Jenne to be the sheriff of Broward County, Florida's second-most populous county. Jenne, who was a lawyer and a veteran politician, had no previous law enforcement experience. He replaced Ron Cochran, an ex-Chief of Police from Fort Lauderdale P.D. Sheriff Cochran died in office while he was the Broward County Sheriff. Jenne was re-elected in both 2000 and 2004 and he would eventually run a law enforcement agency that had over 6,000 employees and an annual budget of almost $700 million dollars.

Tuesday morning, after Jenne's resignation was official, in an e-mail to his employees he said, "Today, I'm retiring from public service." He went on to say, "I need to turn my attention to myself and my family." His e-mail ended with, "Stand tall. Stand proud. Stay safe." What a bunch of crap!!!!!!!

My "Thank you!" to Sheriff Jenne is, of course, a purely sarcastic comment. Sheriff Jenne, Broward County's top cop, disgraced himself, and his office. But, what is really pathetic is the fact that his deputies will now have to be the ones to continue on with Jenne's tainted legacy hanging over them. How many citizens in Broward County will lose some respect for the agency and the proud men and women who serve there, just because Ken Jenne could not tell right from wrong.

I'm confident the men and women of the B.S.O. will "Stand Tall" and they will "Stand proud." And, I'm sure they will prevail and eventually move on and outlive this disgrace that Jenne has brought upon the Office of the Sheriff of Broward County. But, because of his disruptive and demoralizing actions will they be able to "Stay safe" too. I hope so.

Prosecutors working the Jenne investigation were ready in mid-August to finalize the plea the sheriff would eventually offer, but then on August 10, 2007, B.S.O. Sergeant Chris Reyka was murdered and this delayed the entire process a little longer. It was felt that it would be inappropriate, and probably very disruptive, to remove the sheriff at such a critical moment, so Jenne was given a brief reprieve, albeit for just a few weeks.

The brutal murder of Sgt. Reyka was a crime that shocked the citizens of Broward County. The viciousness displayed by the killer as he gunned down the veteran officer was unusual, even by south Florida standards where brutal and cruel sometimes seemed almost routine. To this day, the crime still has not been solved and the reward for information about the suspect(s) responsible is well in excess of $250,000.

There is also a very touching video tribute to Sgt. Reyka and I would urge anyone who reads this blog to view it.

Ken Jenne and Sgt. Chris Reyka both belonged to a very fine law enforcement organization, the Broward County Sheriff's Office. One man, Jenne, disgraced himself and cast a cloud over this agency he managed; but the second man, Chris Reyka, stood for honor, integrity and duty. I'm almost ashamed to mention Sgt. Reyka in the same post as I do Ken Jenne, but unfortunately their stories and lives, though very much different, are indelibly interwoven. What is important is that we never forget the sacrifices that men, and women, like Chris Reyka make on our behalf. Their unselfish devotion to duty, sometimes even giving their lives in the process, can easily make me forget about the Ken Jenne's of this world.

"Thank You!" Sheriff Jenne. Yeah, thanks for nothing!