Monthly Archives: May 2011

Police impersonators: what should I do?

Rather than just posting pieces about my opinions (which by the way I’m shocked that anyone reads), I thought that I would occasionally post a piece with some interesting and useful information. I don’t know how many times people have asked me what they should do should they ever have an encounter with police. Anything from what to do if I’m pulled over by a cop to what should I do if I or a member of my family is arrested. I want to make it clear that the following is my opinion based on my years of experience as a cop. I’m sure that there are active and retired cops who can add some additional tips to this posting or even offer totally different advice on what you should do. With that said, here goes.

In this case, what should I do if I suspect that the person who is trying to pull me over is not really a cop? A scary thought indeed. There are people on the streets who impersonate cops for the purpose of facilitating or committing a crime. Then there are those individuals who impersonate cops because they are ‘buffs’. What are ‘buffs’ you say? Buffs in some cases are just regular people who love cops. Then you have the buffs who are wannabe cops. These are the ones who may impersonate a police officer because they love to play cop. An obviously stupid thing to do, but in my experience they are harmless. However, whether it’s a mutt or a buff, they should be handled in the same manner.

Rule number 1 is don’t floor it and try to get away. It’s dangerous and can result in an accident which can cause serious injury. And if the person trying to pull you over is actually a cop, they’re going to be pretty pissed off once you do pull over. I’m not second guessing the advice given to the young lady by her stepdad in the article, but telling her to speed away is not something I would tell my daughter to do.

Slow down to a safe and reasonable speed. Some mutt who’s impersonating a cop and is trying to get you to pull over is in all likelihood not going to ram you off the road. They don’t want to bring any added attention to themselves, and they are not going to risk damaging and maybe disabling their only method of escape. They could be trying to jack you out of your Benz, so why damage it when they can just follow you, wait till you’re stuck at a red light and jack you there. If in fact it is a uniformed cop in an unmarked car, they will probably pull up beside you so that you can see that it’s really the police. If it’s plain clothes cops, they’re usually not out there working speeders, but they may have a reason for pulling you over. If you’re not pulling over and they are smart, they will probably request the assistance of a ‘marked unit’. Now if it’s a marked unit you’re refusing to pull over for, then you’re a moron.

Get on that cell phone that we all have in today’s day and age and dial 911. A smart 911 operator, and they usually are, will ask you several questions such as, where are you, what road are you on, direction of travel, and the make, model and color of the car that you’re in. They will also ask you to describe the car that is trying to get you to pull over and its occupant(s). Follow their instructions. And please, call 911, don’t waste time by calling someone who can’t be of any help.

If for some reason you don’t have a cell phone and you’re really unsure that it’s the police that’s trying to get you to pull over, look for a gas station or some other well lit area where there are lots of people and pull over there. If the officer is not in uniform or if uniform looks a little fugazy slightly crack open your window and ask to see their identification. Most uniformed police officers are required to also carry their identification cards. If they don’t or won’t, then ask them to request a supervisor to respond. If all else fails and they are trying to gain entry into your vehicle, just lay on the horn.

Whatever you do, don’t get out of your car unless you are certain that they are who they say they are. If for some reason you didn’t heed this advice and you got out of your car, don’t get into theirs unless, once again, you’re certain of who they are.

Contrary to what many people unfortunately believe, cops are not stupid (well most cops). Depending on the situation, they’re going to quickly realize that you may be being cautious due to the fact that you’re unsure of who’s trying to pull you over. A word of caution, don’t try their patience by continuing to drive for twenty miles while calling all of your FB friends seeking their advice. And please, don’t read this post and think you know now how to bust a cop’s cojones. Someone tried that on me once during the middle of the day while I was trying to pull him over in a marked car while in uniform. And then he had the audacity to tell me he didn’t think that I was a cop and that he was being cautious, all the while with a smirk on his face. Well I’m sure that the 8 summonses I banged him with removed all doubts as to the validity of my identity.

The bottom line is to remain calm, don’t panic, and use your head. You want to make smart decisions that are going to ensure your safety while not endangering the public or the cops. In some cases, the cop maybe a little pissed. That’s their problem, you just want to be safe. And in most cases, your failure to immediately pull over, if justified, is not going to always influence that cop’s decision to ticket you for the initial violation. More about what influences a cop’s decision to ticket you or not in a future post.

Stand By Your Man

Moreno’s Wife Goes on Tirade Against Rape Accuser

It’s one thing to do as Tammy Wynette suggests in the title of her famous country western hit “Stand by your Man”, and it’s another to be in total denial.  Even if this is not the case, I find it hard to believe that Julia Moreno’s first words upon hearing her husband’s testimony about how he didn’t have sex with the woman who accused him and his partner of rape, but that he snuggled and spooned her while singing her a Bon Jovi song as she wore nothing but a bra was to call her a money hungry liar instead of “say WHAT??”

Her obvious anger is misdirected in this case, and attacking a woman who has now been victimized twice is unwarranted. Even if she truly believes that nothing happened in that apartment that night, what wife would be okay with their husband comforting a mostly-naked woman and singing her love songs?

As far as her other comment, “I know him. He’s the guy on the force that they call to take home partners’ girlfriends when they’re too drunk. He’s trusted by everyone. He’s been on the force 18 years without ever having any incident with women,” well…all I have to say to these partners is that if any of your girlfriends became pregnant shortly after being driven home by Moreno, it may be time for a paternity test. And I disagree with her logic that since he hasn’t had any incidents with women in his 18 year career, he must be innocent. He just never got caught.

Julia Moreno, I commend your loyalty. Continue to stand by your man. Just don’t let him stand behind you – or anywhere that you can’t see what he’s doing.

A Week Without Cops

After writing yesterday’s post I decided that I would take this holiday weekend off from writing. This writing thing isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It’s hard taking on the mantle of writing thought-provoking pieces. It’s even harder when you’re trying to do this while hearing “Daddy I want, I want” 10 times in 10 seconds.

But I made the big mistake of getting on my laptop and making the morning rounds of my usual media outlets. I should have stopped there and gone out to play with the griller smoker that I purchased yesterday. But instead I ended up reading a blog post about a raid that the police in Columbia MO conducted on a house suspected of trafficking in drugs, marijuana in particular. The writer basically takes the position that it was police overkill. Here’s a snippet from his piece: “Cops dressed like soldiers breaking into private homes, tossing concussion grenades, training their guns on nonviolent citizens, and slaughtering dogs as a matter of procedure.” Are marijuana dealers any less dangerous than heroin dealers? Take a quick look at the Mexican drug cartels and you can answer that question. The crux of his piece and several others is how the ‘war on drugs’ is pointless and serves to only give the police the right to violate nonviolent drug dealing citizens of their rights.

Hey, he’s entitled to his opinion and so are his readers. After all, this is America. But what is troubling is the content of some of his readers’ comments such as:

“…this kind of thing will continue unless and until someone takes action against the perpetrators AT THEIR HOMES. This may not sound nice or pleasant, but I’ve got to call it like I see it. It’s just the way it is. Either nobody takes any retaliatory action and this stuff continues, or some folks do take some retaliatory action and some degree of deterrence is achieved. As of now, there is NO deterrence whatsoever.”

The perpetrators that this individual is suggesting retaliatory action be taken against are, of course, the cops and their families.

So I thought about this for a moment and what pops into my head is a movie that I saw several years ago titled, “A Day Without a Mexican” whose premise is that one day, all of the Latinos have inexplicably disappeared from the state of California, leaving everybody else to do the jobs they used to do.

My proposal is not to just have a day without cops but a week. Not just cops but everyone who is a member of a Law Enforcement Agency. And while were at it, let’s include the criminal justice profession, prosecutors, judges, court officers, correction officers, parole and probation officers. What the heck, let’s throw in the firemen, they often get a raw deal too. Anyone who’s part of this horribly oppressive, unnecessary system that’s apparently standing in the way of everybody’s freedom and liberty.

Just like in the movie, this will be unannounced. Americans will wake up one morning to find that all of the people who protect and serve them have decided to take a week off in protest of how underappreciated they are and for how too long they have been taken for granted, that they are sick and tired of being labeled as thugs and criminals as a result of the actions of few who disgrace the uniform or the office.

Frantic callers to 911 centers all over the country will be greeted by the following recorded message: “You have reached 911. If this is a true emergency, you are shit out of luck. Due to the public’s lack of respect, underappreciation, and at times outright hatred for its police, we have decided to not give a shit about what happens to you or your families for the next week, thank you and good luck.”

A Week Without Cops – I better get started on the script.

And one last word: for those of you who truly hate government and police, who would love to live in a nation with a pure free market, no gun control laws, no taxes, no police or law enforcement, well you should consider moving to Somalia – they have no government at all, and it ought to be a dream come true for you.

Americans losing their jobs to illegal immigrants again

Robbery suspects attacked by victim’s family, friends in Fayetteville

Here is a prime example of illegal immigrants once again taking away jobs from Americans – in this case, cops. Where were the police anyway? I’m surprised that the union representative of the Fayetteville Police is not screaming about the government’s failure to secure our borders and as a result, illegals are now doing the job of cops. Notice how there’s not one mention of these individuals’ immigration status in this story. Could it be that all 10 to 14 individuals involved were in the US legally, or could it be that it really doesn’t matter?

And how come no one had a video camera or a phone with a camera to record this justified ‘ass whupping’? If someone did, it would have been posted on You Tube and gone viral in minute, followed by comments of praise like “chalk one up for the good guys”. Now if a cop had responded and disarmed the mutt and was in the process of also inflicting a justified ‘ass whupping’ in the course of making a collar, there certainly would have been video or at least a photo at the exact moment the cop cracked the mutt across his head with his night stick. This time the headline would have read something like “Cop caught using excessive force”.

I hope you all have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend. Don’t forget to take a moment to thank all those who are currently serving in our Armed Forces, those who have served, and those whose loved ones have given their lives in service to our great country.

Hooray for the cops

NYPD Officers Moreno and Mata Acquitted of Rape

Officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata were acquitted today by a Manhattan jury of raping an intoxicated woman they were supposed to be helping. Hooray for Mata and Moreno. Tough luck for all the other cops in the NYPD and police departments throughout our country. Another nail in the already stained and tarnished coffin of police officers. I will no longer refer to these two as police officers or cops – in fact, they aren’t anymore. Commissioner Kelly’s justice was swift, and they were fired just hours after being acquitted. But I didn’t have to wait for Kelly to drop the hammer on them to stop referring to them by the title that they certainly do not deserve. I lost all respect for them a long time ago.

Just use that wonderful device you’re reading my blog with and peruse the newspapers of major cities from coast to coast. You won’t have a problem locating stories of police corruption and misconduct. That in itself is troubling, but read the comments that are left by the readers. The anti police sentiment is even more troubling. It seemed that after September 11th police in New York and across the country were held in high esteem. It took a tragic event such as that for people to realize the courage and commitment of those who take an oath to serve and protect them. Disgraced individuals such as Moreno and Mata and others who violate their oaths and the public trust are slowly eroding whatever esteem the public still has for cops. There will always be those who dislike cops no matter what. Whether this dislike is justified or not and the reasons for it – that’s a topic for another blog piece. But what these unworthy few have done is ruin the reputation of the police among not just the usual haters, but the general public.

Whether you agree or disagree on whether Moreno and Mata raped that young woman is a moot point. The jury has decided and the verdict is in. I believe, like most people who have been following this story, that there was sex in that apartment that night between Moreno and the victim. I base that on the content of his testimony, the victim’s testimony, and the audio recording of Moreno stating that he wore a condom. Moreno and Mata took advantage of the situation they were in, took advantage of someone who they were supposed to protect that night. And in the process, they have disgraced the uniform and badge of every single police officer who dedicates his or her life to public service. They have disgraced the police officers whose names are etched in marble at that memorial in our nation’s capital dedicated to those police officers throughout our country who have made the supreme sacrifice while serving others. Moreno and Mata have chipped away another little piece of the already fragile veneer of respect and trust that must exist between the police and those that they serve. And as they did so, they made the jobs of the good cops that much harder.

It makes me wonder

Jared Lee Loughner Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial

Now that US District Judge Larry Burns has ruled that Jared Lee Loughner is incompetent to stand trial, I’m left to wonder about a few things.

In case that you’ve forgotten, which Americans have a tendency to do, especially about events that reflect our violent and gun loving culture, Jared Lee Loughner shot 19 people in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six and wounding 13 others. Among those that he murdered were a Federal Judge, the 9 year old granddaughter of a baseball personality, and a member of the United States Congress. It makes me wonder, who remembers their names?

No one mentions Columbine anymore, and 13 of our children were shot and killed there. I wonder if it’s just too painful for us as Americans to remember or are we just ashamed that Americans haven’t taken the fight for gun control to Congress, the gun lobbyists and the NRA. It makes me wonder.

What happened to Loughner that caused him to explode that fretful day in Tuscon? How was he able to masquerade his mental illness without anyone noticing? How did he slip through the cracks? How many more powder kegs are there walking through the streets of our cities, invisible to us all until they, like Jared Lee Loughner, explode? It makes me wonder.

Why does the average law abiding citizen or gun enthusiast need to have high capacity ammunition clips, such as the one Loughner used that day to murder six Americans whose names we do not even remember? Those are clips that even the police can’t carry. And why do they fight so hard against making them illegal? It makes me wonder.

Why are there more and more cities across this beautiful country of ours passing open-gun carry laws? Are the Mayors of these cities going to deputize the citizenry to assist the police in rounding up the illegal immigrants? Or are the Mexican drug cartels going to attack the USA? It makes me wonder.

And finally, where will the next Columbine, Tuscon, or Fort Hood occur? It’s no longer a question of if. There’s no doubt about it happening again. When will a homegrown Islamist terrorist, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and semi automatic handguns that were acquired through a straw purchase in Georgia or Virginia (or even perfectly legally), walks into a terminal at one of our busiest airports and proceeds to double or triple the body count of Tuscon. It makes me wonder.

“Cops die. That’s what we’re here for.”

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

I wish that I could take credit for the title of this piece. But I can’t and I won’t. It’s a play on a line I borrowed from a favorite movie of mine, “Full Metal Jacket.” Here is the entire line for you movie buffs: Today, you people are no longer maggots. Today, you are Marines. You’re part of a brotherhood. From now on until the day you die, wherever you are, every Marine is your brother. Most of you will go to Vietnam. Some of you will not come back. But always remember this: Marines die. That’s what we’re here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means YOU live forever.

I thought of that line in the movie shortly after chatting with my wife this morning online (my wife is the only person I know who can edit a version of “War and Peace” while having several “chats” at once. She takes multitasking to a whole other level). Her friend’s husband is a cop who was shot while conducting a raid last night. Thank God that he was wearing his vest and sustained no serious injury other than probably a little bruising. I’m only assuming this because it seems that the media in their city didn’t run this story. I guess cops have to be killed to make the news nowadays. There are more important things to report about like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and let’s not forget Jersey Shore and the exploits of Snooki or Pooki or whatever her name is.

Her friend’s Elizabeth’s story got me thinking of two of Nassau County’s bravest that were killed in the line of duty this past year, Police Officers Michael J. Califano and Geoffrey Breitkopf. I especially remember Geoffrey – he was one of my recruits when I taught at the academy. But Elizabeth’s comments describing how scared she was on her way to the hospital, not knowing what had happened, got me to thinking about another group of special and brave people: the ones who wait at home for those that they love, those that leave the security of their homes and the warmth of their families to do a job that requires them to strap a gun to their waist, a vest on their chest, and pin a shield on their outermost garment. Do we ever take the time to think about them and thank them for the sacrifices that they make every time they see their loved ones off to work, knowing that there always exists the possibility of getting a phone call like she did?

There have been 74 police fatalities in 123 days so far this year. We memorialize those who have made the supreme sacrifice so that they may never be forgotten. Let’s not forget those who were as not as lucky as Elizabeth and her husband.

Cops on Camera

Turning the Cameras on the Police

I wonder how celebrities feel about being in the eye of the camera all of the time, if those million dollar smiles masquerade the fear and apprehension of being photographed with a piece of food lodged between your teeth. The worst case scenario maybe that they are terribly embarrassed, in which case they fire the personal assistant who’s in charge of food stuck in teeth. Unless you’re Courtney Love, then nothing embarrasses you.

With this in mind, I ponder whether or not the police have the right to deter or prevent private citizens from videotaping or taking pictures of police, civilian encounters. In today’s day and age, just about everyone has a cell phone that is equipped with a camera and in some cases the ability to shoot video. Cops know this and those that don’t maybe need to find a new profession. Police work flows freely, shit happens when it decides to happen. There is no script, there is no director yelling cut at the scene of a police civilian encounter where the police have to use physical force so that cell phones and cameras can be collected. In those situations, the issue of civilians shooting videos or taking pictures is moot. The cop is not going to stop to collect phones or to make sure no one is filming before getting into a fisticuffs with the mutt that just snatched grandma’s handbag.

The majority of cops are good cops trying to do the right thing. The notion that we need to make cops more apprehensive than they already are by reinforcing the fact that ‘big brother’ is watching is ridiculous. Cops already know that they are constantly being watched. How has that affected police work? I don’t think we have the quantitative evidence to answer that question. I can answer it just from my own experiences as a cop. If I were a cop in today’s age of advanced technology, I don’t think I would have been as aggressive as I was and as a result, I would have been a less effective cop.

Take that aggressive edge away from cops and you will turn them from courageous sheep dogs who protect the flock from the wolves into a meek, mild mannered lap dogs. Trust me when I say that we don’t want our cities and towns policed by cops who believe in doing as little as possible in order to avoid having their pictures taken with food stuck between their teeth. Smile.

The verdict can wait…I’ve got to catch a flight

As of this posting on Friday afternoon, it seems that the jury deciding the fate of the cops charged with raping the fashion executive in New York has not yet reached a verdict. Old school logic would say that this does not fare well for the prosecution.  Or it could be that they decided quickly on the top charges of rape and burglary and have been muddling through the lesser charges. Whatever the reason, it appears that the judge in the case has granted the jury’s request to to be released early so that a juror could catch a flight.

I guess that the fates of the accused and the victim can be put on hold on for a weekend trip. After all, it’s only people’s lives. I remember a Judge in Queens Criminal Court whose court I testified in on numerous occasions. He had a bit of a temper and wasn’t afraid to say exactly what was on his mind. His reply to this latest request would have been something to the effect of “are you fucking kidding me?” No kidding.

Alphabet City Memoirs at Cop in the Hood

Peter Moskos of the Cop in the Hood blog invited me to write a guest post about my experiences on the Lower East Side back during the days of Pressure Point and the changes that gentrification has brought that area since. You can read it here and while you’re there, check out some of his other posts. He’s a professor at John Jay now, but he spent almost two years with the Baltimore PD to research his book.