Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Seven Signs of Terrorism

There is a video currently available from the Delaware State Police at their website entitled the "Seven Signs of Terrorism".

In this conscise video presentation, the DSP posits the seven signs that we should all be watchful for as: Surveillance, Elicitation, Testing Security, Acquiring Supplies, Suspicious Persons/Vehicles, Trial Runs, Deployment of Assets.

Knowing and putting into practice a response to these signs will help protect you, your family, and your nation as a whole. This is particularly vital in these days where our society is under direct, sustained, committed attack by islamofascist terrorism.

In the area of Surveillance, you should be on alert for someone who might be taking photos, drawing maps or schematics, or constantly found loitering in the area, especially in a clandestine manner, of important facilities, insfrastructure, and public places.

The Department of Homeland Security website is an excellent source of information to help you know the who, what, when, where, how of possible attack targets.

Defense Against Anonymous Cowards

I have some reservation about writing this article because it addresses specifically a topic that I have begun to feel strongly about in recent months.

The topic would be that of anonymous postings on the internet, their dangers, and their repercussions. It is my opinion that anonymous internet identities and postings are some of the most dangerous things on the web today.

For a few years, I was actively involved with an internet message board. For the great unwashed who have never had the pleasure, or experienced the pain, a message board is basically an online community of posters, usually interested in some particular topic, who post ideas, opinions, news, commentary, and more based on that area of interest.

Within this general area of interest, posters would both introduce specific topics to be discussed, or would participate in the ongoing discussions of topics already begun by others.

For instance, the board that I was involved with fell within the domain of law enforcement generally, the Philadelphia Police Department specifically. There could be ongoing topics at any particular time involving tactical considerations, particular newsworthy jobs, departmental personalities, etc.

Though I posted under the pseudonym of “The Big Irish”, anyone who cared to know my true identity could know it. I made it available on my publicly accessible profile at the host website, and I frequently alluded to my real name and work assignments, as did many of the regular posters on the board. Everyone knew who I was, if they cared to know.

Over the course of the years that I was involved, the vast majority of my fellow posters chose to remain anonymous. I am quite sure that they had many reasons for this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Keep Holy the Sabbath Day

For Catholics it is traditionally known as the Third Commandment from God (in some churches it is listed as the fourth). It is the command from God to "Keep Holy the Sabbath", to formally set aside one period of time each week to rest from our work, and to celebrate and thank Him for all that He has given us.

For some, the sabbath observance comes on Fridays or Saturdays. For Catholics and many others, this day comes on Sunday.

For police officers, the chance to attend Mass (or to observe Shabbat in Judaism) should be something that we look forward to each week. It is our opportunity to be rested and refreshed in and with the Lord.

The work schedule of a police officer, who does the necessary work of protecting and serving the public, is such that we cannot frequently take a Saturday or Sunday completely away from the workplace.

Catholics are heartened by the fact that almost all churches now offer both a Saturday evening "Vigil Mass" along with the usual Sunday services. Thus, no Catholic officer should use work as an excuse to miss the weekly Mass obligation.

In Exodus chapter 20, Moses has climbed Mount Sinai. The people waited down below, since God had previously warned them to "set limits around the mountain to make it sacred".

As Moses stood in the presence of God Himself, the people trembled at the experience. The mountain was enveloped by thunder and lightening. The mountain itself appeared to be smoking, and a great trumpet blast was heard from the heavens. Here in the presence of the Almighty, Moses was given the basic laws of God by which man was to live.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jersey Cops and 'Bama Hooters

A story broke today of the disbandment of the Hoboken, New Jersey SWAT team after a controversial incident.

Apparently the officers of the unit stopped by a Hooters restaurant in order to enjoy some of those great wings. Someone snapped some racy photos of the cops posing with the Hooters girls. So what, right? Boys will be boys, after all.

Problem is, the boys in these photos were in SWAT garb, had gone to the location in their fully-equiped SWAT van, and let the girls play and pose with their equipment. Pun fully intended.

The actual incident happened about two years ago. The SWAT team had gone on a road trip to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and stopped by the restaurant in Alabama while on their travels.

As you can see by viewing the photos available through some of the links supplied here, the Southern Belles seemed more than happy to meet these Yankee heroes.

The story was broken earlier this week by a local investigative news reporter, and Hoboken responded by naming a new Public Safety Director who was formerly the Chief of the Hoboken Fire Department.

Happy Thanksgiving to You, Happy Birthday to Me

On this coming Tuesday, I will turn 46 years old. Two days later is Thanksgiving. It is the closest that my birthday ever comes to actually falling on the holiday, which it will never exactly meet.

Thanksgiving is celebrated always on the fourth Thursday in November, and if you do the calculating you will see that the latest that my birth date, the 20th, can fall is on the third Thursday.

Still, with this being my own closest confluence of the two days, which some years is almost a full week apart, it gives me a good opportunity to reflect on what exactly it is for which I am personally thankful.

Sliding towards the back end of my 40’s, with apparently no reversal of this aging process in sight, reflection is something that I find increasingly vital in my life, and here is a sharing of those things.

I am thankful for having a good career that is affording me opportunities and experiences that I could have never imagined as a young man. To tell of all the many exciting, demanding, rewarding experiences that one gathers over almost two decades as a police officer on the streets of a big city would take up volumes. Suffice it to say that they have all contributed to my personal growth and knowledge. For this career I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dad, In Real Life

In my experience, cops are some of the strongest "family" folks around, and yet that can sometimes seem contradictory. The rate of divorce for police officers is as high as 60-75% according to some studies.

One officer who has been married and divorced multiple times is even said to have amusingly stated: "If I ever decide to get married again, I'm just gonna find some woman that I don't like very much, and just buy her a house."

I can vouch for the feelings involved, being divorced once myself. After that one, I met and married again, to my wife Debbie, who I can tell you for a fact is the most wonderful woman in the world.

And yet with all that is good in her and in the relationship, I have certainly made it a "challenge" for her at times. It has only been in the last few years that I have begun to seriously take a look at and understand the challenges of stress on police officers, and their marriages in particular.

Marriage challenges for a high percentage of cops doesn't tell the full story. I know many officers who have great marriages, and who adore their wives and husbands, even if they sometimes need to fight through challenges.

And there are more familial relationships than spousal ones. I have seen few people dote over and care for their kids, and even their aging parents when needed, the way that cops will.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

When Good Cops Go Bad

Pretty much all cops start out as "good cops". The vast majority start out wanting to make positive contributions in our communities.

We want to make life safer and a bit easier for our families, friends, and neighbors. We want to "get the bad guys", help bring some measure of peace and justice into a difficult world. We want to make a difference.

The news stories that we see on TV or read about in the papers seldom feature the everyday good cop.

About the only time that these good officers get into the media, and thus into your consciousness, is when one of us dies in the line of duty. This happened recently here in Philadelphia with the murders of officers Gary Skerski in spring of 2006 and Chuck Cassidy just last week. Each of these officers was a pillar in their communities. Each laid down his life facing off with one of the bad guys.

Unfortunately for the everyday working cop, the majority of the time that we make the local or national headlines is when one of us goes bad. When for one reason or another, we become that which we promised to fight against. When we ourselves become a burden to the community we serve.

In the news right now is the story of Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who was just indicted on a number of federal charges stemming largely from renovations made to his NYC apartment. These renovations were allegedly paid for by a mob-related construction company while he was still an NYC official.

Kerik is fighting the charges, but the investigation is beginning to hurt the Presidential campaign of former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dallas Sucks !

Well, it's finally here, and the zanies and crazies will be out in force this evening as our beloved Philadelphia Eagles pro football team takes on the hated Dallas Cowboys here in Philly down at Lincoln Financial Field.

The game is scheduled to be televised as the Sunday Night Football broadcast, and the nation should get quite a treat.This holiday comes around approximately twice per season, once here in Philly, and once down in 'Big D', and at least here in the City of Brotherly Love the matchups are easily among the most anticipated sporting events of the season, no matter how either team is faring that particular year.

For me, the Cowboy-hate goes back a long ways, to the 1970's-era Dallas team that featured the stoic Tom Landry pacing the sidelines as head coach, his little hat poised atop his head in all kinds of weather.

That team had great players over the years like quarterback Roger Staubach, running back Tony Dorsett, wide receiver Drew Pearson, and a strong defense led by guys like Ed 'Too Tall' Jones, Harvey Martin, and Randy White.

Those Cowboys were always good, always at or near the top of the same NFC East Division in which our Eagles were competing. Unfortunately, most years the Birds weren't very much competition.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Black Males Are Killing Us

Here in Philadelphia, PA, the murder capital of the United States of America, it was just announced that 54-year old police veteran Charles Cassidy died from wounds inflicted on Halloween morning.

Officer Cassidy walked in on a robbery in progress at a Dunkin Donuts in his patrol area, and the robber shot him in the head before the officer had a chance to react.

He leaves behind a wife, three children, and scores of family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers who will be affected by his murder for a long time to come. He also leaves behind a city that is in crisis, indeed a nation that is in crisis, with little or no hope for any meaningful change to what has become the violent status quo. Why? Because few will say publicly what needs to be said: black males, in particular reciditivists, are killing us.

Actually, the saying of it is only the very necessary first step. If folks do begin to say it, and actually recognize it for the fact that it is, then further steps need to be taken to address the problem. But let’s deal first with the facts, and the expected outraged replies.

First, crime in Philadelphia is indeed out of control, and now our own police, pilloried in recent media reports as shooting too often ourselves, are the targets. Officer Cassidy is the fourth uniformed Philadelphia police officer to be shot while performing their duties in the past six weeks, third in the past four days alone.

All were shot by black males.