Thursday, June 30, 2011

Commissioner Ramsey – Bring us the Programs that WORK

Being a former member of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC), I have quite a bit of insight into policing strategies and management styles that were horribly deficient in accomplishing the most vital task of a municipal police force; which is to make the community safer.  Upon my recruitment to the MPDC, I was (as were my fellow officers) filled with a great deal hope and positivity toward the appointment of our new Chief, Charles H. Ramsey; a tough-talking Chicago cop who brought us all into Constitution Hall to tell us how we were about to become a real, functional department – finally rooting out the mismanagement and malaise of the Marion Barry years.  Shortly afterwards, scout car beats were changed to Patrol Service Areas – cutting a much wider swath of area for patrol units to cover.  Detectives were decentralized, attempting to maximize deployment by taking them out of specialized investigative functions and dropping them into a pool of investigators answerable to geography as opposed to type of crime.  Furthermore, to compensate for low recruitment, Chief Ramsey started the “Mobile Force” and “Redeployment” programs, which forced detectives and officers assigned to specialized units to rotate back into patrol for two weeks at a time. 

As you may imagine, recruitment standards for the Department were quite low during the Mayoral career of Marion Barry (1979-90 and 1995-99, now a Councilman for Ward 8).  This translated into extremely poor quality paperwork and testimony by many of the officers recruited locally during this time (many of whom were products of the DC Public Schools, which boast only 36-39% proficiency in math and reading), many of whom had over ten years of service at the time Ramsey took the helm of the Department; and thus had been promoted to Sergeant and above.  Ramsey’s response was to mandate that all arrest paperwork be signed by the Watch Commander (one per district per shift), causing two consequences; a queue of officers off the street awaiting paperwork review and a Watch Commander who was not able to respond to incidents in the field requiring supervision.   Furthermore, Ramsey didn’t have faith in his choices for command staff, appointing civilian directors, such as Steve Gaffigan (a former DOJ employee who had Ramsey stay with him at his DC home while he was interviewing and was later fired in DC for a myriad of harassment and mismanagement claims) and Nola Joyce (who Ramsey has brought to Philly for a 6-digit job as Chief Administrative Officer).

The result of these changes in Ramsey’s eight years as Metropolitan Police Chief?  After an abysmal homicide clearance rate, the Detectives were re-centralized.  Crime surged, prompting Ramsey to declare extended “crime emergencies” which enabled him to do away with union contract protections, suspend days off, and force officers to work mandatory overtime for which they were only granted compensatory time (not pay); much of which they were unable to use due to caps on leave balances.  

Furthermore, Ramsey became known for ordering unlawful terminations for aggressive, young police officers – many of which were for minor (30-or less day) suspend-able complaints.  He leaked private car-to-car computer transmissions to the Washington Post, which led to an “email scandal” where over 40 officers were fired, then reinstated with back pay over 3 to 5 years later for violations to the union contract. 

I, myself was unlawfully terminated by Ramsey for sending an email to an officer’s email list about a CityPaper article where the reporter made unsubstantiated claims of corruption against a reputable vice officer, to have the termination later reversed by both federal arbitrators and DC’s own public employee relations board.  Did I wait for the department to reinstate me, nope, I ended up getting a higher paying job with the Department of Homeland Security where I was using my mind, not my body to accomplish my duties.  Instead of doing what was right and reinstating me as ordered, I was arrested for a trumped-up firearms charge when I called the MPDC after breaking up a fight at a DC nightclub.  Still determined to not let a good man be kept down, I have since had my own public safety consulting firm, been a technical advisor for film and TV projects, done homeland security technology integration for the City of Los Angeles, Columbus, OH, and Southeast Pennsylvania Counterterrorism Task Force, and worked hard in a position where I investigate acts of certification fraud in the healthcare community.  The law for which I was arrested for has since been overturned, twice, by the US Supreme Court and I was reinstated to MPDC in 2007, just in time to clear my name. 

Little public discussion has been held regarding Ramsey’s zeal in firing good police officers, many of whom need proper supervision, to appear like he’s “tough on police abuse” while costing the city millions in legal damages. 

So while it’s obvious that I have a chip on my shoulder with Commissioner Ramsey and the MPDC, I do have to give credit where credit is due.  The Metropolitan Police Department has the finest Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) in the nation.  Their method of training, certifying, and equipping officers assigned to each district in the city in how to effectively engage in mass arrests, infiltrate roving bands, break up unlawful demonstrations, and use less-lethal force (OC, CS gas, Riot Batons, Shields, etc.) has been adopted by agencies throughout the world.  Ramsey, himself, regularly joined CDU platoons on the frontlines of demonstrations and special events, touting its effectiveness.

So why has Ramsey continued to bring failed concepts to Philadelphia like the PSA concept, but hasn’t used the CDU model to respond to the flash-mob epidemic?  Maybe it’s because he was personally sued for ordering illegal mass arrests of globalization protesters in
Pershing Square
in 2002?  Maybe because many of Mayor Nutter’s supporters would not approve of Philadelphia Police in riot gear, rounding up juvenile flash mobs with assistance from bean bag guns, gas, and OC-spray fire extinguishers. 

Nobody can tell, as we are not party to Ramsey’s discussions with Nutter; but what is clear to many Philadelphians is that many of the programs brought with Ramsey are not making Philadelphia safer, but the one concept that many departments have travelled to DC to adopt; isn’t being used to stop the flash mobs that are terrorizing the city.   Either way, many of us are wondering if he was worth an additional $60,000 raise for staying in Philadelphia, when it's been reported that he was out of the running in Chicago at the time when Nutter granted him that raise.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Being tough on crime – the carrot and the stick

George Santayana once wrote “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.  For any of those who can remember the savage violence and disrespect for life that was rampant in America’s urban environments during the “crack explosion” twenty years ago, it seems like history is once again repeating itself.  Since last weekend, 33 people were shot over in Philadelphia alone, confirming two things:

1.      The “bad” old days are back in Philadelphia, and

2.      Our leaders clearly have no idea how to stop the madness.


Why? Because our national desire to be on the progressive front of social interaction is clashing with our natural instincts as free persons.  If you study the sometimes unimaginable spike in criminality that permeated America in the late-1980’s and early-1990’s, the invention and spread of crack cocaine wasn’t the only culprit to be cited as to the source of this epidemic.  With the sudden end of the cold war, the military-industrial complex was in a free fall, causing a recession.  While nowhere near the recession we’ve toiled through over the last three years, it was enough to create a feeling of instability in the minds of many Americans.  Like twenty years prior (the 1970’s), many middle-class Americans were fleeing the high crimes and rising taxes of the cities, and taking their businesses to the suburbs.  This is evident with the skylines and corporate complexes that rose in places like Jersey City, Reston (VA), Columbia (MD), etc.  What was left in the city was a generation of urban youth being raised by young, uneducated single parents with little family structure and adult supervision.  Add that poor upbringing to a constant barrage of thug culture – from peers to movies and music and it didn’t take much for these urban youths to accept that drugs, murder, and crime were a part of life. 

So many of you who are reading this may be wondering how we were able to get this explosion in crime under control.

Hint: It wasn’t done “nicely


During his campaign, Giuliani promised to focus the police department on shutting down petty crimes and nuisances as a way of restoring the quality of life, saying “It's the street tax paid to drunks and panhandlers. It's the squeegee men shaking down the motorist waiting at a light. It's the trash storms, the swirling mass of garbage left by peddlers and panhandlers, and open-air drug bazaars on unclean streets”.

The cap was put on after a trend was set in New York City.  After finally getting fed up with the lukewarm inaction of Mayor David Dinkins, whose murder rate peaked at 2,605 in 1990, the voters of New York elected a federal prosecutor named Rudolph W. Giuliani, the first Republican mayor of New York since Fiorello LaGuardia in (1934-1945).  Giuliani possessed a characteristic that made his career true: that no politician can truly be effective and do their job while pleasing all of their constituents. In other words, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. 

Upon his election to Mayor, Giuliani appointed an intelligent former Boston Police Commissioner and NYC Transit Police Chief, Bill Bratton to run the New York City Police Department.  Bratton voiced his faith in the rank and file – not micromanaging them.  He merged the NYPD with the Transit and Housing police departments to eliminate redundancy and create an undeniable force of over 39,000 sworn officers and promoted a quirky Transit Police Lieutenant named Jack Maple, who revolutionized policing by creating the COMPSTAT crime analysis system.  COMPSTAT held precinct commanders accountable for their crime rates and traced patterns of criminal incidents, encouraging proactive deployment and interventional police work from plain clothed street crime, anti-crime, and conditions units to make felony arrests of hardened criminals.      

Bratton took the leash off a very large dog and sent them out to make quality of life arrests, with a zero-tolerance mentality that had many minor criminals coming off the streets to discover that many of them were fugitives from justice for other, more major crimes.  Giuliani appointed a decorated former narcotics detective and Passaic County Deputy Sheriff, Bernard Kerik as his Corrections Commissioner, to reform the NYC Jails system and create the city’s invaluable gang intelligence unit.  He also had appointed a more professional Sheriff, who reported to the Commissioner of Finance and aggressively pursued scofflaws and those whose debt to the city brought disrepair to neighborhood buildings and communities.  The police work continued on many fronts, citizen complaints roze, many minority communities felt marginalized, and there was tremendous backlash surrounding controversial uses of force, such as the accidental shooting of Amadou Dialo, an illegal African immigrant who ran from police then, when cornered in a dark alley, reached into his pocket for a black wallet resulting in his accidental shooting.  However, the Bratton/Giuliani objective was reached, crime was dropped over 30%, to it’s lowest level since the 1960s.   

Despite being responsible for this drop, Giuliani was demonized by many New Yorkers, especially the arts and education communities for his lack of empathy for the residents in many of the crime ridden areas being heavily policed.  However, when it came time to be reelected, Giuliani did so handily – wiping out long-time liberal Boro President Ruth Messenger and racial activist Al Sharpton.

COMPSTAT and the “Broken Windows” theory was duplicated throughout the United States, and the federal government gave support to local law enforcement agencies with grants, task forces, and enhanced penalties.  While it’s arguable that the many quality of life contributors to the explosion in crime (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.) just “went inside” and off the streets, it can’t be argued that the horrible normality of violent crime that many of us became accustomed to in the late-80’s and early-90’s subsided for many years. 

Until the surge of violence that started reoccurring in recent years.  Many politicians refused to come to grips with the return of “hard times”, but Philadelphians couldn’t ignore the writing on the wall with the murders of six police officers in unrelated incidents in only 18 months.  Then, despite a new “interpretation” of crime statistics by the administration of Commissioner Charles Ramsey, crime is steadily surging to it’s point in 2007, when Mayor Mike Nutter was elected on a platform of reform and crime control.    

So can the type of strategy used to clean up New York in the 90’s be used again?  Probably not.

See, while Rudy was crusading against crime in the name of the forgotten middle-class, newly elected Bill Clinton legitimized what his former opponent characterized "a movement [that would] declare certain topics 'off-limits,' certain expressions 'off-limits', even certain gestures 'off-limits'" – which became the liberal concept of Political Correctness, which was quickly adopted by the legal community and legitimized through a universal fear of litigation.  The basis of zero-tolerance crime control strategies lies within the simple public belief that criminals are bad.  If we characterize criminals as “socially challenged”, then we (as a society) find it hard to initiate sweeping, heavy-handed enforcement actions and prosecutions toward them.  While violent crime, flash mobs, and many other incidents can be attributed to a decline in the traditional family structure (fathers not taking responsibility, parents too young, community values that empathize with the criminal element), failing educational structure, and overwhelmed social services; much of the buck has stopped at the feet of law enforcement agencies who, through the politicalization of the position of police executives – which has changed the traditional roles of law enforcement officers.  The new conceptualization of the police officer/social worker had two unpredicted consequences;  

1.      This softer approach to law enforcement was manpower intensive.  Police executives used the “appearance” of law enforcement to make people feel safer, as they would see multiple patrolmen (marked cars, foot, and/or bicycle officers) on the street.  However, the perception of public safety and true public safety are two different concepts.  If the emphasis of policing is placed on patrol, where crimes are either stopped in progress or responded to, then the manpower, training, and long-term investments for specialized aspects of policing; such as investigations and intelligence is not there.

2.      With the new prevalence of Citizen Complaint Review Boards, Independent Police Monitors, and Consent Degrees/Memorandums of Understanding with the US Department of Justice – policing is a far less physical endeavor.  Add a sentencing leniency due to prison overcrowding and sociological considerations; and there is far less fear for the criminal justice system then there use to be.

So for many of us who want our current leadership (Nutter and Ramsey) to simply “take the leash off the dog” and perform zero tolerance policing in Philadelphia; you may be disappointed to see that neither Ramsey nor Nutter are capable of having the intestinal fortitude necessary to alienate half their constituency to save the other half (and the reputation and future development of the city).  If you don’t believe me, just watch the media coverage of last weekend’s violence:

Mayor Michael Nutter said he’s had enough, saying on camera Monday, “It’s just crazy-ass, ignorant people doing stupid things. The incident at the bar is just insane.”
The mayor added, “You just can’t have this kind of insanity going on. So, if you know something – as we say, if you see something, say something.”
Commissioner Charles Ramsey said "You have to take a look at what's going on in many of our communities. Its a very serious problem we have to address."

Notice you didn’t hear either leader speak as to what they intended to do about the disturbing trend of rising crime, shootings, and flash-mobs plaguing Philadelphia this week?  In comparison see how definitivly Rudy Giuliani was in defending the NYPD following the the Dialo verdict:

“If police officers act in the line of duty to protect a community against violent criminals and drug dealers, then that the community should stand up and support them when police officers’ lives are put in jeopardy.”

Where is the call for increased police enforcement, a summer curfew for juveniles, a stepped up enforcement of quality of life issues in Philadelphia; and a call to support the police and report crimes in the community before they become shootings or flash mobs?  You don’t see it here.  Why? Because the Mayor, Police Commissioner, and a great deal of city council are beholden to special interests and voters who empathize with the kids in these flash mobs, drug users, and criminals – not the taxpayers being victimized or the residents packing up and moving to the suburbs.

We need to let the Philadelphia Police do what they do best – STOP CRIME.  In New York, the following non-crime incident was on the NYPD 10-codes:

10-51           Roving band (specify direction of travel & number in group)
Philadelphia needs to start suppressing these “mobs” and using stop & frisk to intervene when large groups are congregating on corners and walking down streets, let them know the police are out there and if any of them are carrying weapons, illicit substances, underage alcohol, or have warrants – MAKE ARRESTS.
It’s time to get away from soft political rhetoric and save our streets before more lives are lost. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

RCC and PPA Notaries implicated in voter fraud - so what ae YOU going to do?

According to today's Daily News "Heard in the Hall" Blog - Notaries connected to the Canuso/Meehan RCC, implicated in allegations of fraud in last year's elections for Republican committemen have permanently surrendered their notary licenses after an investigation by the state of Pennsylvania.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Corbett picks a Democratic former School Board member as his SRC replacement

Isn't he one of the guys that led the District to the point of a state takeover in the first place? In light of the budget fiasco, we (taxpayers) were expecting a hatchet-man, not an inside-man!

Read more here!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mayor Nutter Addresses the City in a Plea for School District Funding

Tonight at 7pm, Mayor Nutter came on TV to make a heartfelt plea to save our schools by supporting the soda tax. Note that he made no mention of the numerous instances of waste, fraud, and abuse in the administration of Arlene Ackerman that have heavily contributed to their massive budget shortfall.
If Mayor Nutter wants another tax hike, he needs to show us that we aren't flushing our hard earned money down a toilet of racism, violence, and corruption. You want my money, Mr. Mayor? Start with a clean sweep of the entire Ackerman administration at School District Headquarters. Replace her with a leader like Michelle Rhee (DC) who doesn't cater to identity politics, and place the school district under the jurisdiction of and open an investigation by the Inspector General.
Until such steps are taken, I strongly encourage any resident with common sense to go to council chambers at 9AM and SPEAK OUT against new taxes and fees in support of waste, fraud and abuse. If you can't make it, call your councilman and State Representative (you can get their number from the Committee of Seventy's Website at!!
Mark my words, citizens, this corruption will stand unless we make our voices known.  The primary was not the last word - we can vote in 5 new Republican at-large members to send a clear message to City Hall.
Do not let Philadelphia go down the same path of taxation and business alienation that was previously taken by Detroit, DC, and Baltimore City.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When will the Ackerman fiasco end?

Today, Good Day Philadelphia broadcast a clip of Dr. Arlene Ackerman talking to a fellow panelist at the SRC meeting with the microphone on.   It is clear that she misses her patronage job at Columbia University and dislikes the responsibility of teaching Philadelphia's children.  Either way, this clip is the 3rd gaffe this week; making me wonder why she could still be employed after racial statements, no-bid contracts, a budget crisis, and an IRS investigation.

SRC and Mayor Nutter - It's time to show her the door.

See the clip here

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Capozzi's challenge affirms claims of voter fraud

Today, Daily News reporter Chris Brennan reported that Barbra Capozzi (D - South Philly) is challenging her close loss in the 2nd District City Council primary election to State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson.  Capozzi asserts that "widespread irregularities" in the 2nd District race "compromised the election so severely that the results cannot be trusted to reflect the will of the Democratic voters."  At the center of Ms. Capozzi's the claim is a Philadelphia City Commission employee who unlawfully instructed poll workers in some parts of the district to cover up or remove the name of attorney Damon Roberts, who withdrew from the race just before election day but too late to have his name removed from the ballot.  Roberts collected 319 votes, which were not counted.  Capozzi claims he would have collected thousands more votes if his name were not covered in some polling places.  The challenge also asserts a racial backroom political deal between Kenyatta Johnson, Roberts and third-place candidateTracey Gordon.  Capozzi's challenge claims that Rep. Johnson repeatedly urged Roberts to drop out to make "a concerted effort to secure his spot on the ballot as the only black candidate in the race".

The Second District population is approximately 49 percent African American and 35 White.  This challenge shows the kind of back-room dealing that manipulates the free electorate, and makes it hard for non-machine candidates to succeed in the primary system. 

Philadelphians for Ethical Leadership and Philly Decline were both reporting similar, non-racial activity within the Republican Mayoral Primary, where a backroom deal between RCC Chairman Vito Canuso and General Counsel Mike Meehan put Karen Brown, an unqualified former schoolteacher and former city administrative employee in the race for Mayor, challenging candidate John Featherman who had been a declared candidate since June, 2010.  Ms. Brown edged Mr. Featherman in the primary by a mere 57 votes, all of which came from the last 4% of counting; amid multiple reports of irregularities involving RCC Committeemen and Parking Authority employees who were told to switch their shifts so they could work at polling places for Brown.

Also reported heavily in the Philadelphia media was another backdoor meeting between Congressmen Bob Brady, Councilman Frank DiCicco, and IBEW local 98 head John Dougherty to "anoint" Mark Squila as the next 1st District City Councilman.  Despite heavy competition from Vern Anastasio, Mark grace, and Jeff Hornstien; Mr. Squila won in a landslide...partially because of the scores of IBEW electricians who, instead of working on training or building activities, mobilized at polling places throughout Philadelphia. 

The moral of the story, ladies and gentlemen, is that the outrageously low voter turnout seen in the last municipal election was a sign of just how disenchanted voters are with the electoral process.  Many people who appear at meetings and debates have expressed a belief that the system is "fixed" and that honest candidates have no chance of beating the machine with an endless stream of money and manpower.

The election of Al Schmidt and Stephanie Singer will help to stop the kinds of irregularities mentioned in the Capozzi challenge, but will fall short of addressing the imbalance of a political machine that runs the city on a 6:1 ratio, and voters that cast ballots based on what their union, minister, or employer tell opposed to doing what's right for the city they reside in.     

Thursday, June 2, 2011

SAY NO to the Ackerman bailout

Today, City Council goes back in chambers to approve massive tax hikes to plug a $75-100M gap in the School District budget, which will cut full day kindergarten and transportation for students.

While we all want the best for our children, I can't help feel that we're being held up at gunpoint.  The writing has been on the wall for the School District of Philadelphia for many years.  Middle-class citizens are leaving the city in droves (200,000 whites have left Philadelphia since 1990, most of which cite poor schools an crime as why). 

This morning, our Mayor appeared on Fox 29's Good Day Philadelphia to make his case for tax hikes to save school programs. The anchors tried to ask Mayor Nutter some hard questions, but the important questions were skirted but not directly asked - questions like:

  • Why isn't there an Inspector General or fiscal monitor for the school district? 
  • Why isn't Arlene Ackerman (who personally made $350K plus bonuses last year), who literally played the race card on that very channel a month ago when challenged by a state rep on spending; being held accountable for poor fiscal responsibility (and job performance)?
  • How was Ackerman, with poor performance and a $45,000 credit card scandal in her prior position as the San Francisco Schools Chancellor, hired in Philadelphia in the first place?
  • Most importantly, how can you justify RAISING taxes for the few, good Philadelphians who honestly pay all their taxes when you still haven't reformed the Sheriff's Office, City Council, and other agencies to ensure that taxation is equally enforced and everyone's taxes are collected in our city?
As hard as it is to deal with the consequences of reforming our school district, the only responsible thing to do as citizens and taxpayers is to call your council members TODAY and SAY NO on any tax increase that will bail out the waste, fraud, and abuse-ridden School District of Philadelphia without controls and monitors to reform the corrupt district.
As history shows us, you cannot fix a broken system by throwing more money at it.  If you keep alienating our taxpaying citizens while failing to enforce taxation for other citizens; you will institute a system of inequality and government reliance (welfare state) that I personally saw in Washington, DC (who literally drove the middle-class and business sector to suburban Virginia and Maryland).