Archive for February, 2011

Has the Cap of Law Enforcement Professionalism Come Off?

“Politics is war without guns,” former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong once said.  “War is politics with guns.”

Mao’s pointed but extremist view of the political arena is an illustration of why politics—even in the United States—is often referred to as a ‘blood sport.’

As such, observers of the political theater better known as Battleground Wisconsin should not be all surprised by heavy-handed tactics and dirty tricks. 

Yet Ian Murphy, a kook-blogger from Buffalo, New York, recently reached a new, Nixonian-type low last week when he telephoned the office of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. During a secretly recorded telephone conversation, Murphy falsely assumed the identity of industrialist David Koch and then attempted to bait the governor with over-the-top rhetoric.  The strategy behind the the call proved unsuccessful, although the lack of due diligence by the governor’s staff in vetting the imposter is glaring.

Of course, politicians with vicious dogs in this fight, as well as those carrying water for their partisan bosses, are interpreting Walker’s remarks to benefit their side’s agenda.

In comments made to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray took issue with Gov. Walker’s response to Murphy’s baited question about placing “troublemakers” in the crowd of protestors. 

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/116828353.html

But what is the definition of an actual “troublemaker”?

Is it an elected member of Congress telling others that, in reference to events in Wisconsin, “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary”? 

http://nhjournal.com/2011/02/23/dem-rep-to-unions-time-to-get-‘bloody’/#

Is it trespassing and then, for all practical purposes, taking over the private property of another?

http://theundergroundconservative.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/thugs-take-over-rpw-offices/

Is it acting like a group of spoiled, out-of-control teenagers who couldn’t get their way on the floor of the State Assembly?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f0VProvuAo

 Or, worse yet, is it committing felony? 

In this instance, Chief Wray is not only selective in whom he publicly chides as instigators — he has it all backwards.  It is not Walker’s vague comments that are troubling, but rather Ian Murphy’s use of David Koch’s “personal identifying information” that points to evidence of a serious crime. 

According to Wisconsin state statute 943.201(2):  Whoever, for any of the following purposes, intentionally uses, attempts to use, or possesses with intent to use any personal identifying information or personal identification document of an individual, including a deceased individual, without the authorization or consent of the individual and by representing that he or she is the individual, that he or she is acting with the authorization or consent of the individual, or that the information or document belongs to him or her is guilty of a Class H felony: 

(a) To obtain credit, money, goods, services, employment, orANY other thing of value or benefit;

(b) To avoid civil or criminal process or penalty;

(c) To harm the reputation, property, person, or estate of the Individual.

Wisconsin state statute 943.201(1)(b)(1) describes “personal identifying information” as “an individual’s name.”

Now if Murphy made this call out-of-state, a prosecution for violating state law maybe problematic; however, persons involved in the commission of crimes that occur in Wisconsin face the possibility of charges if they conspired to commit the crime in another state.  Wisconsin state statute 939.31 describes a conspiracy as follows:

“Whoever, with intent that a crime be committed, agrees or combines with another for the purpose of committing that crime may, if one or more of the parties to the conspiracy does an act to effect its object, be fined or imprisoned or both not to exceed the maximum provided for the completed crime; except that for a conspiracy to commit a crime for which the penalty is life imprisonment, the actor is guilty of a Class B felony.”

Ethically, Chief Wray’s department needs to put politics aside and investigate if an actual felony may have occurred during Murphy’s conversation with Gov. Walker; otherwise, Wisconsin’s attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, has the authority to step in and do so.

During heated political discourse, labor unrest, or civil strife, law enforcement agencies become—like it or not—the uniform arbitrators of fairness.  One section of The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics reads, “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions.”

Could it be that Chief Noble Wray has checked his cap of professionalism at the door and is simply walking in lock step with his city’s mayor, Dave Cieslweicz?

http://www.620wtmj.com/news/local/116946593.html)

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Steve Spingola is an author and former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


John Andrews–R.I.P.

SF received some very sad news this morning from retired Milwaukee Police Department Detective Larry Powalisz.   John Andrews, a retired Milwaukee homicide detective and current employee of the Twin Lakes PD, was tragically killed in a one car crash on an apparent icy stretch of road.  Please keep John and his family in your hearts and prayers.

Larry provided the following link to the story:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/116561823.html

Editor’s Note: the following statement was released by Twin Lakes Police Chief Dale Racer:

http://twinlakespolice.org/press-release/2011-2-20.pdf


Retired MPD Captain Reviews Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel

As promised, the Spingola Files (SF) is proud to present retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis’ review of The Cozen Protocol, a 2010 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee.  

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THE COZEN PROTOCOL

Author:    Mitchell Nevin

Setting:    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Genre:      Crime & Corruption

The Cozen Protocol is a fictional book that tells how corruption and poor leadership within a police organization touches the lives of a number of people who are, or have been, associated with that organization.  Mitchell Nevin uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as his backdrop and blends elements of real incidents with fiction.  The characters range from the Department’s police chief to members of the police department’s Professional Performance Division (previously known as the Internal Affairs Division) to biker and Spanish gang members.  Each chapter is another piece of a very interesting puzzle that, when complete, will neatly tie up any loose ends for the reader.

 Without going into too much detail, the danger of undercover work (think Donnie Brasco, the movie about FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone as portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became “like them” to his wife and even to himself); the emphasis on getting guns off the street to reduce violent crime and the methods employed, which have officers walking a very fine line; and an overzealous attempt on the part of some members of the department to insure “integrity,” are brought to light in this book and the results are damaging to overall morale as one might expect.  This will all be familiar to those who lived through these experiences and, in some cases, had their careers altered permanently.  I’m talking about very good officers who were acting with the best of intentions in an almost “Mission Impossible” environment.    

 Those who were members of the Milwaukee Police Department over the past 25 to 35 years will especially enjoy the challenge of trying to link the traits of the characters in the book to people they encountered throughout their own careers and will also remember many of the real life incidents that are blended into the story.  Mitchell Nevin did an absolutely fantastic job of research in his preparation for writing this book, as he captures the frustrations of the rank-and-file members of the Department, who are working under internal conditions that not only present many obstacles but are dangerous to their professional and personal lives.

 Another part of the story line that the reader will find fascinating is the interaction between several of the law enforcement officer characters and a member of the media and defense attorney.  Some may find themselves saying that part of the book is definitely fiction, but others may have their own experiences, which affirm the validity of that part of the story.  Either way, it is one more piece of the puzzle that makes this book hard to put down.

The Cozen Protocol  also clearly identifies how inept leadership can influence the day-to-day environment of the working copper and detective; how important trust is in a law enforcement organization; and how difficult the job can be without trust.  Personal ambition and big egos are usually recipes for disaster, as Mitchell Nevin illustrates.

One main character stood out for me as I was reading the book.  Detective Gavin Fitzgerald was a street smart, steady, level headed investigator who had a combination of real street experience, wisdom and a dedication to duty.  He was well respected by his peers and his immediate supervisor and knew how to work around the obstacles presented by management.   Gavin Fitzgerald struck me as a law enforcement officer who wasn’t consumed with himself or where he could get on the job.  He also struck me as one who didn’t make excuses and who saw the job as a calling.  The last page of the last chapter of the book sealed that for me.

 There are lessons to be learned even from a fictional book such as this.  Police chiefs need to understand that quality of supervision matters.  Supervisors need to understand that with authority comes responsibility – and that includes making decisions.  Good coppers and detectives need to understand their obligations to take promotional exams with an eye toward becoming the kind of supervisors and leaders they themselves want to see in the organization.   Day-to-day operations need to be critiqued with an eye toward improvement.  For example, when a special unit is deployed to fight street gang activity it needs to work collectively as a team of uniformed and plainclothes officers – not individually – and the teams must be led by capable supervisors who have a demonstrated work history and who work with them.   The teams are best deployed on a district-by-district basis rather than from some central “downtown” location.  This allows for greater control; much better cooperation and intelligence from the good people of the neighborhoods, which builds “trust and confidence” and leads to a more surgical operation and less collateral damage; and better accountability and response to problems.  To be sure, a “central” intelligence gathering unit is necessary to coordinate certain investigations and link criminal operations that transcend district boundaries, however the street level operations are much more effective and efficient if performed by selected uniformed officers and detectives who work as a team and patrol as “a pack” out of the district stations.   

The wise officer/detective/supervisor and even a police chief will take something from this book and apply it to his/her operational/administrative style and hopefully make the work environment a little bit better for those people who are out there fighting crime.

 As for The Cozen Protocol, I highly recommend this book and am sure the reader will enjoy it as much as I did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes it into a television movie on the order of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choir Boys or The New Centurions.

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Glenn D. Frankovis served with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) from 1975 to 2004.  During his career, he served on the MPD’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and later commanded Districts Five and Three on Milwaukee’s north side.

Editor’s note: Since SF has received serveral inquries, The Cozen Protocol is an e-book available exclusively at Amazon.com.  Readers can download the novel to a PC, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  The software to download Kindle books to a PC is free.  To obtain the software, visit the “Free e-books to PC software” link on the right side of this Web page.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


Retired Milwaukee PD Captain and Crime-Fighter Extraordinaire to Review Book Exclusively for SF

An Amazon.com 2010 Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee, Mitchell Nevin’s book, The Cozen Protocol, is a story that features a fictional gang war and the Milwaukee Police Department’s response. 

Frequent SF readers are aware that I have touted the book.  The dialogue between characters is solid, which enables the public to walk-a-mile in the shoes of those wearing a badge. 

Today, I am pleased to announce that retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis has agreed to review The Cozen Protocol .  For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Glenn was a no nonsense commander that minced few words when it came to fighting crime in Milwaukee.  His leadership resulted in significant declines in violent crime rates while leading Districts Five and Three.  He also possesses a unique understanding of the structure of the Milwaukee Police Department and that bureaucracy’s response to unfolding events. 

Glenn Frankovis’ leadership in the area of proactive policing is the uniform equivalent to author and retired Detective Lieutenant Dave Kane’s knowledge of the homicide unit—both men know what makes police officers and detectives tick.

My hope is to have Glenn’s review of The Cozen Protocol posted within the next week.  I am sure that his take on the novel will be worth the wait.

For more information, please visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html


Freedom Didn’t Come Cheap for Former Saukville Copper

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


The Delaware Dumpster Debacle

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011