Archive for July, 2013

Spingola Files Shout Outs: U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Judge Jeffrey Wagner Set an Example for Others to Emulate

Once again, one of Wisconsin’s voices of reason in congress, U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner did the right thing on Thursday by voting for an amendment, offered by Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, that would have prevented any of the funds made available in the Appropriations Act or continuing funding resolution from being funneled to any order made under section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

This section of the Patriot Act (sec. 501) gives federal authorities the right to apply for and receive business records, such as debt and credit card transactions, bank statements, telephone records, and information stored by utility providers.  Rep. Sensenbrenner, who authored the USA Patriot Act in 2001, believes that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) seizure of the metadata of Americans’ telephone records violates the provisions of the very act he authored.

Clearly, by gathering data on Americans not linked to foreign terrorists or absent a lawful court order (unlike the broad based seizures approved by the secret FISA court) the NSA has exceeded the authority of its charter.

While campaigning for his current office, President Obama promised to rein-in government surveillance initiatives that trampled on civil liberties.  Now, however, the Obama administration’s expansion of Orwellian-type spying—not of suspected terrorists but on law abiding Americans—is the equivalent of George Bush and Dick Cheney on steroids.

While the vote to restrict the government’s use of section 501 funding failed on a vote of 217-205, a bi-partisan group of Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives have pledged that section 215 of the Patriot Act—a provision that allows the FBI to demand that carriers and technology companies give government agents data that MIGHT be relevant to an investigation—will not be renewed when it expires in 2015.

In a letter to the U.S. Justice Department, Rep. Sensenbrenner noted that, “Section 215 expires at the end of 2015.  Unless you realize you’ve got a problem, that is not going to be renewed. There are not the votes in the House of Representatives to renew section 215.”

Jim Sensenbrenner is a representative who understands that privacy and security require a delicate balance.  Unfortunately, the Obama administration, as well as 215 members of the House of Representatives, have bought into the statist mentality of the burgeoning security-industrial complex that, they apparently believe, takes precedent to the Bill of Rights.


From my experience as an investigator in Milwaukee County, I, along with dozens of other detectives, are well aware that Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Wagner is a hardworking jurist always willing to step up to the plate, even in the middle of the night, to review and authorize search warrants or to deal with other matters of criminal justice import.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Judge Wagner’s court, as well as in his chambers where he carefully scrutinized search warrants, I saw, first hand, an outstanding elected official that is willing to work with minor offenders while holding those who flaunt the law accountable.

Hence, I was dismayed to read the remarks of some the apparent supporters of Michael Vagnini, who, in the comments section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, denounced Judge Wagner’s 26 month prison sentence of the former Milwaukee police officer, convicted of conducting unauthorized strip searches, as too harsh.

Considering the gravity of the offenses, which under Wisconsin law might be construed as sexual penetration, the crew at SF believes the judge’s sentence of Vagnini was measured and reasonable.

Quite frankly, it is difficult to excuse an officer’s abuse of authority when the Milwaukee Police Department has a specific policy regarding strip searches.  No doubt, Vagnini believed he was on a mission to beat back crime, but he attended the police academy, was knowledgeable of Wisconsin state statutes, and was keenly aware that he was violating the law.

Over three decades ago when I was new officer, a veteran cop told me not to get too concerned when a drug dealer beats a rap or somehow managed to successfully secret his product from the police.  After all, he reasoned, D.O.P.E. is an acronym for death or prison eventually.  If the law doesn’t catch up with drug dealers, often times their rivals, suppliers, or customers will.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Book Review: A Government of Wolves

Is America slouching towards a police state or is our nation already an “electronic concentration camp?”

In his recently released book, A Government of Wolves: the Emerging American Police State, John W. Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, makes a strong case that our out-of-control federal government has already crossed the Orwellian line of no return.

To make his point, the author quotes Milton Mayer, who made the following observation:

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.”

Mayer, however, was not pontificating about post-9/11 America.  Instead, his observations concerned the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

In A Government of Wolves, Whitehead details the methods and technologies that the federal government, as well as its co-opted local law enforcement ‘partners,’ uses to keep tabs on all Americans.  The debate, as he sees it, is weather the new “electronic concentration camp” is more in line with George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, since both novels offer slightly different versions of how the government seized the freedoms and privacy of the populace.

Personally, I think the Huxley scenario—that the culture is so consumed by entertainment and technology “that the citizenry does not realize they occupy a prison until it is too late’—is spot on.  A thriving democracy depends on a high percentage of knowledgeable voters, and, quite frankly, the knowledge most voters possess is the equivalent of sixth grade reading level.

Earlier this month, noted conspiracy theorist Mark Dice released a ‘man on the street video,’ showing what occurred when some college-educated people where asked to sign a petition asking President Obama to ban the Bill of Rights.  Proof that Low Information Voters (LIVs) abound, many signed without hesitation.

These are the sheep, too caught-up in the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, to realize that they are being led to the political slaughter.  As long as the politician that they support gives his blessing, LIVs apparently are too busy to even care that their government is lying about the IRS scandal, NSA spying, or the establishment of a police state in the name of security.

Another assertion Whitehead makes is that the local police are being turned into a federally subsidized army; whereby, the federal government continues to borrow and print money while offering ‘grants’ that equip police departments with drones, cellular telephone tracking equipment, armored personnel carriers, and other high-tech gadgets, such as LED lights that cause nausea.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal echoed this concern in an article entitled, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Whitehead also makes a case that, in the near future, society will be divided into two broad categories of classes: the watchers and the watched.  In the United States, over 850,000 people—either contractors or government employees—are involved in the implementation of the Patriot Act-based surveillance state—the one that was supposed to keep tabs on terrorists. Of course, the term “terrorist” is rather subjective, which is why A Government of Wolves notes that intelligence fusion centers have monitored libertarian groups and other organizations that believe the federal government is too large, too intrusive, or no longer abides by the Constitution.

One a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst, the Spingola Files gives A Government of Wolves a nine.  For those who cherish freedom, for the government lap dogs in the mainstream media, and for students of criminal justice, this book is one that you should make a point to read.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Zimmerman Case Similar to the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral, with One Glaring Exception

The Hells Angels have a saying: three men can keep a secret if two are dead.

During the trail of George Zimmermann, what the jury heard was the version of events from the confrontation’s only survivor.   The shooter may have been telling the truth; he might have embellished certain facts, or misrepresented his true intent.  However, the bottom line in the Zimmermann case is the bottom line: investigators and jurors are not clairvoyant.  The jury did what the jury should have done when presented with the information it received: acquit the person charged with a crime the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

In my book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I discussed a somewhat similar case in a chapter entitled, “Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral.”  During this incident, which occurred about a year-and-a-half prior to the death of Trayvon Martin, a homeowner, Mike Fitzsimmons, heard someone inside of his unattached garage. Instead of calling the police, he decided to arm himself and confront the intruder, James Babe.  Fitzsimmons called 911 after the shooting and said, “Someone was in my garage. They ran out, they wouldn’t, they were attacking me, so I shot him.”

In the Okauchee case, the homeowner, although he alleges an attack, suffered no injuries while discharging two rounds. After the first shot hit Babe, information contained in a search warrant affidavit noted that a second round was discharged as Babe was either falling or had landed on the homeowner’s deck, as the projectile passed through Babe’s body and was lodged, in part, in a wooden plank.  Moreover, tests revealed that the shooter had marijuana in his system.

Absent much controversy, since Fitzsimmons and Babe were both white, the Waukesha County District Attorney’s office ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

Needless to say, Al Sharpton did not visit lake country to protest. President Obama didn’t chime into the investigation by proclaiming that if he were white and had a son the child would look like James Babe.  U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the congressman who represents the area, did not stand in the well of the House of Representatives attired in the outer garment that Babe wore the night he died, even though there had been no recent break-ins in well-heeled Okauchee. Babe’s supporters didn’t send out Tweets promising riots, and the case barely received any attention locally, even though Mike Fitzsimmons was apparently never booked. Moreover, Wisconsin does not have a Stand Your Ground law, and, at the time of Babe’s death, the state legislature had yet to pass the Castle Doctrine.

Where, then, was the outrage from, at a minimum, the cheesehead media?

Since the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral lacked a racial nexus, the media types were aware that the public would care little much about the incident, although James Babe is just as dead as Trayvon Martin.

Media outlets, with the exception of taxpayer funded NPR, are for profit businesses. They need to sell what they are peddling in order to entice advertisers to fill their coffers.  Much of what is printed or makes the news has little to do with equality or justice, but, instead, the numbers on a balance sheet.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Milwaukee Police Officer Matt Knight.

All needless deaths are tragic. Both the Martin and Babe families had to bury their sons, which it is why it is important for parents, teachers, police officers, and religious leaders, to stress the value of making sound judgments. When a person stumbles into a garage that isn’t theirs or goes looking for a confrontation with someone they could have avoided, the end result might be their last day on earth or their fate in the hands of a jury.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Catholic Cops: Enough is Enough, Radical Changes are Needed to Make the Church Relevant

The ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department and other law enforcement agencies throughout southeastern Wisconsin are well represented by officers of the Roman Catholic faith.  I am one of them. Today, the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee (southeastern Wisconsin) released thousands of pages of documents related to the priest abuse scandal.

“They include some of the archdiocese’s most prolific sex abusers,” writes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Annysa Johnson.  “Among them: the late Father Lawrence Murphy, who is believed to have molested as many as 200 deaf boys, most during his decades at St. John School for the Deaf in St. Francis; and Sigfried Widera, who was facing 42 counts of child abuse in Wisconsin and California when he jumped to his death from a Mexico hotel room in 2003 as authorities closed in.”

Granted, only about one-percent of all priests were, in some way, implicated in these abominable, pedophilic attacks. However, it is the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up of these abuses that is, in all actuality, almost as repugnant as the horrific offenses.

In the mid-1930s, law enforcement agencies recognized that, to remain viable and respected, they would need to police themselves.  As a result, virtually every American police department has an internal affairs and/or professional standards unit that investigates allegations of misconduct.  However, the Catholic Church’s version of IAD is akin to a criminal fence looking into the activities of his supplier; whereby, the fence tells the thief it is time to move from Milwaukee to, say, California, before the police catch a whiff one what transpired, while knowing that the fence will steal yet again.

“Society’s general attitude toward perpetrators of sexual abuse moved in a trajectory from understanding abuse as sin with the possibility of forgiveness, to psychological flaw with hope of treatment, to deeper issues of addiction and finally to criminal activity,” wrote retired Wisconsin Bishop Richard Slkba.

‘Lame’ is the word many Catholics use to describe Sklba’s response.  In their heart-of-hearts, even young teenagers are fully aware that sexual abuse, whether the victim is an adult or a juvenile, is not only unacceptable, it is criminal.  Why a well-educated and politically savvy Catholic bishop, and the hierarchy of the Church would believe otherwise, suggests, in my opinion, that, at least in the United States, the Roman Catholic clergy sees itself as a brotherhood rather than a calling.

In all sincerity, Roman Catholic law enforcement officers, many of whom attend Mass on Sunday with their families in tow, have, quite frankly, had enough of the sex crimes committed by members of the clergy and the excuses from the leadership of an archdiocese that, as a moral entity, should simply know better.  Being a member of a Church that, at least in a de facto sense, winks-and-nods at priests and/or seminarians who do not fully support the ENTIRE moral mission of the Holy Father, makes me, and other cops wonder why we should give even one thin dime to an institution that, as documents suggest, has diverted funds from other Catholic missions in order to pay sexual predator priests to simply ‘go away.’

Speaking for a host of Catholic law enforcement officers, if the Church of St. Peter truly wishes to remain relevant in the 21st Century and beyond, reforms are desperately needed.  Virtually to a person, Catholic law enforcement officers believe, first and foremost, that priests should be permitted to marry.  Some, including myself, believe the time has come for the Church to recognize female priests as well.  These two simple reforms will result in the break-up of the strange old boys network—no pun intended—that has brought the Roman Catholic Church to the brink of moral irrelevancy.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013