Posts tagged “Mark Belling

Michael Chertoff’s Brave New World

On the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, various media outlets revisited the events of that fateful day, which caused me to wonder: how long it will be before 9/11 becomes a footnote in American history. After all, most of this year’s incoming college freshmen were entering kindergarten at the time the World Trade Center came tumbling down.

Nonetheless, it is the adults that I am most concerned about. The first group is the Obama administration, which seems hell bent on fulfilling George Orwell’s 1984 prophecy.  Americans are fortunate that the Constitution will force this group of misfits from power in the early days of 2017. Another troubling group is the cabal of neo-cons who have convinced Americans to surrender much of their privacy in the name of security.

Michael Chertoff is a member of the latter group. As a guest on Fox News last evening, Chertoff used the anniversary of 9/11 to chastise lawmakers’ efforts to marginalize the NSA’s Orwellian collection of Americans’ electronic data.

Now, Mr. Chertoff, a high-profile former prosecutor instrumental in New York’s Mafia crackdown, should know better. He is keenly aware that 99.999 percent of Americans using cellular telephones and the Internet have absolutely no relationship to terrorism.  Mr. Chertoff must know that government funded surveillance cameras at intersections in Sauk City, Wisconsin — a town with a population of 3,410 — will never capture an image of a plotting terrorist.  Still, Chertoff, Dick Cheney, President Obama, Janet Napolitano, et al, have spent billions and billions of dollars creating an American surveillance state in venues as small as Sauk City.  In the process, many of their special interest connections at corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, have received billion dollar government contracts paid for with borrowed money from China and quantitative easing.

And Michael Chertoff, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Belling, and the judges on the FISA courts, know full well that the NSA charter prohibits that agency from collecting information from American citizens while on U.S. soil. They further are aware that the Fourth Amendment requires warrants and court orders for searches to cite specific crimes that that have been or might be committed by specific persons before a search is authorized; yet they trample on the Constitution whenever it does not fit their political narrative.  When asked if the seizure of virtually every Americans’ cellular telephone and Internet data has stopped a single terrorist attack, members of both of the aforementioned groups refuse to answer, hiding behind national security concerns.  By refusing to answer, the members of these two groups are simply telling the public to shut-up, go away, and pay your taxes, as transparency is no longer needed in this republic.  Instead, American taxpayers should blindly trust the government, and leave our freedoms in the ever crushing grasp of the rubberstamps at the FISA courts, where an adversarial argument is NEVER heard.

Unlike this year’s incoming college freshmen class, I grew-up in an era when the United States was considered the land of the free and the home of the brave. Today’s youth have come of age in at a time when our nation is slouching, at light speed, towards China.  It is unfortunate these young people only know this nation as the land of the regulated and the home of the watched.

Class of 2018: it’s a brave new world out there.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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, 2014

Sheriff Clarke’s “Hollywood Voice” a Match for Talk-Radio


Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

One of the most polarizing figures in southeastern Wisconsin is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. In a sense, Clarke is kind of a duck out of water—a law-and-order conservative who was elected to office as a Democrat in a liberal county, even though he often aligns himself with Republican office holders.

One would think, though, that the sheriff’s Dirty Harry persona would resonate well with members of his department’s rank-and-file and other county sheriffs, especially his unrelenting, mano-a-mano efforts to thwart the gun-grabbers.  Instead, Clarke’s take-the-bull-by-the horns management style has alienated those who should be his biggest supporters, namely the deputies whose jobs he has fought obstinately to spare from the chopping block.

Having worked with David Clarke in the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide unit, I am well aware of his passion for victims’ rights and his respect for the values enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  Philosophically, when it comes to the role of law enforcement and public safety, there’s probably not a dime’s worth of difference between Sheriff Clarke and I.  That being said our styles of management are the antithesis of each other’s.

Whereas, Clarke—an official elected by the public—embodies a top-down approach to organizational leadership, I generally prefer to delegate the administration of most tasks to qualified managers and/or subordinates.  After all, the sheriff, the chief-of-police, captains, and, to a lesser extent, shift commanders, are department heads or managers who just so happen to carry guns. Their primary focus should consist of fostering relationships with those controlling their department’s budgets, setting the agency’s agenda, getting buy-in from those under their command, maintaining discipline within the ranks, and communicating effectively with the public.

No doubt, on occasion, high-ranking law enforcement administrators will have their differences with judges, the district attorney’s office, members of the media, and the mayor and/or the county executive.  Typically, though, smoothing out these differences behind the scenes enables an elected department head or a de facto political appointee, such a police chief, to further advance their agency’s agenda and improve public safety.

Whether it is out of frustration or an unwillingness to capitulate core values, Sheriff Clarke has aired a lot of dirty laundry in public—calling out Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers, claiming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele suffers from “penis envy,” and apologizing in a letter to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for Chief Flynn’s antiquated and nonsensical testimony in support of an semi-automatic rifle ban.

Nonetheless, when given an opportunity, Clarke is a very effective communicator.  Even Piers Morgan made note of the sheriff’s “Hollywood voice.”

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to listen to Sheriff Clarke as he filled-in for Milwaukee talk-radio host Mark Belling during the show’s Five- O’clock hour on WISN radio.  If and when Clarke decides to retire his gun-and-badge, he most definitely has a future as a talk-radio host (to catch a short portion of the sheriff’s performance, click the link to the following Podcast):

No doubt, Clarke came armed with a lot more than the emotional rhetoric Chief Flynn regurgitated during an appearance before a U.S. Senate sub-committee.  In Milwaukee County, the sheriff noted, over a 12-year period only 44 percent of the cases brought to the DA’s office involving the straw purchases of guns for felons where charged, which resulted in offenders serving  an average of just seven months for a crime that carries a maximum penalty of ten-years in prison.

Personally, as far as WISN radio hosts are concerned, I would prefer to hear more of Sheriff Clarke and less from two of the other infrequently used fill-ins, whose attached-at-the-hip relationship to the special interest, Patriot Act-wing of Republican Party is rather dull and predictable.  If Clarke can broaden his repertoire to include other issues, his stock as a talk-radio host will rise exponentially.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Newspaper’s ‘Hatchet Job’ a Disservice to those in Blue

Over the course of the past week, like Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, the Spingola Files (SF) staff has taken a deep breath while digesting the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s (JS) attempt to tar a  group of, by-in-large, dedicated Milwaukee police officers with a mile-long brush of misconduct—one that spans nearly 30 years. 

Having worked for the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) for parts of four decades, and having served as a supervisor in the Criminal Investigation Bureau, I can say, without any hesitation, that the MPD’s command staff does not take police misconduct lightly.

There are, however, profound degrees of misconduct. 

Providing a driver’s license to a friend over two-decades ago, so that the friend could enter a tavern, is hardly newsworthy in 2011.  Do the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Watchdogs actually believe that a young officer—guilty of such a minor infraction —should be run-off  the police force? 

If those at the JS expect perfection, good luck.  A state-wide search by Ms. Barton et al would probably uncover only a handful of today’s college graduates with Pope Benedict XVI-like backgrounds.  Like those who have passed before them, today’s police recruits are microcosms of America’s twenty-something demographic, which, in 2011, is the reality TV generation.    

SF certainly is not alone in concluding that the newspaper’s attempt to discredit one of the nation’s best big-city police department’s is simply a hit piece—where the prior journalistic reporting of the author seems to suggest that the research conducted was done with the intent to validate an hypothesis’ aforethought.

Appearing on Mark Belling’s WISN afternoon talk show, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn minced no-words, equating the JS investigation to killing a flea with a sledgehammer. The police chief referred to the newspaper’s three part series as “a hatchet job.”

Writing at the Badger Blogger, retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis also takes aim at the JS series.  As was the case with his scores at the academy’s shooting range, Frankovis’ comments hit the mark.

“Then there’s the grievous case of another Police Aide, Paul Zientek,” Frankovis notes, “who got into an altercation back in 1988 with a guy whose record you just have to check on CCAP. With that knowledge, and after reading the IAD investigation, ask yourself how you would have responded?”

But instead of touching-base with her contacts at the MPD (if any officers actually exist that might trust this particular reporter), the JS staff had no problems publishing Zientek’s photograph on the front page of the newspaper.

Based on my experiences, as well as the observations of other officers, detectives, and supervisors, Paul Zientek is a decent, caring human being—a solid cop who comes to work with a positive attitude to protect and serve the residents of Milwaukee. Failing to conduct a high-degree of due diligence before taking a pot shot at a stand-up person, like Zientek, is, in my opinion, akin to character assassination.

Chief Flynn’s very blunt comments chastising the JS series on the Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show paint a portrait of a high-level police administrator who understands the concept of trust-based policing. Through his decades-long travels through multiple law enforcement agencies, Flynn has walked-a-mile in the shoes of the officers on the street.  While some police administrators and others in the media are sometimes too willing to throw the rank-and-file under the bus to advance their careers, Milwaukee’s current police chief delicately balances matters of officer discipline with the department’s accountability to the community. The chief’s remarks supporting his officers—those who toil in some of the most impoverished parts of the country and see things that would make most people’s heads spin—are gratifying to those who wear or have worn a badge, over the years, for the MPD.

Moreover, for the sake of improving their perception amongst rank-and-file law enforcement, the staff at the JS might want to pick-up a copy of The Cozen Protocol. The  vernacular used to describe the local newspaper, as well as the book’s overall description of the media in general, while fictional, contains some biting truths that the Fourth Estate might want to address.

To hear Chief Flynn’s interview in its entirety, visit:


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

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

“Secret Meeting” with Gang Members Runs Amuck in Chi-town

About 100 miles to the southeast of the laid-back, small town of Wales, Wisconsin–home to the Spingola Files HQ, the bustling city of Chicago seems worlds away. Yet the controversy surrounding Chicago’s Police Superintendent, Jody Weis, is reminiscent of a southeastern Wisconsin brouhaha that occurred nearly two-decades ago.

Through forwarded e-mails from those in law enforcement, as well as reports in the media, it appears that—at least amongst rank-and-file Chicago cops—Weis is as popular as a contagious virus. 

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s political machinery hired Weis, a 23-year veteran of the FBI, two-and-and-half-years ago.  Prior to becoming Chicago’s 54th Superintendent of Police, Weis was the FBI’s Assistant Deputy Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility—fancy terminology for being the second in command of  the FBI’s internal affairs unit.  In other words, he had no local law enforcement expreience. 

Members of Daley’s inner circle believed Weis would reform the Chicago PD, which, like many other big-city police departments had—rightly or wrongly—come under fire for a variety of issues.

The Daley machine’s experiment has apparently gone awry.

In late August, Chicago Police Lieutenant John Andrews disclosed that he is under investigation by the superintendent’s internal affairs unit for posting, to say the least, his not-so-complementary opinions of Weis on a personal blog.,0,1041713.story

In most police departments, internal affairs is the only unit that reports directly to the agency’s chief-of-police or superintendent, which means the investigation of Andrews is being overseen by Weis.  As such, there is little doubt regarding the investigation’s outcome, even though Andrews’ take appears to represent the majority of the Chicago PD’s rank-and-file.

It is, however, a meeting Weis recently arranged with Chicago street thugs that has become the lightning rod for critics, not just inside Chicago political circles, but throughout law enforcement in the Midwest.    

According to the Chicago Tribune, Weis, federal authorities, and others “secretly met with a group of West Side gang leaders at the Garfield Park Conservatory [in August], informing them over snacks and beverages that they would be held directly accountable for shootings and other violent crimes committed by their gangs.”

To many rank-and-file cops, especially those old enough to recall the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, Weis’ sit down with street toughs appeared eerily reminiscent of Frank Firillo, the captain of the Hill Street precinct, who, on occasion, would bring local gang bangers into his office for discussions.  

A similar event almost occurred in Milwaukee in the early 1990s, when the administration of Phil Arreola, a police chief also hired from the outside, hinted at an outreach with members of the Conservative Vice Lords.  Popular conservative talk-show host Mark Belling had a field day with the notion, which kind-of just went away.  Others would say the idea was a trial balloon turned burning Zeppelin before it was officially ever floated.

Mitchell Nevin’s fictional book, The Cozen Protocol, portrays a comparable incident that appears ripped from the pages of the Arreola era (a suggestion to Mayor Daley: down load a copy to your i-Phone. The end result is not a positive one).

To be fair, Weis, on the other hand, portrayed the meeting with gang bangers as an opportunity to lay-down the law.  While appearing on WBBM radio’s At Issue program, (which airs tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.), the superintendent said he was “shocked and amazed” at the negative reaction.

 Mayor Daley, echoing the mantra often used to justify touchy-feely policies, told the Chicago Tribune the meeting was ‘worth pursuing if it could save a life.’

Critics, including myself, charge that arranging a “secret meeting” with gang members provides these groups with instant street creditability. Moreover, why was this meeting, if it was indeed such a solid concept, conducted under the shroud of secrecy?  My guess is that Chicago’s version of Mark Belling, if one does exist, might have created the spark needed to engulf Weis’ wobbly Zeppelin.

After all, wouldn’t a meeting with the good kids—those striving to do the right things in some of Chicago’s troubled neighborhoods—have been more productive and deserving of these public officials’ time, as well as the snacks and beverages given, for free, to the thug element?  


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of “The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler” and “Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.”

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010