Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Badge is Really a Shield

"Badge" may be the word we commonly use, but many police officers use the term "shield," and technically, they are correct in doing so. Modern police badges are the direct descendants of the warrior shields of ancient times.

And police badges today perform the function of a warrior’s shield all too often. Going back through the decades, there are countless stories of police officers’ badges deflecting weapons and even bullets. The badges are frequently credited with saving an officer’s life.

Such a story was reported just this week.

In Oakland, Tennessee, Officer Joshua Smith pulled over a vehicle in the early morning hours on Christmas Eve. During the stop the driver pulled out a gun and fired at the officer at point-blank range.

Officer Smith was wearing body armor – commonly but erroneously referred to by the public as a "bullet-proof vest." At point-blank range a bullet could penetrate the vest. Even if the vest stopped the bullet, point-blank impact could cause life-threatening injury. However, in this case the bullet struck the officer’s badge.

The impact bent the badge and knocked Officer Smith to the ground, but even so he was able to fire two shots of his own at the fleeing gunman. The officer was examined at a local hospital and released. Officer Smith has no doubt that in this case, his shield saved his life.

In 2007 an officer in New York City was attacked by a man with a kitchen knife. The knife struck the officer’s badge and shattered into five pieces. The New York officer, Stuart Ingram, later remarked that his shield probably saved his life. He too was wearing body armor, but body armor can be pierced by a knife.

Such episodes are not common but occur often enough to remind us of the origin of the term "shield" to describe a police badge.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Steal, Except...

On Wednesday of this week the Associated Press ran this story:

LONDON — For a priest in northern England, the commandment that dictates "thou shalt not steal" isn't exactly written in stone.

The Rev. Tim Jones caused an uproar by telling his congregation that it is sometimes acceptable for desperate people to shoplift — as long as they do it at large national chain stores, rather than small, family businesses.

As you might guess, this has caused a slight commotion. Media attention was brought to Father Jones, and the Church of England was moved to issue a statement rejecting the view that shoplifting can be socially acceptable.

And as you also might guess, there is more to the story than the notion that shoplifting might be viewed by the church as acceptable if the shopliftee is a bog-box store rather than a neighborhood mom-n-pop store.

Father Jones, the report continued, stands by his remarks and explained the context, which was that shoplifting by the needy may be absolutely necessary when all other avenues are closed. His point, consistent with church teaching but made in an exceptionally clumsy manner, was that society must not turns its back on those most in need.

That fundamental lesson about charity always resonates at this time of year. But shoplifting is not a part of that lesson.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Crime Recession

In its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report released today, the FBI indicated a significant decrease in crime during the first six months of 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008.

The volume of violent crime in the nation decreased 4.4 percent and the volume of property crime declined 6.1 percent. More than 11,700 law enforcement agencies contributed to the report.

All four of the offenses that make up violent crime (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) decreased nationwide. Murder declined 10.0 percent, robbery fell 6.5 percent, forcible rape decreased 3.3 percent, and aggravated assault declined 3.2 percent.

A review of the data by population group showed that violent crime decreased 7.0 percent in cities with populations of 1 million or more – the largest decrease from January to June 2009 when compared with crime data from the same months in 2008 – but cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 reported an increase (1.7 percent). Violent crime declined 3.8 percent in the nation’s non-metropolitan counties and 2.1 percent in metropolitan counties.

By region, violent crime in the South declined 6.1 percent, violent crime in the Midwest decreased 3.4 percent, violent crime in the West declined 3.3 percent, and violent crime in the Northeast decreased 3.2 percent. In addition, law enforcement agencies in all four regions showed declines in the number of murders, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.

Overall in the nation, there were decreases in each type of property crime, which includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Motor vehicle theft dropped 18.7 percent, larceny-theft decreased 5.3 percent, and burglary declined 2.5 percent for the two six-month periods.

By population group, the nation’s largest cities (those with 1 million or more inhabitants) had the largest decrease (7.7 percent) in the number of property crimes. Property crime decreased 9.8 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 7.4 percent in metropolitan counties.

Regionally, property crime dropped 8.4 percent in the Midwest, 7.0 percent in the Northeast, 6.7 percent in the West, and 4.3 percent in the South. Among the four regions, the South was the only region to show an increase for a property crime offense – burglaries were up 0.7 percent.

The number of reported arsons, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, declined 8.2 percent nationwide during the first half of 2009 when compared with data from the first half of 2008. All of the city population groups reported decreases in the number of arsons. Cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants had the largest decrease at 12.7 percent. Arson fell 11.7 percent in metropolitan counties but rose 1.2 percent in non-metropolitan counties. Law enforcement agencies in all four regions reported declines in the number of arsons, ranging from 9.2 percent in the Northeast to 7.5 percent in the South.

The complete Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report is available at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The First Cop

The recent passing of Warner R. Quabeck reminds us of a simpler time.

At the time of his retirement in 1990, Mr. Quabeck was a Captain in the police department of nearby Hillsborough. But more significantly, he was Hillsborough's first full-time patrolman in 1965 when the police department was initially created.

As one might expect, he played a central role in the development of the department through the years. He is even credited with the design of the township seal, seen here on a uniform patch, as well as the police badge that is supplied today by the Badge Company of New Jersey.

Hillsborough is now part of the greater suburban sprawl that emanated outward from New York City and which has essentially met up with the suburban sprawl that emanated outward from Philadelphia. But in 1965, Hillsborough was a rural community that was just beginning to grow. Warner Quabeck helped guide that growth.

RIP, sir.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Special Kind of Person

Pictured is Officer Gregory Lordi of the Plainfield police department. He is one of a special kind of officer: He is the son of a cop, and he is the son of a cop killed on the job.

Gregory Lordi was a teenager in 1979 when his father, Anthony Lordi, Jr., was shot and killed in Hillside. The killing took place during a robbery attempt and was essentially an execution. At the time Anthony Lordi, Jr., was a 22-year veteran of the Hillside police department and was highly respected in the community and within the Hillside police.

We think that it takes a special kind of person to become a police officer after losing your police officer father under such circumstances. Gregory Lordi and his younger brother, Jeffrey, both became police officers.

And the killer from 30 years ago? Still in jail.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hi, Mom

Recently, a 25-year-old guy dressed in his mother’s pink blouse, her black coat and head scarf, pulled into the drive-thru lane of a bank in Somerset County. Using his mother’s driver’s license, he tried to make a withdrawal from her account.

The best part of the story is this: According to bank employees, the man tried to speak in a high-pitched voice.

The bank employees called the police. The police saw to it that the next time the guy was seen in public, he was no longer wearing his mother’s clothes – he was wearing handcuffs and prison garb.

He was charged with several offenses, including third-degree forgery and attempted theft by deception.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Small Ceremony

In the photo, Hackettstown Fire Chief Michael Gibbs is handing a citation plaque to firefighter John Tillou, one of three Hackettsown firefighters who risked their lives during a fire earlier this year.

Tillou, his cousin Fred Tillou, and Jamie Taylor were honored at a small ceremony during a Hackettstown Council meeting in September.

The three were among the respondents to a fire in Mansfield Township, a fire which claimed the lives of residents Carl and Margaret Salerno. The men rescued Anthony Salerno, the adult son of those killed, via a basement window. To gain access to the basement they had to remove their breathing apparatus, no minor step under the circumstances.

Mansfield volunteer firefighter Les Titus, who lives a few doors down from the home, also entered the home to help, and was honored subsequently by the St. Barnabas Burn Foundation.

These are examples of why we recoil when the word "hero" is used lightly. Without the selflessness of these men, this fire would likely have claimed a third victim.

But there is a disturbing twist to the story. It was later determined that the fire was intentionally set, and the deaths of Mr and Mrs Salerno were ruled homicides. Charged was Carmine Salerno, older son of the victims and brother of the man rescued. As of this writing he is in jail awaiting trial. The charges include two counts of felony murder, second-degree aggravated assault and second-degree aggravated arson.

It is alleged that Carmine Salerno set two fires in the home, both placed so that it would be impossible for his sleeping family members to escape the house without encountering one of the fires.

It is one thing when a fire caused by an electrical short or a faulty chimney puts firefighters at risk. But it is quite another when an arsonist does so. Making than small ceremony back in September all the more meaningful.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LoJack for People

We were reminded recently about Project Lifesaver transmitter bracelets, a cooperative program between various law enforcement agencies and Project Lifesaver International, a nonprofit that makes available wristband radios transmitters for individuals with dementia or other disorders that may cause them to go missing.

Our initial reaction when we first learned about the Project Lifesaver bracelets, "Oh, like LoJack, but for people." LoJack, of course, is the tracking device for the recovery of stolen automobiles. Well, we were not the only ones to note this similarity. LoJack Corporation itself has lent support to Project Lifesaver.

Project Lifesaver works cooperatively with law enforcement and other agencies, and has won the endorsement of many, including the Sheriff’s Association of New Jersey. Project Lifesaver has worked with the New Jersey State Police to implement the tracking procedures, as well.

You can learn more about Project Lifesaver at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Featured Product - Bigger Than a Badge

The Badge Company of New Jersey is your source for more than just badges. We offer a full range of public safety products, including Garrett brand metal detectors. Some of the Garrett hand-held models are seen elsewhere on this site, but we also carry the walk-through model PD6500i, pictured here.

This is an immensely popular unit, in use quite literally worldwide, in airports, courthouses, schools, sports stadia and mass transit facilities. Contact our office to learn more about this product, or check out Garrett’s site at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Potty Mouth

Generally, people outside of law enforcement have no idea of the unusual hazards one may face while on the job... Such as:

New Brunswick -- A city man arrested for fighting was taken to police headquarters, where he took a mouthful of water from a toilet and spit at an officer, police said.

In this case, we think the criminal got the more unpleasant portion of this, but still...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In A.C. for N.J.L.M.

This Tuesday through Thursday, November 17-19, The Badge Company of New Jersey will once again be exhibiting at the New Jersey League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City – come see us!

We will be in booth #240 in the Atlantic City Convention Center, where we will have a display of our products, plus catalogs and brochures covering not only our products but also the products of our manufacturing partners. And we will have a bowl of candy for those of you who wish you could have once again been a trick-or-treater on Halloween.

At this event we showcase much more than police badges. In addition to our law enforcement products we offer a broad range of products applicable to municipal needs. From beach badges to ID holders to safety vests to emergency lighting and more, The Badge Company of New Jersey has a wide assortment of public safety products.

This is the 94th annual NJLM conference so it is not an untried concept! It is the place where some 19,000 representatives of local government, as well as county and state agencies, come together to participate in seminars, see the latest in public service products and services, and, to coin a phrase, network. Each year we meet old and new customers alike, but more satisfyingly, we meet old and new friends as well.

So come check us out in booth #240. Complete conference and exhibit information is available on the NJLM web site,

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Not everyone gets to see their car again after it is stolen. Very few get to see it 35 years later. Virtually no one gets to see it in fully-restored condition. But this past week Michele "Mikey" Carlson Squires got to see her Volkswagen bus for the first time since it was stolen in 1974 in her hometown of Spokane, Washington.

Fully restored and worth substantially more than the insurance settlement Ms Squires received all those years ago, the van was discovered by customs officers at the port of Los Angeles during a routine search of a container bound for Europe.

Before being exported, every vehicle must have a certified or original copy of the title among the documents authorizing it to leave the country. "Through a system check and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, we were able to determine this vehicle was stolen," said Todd Hoffman, director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach.

Agents opened the container and checked the vehicle's title against the vehicle identification number. They then contacted California Highway Patrol and the Spokane Police Department. A police report indicated that the vehicle was stolen between 6:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on July 12, 1974.

However, Ms Squires cannot simply claim her VW. A self-described "wannabe hippie" when the van was stolen but today a grandmother of five, she received the insurance settlement back then and so the van legally belongs to the insurance company.

Typically, stolen cars go to auction if they are recovered. In this case the insurance company reports that it is exploring other options because it is such a distinctive case.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not An Ordinary Police Car

The 2007 winner of Law and Order magazine’s International Police Vehicle Design contest in the small town category (for municipal police departments with fewer than 50 members) was this Dodge Charger from the Hummelstown Borough Police Department in Pennsylvania.

But this was not the only honor for this car. It later became the prototype for a Matchbox model. (If you do not know what a Matchbox car is, you were never a young boy.)

Recently, the full-size car was displayed at a Matchbox collectors’ convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In the photo below, a young Matchbox collector -- the son of The Badge Company of New Jersey's web designer -- stands in front of the real thing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just Plane Cops

In the photo are members of the Perth Amboy Police Department, pulling on a rope attached to a Boeing 737 at Newark Airport. For what possible reason are these officers trying to move a jetliner by hand? For the Special Olympics.

For their efforts the Perth Amboy Police Department won first place in the 13th annual Continental Airlines Plane Pull, held in September. They were the best of more than 40 teams from around the state in an event that this raised more than $87,000, according to a representative from Special Olympics New Jersey. Most of the funds were donated by community businesses supporting the teams.

While the sum raised is impressive, so is the feat. The aircraft weighed 93,000 pounds, and the Perth Amboy team moved it 12 feet – the proscribed distance – in 5.32 seconds. We sometimes have trouble moving ourselves 12 feet in 5.32 seconds.

The 20-man Perth Amboy team was not the only winning team. While they claimed honors for the fastest pull, the team from Marlboro Township won the "lowest weight" category, for the team with the lightest combined weight. The six-member Marlboro team, weighing less than 970 pound in total, nonetheless hauled the 46-ton place twelve feet.

See the complete results at

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


A significant 50th anniversary took place this past summer: The 50th anniversary of Statehood for Hawaii. But, unlike Alaska’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its Statehood some months earlier, in Hawaii there were no gala parties or grand commemorations. Instead, the anniversary passed with little more than a sober conference on Hawaii’s place in the modern world.

The reason for the low-key approach is that there exists lingering discomfort with the U.S. takeover of the islands in 1893 and with the commercial exploitation of Hawaiian culture that followed Statehood in 1959.

Still, there is no question that this is a milestone worthy of consideration. We have now been a union of 50 states for 50 years.

Statehood for both Alaska and Hawaii in an eight-month period in 1959 occurred while we were a child, just learning how the United States grew from 13 colonies. As a result, we got the false impression that adding states was something that was done regularly. Only as years passed with no more new states did we begin to gain the appropriate perspective.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fan of the Flying Fuzz

In November 2008 we blogged about the late Larry Michaels, the law enforcement professional whose avocation was building and racing single-seat race cars. We noted the respect and admiration that Michaels engendered both on the job and at the race track.

Recently, we received a note concerning Michaels and our blog entry:

I read the blog entry regarding Larry Michaels. It was a touching tribute to this wonderful gentleman. I am proud to say that I was the first to call him the "Flying Fuzz." It was my "bed sheet banners" that flew from the balcony at the old Atlantic City race track, and pictures of them made the racing programs on several occasions. Larry and his best friend Doug Craig left us way too early, they were two of the greatest men I ever had the pleasure to call my friends. Thank you for sharing this, it really means so much to know other people respected him like I did, and always will.

--Captain Stan Bandura, Parsippany, NJ, Police (Ret.)

Thank you, Captain Bandura, for remembering Larry Michaels as we do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Fall Classic

The baseball World Series, about to begin as we write, pits the American League New York Yankees against the National League Philadelphia Phillies, and New Jersey is abuzz.

Yankee fans populate the northern portion of the state, and Phillies fans populate the southern portion. During political season we have become accustomed to "red states" and "blue states," but as the accompanying map shows, New Jersey is blending into purple this week.

The map is from the Sporting News’ blog, where Dan Levy, writing on that blog, does a good job of explaining the geography and the loyalties. He does suffer from the unfortunate tendency for journalists to feel obligated to include a little Jersey-bashing ("New Jersey is an odd place to be"), but he does understand the fan base.

Here at The Badge Company, we are not fanatical about either team. As natives of northern New Jersey, we feel a connection to the Yankees. Having worked a promotional event with Mike Schmidt some years ago, we feel a connection to the Phillies. As residents of Hunterdon County, we are in that broad purple swath. We can’t lose.

Play ball! (weather permitting)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Local Pundit

In our hometown – not the town in which we live today but the town we think of as our hometown – there is a little weekly newspaper that reports on such matters as building code violations and school soccer scores.

There appears in this newspaper each week a column by a writer who likely aspires to the Op-Ed page of a major daily, but who will just as likely never rise beyond his current position. Generally we find his writings to be tedious. But recently a line in his column struck a nerve.

"The export of our industrial base is rapidly turning us into an upscale Third World country."

We think that this writer has never been more correct.

But it is a pessimistic line, and who wants to be a pessimist? We don’t, and it is one of the reasons that the overwhelming majority of the products offered by The Badge Company of New Jersey are US-made.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Fitting Final Honor

In today’s difficult economy, innovation is a key to success, and we have come upon an innovator who found inspiration in the midst of sorrow.

Nancie Hamilton, a firefighter’s widow from Essex County, New Jersey, was disappointed to find that there were no funeral urns available that were suitable for paying tribute to her late husband’s 32 years of service. After receiving her husband’s cremains in an ordinary box, and finding only the commonly-available generic urns, she decided to develop a product that would do justice to the men and women who, like her husband, served with dedication and tenacity.

The result is the Final Honor firefighter urns, which are touching in their concept and beautiful in their execution. Constructed of copper and brass, the urns resemble the classic fire extinguishers of the early 20th century. Each urn is 13.5 inches high and weighs a substantial 9.6 pounds. The urns are fitted with a blank faceplate that can be engraved with a suitable memorial, and there is a provision for the firefighter’s badge.

Nancie took her inspiration and made a business of it. In addition to the picture shown here, you can see more pictures and learn more about the product at And we at the Badge Company of New Jersey are pleased to be able to provide custom firefighter badges for display on Final Honor urns.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not That Rambo

This guy’s name is Rambo. But he is not John Rambo, the central figure in fictional action movies. No, he is Roy Rambo, the central figure in very real ongoing court proceedings.

Seven years ago, he shot his wife in the back during an argument. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

In recent years he has made repeated trips to civil court, seeking a share of proceeds from his late wife's estate.

We are not lawyers. We cannot profess to understand the intricacies of the court process. We cannot say that we know the details of this case. But on the surface – the guy kills his wife, then seeks a share of her estate – the particulars appear to indicate nothing nice about this guy.

So far, all his requests have been rebuffed. May it continue to be so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hot and Bothered

From our local newspaper:

Police had to use chemical spray to subdue a belligerent naked man standing in his hot tub at his home late Friday night.

Police said three officers went to the house in response to complaints from neighbors about the man’s yelling. When they arrived, the man’s wife told them her husband was intoxicated in the back yard, police said.

The man reportedly yelled at the officers to get off his property. When they told him his neighbors were complaining, he cursed at his neighbors, police said.

He refused police orders to get out of the hot tub and when they told him that he was under arrest, he ducked under the water in a portion of the tub that was partially covered, police said. When police removed the cover, the man emerged "in a fighting stance." Police said they used chemical spray to subdue him, then pulled him from the tub.

He reportedly remained verbally abusive and combative at headquarters.

Charming guy.

This is one blog entry for which we can all be grateful there is no accompanying photo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forget the Ink

Earlier this month, the Sarasota County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office became one of the first law enforcement agencies to put into the field a new hand-held device that can scan fingerprints on the spot and give an officer a quick report on the person.

Using forfeiture funds, the Sheriff's Office purchased 14 PrintSearch Mobile systems, which allow for quick, positive identification of individuals in local and state databases, and in the FBI Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC). Unlike most statewide fingerprint systems which must be done at the jail and can take hours to return results, this system provides positive identification in a matter of seconds while still in the field.

The device has been key to several Sarasota County arrests already, including that of a man who was a criminal alien deported from the United States three months earlier, but who had re-entered the country. The man’s prior history included aggravated assault with a firearm, the sheriff’s office said.

Predictably enough, advocates for privacy rights have raised questions, particularly regarding the collection of fingerprints not already in the databases. But according to the sheriff’s office, the devices are being used only for identification and only where there exists a question as to the true identity of an individual. None of the scanned fingerprints are being stored in local, state, or national databases, according to a spokesperson.

Someone who has a valid driver’s license "is never going to see this device on the road," Sheriff Tom Knight has said. Still, the ACLU has expressed concerns.

Knight’s office is using the PrintScan Mobile as well as a license plate scanning system as part of an effort to be more efficient with fewer officers. The agency, like so many nationwide, is operating with fewer deputies due to budget cuts. The implementation of the PrintScan Mobile is part of a process that the Sheriff anticipates will lead to the use of a book and release function for misdemeanors requiring only a Notice to Appear, eliminating the trip to jail altogether and keeping the deputy on the street.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Golden Years

From the police blotter in a Cumberland County town:

Robert J. Herrera, 33, of RiverWalk Senior Apartments, was arrested late Sunday on a failure to appear warrant and a failure to pay fines warrant. He was lodged in the county jail on $9,401 bail.

We don’t know Mr Herrera, we are not familiar with his case, and we do not have any basis to comment on his situation.

Except that he lives, apparently, in the RiverWalk Senior Apartments, and he is 33. An old 33, we guess.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In The Pen

The decrepit castle shown above is no castle at all – it is the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, opened in 1829 and used continuously for 142 years before being abandoned in 1971.

It was, at the time it opened on a then-lonely hilltop, one of the most expensive buildings built to that point in the United States, and it quickly became one of the most-copied. It is estimated that more than 300 prisons worldwide are based on the Eastern State Penitentiary's wagon-wheel, or radial, floor plan. Its design incorporated a new philosophy of prisoner isolation.

Through the years, some of America's most notorious criminals were held in the Penitentiary's vaulted, sky-lit cells, including bank robber Willie Sutton and mobster Al Capone. Today the building consists of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.

But it also stands as a popular tourist destination. Yes, you can "go to prison" at the Eastern State Penitentiary, and the organization that operates the facility today schedules art exhibits, haunted Halloween tours, and other activities throughout the year in the unrestored building.

As distinctive a tourist destination as this may be, it is even more distinctive as a setting for wedding photos. Most wedding photos are staged in bucolic and appealing places. But photographer Kella MacPhee has made pictures of couples on their wedding days in a vast array of unique settings, including the Eastern State Penitentiary. Check out this photo, part of a wedding portfolio shot in the pen.
We are not sure what a prison setting says about marriage, but MacPhee’s images are distinctive and compelling. You can see more of her work at

You can learn more about the Eastern State Penitentiary at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Bull

Here is another shot of the recent episode in Paterson where an ambitious bull escaped from a truck moments before being ushered into the slaughterhouse (see our blog entry from a few days ago).

The bull was successful in the tug-of-war with police officers and employees from the slaughterhouse, until being brought down by a tranquilizer.

Just another ho-hum day in the urban environment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Return of the Caprice

At the IACP conference in Denver today, General Motors unveiled plans for a new patrol car that will be exclusive to the police, not sold to the public. It will be the Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle, and it will be based on GM’s global rear-drive architecture called "Zeta." The Zeta platform also underpins the Camaro, the Australian Holden Statesman and the soon-to-be-extinct Pontiac G8.

But a Chevy spokesman said that the new Caprice is not a restyled G8. The new police car is, according to the manufacturer, most similar to a Chevy Caprice that is sold in the Middle East. It will be built on the long-wheelbase (118.5 inches) version of the Zeta platform, and significantly we think, there are no plans at this time to sell a version of the Caprice to the public.

For police duty the car gets a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 355 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A V6 version will arrive for the 2012 model year. GM says the new cruiser will take aim at competitors from Ford and Dodge. The Ford Crown Victoria is an elderly design that nonetheless remains the overwhelming Police favorite today, while the Dodge Magnum has made inroads into the market in recent years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Re-Enacting The Trial of the Century

Decades before the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the "Trial of the Century" was the nickname given to the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnapping and killing of the baby of aviator Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh in March, 1932. The child was snatched from the Lindbergh home in Hopewell, New Jersey, five years after the pilot’s record-setting first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

The subsequent trial took place in the Hunterdon County Courthouse on Main Street in Flemington, New Jersey, and it was the first modern "media circus" trial. Movie newsreels and photographs show hundreds of reporters gathered at the Union Hotel across the street awaiting the latest trial news, which was then relayed to radio stations and newspapers around the world.

The trial ended with a conviction for Hauptmann, who was then executed in Trenton in April, 1936. Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence until the end. Controversy and conspiracy theories concerning the incident continue today. Hauptmann's wife tried unsuccessfully to have the verdict overturned until her death in 2001 at the age of 94.

Beginning in 1990, a theater group has been re-enacting the Lindbergh trial for several weeks each year, and their staging has a unique twist: It takes place in the now fully-restored courtroom in which the actual trial was conducted. Theater-goers do not sit in an auditorium, but in the gallery seats of the courtroom. For a premium price, audience members are seated in the actual jury seats during the production.

After the play, which ends with the historically accurate guilty verdict, the modern "jurors" are questioned as to what verdict they would have delivered based on the evidence shown.

Before the show, kids dressed in period costumes are out in front of the courthouse selling newspapers – "Extra, Extra, read all about it!" – to create an atmosphere like 1935. This year the production begins this weekend, October 3-4, and continues through October 25. Details are available at .

The production, which requires a cast of 15 actors and a technical crew of about eight, was named one of New Jersey's Top 100 Things To Do by the state's Division of Travel and Tourism. In particular we can recommend it as a great cross-generational family outing, particularly if your family has elders who were alive at the time of the original trial.

Monday, September 28, 2009

That’s Bull! (Really!)

If you are a police officer in the city of Paterson, you are prepared to encounter any number of difficult and potentially dangerous situations. But you are probably not completely prepared to encounter a bull on the loose.

But a bull on the loose was exactly what Paterson officers had on their hands Monday morning, when a 1,400-pound bull ran along East 7th Street.

The bull was being unloaded from a truck into ENA Meat Packing Inc. on East Fifth Street when he broke loose just before 8:30 AM, according to a report by The Record of Bergen County.

The driver of a cattle truck opened a side door to the truck to push the bull out the back of the vehicle, but the beast instead pushed back and was able to run out the door. He trotted from the slaughterhouse toward River Street with a crowd of meat packing workers chasing behind him.

Freedom has a universal appeal.

Slaughterhouse workers and police then tried to corral the beast cowboy-style, using a rope to lasso the bull, but the animal dragged more than five officers and workers behind him like an extra-large dog on a walk.

Now there’s an image!

Finally, police were able to wrap the rope around a light post and the city’s animal control officer was able to inject the bull with a sedative, which took about three or four minutes to kick in and knock out the animal.

"Police did a fantastic job corralling him," the animal control officer said.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hang Up, Sit Down, and Watch.

At the moment, Utah has the toughest law in the nation on texting while driving. If you are just caught texting while driving, it can be up to three months in jail and a $750 fine. If you cause injury to someone, the fine and the jail time go up. "And," says Brent Wilhite, program director for Zero Fatalities, the state's public campaign against distracted driving, "if you kill someone, it's up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine."

Why so harsh? Take 15 minutes of your life and sit down and watch the following video.

If you don’t think that you have 15 minutes to spare, then watch this 5-minute video.

It's not easy. Sit down and watch anyway.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Car vs Bicycle

For adults, bicycling has always been a popular, if somewhat fringe, form of exercise and transportation. But bicyclists and motorists have long had a somewhat rocky relationship on the roads they must share.

Last year we blogged about how, if a car and a pedestrian collide, the pedestrian always loses. The same is true of a bicyclist struck by a car. So, while bicyclists must be extra-vigilant to ensure that they are not struck by a car, motorists are obligated to exercise care, too.

Bicycles are generally subject to the same traffic regulations as cars. Similarly, motorists are generally expected to treat bicycles like any other vehicle on the road. The law requires bicyclists to not run red lights, for example, and the law requires motorists entering a roadway from a driveway to yield to vehicles already on the road, including bicycles.

It is perhaps best expressed in this way: There is only one road and it is up to motorists and bicyclists to share it, to treat each other with care and respect. Given the potentially grave consequences of a collision between a bicycle and a car, care and respect is in everyone’s best interests.

Monday, September 21, 2009

High Water

Ten years ago this month, in September, 1999, this photo was taken by an Associated Press photographer in downtown Bound Brook, New Jersey.

The unprecedented flooding was the result of Hurricane Floyd, the remnants of which pounded the state and caused massive property damage and significant loss of life.

Things are dry today in Bound Brook, but among of the legacies of the storm are the extensive flood control efforts that are either in place, under construction, or on the drawing board in Bound Brook and surrounding towns.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's Cartoon

By Jimmy Margulies,
as published in The Record of Bergen County.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Behind Every Great Man...

From the Police Blotter:

A man and his girlfriend went shopping at a discount store. Once they walked in the store, the girlfriend went to the restroom and the man began shopping. He picked up cat food, kitty litter, beer and soda, and walked toward the exit without paying.

An employee asked him for his receipt, so he briefly held up a piece of paper and hustled out the door. His girlfriend was outside by this time, and he hurried her to the car. She got in the driver’s seat, but before she could back out, the employee appeared again and asked for a receipt.

The man told his girlfriend to drive, but she asked him if he actually had a receipt and got out of the car. He jumped in the driver’s seat and backed out of the parking spot, bumping the store employee. He drove off, leaving his girlfriend.

She told police where to find him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

That Famous Firefighter Photo

Everyone around the world has seen this photo from September 11, 2001. Many have tried to take credit for it, copy it, or use it for commercial gain. But as another anniversary of the day approaches we want to share the facts behind this iconic photograph.

The photographer who made the photo is New Jersey newspaper photographer Thomas E. Franklin, and the three firefighters in the photo are William Eisengrein, George Johnson and Daniel McWilliams.

The photo was taken late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001, around 4 or 5 p.m. A trio of firefighters at the World Trade Center site caught Franklin’s eye. "I would I say was 150 yards away when I saw the firefighters raising the flag. They were standing on a structure about 20 feet above the ground. This was a long-lens picture; there was about 100 yards between the foreground and background, and the long lens would capture the enormity of the rubble behind them," Franklin said.

"As soon as I shot it, I realized the similarity to the famous image of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima," Franklin recalled. In 1945, when the US was in World War II, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped a picture of six Marines raising Old Glory on Mount Suribachi on the Pacific island. That photo became an icon and the basis for a Marine Corps memorial sculpture in Washington, D.C. The Battle of Iwo Jima also is recognized as the beginning of the end of the campaign against the Japanese in the Pacific.

The three firemen decided to raise the flag on the spur of the moment. They had been digging in the rubble and searching for survivors when they were told to evacuate. During the evacuation, McWilliams saw the flag on the stern of a yacht inside a boat slip at the World Financial Center. He took the flag and its pole from the yacht and carried it to the evacuation area.

McWilliams asked Johnson to give him a hand. Eisengrein saw them and joined in. The firefighters found a flagpole within rubble, and used an used a improvised ramp to climb to the pole to raise the flag. As they performed their act, Franklin aimed his lens in their direction.

Franklin's photograph appeared in the September 12th edition of The Record of New Jersey, his employer. Reaction was swift and emotional. The flag-raising firemen were hit with numerous calls from friends and family. Their first reaction was surprise, because they didn't know Franklin took their picture.

The Record itself received 30,000 requests to reprint the photograph, which the paper initially granted if they were not for profit. Among the requests from commercial concerns were to reprint it on shirts and other objects.

The newspaper stopped the gratis distribution and instead asked for donations to its disaster fund, which eventually swelled to $400,000. The money was distributed to charities selected by McWilliams, Johnson and Eisengrein. The photo eventually was made into an authorized poster sold through the paper's Web site and private companies.

Slight variations and outright replicas began to appear across the US in the Fall of 2001. Firefighters with flags began to appear in paintings and drawings, and on pins, buttons, T-shirts, hats and Christmas ornaments. Taverns, hair salons and offices hung the picture. Phoenix, Arizona, firefighters reenacted the scene before the start of the first game of the World Series featuring the Diamondbacks and New York Yankees. Through Associated Press distribution, the Franklin photo was used by many magazines and papers.

At the end of 2001, the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and Editor & Publisher magazine named it the best picture of the year. The photo was on the short list of photographs considered for the Pulitzer Prize.

The use of the firefighter photo for profit became so rampant that by December 2001, the firemen and The Record hired a New York law firm to protect the paper's copyright and block unauthorized uses for commercial purposes.

One revenue generating venture that was approved was the "Heroes 2001" stamp issued in 2002 by the US Postal Service with the Franklin image. President George W. Bush unveiled the stamp in the Oval Office with Franklin, Johnson, Eisengrein and McWilliams in attendance.

Franklin remains modest about the picture, saying that it was only by chance that he witnessed the scene. The only reason the photo was printed in The Record was because Franklin got a police boat ride to Liberty State Park, hitchhiked to his car in Jersey City, and used the facilities at a hotel to transmit it after he could not get around a roadblock.

"In the back of our minds, all photographers believe we're going to get 'the big one.' I've shot hurricanes (and) earthquakes. But I've never seen anything like this," Franklin said. "There were times during the day that I cried. Nothing had ever touched me as emotionally as this. But I had a job to do. Once I made deadline, all I wanted to do was see my wife and my son."

In all, 343 firefighters died in the Trade Center disaster, along with 23 New York City and 37 Port Authority police officers and six medical rescue workers. The Thomas Franklin photo stands as a fitting reminder of their dedication and sacrifice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Mail Carrier Had Better be Careful

A police blotter report from the Bridgton News in Bridgton, Maine:

An officer received a report at 10:35 AM of a woman unable to gain entry to her home on Smith Street due to a problem with the lock. The officer was able to unlock the door. However, upon entry, the woman's dog bit the police officer's leg. The officer was transported to Bridgton Hospital for treatment.

With a hard-to-open lock and a cop-biting dog, we think that woman’s house has sufficient security for rural Maine.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sidewalk Rage?

Labor Day weekend is about to kick off, and AAA is predicting high traffic volume in New Jersey – the third-highest in the last ten years, they say. All we can recommend is, stay cool.

What is it about getting behind the wheel of an automobile that turns so many people into arrogant fools? "Road Rage" is a common term today, and it describes behavior that is unique to driving.

Consider: You are walking through the shopping mall, and – whoops – you and anther person bump into each other. What do you do? Both of you probably mumble "Excuse me" apologetically, and move on. The entire incident lasts one second and one second later you have forgotten it.

On the highway, when you don’t even bump but only have a close encounter, one or both of you honks the horn, yells out nasty adjectives, and makes hand gestures. Sometimes the exchange of sounds and gestures goes on, and sometimes it escalates further. In the worst cases it ends with roadside violence.

Humorist George Carlin famously spoke about how drivers tend to refer to someone who drives slower than themselves as an idiot, and someone who drives faster than themselves as a maniac. Yet if you encounter someone on the sidewalk who is walking either slower or faster than you, you don’t give it a second thought.

Admittedly, there are times when you bump into someone on the sidewalk and they react in an enraged fashion, telling you off. But even so, it rarely escalates the way that highway encounters often do. And persons who erupt on the sidewalk are generally those with other issues, whereas road rage, to a significant extent, seems to afflict everyone.

When driving, would it kill us to deal with other drivers as we might deal with other pedestrians? New Jersey roads are crowded roads, but most of us get along in crowds just fine when we’re on our feet instead of our wheels. It can’t be hard when on the road to share the space, to think "excuse me" instead of "moron!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Georgetown, Delaware, is not anybody’s idea of a city. It is a town, with a population of about 5,000, in the southern portion of the state. With that population it is the largest town in its immediate area.

On Tuesday of this week, Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer was shot and killed while on duty.

A tragic reminder that it can happen anywhere.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Little Minds

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, philosopher and poet of the 19th century, has among the quotes attributed to him this one:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

We hope that we do not have little minds, but we admit that we strive for consistency when processing your badge orders. We do not think that this is a foolish consistency. We want the badges that you order today to be consistent with those you have ordered previously, so we obsess about the details.

This is why in some cases we will tend to ask a lot of questions, to verify the details of your badge, to ensure that your expectations are met. If you specify a change in badge design or detail from what has gone before, we want to make certain that it is intentional.

Emerson’s complete quote is A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. We do not know whether the little statesmen and philosophers and divines adore our badges, but we hope that our customers appreciate the effort we put into making their badges in a consistent fashion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

W. P. Might Be Sufficient

Do you know where Woodland Park is? A lot of people do not, but this is mostly because the borough of Woodland Park, New Jersey, has existed only since January of this year. That’s when the former West Paterson was officially renamed.

The name change came about as a result of a borough-wide vote last November. But the vote was close – 2,136 to 2,111 – a margin sufficiently small that opponents of the name change have been successful in placing the question on this November’s ballot, again. Woodland Park might become West Paterson once more.

The town has already spent money to change signs and the lettering on police cars and municipal vehicles. If the name reverts, those signs and vehicles will have to be re-done. We suggest that they be re-done simply as W.P. so as to survive future changes of heart.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

There are Three

The man in the photo is not Jon Corzine nor Chris Christie, yet he is a candidate for governor of New Jersey this November.

Incumbent Corzine (D) and challenger Christie (R) are, predictably enough, getting all the attention. But this man is in the race, too.

He is Chris Daggett, an independent candidate who has gained just enough traction to have qualified for entry into the debates and to have received at least one major endorsement (the Sierra Club) and a number of minor ones.

Like all third-party or independent candidates, his chances of winning are negligible. So, while the Corzine-Christie campaign has become a mud-fest, the only real criticism of Daggett so far has been that his chances of winning are negligible.

Most of the attention given Daggett is speculative, about whether his role as a "spoiler" will have a larger effect on Corzine or Christie. Corzine is not a particularly popular incumbent, and Christie is not a particularly galvanizing alternative.

Daggett may in fact be a credible candidate, but even if he is able to further raise his profile in the coming weeks, he is likely to remain a doomed candidate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Two Ordinary Guys

Meet Ed Beedenbender, left, and Rich McInerney, who work at RCM Automotive Service Inc., in Ronkonkoma, New York. These two men used fire extinguishers from their shop to prevent flames from engulfing a victim in a burning vehicle earlier this year. The driver had lost control of the vehicle, which hit a tree and burst into flames.

The victim was airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, but it seems likely that the selfless action of these two ordinary guys saved a life.

Two ordinary guys? Maybe. But we think of people like Ed and Rich whenever someone cavalierly uses the word "hero" to describe a sports star.

(Photo by James Carbone / Newsday)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh, Brother

Yup, it has happened again. Two brothers and a gun.

Only a few weeks ago, we blogged about a pair of brothers who, during an argument, shot and wounded each other. Not long thereafter, we blogged about another pair of brothers who, again during an argument, got a gun involved. Now this:

Two brothers were shot by the same bullet that discharged from a pistol one of the brothers was cleaning, according to a Manatee (Florida) Sheriff’s Office report.

This story, published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, continued to report that while the 17-year-old brother removed the magazine from the 9mm weapon, he did not clear the chamber. As he tried to remove the gun’s slide, he pressed the trigger. The bullet went through his leg and struck the leg of his 20-year-old brother.

At least in this episode, there was probably no argument until after the gunfire.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Edison and Edison

Edison Township in New Jersey is named for its most famous former resident, Thomas A. Edison, the prolific inventor credited with, among other things, incandescent light and recorded sound. These are but two. During his lifetime, Edison patented more than 1,000 inventions!

Thomas Edison was born in Ohio, grew up Michigan, and during his most inventive years he conducted his work at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Menlo Park today sits within the Township of Edison. Edison Township is one of The Badge Company of New Jersey's customers for police badges.

A common misconception is that Edison’s lab at Menlo Park was his own small shop. Not at all. The laboratory at Menlo Park was an "invention factory" and was run as a business, with a good-sized staff.

Still another source of confusion is the fact that Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory is no longer located in New Jersey. In the 1920s, automobile pioneer Henry Ford reconstructed the buildings at his museum in Dearborn, Michigan. But there is a museum and commemorative tower at the original Menlo Park site. Check it out at

You can learn a great deal more about Thomas Edison at the Henry Ford Museum’s site,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Endless Supply

We have always enjoyed "stupid criminal" stories. Since joining The Badge Company of New Jersey in 2007 we have come to appreciate that there is an endless supply of them. Our local newspaper, newspaper clippings sent to us by friends and associates, web postings and more. Here are just three:

> A woman who ran a small store called the police to tell them that she had been robbed at the bank night depository. She did not know that the bank had cameras trained on the night deposit box, and they got great pictures of her car stopping, her getting out and waiting, her brother's car pulling up, her handing the bag to him, then both of them driving off in their separate cars.

> Police arrested a man who was trying to cash a check made out for $360 billion. He claimed that his girlfriend’s mother gave him the money.

> A man checked into a motel in the afternoon, then later that night robbed the same motel. The police found him in his motel room counting the cash. He didn't wear a mask, he just didn't think that the clerk would remember him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Like a Complete Unknown

By now you’ve heard the story, which broke on Friday:

New Jersey Homeowner Calls Cops on Bob Dylan

Dylan was detained by a police officer in Long Branch last month when, while taking an anonymous stroll, he reportedly wandered into the yard of a house with a "for Sale sign" on it. The occupants of the home became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard.

What made it news was the fact that the 24-year-old officer Kristie Buble, who responded to the call, did not recognize him. But we would like to come to the young officer’s defense: We probably would not have recognized him, either, and we are a lot older than she.

Further, at least she did know who Bob Dylan was, something we are not so sure we could have said had we, at age 24, encountered an aging singer who topped the charts four decades earlier.

But it is a reminder that what is relevant to each generation is not necessary even on the radar of other generations. Give officer Buble credit: She followed procedure, she treated Mr Dylan respectfully, and there was, to use the cliche, no harm no foul.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do You Know This Face?

The accompanying photo taken by Michael Karas of The Record of Bergen County shows Fair Lawn Police detective Michael Uttel holding a clay cast of a face, reconstructed by a State Police anthropologist to aid in identifying a badly-decomposed body.

A report in the newspaper said that the body had no remaining fingerprints and no remaining facial features when it was recovered three years ago. But scientist Donna Fontana, a specialist in extracting evidence from the most ravaged of human remains, built upon the man's skull and a full set of dentures that were still in his head to cast this detailed model. Every feature was carefully recast, the curve of the nose, the jut of the brow, the lines around the eyes.

Detective Uttel said that the bones were all they had, according to the newspaper. No other evidence, no witnesses. That set of dentures had no serial number, indicating that they were either manufactured before American dentures were printed with numbers or made in another country. The only clothing on the body when it was discovered was one black sock and one shoe that was several sizes too large for the victim’s foot.

The clay cast is a new tool that the police hope will help solve this mystery of who that man was, and how he died. If a relative steps forward, DNA samples can be compared.

On the popular crime-solving television series of today, computer models provide key information in a matter of minutes. In the real world, it does not work that quickly. But the modern marvels of investigative tools are out there, and this facial reconstruction is among them.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This weekend, we are seeing much to-do about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, but we are reminded of a very different 40th anniversary by the news that Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from prison today.

Fromme has been in jail since 1975 for an assassination attempt on then-president Gerald Ford, but we associate her far more with the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders. These slaughters began on August 9, 1969, with the killings of actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate’s home in the Hollywood hills, and continued the next night with the cold-blooded murders of Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary.

The seven victims were chosen at random by the followers of Charles Manson – and Squeaky Fromme was one of those followers. She was not one of the followers convicted of the murders but she was a vocal defender of Manson and has restated her support numerous times over the years. She even escaped from prison in 1987, reportedly to be closer to Manson.

Fromme’s parole appears to have come about simply because, under the laws applicable to her case, parole is mandatory. But we have yet to see any reports concerning where she will go or what post-incarceration supervision she will have – and we have seen nothing to give us any assurance that she does not still pose a threat to others.

Why do we care? Because only months before Fromme’s incident with President Ford, we had read Ed Sanders’ book, The Family, about Manson, and then Vincent Bugliosi’s book, Helter Skelter, about the murders. Both books stick with us to this day. Every photo we have ever seen of Fromme shows the vacant look in here eyes that both books chronicled. She’s creepy. And she’s out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cash for (Badge) Clunkers

Your old car is not the only thing that has a trade-in value. Long before the government’s current "Cash for Clunkers" program, The Badge Company of New Jersey offered a trade-in program for old badges. We still do.

Yes, your old, scratched and beat-up badge can be traded in for a brand-new badge. That's right, you don't have to keep carrying a worn-out badge, you can trade it in for a new one.

Here's how it works: We'll give you 20% off the catalog price of your new badge when you trade in your old badge. The only "catch" is that the new badge must be the same style and type as the old one, with the same engraving, seal, and attachment.

Whether it is one badge or an entire department’s, the trade-in program applies.

Our badges carry a lifetime warranty but ordinary wear and tear is not covered by the warranty. Many badges sent to us for repair aren't broken, they're damaged and worn out. So in order to make it easier to replace a badge that has served its purpose, we offer this trade-in program.

What if you have a badge that didn't come from The Badge Company of New Jersey originally? We'll still accept it in trade toward a new badge of the same fundamental style and type.

Remember, it's 20% off the catalog price of your new badge when you trade in your old one. For an exact quote, contact our office.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Old Weapon

Delaware State Police are, as of this morning, investigating four attacks in which bicyclists or joggers have been wounded by blow-darts in Wilmington this week.

Blow darts!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the victims were hit by identical 4-inch-long darts like the one in the above photo, according to Delaware State Police Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh.

The series of attacks began Monday evening when a woman riding her bicycle was hit in the lower part of her back with a blow dart, and continued with two other bicyclists and a jogger being struck through Tuesday afternoon.

One of the victims suffered an injury to his hand sufficient to will require surgery.

There is nothing funny about this, yet it crossed our minds that when the dart shooter is caught, authorities should stick it to him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We're Number Two!

Humorist Jean Shepherd once wrote that all drivers, no matter where they live, think that the worst drivers are those from the neighboring state. Well, in New Jersey, it turns out that this assumption is correct. Unfortunately, while the worst drivers come from across the border, the second-worst are home-grown.

According to this year's GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, the worst drivers were those from New York State. New Jersey was a close second. Michigan and Indiana drivers emerged as best in the survey. New York City drivers, however, are described as "being under special circumstances."

More alarming may be the statistic that more than 20% of licensed Americans would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. That means that there are roughly 41 million drivers who generally don’t know what they’re doing. You will find some of them in every state.

Think that you are not among them? Well, try taking the test yourself. It can be found at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brotherly Love, Again

Recently we blogged about two brothers who shot each other during an argument. Apparently, drawing a gun on one’s brother is more common that we thought. Today the Associated Press distributed the following story:

Shotgun Drawn after Fight over Sandwich

Bridgewater -- Police in New Jersey said a shotgun was brandished after two brothers argued about a sandwich for their mother.

Police said the argument began in the kitchen of Anthony Pilla's Bridgewater house, where the mother lives. It escalated when Pilla's brother threw his cap and glasses at the 49-year-old.

According to an affidavit, Pilla went to the basement and returned with a loaded shotgun. Police said the brothers wrestled, Pilla dropped the shotgun and their mother took it out of the house.

Pilla is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Monopoly Card Won’t Work

Here in Hunterdon County, home county of The Badge Company of New Jersey, inmates in the County Jail will soon be paying the county $50 for booking them.

The plan is for the county to collect the fee upon the inmate's release, whether that comes because they've posted bail or completed their sentence. This according to George Wagner, county director of Public Safety, who proposed the idea. Many of New Jersey's jails collect such a fee, he told the county freeholders this week. The $50 charge, he said, "would bring us in parity with some of our sister counties."

The booking fee is just one of several measures the county freeholders adopted this week to help the county in these tight fiscal times. They also voted to increase healthcare co-pays for jail inmates to $10 per doctor visit and $10 for prescription medications, and at the same time they voted to increase their own health benefits co-pay from 1% to 2.5% of their salaries.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Historic Business Closes

After 125 years – 125 years! – Tattersall Building Supplies in Trenton is closing its retail operation. Next Friday, August 14, will be the last day that the store is open. It saddens us to see such an historic enterprise go away.

In truth, it is just the retail business that is going away. The owners are still going to conduct online tool sales (see ) and they are going to continue to operate two additional business enterprises, Firehawk Industries, which makes industrial cleaning equipment, and Brutus Rollers LLC, which makes power rollers for tennis court construction and maintenance.

These latter two products are ones with which we have considerable familiarity, because when we began working part-time in our college years we worked in the plant that manufactured them. Firehawk was called Northeast Industries originally, and its roots go back “only” to 1958. Brutus Rollers began at Midland Products in 1954 before moving to Northeast Industries.

While we can take some solace in the fact that these two manufacturing enterprises, each more than 50 years old, are continuing, it is nonetheless disappointing to see the one that was founded in 1884 close its doors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who Is That Handsome Guy?

Bob Marlow, left, General Manager of The Badge Company of New Jersey, discusses badge details with a customer at the recent Police Security Expo in Atlantic City.

The Police Security Expo is one of several trade shows at which we exhibit each year. When you see our distinctive booth backdrop with our badge logo, stop by and say hello to Bob, Sue, or Rebbecca. Of course, while you're there we invite you to take a look at our badges, leather goods, and other public safety products.

Can't make it to one of the shows? We will be happy to mail a catalog to you, just send a note to or give us a call.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Jersey In The Spotlight

New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states that hold their gubernatorial elections in the year following a presidential election, with the result that these elections tend to get more than the usual share of national attention and are often seen as referenda on the party of the sitting president. So sure enough, this year there is considerable national attention on the New Jersey contest between Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie, and considerable commentary on how this election may reflect on President Obama.

This time around the principal issue confronting the candidates is the financial condition of the state, and financial considerations are coloring the debate on all issues, from school funding to stem-cell research to gay marriage to property tax relief.

But while New Jersey’s off-year election tends to turn the spotlight on the state, New Jersey is by no means alone in the choppy financial waters. California, of course, has been in the news because its financial crisis reached the point that the state began issuing IOUs for state debts. New York has been in the news because its own financial woes have been exacerbated by a paralyzing struggle in the legislature for party control. All states and cities nationwide are battling the financial demons.

Sadly, the campaign advertising we have seen so far – from both sides – has been less about the economy or other issues and more about whether the other guy is trustworthy. It looks like this campaign will be just another exercise in mutual character assassination. Is this really what we want to do while the spotlight is on us?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Gunfire Funny?

No. But we can’t help but laugh at this story published by the Star-Ledger:

Police Arrest Two Newark Brothers Who Shot Each Other

NEWARK -- Police arrested two brothers who wounded each other Monday in the city's North Ward.

Alfatir Dowell, 18, and his brother Andre Dowell, 24, were in custody, Detective Todd McClendon said today. Alfatir Dowell was wounded in the hand and torso, while Andre Dowell was wounded in the arm, he said.

The brothers exchanged gunfire about 7 p.m. at 58 Cedar Lane after a dispute about money inside their Franklin Avenue residence, McClendon said. They were treated and released from Clara Maas Hospital.

It's not funny, especially coming on the heels of a spate of shootings in Newark and in Jersey City, shootings which resulted in the deaths of several civilians and the death of Jersey City Police Officer Marc DiNardo.

But still: Two brothers. In their home. Exchanging gunfire. We have to laugh, because otherwise the whole situation is too sad to consider.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Forty-Year Perspective

Today, July 20, marks the 40th anniversary of the landing of the first manned spacecraft on the moon. We remember it well. We were traveling on the Garden State Parkway, riding shotgun with our father, and listening to the radio broadcast of the event. To this day we can point out the location along the Parkway where we heard the words, "Tranquility base here, the Eagle has landed."

The moon landing, and the "one small step" the following day, were two of the momentous events of a momentous year, 1969. Consider: The Vietnam war and the anti-war protests. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s "bed-in." Segregation in private clubs was struck down by the Supreme Court. "Midnight Cowboy" was in theatres. Woodstock. "Broadway Joe" Namath operated a nightclub called Bachelors III. Mickey Mantle’s number was retired. Charles DeGaulle stepped down as president of France. The Mets won the World Series. Judy Garland died at age 47. 20-year-old Charles, son of Elizabeth, became Prince of Wales. Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones died. Senator Ten Kennedy drove off that bridge. Charles Manson’s followers went on their murderous rampage. The "Chicago 7" trial began. The Boeing 747 first took flight. The last public performance of the Beatles took place.

And the hottest cop on TV was Steve McGarrett, of Hawaii Five-O. Book ‘em, Danno.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Time to Order Crossing Guard Badges is NOW

If your community needs school crossing guard badges for this Fall, the time to order them is NOW. Because delivery of custom badges is typically about four weeks, once we reach the end of July it will not be possible to meet school opening dates. Don’t delay!

In New Jersey, the law requires that school crossing guards wear custom badges that are numbered and bear the name of the municipality and the words "Crossing Guard." In other states where custom badges are not required, we can provide a choice of low-cost generic badges, but even our custom badges are competitively priced for these tough times.

In addition to offering badges, we have available other items used by crossing guards, including whistles, reflective safety vests, gloves, and paddle signs. Order now so that your town is ready for back-to-school.