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.