Friday, December 27, 2013


The national news outlets picked up this story from our local newspaper.

Late on a December Monday night, less than ten miles from our office, a woman was charged with DUI, and she called a friend to come pick her up at the police station.

Upon arrival, the friend was charged with DUI because she too was half in the bag.

So another friend was called. Yup, he earned a DUI of his own once he arrived.

Finally, a sober adult was located to drive the trio of tipplers home.

Based on this statistical sample, three out of four drivers are drunk!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Charged with Theft

It had to happen.  The owner of a modern electric car has been charged with theft for plugging in his car at a school while there for a tennis match.  He plugged in to an accessible outlet, but not one that was authorized for electric car recharging.

What has made this particular case news, however, is not that the owner was charged with theft nor that he had to pay a fine.  Rather, it is the fact that the value of the electricity taken has been estimated to be four to five cents, and that the car owner was arrested and held for more than 12 hours.

Police in the community where this happened are taking some heat, being accused of overreach. So too is the school district for positioning itself as a crime victim.  And the car owner himself has been portrayed as being difficult and argumentative.  But while arrest and confinement may seem excessive for taking a nickel’s worth of anything, this is new territory.  Prior thefts of electricity have generally been far more egregious – bypassing meters, running unauthorized cables, that sort of thing.  Unauthorized charging of an electric car may be small potatoes by comparison, but, as the arresting officer commented, “Theft is theft.”

Although this case may break some new ground, it reminds us of a comparable case some years ago, in which a driver was taking gasoline from gas stations after hours simply by draining what little was left in the pump hoses.  We no longer remember the outcome, but at the time, theft was theft.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Woman of the Year

In many municipalities it is the town clerk who orders the badges, and among those with whom we have dealt in this capacity is Ceil Covino, the clerk for the town of Clinton.  The Clinton town offices are less than two miles from our own and so we have not only conducted business with her but we have done so in person.

It was no surprise to us when she was named New Jersey's Outstanding Municipal Clerk of the Year by the state Municipal Clerks Association.  She is very deserving of this award.

Perhaps you are not impressed.  She is not the CEO of a multinational corporation nor has she developed the latest internet sensation.  But being a municipal clerk means being able to juggle a vast array of business matters while dealing with the residents, the governing body, and the public safety agencies.  Ceil Covino does all this efficiently, effectively, and with a sunny attitude.

There are more than 500 municipalities in New Jersey, so being recognized by your municipal peers is no small honor.

Photo courtesy of the Hunterdon County Democrat

Monday, November 11, 2013

Counseling for Law Enforcement

In the news today is a report concerning an officer in Ohio who, it appears, committed suicide.

This on the same day that we had been discussing commemorative badges with an agency seeking to remember an officer who also had committed suicide.

In recent years there have been a number of news items on the high rate of suicide in the law enforcement community, particularly among corrections officers.  It has been reported that law enforcement officers are four times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in the line of duty.

Four times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in the line of duty.  That’s a chilling statistic.

To help reduce the suicide rate, corrections departments are today focusing on mental health issues, beginning at the recruitment stage, and corrections officers are being offered more counseling options today than were available in prior years.

Counseling has also become available through the police departments and through the unions.  It is no small matter; suicide among law enforcement officers far too often either leaves behind young spouses and children, or, in the most tragic of cases, causes young family members perish also.

Cop2Cop is among the programs created to address these concerns.  A 24-hour hotline for officers and their families, New Jersey’s Cop2Cop program was established in 2000 and was the first of its kind in the nation.  The Cop2Cop hotline is answered by retired law enforcement volunteers and clinicians with a deep understanding of officers' concerns, problems and family issues, and who are trained in critical stress management.

The Cop2Cop hotline  is available exclusively for law enforcement officers and their families to help deal with any immediate need.  It can be a crisis. It can be just a simple question. It doesn’t matter.

Cop2Cop was developed in response to a rash of police suicides in the late 1990s.  Despite the program’s successes, suicide rates remain unacceptably high.  Support, counseling and referral programs such as Cop2Cop are as important as they have ever been.

The number for Cop2Cop is 1-866-COP-2COP (1-866-267-2267).

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Five-Finger Two-Fer

In the news today we learn that here in New Jersey a guy arrested for shoplifting from one store on Saturday was caught with trying to shoplift from another store in the same town later that same day.

An hour after being charged and released on the first caper he was taken into custody for the second.

The second charge will carry just a bit more weight thanks to this crook’s brilliance.  Because he assaulted store security while attempting to flee, he has been charged with robbery.

But, since he has posted bail and been released again, he could go for the hat trick...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Number, Please *

In our line of work we place telephone calls to police agencies frequently.  In virtually every one of these calls, an automated system answers.  These systems typically ask us to enter an extension number if we know it, or offer choices that can be made by entering a number.  It’s just like calling most any business or organization these days.

Except the first choice is always about a police emergency, something you won’t encounter at other businesses or organizations.   “If this is an emergency,” a typical greeting will say, “hang up and dial 9-1-1.”

But there is one municipal police department that we call from time to time that does it differently.  Instead of inviting callers to hang up and re-dial, this agency’s greeting says “if this is an emergency, dial Zero now.”

This strikes us as a better way.  If the emergency situation is one where seconds count, such as serious injury or imminent danger, a quick push on the zero key will be faster than having to hang up, re-dial, and re-connect.  We are surprised that so few agencies do it this way.

* If you don't understand why "Number, Please" is the title of this post, it's only because you are young.  "Number, Please" is what a telephone operator would say to you when you had to speak to an operator to place any phone call.  You'll see evidence of this in old movies, where a person will pick up a two-piece phone and bark into the handset, "Get me the police!"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's in a Name?

 The lead sentence of the news item was as follows:

The driver of a Dodge Ram pickup rammed two police cruisers and attempted to run down a third officer during a pursuit Sunday evening that ended with the suspect in custody.

Not to make light of the seriousness of a heavy pickup striking a police car or an individual, but yes, the Ram rammed.

Is “Ram” a good name for a motor vehicle?

And perhaps the reason that the trucks are now being marketed under the Ram brand name only is that “Dodge Ram” was a contradiction in terms.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ken She Park Here?

According to a story reported by several sources, a police officer in American Fork, Utah (about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City), was patrolling a neighborhood when he noticed a hot-pink Fisher-Price Barbie Jeep in the road, blocking a driveway.

As a lighthearted way to remind residents that the police were in their neighborhood and looking out for them and their property, the officer put a bright orange abandoned vehicle tag on the toy Jeep and moved it out of the road.  The citation was made out to "Barbie."

The rightful owner of the vehicle is not Barbie, but 7-year-old Autumn.  Autumn’s father was quoted as saying, "Unfortunately, I have received my share of tickets... This is definitely my favorite ticket."  Autumn now knows to keep her Jeep parked in the garage.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Direct Deposit

There is never a shortage of stories about dumb criminals.  Today’s concerns a bright fellow who, upon his release from jail yesterday in nearby eastern Pennsylvania, proceeded directly to a local bank and attempted to rob it, writing his hold-up note on the back of his bail release form.

He tried this at three different banks in under two hours, with the result that he was back in jail the same day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bustin' a Sag

In the news earlier this summer was the plan by officials in Wildwood to prohibit the wearing of pants low on the hips such that one’s underwear is visible.  Quickly the matter became contentious, with questions about how it might be enforced, how low is too low, and so on.

More recently officials in the town of Penns Grove have moved to do the same, and the same questions have arisen.

Towns elsewhere in the U.S. have passed ordinances outlawing saggy pants, but there’s a better and easier way to do this.

Since the  wearing of pants low on the hips so that underwear is visible is a teenage practice, the fastest and most effective way to curtail it is not to prohibit it, but to get old people to do it.  Just get all the middle-aged and out-of-shape parents to wander around Wildwood and Penns Grove with their bloomers in view, and youth will abandon the practice in, um, the blink of an eye.

There is, of course, the risk that the cure will be worse than the disease...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Is There a Meeting Tonight?

From our friends at FMG Publications, publishers of American COP, comes this great story:

When police in Dorset, Vermont, found a 55-year-old man sitting in his vehicle in the yard of a residence, he told them that he thought he was in a parking lot.  But it was no parking lot, and the man was charged with DUI.

Instead of a parking lot, the man had driven his vehicle into the yard of an historic landmark, the 1852 family home of William Griffith Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The ACLU, while legitimately looking out for the Constitutional interests of citizens, often gets its knickers in a twist over situations that are more theoretical than actual.  And so it is with the organization’s recent objections to the growing police use of license plate readers.

These electronic devices, already in use in a majority of jurisdictions, automatically scan the license plates of passing cars and flag them if they come up as stolen or associated with a crime.  But in the view of the ACLU, these readers are being used to “track the movements” of ordinary citizens.

While the potential certainly exists to use the data collected by these devices to track where a car goes, this potential has been present in our society for 110 years, ever since Massachusetts became the first state to issue license plates in 1903.  Anyone with a pair of eyes could track a car’s whereabouts.

In 1934, another Massachusetts first, the use of two-way radios by the Boston Police, further enhanced the ability of a car’s movements to be followed.

The ACLU expresses concern with the creation of a database in which motorists' travels are recorded and maintained, but the simple fact is, license plates have been required to be placed in public view for over a century.  For the entirely of that time a pen or pencil, or an ordinary camera, could be used to make a record.  That there now exists a method to read and verify license plates in a dramatically more efficient manner does not alter the fact that a car’s movements have been trackable for as long as anyone today has been alive.  Why the objection now?

It would be one thing if the police were putting into widespread use a device that could reach into your wallet and pull out your personal information as you walked by.  But we’re talking about license plates, which are out in the open on every car.

It has been demonstrated that the use of license plate readers has both lessened car theft and decreased the time needed to find a stolen car.  It has not been demonstrated that the devices are being used to “track the movements of innocent motorists,” as the ACLU contends.

As noted above, the ACLU legitimately protects the Constitutional interests of citizens.  But frequently it undermines its own effectiveness by railing against government intrusions that are more imaginary than real.

Using the photograph below, provided by our friends at Hemmings Motor News, we can track where the car bearing Massachusetts license plate 097A was in 1910...

Friday, June 21, 2013

To the Beach!

Yes, today is the first day of summer and we're getting ready to go to Atlantic City... for the 27th annual Police Security Expo.

It's our 27th year as an exhibitor; we were there for the first one, held in a hotel ballroom, we were there as the event grew and moved to Convention Hall on the Boardwalk, and we have been there in the years since it has been in the new Convention Center.

Stop by and see us in booth #1522, and pick up a copy of our brand-new badge brochure.  Get one of our free custom lanyards with a police whistle.  We'll have samples on display of badges, insignia, collar brass, pins, cases and wallets, and more.  We’ll also have our brochures for leather products, credential holders, and OC sprays, plus information on our full range of public safety supplies.

But you can only visit if you are a public safety professional.  The show is not open to the public, it is open only to those in the public safety sector.  There are no admission fees but attendees must register and present appropriate credentials.

Oh, the beach?  We’ll take a stroll on the Boardwalk and check it out, but this is a working visit for us.  See you there!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Baby You Can Drive My Car... Carefully

Chief Benjamin Fox of the Wyckoff Police Department near our old hometown clearly has a sense of humor... and an eye for detail.

To promote his agency’s crackdown on motorists who ignore the law governing yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, Chief Fox and three of his officers recently put their tongues in their cheeks and re-created the iconic cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album.  The result was as intended: Plenty of media coverage, and plenty of attention to the issue.

Wyckoff may not be London, and Wyckoff Avenue may not be London's Abbey Road, but despite the suburban setting Chief Fox got the details right.  There is a new white VW Beetle parked where the original album photo had a then-new Beetle, and there is a black police vehicle where the original album photo had a black police van.  Chief Fox is dressed in a gray suit as was Paul McCartney, and is both barefoot (!) and carrying a cigarette as was Paul.  (In truth, Chief Fox is carrying a pen, not a cigarette.  Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

His officers (from left, Sgt. Robert Mckay, Sgt. Jack McEwan, and Lt. Charles Van Dyk) are each in police apparel that matches the colors worn by George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, respectively, on the original album cover.

As for Township Administrator Robert Shannon Jr., in the background at right with the bagpipes, well, we’ll chalk that up to artistic license.  There was a bystander at the right in the original photo, although that bystander had no bagpipes.  At the moment this photo was taken Mr Shannon was piping Yellow Submarine, which was from the earlier album titled Revolver.  So, again, artistic license.

With the photo the Wyckoff Police Department issued a press release that explained what is required of motorists at crosswalks and announced the agency’s enforcement campaign.

It is nice to see Chief Fox and his officers Come Together on Something like this.  The End.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

End of the Road

In 2008 we first blogged about Carbon Motors and their ambitious plans to manufacture and sell a purpose-built police car.  In 2012 we blogged about Carbon Motors again, concerning their having been denied a $310 million Department of Energy loan under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program.

It appears now that the denial of that loan dealt a death blow to Carbon Motors.  The company has allowed the lease to expire on their manufacturing facility, the employees are gone, and the company web site has been shut down.

Carbon had leased office and factory space in a former Visteon Corporation plant in Connersville, Indiana, and claimed to have taken thousands of orders for its its E7 diesel-powered police cruiser.  But at the end of March, the lease was not renewed.

After the DOE loan was denied, Carbon tried to raise addition money by unveiling a purpose-built riot van, but nothing further appears to have come of those plans.

Carbon Motors has sputtered to a stop before ever getting on the road.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

That's a Fact

Recently, in a town not far from the home of the Badge Company of New Jersey, negotiations were completed on a new contract with the local police union.

As with all such contract negotiations, there were competing interests to be served, including the need to keep any increase in the municipal budget below the cap of 2% as directed by the governor.

The negotiations were handled by representatives of the union and representatives of the town, but with a distinction as noted by one of the town’s elected councilmen: “We did not use lawyers,” he said.  “They cost money.”

Friday, March 8, 2013

Can't-Stand-Up Routine

It sounds like a cheap joke:  How many police officers does it take to administer a breath test to a woman who then blows a .217, nearly three times the legal limit?

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, this week the answer is two, one to administer the test and one to prop up the woman, so drunk that she could not stand.

So drunk that she crashed her car into a house.

So drunk that she to attempted to continue her drive with the next available vehicle.

So drunk that the vehicle she selected was a child’s battery-powered Power Wheels truck.

 (Maybe she thought it was a Prius?)

Oh, one more thing:  So drunk that she had neglected to put on pants.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What's That White Stuff? Again!

Twice previously we have blogged about brilliant criminals who were captured because police simply followed their footprints in the snow.  This first of these was in South Carolina, and we had at least some sympathy for the clueless crook because snowfall is so infrequent there.  But the second episode took place right here in New Jersey, so there is no excuse other than what the late comedian Steve Allen termed "dumbth."

Dumbth, apparently, is not uncommon, because this past Friday two guys held up a barber shop in Mercer County and shot one of the employees, then fled... leaving footprints in the newly-fallen snow.  Those footprints were among the clues the police used to identify and arrest the dynamic duo shortly after the crime.

Fortunately, the barber shop employee who was shot was not mortally wounded.  At the moment, jail, not snow, is where the two crooks are cooling their heels.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cold Case

Yesterday the high temperature for the day failed to reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit here in the hometown of the Badge Company of New Jersey.

And, not three miles away, two stray dogs, a German Shepherd and a Great Dane, fell through the thin ice into a small pond. Struggling to free themselves, the icy cold quickly sapped their strength.

Clinton Township Sergeant Matt Wilson pulled them out.

Neither of these dogs is a small dog. Sergeant Wilson got a rope around the Great Dane and got the German Shepherd under his arm.

Once the dogs were safe and in the care of a veterinarian, Sergeant Wilson changed into dry clothes and continued his shift.

Sergeant Wilson rightly deserves praise for what he did, but his actions are typical of how police officers everywhere do indeed "protect and serve" all community interests.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Drunk?

The officer did not need a Breathalyzer to determine that the woman he stopped shortly after midnight this past Saturday night in a northern New Jersey town had been drinking.  He needed only to be, as all police officers are, observant.  She
  • was slurring her speech
  • dd not know where she was
  • did not know that moments earlier she had crashed her car into a stone wall
  • and was unable to maintain her balance.
Oh, one more thing:  She was thoroughly unaware that on a January night in one of the colder portions of rural New Jersey, she was wearing only a jacket.  Only.  Nothing else.

The officer saw a dress and other articles of clothing in the back seat of the car, so he retrieved them and instructed the woman to get dressed.  This task proved to be challenging for the woman, who, after several minutes, succeeded in putting on her dress inside-out.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated, refusal to submit to breath testing, leaving the scene of an accident, careless driving, failure to produce motor vehicle documentation and, in a wonderfully ironic application of the statute, failure to wear a seatbelt.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dancing with the Chief

In 2009, the Chief of Police in Ocean City, Maryland, won the "Dancing with the Delmarva Stars" charity fundraising event, besting 12 other contestants.

If you look at the photo and think that the Chief looks sharp in his black outfit with the white necktie, you’ll be wrong. The gentleman is Bill Goschen, but the Chief is Bernadette DiPino, the woman on the left.

"Delmarva," in case you do not know, refers the peninsula on which the resort town of Ocean City is located. The three states of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia share that peninsula.

Ocean City has a year-round population of just 7,200, but over the course of a year more than eight million tourists visit the town.

But Chief DiPino has recently taken on a task that is sure to be more challenging than either dancing in competition or being Chief of Ocean City. On January first of this year she took over as Chief of the Sarasota, Florida, police department. Sarasota is also a vacation destination, but it has a year-round population more than seven times greater than Ocean City. It’s a sprawling 25-square mile city.

Sarasota city officials have high hopes for Chief DiPino, an outsider hired to take over a department that in recent years has suffered from the fiscal squeeze and citizen complaints.

Chief DiPino is part of a family of police. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served, and her daughter is an officer in Maryland today. Five generations!