Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New Digs

In the barrier island community of Lavallette, New Jersey, Superstorm Sandy irreparably damaged the borough hall and the police headquarters, such that they had to be demolished following the storm of October, 2012.

Since that time both the police department and the borough offices have been operating out of construction trailers in a municipal parking lot.  It has been challenging, to say the least.

Which is why Lavallette Chief Colin M. Grant was beaming earlier this week as he greeted residents touring the new police headquarters, nearing completion as part of a newly-constructed borough hall.  The new structure, dedicated on Monday while the finishing touches were still being applied, will house not only the police department, but the court and all of the municipal offices.

Also incorporated into the new building is the post office, which prior to the storm was in a separate building that was also rendered unusable.

It is not often that a police chief gets to supervise the design and construction of his headquarters, but Chief Grant was justifiably pleased with the layout, features, and size of the new facility.  Early in the project he toured other police buildings in the state and cribbed some of their best features, and he gave credit to the HQ in Westwood, in the northeastern part of the state, for having provided the greatest design inspiration.

Chief Grant is a relatively young man but is a Lavallette Police “lifer,” having begun his law enforcement career in the town as part of the seasonal force.   The Lavallette PD nearly doubles in size each summer, and Chief Grant rose from being a seasonal officer to a year-round officer to chief.

Final installation and testing of communications equipment is yet to take place, so it is expected that in January the Lavallette police will move from the temporary trailers that have been their home for more than three years.

The original Lavallette Boro Hall as construction was being completed 86 years ago.

The original Lavallette Boro Hall as it appeared in 2010.

The new Lavallette Boro Hsll, clearly inspired by the original but significantly larger.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Very Definition of Dumb

A New Jersey man on probation for impersonating a police officer was arrested last week on new charges of impersonating a police officer, according to news reports.

This genius was driving a Chevrolet SUV modified to look like a police vehicle with tinted windows, police-type strobe lights both front and rear, police markings and decals, and a siren.  A search of the vehicle turned up handcuffs, placards from the county prosecutor's office, police apparel and an empty firearm holster.

Apparently, being on probation for impersonating a police officer was an insufficient deterrent to police impersonation for this guy.

This time he was charged with illegal possession of handcuffs, receiving stolen property and impersonating a police officer, his vehicle was impounded and he was taken to the county jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.  Think it will sink in this time?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Summer of Change

It has been a busy and exciting summer at the Badge Company of New Jersey.  First, we moved!  Over the July 4 holiday weekend we relocated our offices from Annandale, NJ, to North Haledon, NJ.  We are in a beautiful tree-shaded office just off the major highways for easy access to customers and vendors alike.

The move made it necessary to change both our mailing address and our telephone numbers.  Please note that our main phone number is now 973-238-9172.  Our mailing address is now PO Box 629, Hawthorne, NJ 07507.  Our email address remains info@NJBadges.com.  If you were using an old Comcast email address for us, that address was finally retired and will no longer work.

Then, longtime General Manager Bob Marlow stepped away from day-to-day operations and moved closer to his young grandchildren.  Tony Maffei has assumed the role of General Manager, and when you contact us today, you will likely be speaking to Tony or to Carol.

What hasn’t changed?  Our commitment to being the badge specialists, providing high-quality products, personal service, and badges with a lifetime warranty.  For statewide agencies or the smallest local police department, and for individual officers, active duty or retired, “We’ve Got Your Badge.”

The Badge Company of New Jersey was begun in Orange, NJ, in 1974, later moving to Parsippany and then to Annandale.  This latest move to North Haledon assures that the Badge Company of New Jersey will be here to serve you well into the future.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Down the Shore -- for business!

For the 29th consecutive year, The Badge Company of New Jersey is headed to Atlantic City for the Police Security Expo, at which we have been an exhibitor since the show began all those years ago.

This year’s show takes place June 23 and 24 in the Atlantic City Convention Center.  Stop by Booth #1522 and say hello to Bob, Sue, and the newest member of our team, Tony.

We’ll have our products on display, our new brochures available, and we will be happy to discuss your needs for custom badges, leather products that fit, uniform insignia, lapel pins, embroidered emblems, and more.

Friday, April 24, 2015

If at First You Don’t Succeed...

In the news today is a report of a man who tried to rob an Atlantic City bank in 2010, was arrested, and convicted.

We do not know what his sentence was for that crime, but we know that it was less than five years of jail time.  We know this because today he was back in Atlantic City to give it another go.

He tried to rob the same bank, with (so far) the same result:  He was arrested after a brief foot chase.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Part of “No” Do I Not Understand?

Recently here at the Badge Company of New Jersey we needed a specific piece of equipment but did not know where to get it.  We checked the manufacturer’s web site, but all we saw was a message saying that the web site was down.  So we picked up the phone and called.

Once we got through the now-obligatory message that “for training purposes” our call might be recorded, and pressed the correct button for the product line in which we were interested, we asked the bored-sounding person who answered the telephone if he could direct us to a source for the item in question.  His response was succinct.  “No.”

That was it.  Just the one word, “No.”

Ever optimistic, we then asked whether their might be someone else in his company who might be able to help us find the product.  Again, “No.”

Realizing that this guy’s idea of customer service was not going to go beyond the word “no” we sighed, said thank you, and hung up.

Let’s see... web site not functioning, phone personnel disinterested.  Quite a business plan!

Just yesterday we got a call from an individual seeking an item that we do not supply.  But we knew where he could get it, so we pulled out that information and passed it along.  This not only made the caller happy, but it gave us a few moments to talk with this prospect about the products we do offer, and to invite him to call again should he ever need any of them.

We like to think that this is part of the reason that we have been in business for more than 40 years, while others slip beneath the waves.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Castro's Cop Killer

Joanne Chesimard has been in the news lately, primarily because of the potential thaw in relations between the US and Cuba.  In 1977 Chesimard was convicted for the killing of a NJ State Trooper in 1973 and given a life sentence, but she escaped prison two years later and subsequently made her way to Cuba, where she has been living ever since, comfortably writing books and enjoying political asylum offered by Castro’s Cuba.

It was May 2, 1973, not long after midnight when Troopers James Harper and Werner Foerster were patrolling the New Jersey Turnpike and stopped a car with three occupants, two men and a woman.  The car had been running only slightly above the speed limit but had a non-functioning taillight.  Details of various accounts differ, but there is no doubt that a gunfight involving semi-automatic weapons erupted and Trooper Foerster was fatally wounded, first by shots from the weapons carried by those in the car and then shot in the head with his own service weapon.

Following multiple court proceedings and with the outrageously bombastic William Kunstler as her attorney, Chesimard was convicted as an accomplice in the murders.  Ultimately, she was lodged in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, a bucolic-appearing setting located less than two miles from the offices of the Badge Company of New Jersey.

On November 2, 1979, Chesimard was taken from her cell to the visitor’s area to meet with several people who had come to see her.  It was a setup.  In a daring daylight prison break, the visitors produced weapons, took a Corrections Officer and a prison driver hostage, and drove off the prison grounds into a nearby parking lot where other vehicles awaited them.

Despite an intensive search spanning several years, Chesimard was not apprehended before making her way to Cuba.

On numerous occasions attempts have been made to persuade Cuba to extradite Chesimard, to no avail.  Now, regardless of any potential normalizing of relations, Cuba has indicated that it has no intention of returning Chesimard to the US.

Chesimard, by the way, has long since chosen to go by a different name, and we have chosen not to use it.  We have also chosen not to use a photo of her, choosing instead to honor Trooper Foerster by using his photo with this story.

No matter her name or her appearance, Joanne Chesimard remains a convicted killer and a fugitive from justice.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hire a Vet

A recent issue of The Journal News in Westchester County, New York, (just north of New York City) carried an article concerning the number of police agencies hiring military veterans, and highlighting how well this is working out for both the agencies and the vets.

Writers Richard Liebson and Steve Lieberman quoted Yonkers Police Lt. Patrick McCormack as saying, "In many cases, they're exactly what we're looking for. The military background gives them a leg up on other candidates. They're used to the training and discipline, and they know enough to listen and learn while they get experience on this job.

Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan said prior military experience is "a positive, like speaking more than one language."  He added that veterans "have discipline and understand the chain of command."

Similarly, the story carried quotes from veterans now on the job, such as White Plains officer Collin Breen (pictured), interviewed on what was literally his first day on the street, where he was training under the watchful eye of an experienced patrol officer.

"So far, so good," Breen said. "They tell me it's kind of slow today. I'm looking forward to interacting with people, going out on calls on my own. Serving my community. That's a big part of it for me."

Prior to becoming a rookie cop with the White Plans Police Department, Breen was a Marine captain and helicopter pilot who flew 20 troop transport missions a month during deployments to Iraq in 2007 and 2009.  Of the police work environment, Breen said that "a lot of things are familiar — it's a toned-down version of what we're used to in the military.  But there are definitely differences. When I was at the academy, we got to go home every day at 1600 (4 pm for those lacking military experience).  In the military, they put you through hell all day and you don't always get to go home. That's one difference my wife really likes."

According to the article, eight of the 55 graduates of the Westchester Police Academy class this past December are military veterans.  All eight are now rookie police officers.

White Plains police commissioner David Chong said rookies with military experience have little trouble making the transition to life in law enforcement.  "The police department is a paramilitary organization, but the veterans come from a strict military organization," he said. "They're used to the formal command structure, the discipline and the training, and they've proven that they have what it takes to work well under pressure. It makes them very attractive candidates."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Toying with Criminals

Toy guns are now made in bright colors, to distinguish them from the real thing.  Where in post- World War II America children would play with revolver-style cap pistols that resembled those used by cowboy heroes in movies and on television, today’s toy guns often are more true to the appearance of modern firearms.  And there have been instances of children and adults being shot because police officers thought a real gun was being brandished.  Hence, legislation making the use of bright colors mandatory for makers of toy guns.

But, there’s a problem.  The gun is the photo is not a toy.  It’s the genuine article, painted to resemble a toy.  And just as there have been tragic episodes involving realistic-looking toy guns, there have been numerous cases of police officers encountering fully-functional weapons painted to look like toys.

Requiring toy guns to be made in bright colors does nothing to enhance the safety of either the public or police officers.  Police officers must still assume that any gun, regardless of hue, is loaded and capable of being fired.

Sure, you can distinguish a real gun from a toy.  Pick it up, feel its heft, examine it.  But in the split-second decision-making that police officers face when dealing with someone holding a gun, the time to make such a determination is absent.

The legislation mandating that toy guns be colorful in appearance can be filed under the heading of “feel-good” legislation.  It makes some people feel good, but accomplishes nothing else.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Heartbreaking Farewell

This photo packs an emotional wallop.  It shows police officers lined up outside the Saint Francis Veterinary Center in southern New Jersey last Friday to give a ceremonial hero's farewell to a retired K-9 dog.  The dog, named Judge, was put down due to unbearable medical complications.

K-9 Judge was an officer with the West Deptford Police Department, where he served for more than seven years.  During that time he was deployed over 280 times in situations such as drug detection, tracking, and apprehension of suspects.  He is credited with contributing to the arrest of 152 suspects for criminal offenses, as well as for countless numbers of positive interactions with children and adult members of the community.

Corporal Michael Franks, the dog’s partner and handler, was quoted as saying "Though Judge was extremely lethargic and could barely walk the days before the ceremony, he was able to bite onto his favorite protective decoy arm sleeve used in training and carry it into the hospital."

Franks and Judge's vet made the decision to lay Judge to rest because he was suffering so much due to complications stemming from Cushings Disease, which he developed last year.

According to the Saint Francis Veterinary Center, the tribute to K-9 Judge included at least 70 officers from departments across South Jersey, as well as civilian well-wishers and the Veterinary Center staff.

Here at the Badge Company of New Jersey we are animal lovers.  Man’s Best Friend is no idle cliche.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Out of His Pocket, III

It has happened again!

This is the third story of this type we have shared in recent months.  The first was about an officer in Michigan who, instead of writing a ticket for a child not secured in a car seat, bought the young mother a car seat with his own funds.  The second was about an officer in Alabama who, instead of arresting a woman who was attempting to steal eggs for her young children, bought the eggs for her.

Now this.

In London, Kentucky, last month, a police officer did not arrest a suspected shoplifter.  Instead, the officer reached in to his own pocket and paid for what the shoplifter was trying to steal.

On January 17, Officer Justin Roby was called to the Kroger store after an employee stopped a man who was shoplifting.  The suspect was a single father who had fallen on hard times, according to Roby.  The man was caught stealing baby formula for his six-month-old son, who was with him at the time.

The store's loss prevention officer told Roby he did not want to press charges, and Roby not only agreed, he then bought some formula for the man.

Three similar stories reaching us in a relatively brief span.  Which means that it is likely happening even more often than we know.  Each time, each officer reaching in to his own pocket to help someone.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Killer Tells the Truth

Accused cop-killer Luis Enrique Monroy Bracamontes appeared in a Sacramento, California, courtroom this week for what was supposed to be a brief and routine case status conference.  But instead of sitting quietly at the defense table, Bracamontes stunned those in attendance by declaring, "I'm guilty. I killed those cops. I want the execution. I'm guilty."

Actually, his exact words vary depending on which news outlet is reporting them, but the meaning is unambiguous.

The circumstances under which Bracamontes made his outburst mean that it is not a formal plea, so all it does is complicate matters.  The case was already complicated by Bracamontes' status as a twice-deported illegal with a long criminal history who was back in the US illegally at the time of the killings. 

At least one legal expert has offered the opinion that the remarks have now turned everyone in the courtroom into potential prosecution witnesses and also may have strengthened the expected defense effort to have the case moved out of Sacramento. Unless Bracamontes is successful at entering a formal plea of guilty -- something his attorneys are not yet prepared to allow him to do -- a lengthy trial is likely.

The prosecution is reportedly seeking the death penalty, which in this instance reminded us of a comment made by the mayor of a small New Jersey city many years ago, when an unrepentant thug was arrested for a killing.  “We’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a trial and prison,” this mayor said.  “But a piece of rope is only eight dollars.”

Sketch courtesy of KCRA

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Top-Selling Police Car Is...

Now that the Ford Crown Victoria has gone off to retirement, what is the most popular new police vehicle?  Is it the Dodge Charger Pursuit?  The police-only Chevy Caprice?  Or Ford’s own Taurus-based Interceptor Sedan?

It’s none of the above.  The general public has switched to SUVs in large numbers, and now police agencies are following suit.  Dodge offers a Durango for police use, and the Chevy Tahoe is performing law enforcement duties, but Ford’s Explorer-based “Police Interceptor Utility” is today the country’s top-selling patrol vehicle.

Ford hopes to maintain that sales lead when a redesigned version, to be based on the 2016 Explorer that was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, comes to market.

We’ll admit, we were skeptical that patrol officers would embrace Ford’s replacement for the highly-regarded Crown Vic, and we expected the top seller to become one of the other manufacturer’s rear-drive sedans.  And if an SUV were to rise to the top of the heap, we would have guessed that it would be the body-on-frame Tahoe, not the unibody Explorer.

Among the users of the Police Interceptor Utility is the California Highway Patrol, nationally known since the days of Broderick Crawford’s big Buick sedan.  Times are ever changing – even if the color scheme has not.