Friday, January 29, 2010

"Nothing 'Routine’ in a Traffic Stop" - Columnist Mourns Lt. Eric Shuhandler

Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler, of the Gilbert (AZ) Police Department, was shot and killed on Thursday, January 28, during a traffic stop near the Gilbert-Mesa border. After pulling over a vehicle, Lt. Shuhandler discovered the passenger had an outstanding warrant. Upon re-approaching the car, the lieutenant was brutally gunned down. The suspects then led police on a more than 30-mile pursuit that ended in a shootout and the capture of the two men.

E.J. Montini, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, offered this perspective on Lt. Shuhandler's death.

"He died, we say, during a 'routine traffic stop.' Of course, there was nothing routine about it. Just as there was nothing routine about the traffic stop in which Glendale Officer Anthony Holly was killed. Or the traffic stop in which Phoenix Officer David Uribe was killed.

It goes on. The list of names is too long. Nothing about any of their deaths was 'routine.' The word only applies in the broader sense of what the men and women who serve in law enforcement do. They routinely put themselves in harm’s way for our benefit."

Continue reading the column at, and learn more about Lt. Shuhandler's tragic death,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crime Rates Are Falling because Police Have Taken Responsibility for Making It Happen

By Chuck Wexler, Executive Director
Police Executive Research Forum

When you look at the history of homicides over the past 20 years, the results are staggering. To mention a few examples, homicides in New York City have dropped well below 500 per year, compared to more than 2,200 in 1990. In Chicago, which had more than 900 murders a year in the 1990s, that number has been cut in half. Minneapolis recorded 19 murders last year—one-fifth of its record of 97 killings in 1995. In Washington, D.C., there were 140 homicides in 2009, compared to 479 in 1991. And in Philadelphia, there were 87 fewer homicides in 2009 than just two years before—a 22-percent reduction.

We have seen a sea change in how the police define their mission. There was a time when the conventional thinking was that no matter what the police did, it made no difference, and police were not held accountable for increases in crime. That started to change in 1982 when George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson wrote an article that appeared in The Atlantic, called “Broken Windows.” Their idea, that broken windows and other signs of disorder in a neighborhood can contribute to crime, prompted police to start asking themselves what they could do to fix broken-window problems and prevent crime, as opposed to merely investigating crimes after they occur.

Today, thousands of local police departments have adopted this thinking, and they are constantly searching for ways to prevent crime.

How can police prevent crimes from happening? The strategies began with things like Compstat and problem-oriented policing. Community policing is another major change—today’s police understand that they can’t do it alone, so they make tremendous efforts to reach out to their communities and work together on crime reduction.

Broken Windows policing, Compstat, problem-solving, and community policing have become almost universal in American police departments. Today, the story is the extraordinary proliferation and refinement of ideas to prevent crimes from happening. Police departments across the country are developing new solutions to local problems, and spreading the word to others when they find something that works.

Just a few examples:
  • In Los Angeles, most homicides are gang-related, and one murder used to trigger a bloodbath of retaliatory killings. The LAPD attacked that problem by making it their business to know everything about gang rivalries. Police Chief Charlie Beck has told his detectives that when there is a gang killing, “We not only want to know who committed this homicide, but what we can do to prevent the next one.”

  • In San Francisco, the police are focusing on the “10-percenters”—the hard-core 10 percent of criminals who commit most of the crime in the city.

  • In Minneapolis, the police realized that juvenile offenders were committing a large share of the city’s serious crimes, and they were simply falling through cracks in the city’s juvenile justice system. So the police helped develop a comprehensive new approach that helps youths get back on track, but also stops the serious repeat offenders.

  • In Milwaukee, police knew that a particular gun store was selling huge numbers of guns that ended up being used to commit crimes, including the shootings of six police officers. So they staked out the store and watched for signs of “straw purchases” in which felons had other people buy guns for them. The result: 23 arrests in 15 weeks.

  • And Philadelphia is attacking the problem of domestic violence homicides, which have traditionally been considered very difficult to prevent. The city’s new approach involves creating systems to ensure that repeated calls to the police from a certain address and other warning signs are tracked efficiently, so officers will be able to recognize the red flags of a potential domestic homicide before it is committed.

In city after city, police are working to figure out the “who, what, when, where, how, and why” of homicides and other violent crimes, and then they try to break up the patterns. High levels of crime are no longer seen as inevitable. Because police are able to use real-time crime information, patterns of crime that once took months or years to detect are now identified on a daily basis. The status quo is never acceptable, because unless homicides and other crimes go down to zero, there is always room for improvement. And when crime rates started moving in the wrong direction, as they did in 2005 and 2006, police redoubled their efforts and in some cases changed strategies, with a sense of urgency that was unprecedented, and they reversed the trend by 2007.

It is becoming abundantly clear that violent crime is dropping because local police, working collaboratively with their communities, have turned on its head the notion that crime is inevitable.

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) is a national membership organization of progressive police executives dedicated to improving policing and advancing professionalism through research and involvement in public policy debate. PERF is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Because I Was There" -- A Tribute to the Original "Midnight Piper," Jimmy O'Connell

Each year during National Police Week, a lone bagpiper appears at midnight at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, to play a tribute to the fallen heroes engraved on the Memorial's walls. Sadly, we must report that the original "Midnight Piper," Jimmy O'Connell, passed away earlier this week after a battle with brain cancer.

Reflecting on his death, NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd, said, “One of my favorite moments every year during National Police Week is the 'Midnight Piper.' Many of us gather at the Memorial late at night, and out of the quiet darkness steps the Midnight Piper to pay a solemn tribute to the 18,661 fallen heroes whose names grace the Memorial walls. Jimmy was the original Midnight Piper, and we are so grateful to him for this wonderful tradition that will now live on in his memory.”

Below is a tribute written by Kevin Taylor, past president of the Emerald Society of Illinois, entitled “Because I Was There,” honoring the life of Jim O'Connell and explaining the amazing origins of the “Midnight Piper."

On my first trip to Washington, D.C. for Police Week I was with Jim & Kelly O'Connell. Upon arrival in DC Jim and Kelly promptly headed over to the FOP hospitality area, and I told them I would meet them there because I was going to go to the Memorial. I had planned on paying my respects to my partner, Richard Clark, who had been killed in the line of duty. When I arrived at the Memorial, I looked up his name in the book, but when it came time to enter the Memorial itself I suddenly became overwhelmed with guilt over his death. I just could not bring myself to enter the Memorial, so I walked over to meet Jim and Kelly at the FOP. When I finally located Jim, he wanted to know how things went. I told him it was too difficult to go, and I would try again a little later. We eventually made it back to our hotel for dinner.

When we headed back towards the FOP, I decided to try again and headed to the Memorial to give it another try. Unfortunately, I was met with the same results. When I caught up with the O'Connells, they again asked how everything went. I told them that maybe we could all go together the next day, and I would probably have better luck. Later that same evening Jim had played his bagpipes with some other pipers at the FOP and we were all just kind of hanging out together. Just before midnight that night Jim O'Connell found me in the crowd. He grabbed me by the arm and said, "Come with me." I asked where we were going and he said, "I'm going to the Memorial, and I'm going to play the pipes for your partner and if you don't come in there then, then I give up!!"

We headed to the Memorial with Ed Kane (Pipe Major, Illinois ES) and both wives. Jim waited for me to find Rich's panel on the wall. He then walked to the center of the Memorial and began playing the bagpipes. He then walked to where I was standing and played Amazing Grace with Ed Kane playing (unplanned) seconds off in the distance. When we all rejoined again, we were all crying. Jim O'Connell then said, "What an Honor it was to do that," and that as long as he has air in his lungs he will play the pipes at the Memorial at midnight every time he is in DC.

It was purely coincidental that this occurred right at midnight. The name, "The Midnight Piper," was actually coined by the St. Paul Minnesota Emerald Society -- and they didn't even know it. We met Layne Lodmell (Minnesota Emerald Society) and company the next night. We were enjoying a beverage at the FOP and talking with them. Just before midnight they began checking their watches saying they didn't want to be late. We asked them what they were talking about. They said they didn't want to be late for "The Midnight Piper." Jim and I just looked at each other, smiled and asked, "What's The Midnight Piper?" They then went on to explain that one of the members of their group had two brothers on the wall. They had all gone to the Memorial the night before and that at midnight a bagpiper started playing and then ended his performance with Amazing Grace. They said that all of the people visiting the Memorial at that time had broken into tears and by the time anyone had regained their composure, the bagpiper and his friends had left.

Jimmy O'Connell (Illinois Emerald Society) made it a point to fulfill his original promise to play a tribute at midnight in memory of Chicago PD Ofc. Richard Clark, EOW April 3, 1986. Panel 19-W: 9, a tradition that has been going on since 1994.

Rest in Peace, Midnight Piper. You will be missed ... but you will always be remembered.

Update: James O'Connell's obituary published in the Chicago Sun-Times on January 26, 2010 can be viewed here,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

National Center for Disaster Fraud to Coordinate Haitian Fraud Complaints

From the FBI National Press Office
January 18, 2010

The FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) have established a telephone hotline to report suspected Haitian earthquake relief fraud. The number is (866) 720-5721. The phone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also e-mail information directly to

The National Center for Disaster Fraud was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to Haitian relief fraud.

The FBI continues to remind the public to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Haitian victims. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
  • Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its non-profit status.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use such tactics.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of Haitian earthquake victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DHS/FEMA Request regarding Haitian-American Police Officers

A message from the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA

The recent disaster in Haiti has devastated much of the Haitian infrastructure, including its law enforcement capacity. While no deployment of U.S. law enforcement personnel is being initiated at this time, the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA is attempting to identify the numbers of U.S. law enforcement officers who maintain dual U.S./Haitian citizenship that may be interested in deploying to Haiti in the event a decision is made to provide law enforcement assistance.

It is recognized that many in the U.S. law enforcement community would be eager to assist; however, this request is to identify only those U. S. officers maintaining dual citizenship status.

Questions or responses to this request should be directed to FEMA's Senior Law Enforcement Advisor: -- (202) 646-3053 -- (202) 646-3147 -- (202) 646-5039

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Holiday Heroes 2009

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2009 Holiday Heroes campaign. Your personalized badges are still on display in the windows of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's Visitors Center & Store, located at 400 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC.

You can also view your Holiday Heroes online:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

IACP President Mike Caroll: Focus on Officer Safety in 2010

Before the new year began, Chief Mike Carroll, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), sat down with The Crime Report to share his priorities for 2010. Atop Chief Carroll's list: increase officer safety by reducing the number of fatal law enforcement shootings.

Chief Carroll's priorities include:
  1. Wear protective vests. According to Chief Carroll, only about 60% of agencies require vests to be worn. Many have vests, but they are not required. "The vests are very thin, they’re not uncomfortable, and they protect you. "

  2. Study every segment of an incident to cut down on reaction times of officers. "There are things we can do to cut down on that reaction time to give the officer a better chance of surviving. (One) is to study every segment of that incident—not to blame the officer for doing something wrong, but to look for an indicator that the officer didn’t see. You can then train other officers to look for (that indicator), and maybe save a half second or second in reaction time."

  3. Study violence against police more thoroughly and systematically. The IACP and the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety are establishing a Center for Violence against the Police that will gather and analyze comprehensive data on officer assaults and other acts of violence toward officers.
While these measures will help prevent and decrease officer fatalities, Chief Carroll has higher goals. "I don’t celebrate when I hear the news that, compared to 170 officers killed last year, only 140 were killed this year."

As the New Year Begins, Officer Safety Is on Everyone's Mind

In late December, the Memorial Fund released our preliminary 2009 law enforcement fatalilty report, detailing the trends in officer fatalities over the past year.

The report has received considerable media attention, including in major newspapers, on television, radio, blogs, and the Internet. In case you missed them, here are few highlights of the coverage:
  1. USA Today summarized our 2009 report on the front page of the December 29th paper (

  2. CBS Evening News featured a segment on police officer fatalities on Sunday, January 3, 2010, also citing our research ( -- go to the 11-minute mark).

  3. The Osgood File, by Charles Osgood, had a radio segment on officer fatalities (

  4. The Tulsa (OK) World ran an editorial citing our research in calling for additional safety measures for our officers (
To view more of the recent news items featuring the Memorial Fund's research, please visit: