If I had any residual questions previously, my personal and extensive one-on-one meetings with our Chief of Police and thorough analysis of the job he’s done during more than 40 years of serving the people of south Florida, convinces me that we in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida have one of the most professional, competent, and best trained police forces in the nation. The Department was organized from the ground up at our City’s incorporation in 1997 by this quintessential definition of a dedicated American ‘lawman’ in the traditional sense of the word: Chief Fred “E” Maas — “E” for the epitome of Elegance, Empathy, Eloquence, and Efficiency. We are now recognized by the FBI’s crime statistics as one of the safest places to live in the USA. Not surprisingly, “Chief Fred” has been decorated from his earliest days with Miami-Dade Police, serving on the Governor’s Council on Violent Crime and Drug Control, and was honored by Pope Benedict in 2008 with the highest award from the Vatican for lifetime dedication to law enforcement by being made a Knight of St. Sylvester. We’re truly fortunate to have this unique public servant with us.
Broadening the perspective to what he accomplished, I recently renewed my observation of police practices here in comparison to other cities I’ve analyzed by being granted ‘ride-alongs’ with our officers in patrol cars during their 12-hour shifts. That tradition began while I was attending law school in Indiana in the early 1970’s (and still had hair on my head!), frequently accompanying Indianapolis police officers at night on their tours. Continuing this in other cities aided my understanding of street issues as a new criminal trial lawyer.
Aside from many years of a private law practice and unique multi-lingual operations as a contractor for a federal agency, I experienced being a New York State Special Prosecutor and Special Assistant Attorney General, and then an elected criminal trial Judge for ten years. Looking back upon 45 years of interacting with law enforcement officers and field agents in many places and for many branches of government, I recognize highly capable ones when I see them, (cognizant too that there is occasionally a ‘bad apple’ in some barrels).
Applying all of that to the very recent ride-alongs, it began here with Police Officer Mitch Glansberg, an honored 29-year veteran and formerly Chief in another local city before he joined our elite department. The following week, on to the “night squad” with whom I separately rode for their respective tours this month, and was privileged to view our drug-sniffing canine “Rocko” in action. Many of the officers had military training, and all have concerned families of their own (including the Chief). I found each to be highly organized, professional, knowledgeable about the law, quick to assist their colleagues voluntarily, friendly to the public, and very respectful of our culturally diverse international city they serve. I saw their dedication to the public, and the peoples’ trust and positive reactions to them everywhere we rode.
I was especially taken early on day #1 to see the courtesy and consideration Officer Glansberg gave to a young and very nervous first-time arrestee we were transporting to the County Jail for a non-violent Grand Theft charge and arraignment: in return, the defendant reacted to us both most courteously and with obvious appreciation. (Frankly, coming from New York, that was a bit of a shocker!). Glansberg also pointed out to me on our travels several homeless men who were wearing specific items of clothing he had personally donated to them at his own expense: a man with a heart. These officers in Sunny Isles Beach are among many whom I’ve found to reflect refinement, restraint, strength, and expertise in problem resolution. In sum, I am truly privileged to be considered as friend to so many of our men and women who serve us on the front lines of law enforcement.
Unfortunately, I also have witnessed unwarranted attacks against police nationwide by agenda-driven media and “community activist” so-called ‘progressive’ politicians, further disparaging well-intentioned officers wrongly accused of improprieties and intentionally inciting animus and discord. The 21st century has clearly shown that one will rarely see an equal or even remotely balanced amount of coverage in the media of commendable professional police conduct, nor opining a grave injustice perpetrated upon innocent officers, unless circumstances FORCE them to do so:
For instance, we all recall two officers shot by a sniper in Ferguson, Missouri for which our President only “tweeted” his concern — no personal phone calls to their families, no press conferences saying if he had a son he could have been “one of them,” no organized protests, no immediate federal civil rights investigation;
We witnessed a heinous preplanned ambush murders in New York City of two police officers merely eating lunch in their marked police car on a public street;
Just this month, we yet again saw a Boston police officer, a selfless primary first-responder and life-saver after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing, shot point-blank in the face during a routine traffic stop by a violent career criminal who previously shot at police in 2001 but was back out on the street. Other officers killed this scum on the spot with return fire. As of today, the officer is clinging to life: a fighter and a good man. But what was the sub-human cretin shooter doing still running free after all those years of a violent criminal history? Who allowed him to get out of prison all those previous times? As a former judge, I find this incredulous: beyond comprehension!
I fully understand and appreciate the physical risks police are exposed to daily, even in an upscale city such as ours on the beach with a low crime rate. For example, a trainee and his supervisor here in Sunny Isles Beach recently befriended and then grabbed a suicidal mentally ill intoxicated man, pulling him down off a drawbridge before he could kill himself and them along with him. Little thought for their own safety. Owing to their automatic bravery, both were named “Officers of the Year” by Miami-Dade County for 2014. I’m proud of those two.
But public cognition and educational standards have degenerated geometrically all over America since I first began to interact with police officers. Political circumstances have gotten far more polarized, especially in the last six years, with hypocrisy and an adversarial tone emanating from the highest echelons of our often clueless federal government:
We all saw, for example, the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” travesty, an allegation decimated by both a Grand Jury AND the Federal Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department: an outright fabrication by miscreants and professional agitators sympathetic to the perpetrator and hateful of police in general. Despite demands for the officer’s firing and imprisonment (after all, cops don’t deserve trials, right?), both agencies held the officer was assaulted through his open car window first, and reacted within the law to protect his own life. The “hands-up” garbage was just that! The problem was that the nationwide riots that ensued immediately after the event were encouraged by The White House and outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as professional race-baiters who have had regular private access to both of them.
We also all saw the Miami Beach Police Department accused of an “execution murder” a few years ago after they shot to death a repeat felon who tried to run down and kill several of them with his car and refused to stop and exit it during turmoil at “Urban Beach Week.” The press and “the usual suspects” had a field-day calling those officers “murderous cowboys” who should have been prosecuted. Result of an official investigation? They acted properly. Again.
It is therefore rare when someone with potential public impact visibly stands up for these men and women of law enforcement since (as I’ve personally found when I was on the Bench), it can be a very risky affair to ones career to do so. But it does happen from time-to-time, since there are some of us out there still in awe of our founding forefathers and the American tradition of individualism, hard work, and adherence to the Constitution, rather than admirers of Snowdenesque treason, sedition, and socialism, with government welfare handouts expected and demanded by some: cradle-to-grave suckling on the public teat at taxpayers’ largesse.
Consider for instance, the below portion of an important New York judicial opinion written way back in 1989, obiter dicta in a difficult criminal case in which an officer risked his life while patrolling alone at night. After publication, the author — a twice elected Judge — was lambasted and apparently permanently targeted for removal from the bench by the uber-liberal New York media and arrogant, effete, appointed and highly ambitious press-seeking wannabe politicians and their political sycophants: all for his taking a “politically incorrect” (albeit highly moral) position in this and other issues, overtly supporting police officers and recognizing the inherent dangers of their jobs. That portion of his decision:
“As Euripides wrote in “Iphigenia in Taurus” some 2400 years ago, “a coward turns away, but a brave man’s choice is danger.” This seems particularly apropos when applied to a modern day police officer who walks alone in the unknown, the threatening.
Troubling times: police officers increasingly victims of unmerited abuse, provocation and profanity; increasing numbers being maimed or killed during what starts out as a “routine traffic stop;” assassinated….while sitting in their own marked patrol vehicles by street slime who live by their own rules.
As if this weren’t troubling enough, certain…individuals who should know better — from the quite secure and isolated Olympian perches —retrospectively negatively critique…split-second decisions and undertake semantic machinations in evaluating procedure over substance.
Where are [the] priorities, and where should they be? How many of us have walked a mile in a police officer’s shoes? Alone? How many have attended a murdered officer’s funeral, someone we knew personally and not just a faceless name…? I venture to speculate very few.
This Court will hopefully never join the very limited ranks of the prospectively myopic, supporting eloquent 20/20 hindsight. Instead, I will continue to affirm the mainstream of the middle-American mandate: determinations of and for the law abiding, hardworking people…who have periodically placed their elective trust in our local criminal courts to uphold the legal system, common sense, and to keep streets secure from recidivist vermin who have come adroit in manipulating the procedural variables within the system so as to often walk free in the face of blatant guilt.
I would manifest the epitome of unconscionability, of quintessential gall, were this Court, cognizant of these factors, to abrogate that trust.”
—-Quoted from the opinion in People of The State of New York v. Joseph G. Pitti, Nassau County District Court, published in the official New York Law Journal, February 23, 1989, page 30.
The above author was the undersigned …….. that opinion written during my third of ten elected years on the highest level criminal trial Bench of the State of New York.
All of the above makes clear to me that a pungent and pervasive sense of crime-causing “entitlement” has contaminated our culture; our demographic nadir and most dangerous among us sadly and wrongly espouse themselves “victims” and ergo “justified” in despising and violently attacking our homeland, historical standards, and the police who enforce America’s laws. Some now even proudly and openly call themselves “enemies of Capitalist America,” and espouse “Occupy America” churlishness. This all must be changed before America begins to “circle the drain” like many other societies before us throughout history, whose sense of right and wrong, good and evil, became irrevocably skewed.
In sum, I can only state how grateful we should all be to Chief of Police Maas and men and women like him across America who willingly risk their lives 24/7 to serve our citizens. They protect us from both common property criminals, as well as feral violent recidivists who in some locations actually are tolerated (and at times even encouraged by professional agitators) to run amok without appropriate legal retribution by supercilious, Orwellian apologists for our country’s history and the American justice system.
These law officers — targets all since they are on the front lines of defending law-abiding Americans — certainly deserve neither disdain nor retrospective critique from those safely ensconced in ivory towers, in front of TV cameras, or behind desks or media keyboards safely writing convoluted and naively slanted columns for the talking heads of third-rate excuses for newspaper columnists. Rather, police officers merit our unwavering appreciation and support as loyal Americans, and our awareness of the traditional and touching parting words almost always used amongst them — “STAY SAFE.”
Audaces Fortuna Iuvat.
**On May 13, 2015, Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York gave the following speech in which he quoted directly from this article on the House Floor: