Where are the town police?

In recent months, local police have been behind such initiatives as “high-five Fridays,” with officers enthusiastically greeting school children in the morning.  The #CopsLoveLemonadeStands hashtag has thrived on social media, with some police departments even encouraging parents to “report” their child’s lemonade stand in advance so cops can use the opportunity to interact with kids between emergency calls.  Officers and kids come together to “shop with a cop” for school supplies purchased with donations for those in need.  Some young kids are even occasionally selected to have breakfast with a local officer, then get a first-class ride to school in a radio car.

None of these things happened in the Town of Montgomery, NY.

Nearly seven months into the school year and I have yet to see a police officer at Berea Elementary School during the morning drop-off or afternoon dismissal.  My wife hasn’t either.  When I queried school teachers at Berea, I was not surprised to hear that they rarely see police officers at the school outside of an occasional lock-down drill or when called because someone is using the school parking lot for “something crazy.”

There are too many precious opportunities missed.

Sadly, my emails and phone calls to Town of Montgomery Police Chief Amthor have gone unanswered.  The only strong public outreach I have noticed from the department recently has been an amnesty program for heroin addicts.  I recognize the epidemic and surge in overdose deaths, and I support efforts to curb it.  But the fact is that keeping a kid from taking a pill in the first place – and ultimately shooting up –should be just as high of a priority as helping someone get clean.  Much of this begins with opportunities to introduce our kids to our police – frequently, and in a positive setting.

Our area is blessed with outstanding local police officers – genuinely engaging and dedicated to the task.  I can only hope that the town leadership sees that we are failing our kids with virtually no police presence where it is needed most – at our schools and with our youth.

This letter originally appeared in the Wallkill Valley Times, March 22, 2017

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The State of the Media and How You Can Help

IACP Blog

Guest Blogger: Katie Nelson, Social Media + Public Relations Coordinator, Mountain View, California, Police Department

It’s no secret that currently, the journalism industry is struggling in ways that it has never seen before. The effort to transition from print publications to a “digital first” mindset has set some of the biggest and most widely distributed news organizations into a tailspin.

News organizations are looking for ways to not only stay afloat financially, but to proactively publish first in an environment that is focused heavily on breaking news to the masses on social media. As the younger generations of journalists – who also happen to be digital natives – grow in the digital sphere, and as the rise of social media gives voice to anyone who has access to an account to report or comment on news, the question that looms large is: how can you partner with media representatives to reflect…

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What the nobility of policing requires

I was surprised by this wonderful take on something I said recently…

Square Cop In A Round World

“We are rightly critical of journalists and members of the public who misrepresent what we do as police officers. Do we not, therefore, owe it to ourselves to be equally critical of fellow police officers, whose actions misrepresent the work we do?”

~Paul Grattan, Jr. One Police Project

This quote is very important in the context of our ongoing national struggle over police and public relationships. We do a lot of talking about how we feel under appreciated or maligned, but what are we doing about cleaning up our own house? I think we owe it to ourselves to do some serious soul-searching about this.

I realize that when we look at policing through our personal lens, we see only a few egregious cases of misconduct splashed across the headlines in any given period of time. We are right that the misconduct numbers are a small number of the thousands…

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Rage against the machine

If you ever feel like your teacher has it out for you, and you’re up against it – I want you to be armed with the ability to humorously get your point across.  I suppose you could take a page out of the Arlo Guthrie playbook and sing a bar or two of Alice’s Restaurant and walk out of the room.  But the Grattan girls will have no truck with public statements that square against defense of our allies and the choice of freedom over communism, so our plan will be a tad more grassroots and much more democratic.

There will come a time when you’re right, and you know you’re right – and the teacher is wrong, and pretending she doesn’t know she is wrong.  You’ve reached a stalemate.  If this ever happens to you, simply respond softly, respectfully, and almost under your breath, “No Roger, no Rerun, no rent.”  To which the teacher will reply, “I’m sorry?” With a little more volume, and just a hint of additional emphasis you say again, “No Roger.    No Rerun.    No rent.”

The teacher, confused, will be speechless – left wondering how you would know of such monumental historical movements in American history.  You’ll go on to repeat, excitedly, “NO ROGER, NO RERUN, NO RENT.” Suckers for your enthusiasm, other students – namely the liberal youth in the room that will proudly jump on any protest bandwagon that has a catchy tagline – will join in support.  Together, you exclaim, “NO ROGER, NO RERUN, NO RENT!!!”

NO ROGER, NO RERUN, NO RENT!!!

NO ROGER, NO RERUN, NO RENT!!!

NO ROGER, NO RERUN, NO RENT!!!

After-school detention is nothing to be ashamed of.  There are consequences to everything in life.  Just make sure those consequences are worthwhile.

After the minions leave the nest: A father’s to-do list 

Welcome back kids. Please grab a metal folding chair and do not THINK about making yourselves at home…

Kids, I have a to-do list that I’ll begin taking care of when #3’s lease expires on his 18th birthday. I believe all subsidized housing should have an end date, and our house will be the headquarters of the model program. At 18, this is no longer your nest. 

1. Refinish the wood floors. You kids have ruined them. Scarred, scratched, scuffed, and scraped, beneath our very feet you’ve tattooed your childhood disrespect for building materials. 11 coats of polyurethane and one of mother nature’s hardest natural woods were no match for your combined 54 years of domestic flooring abuse. You left your mother and I with what looks like a cow-shed floor, and now you must pay. 

Take your shoes off and help yourself to a complimentary pair of fleece bunny slippers. You’re never touching our floors again. 

2. Institute a no-food policy. If you want something to eat or drink when you visit you can go out, get it, eat it, drink it, and then you may return. I’ve found food and dried up Capri Sun spills in every square foot of this house. Never again. 

For that matter, don’t bring ANYTHING here. Throughout your childhood we spent half of each passing year acquiring things, and the other half trying to get rid of them. The cycle stops here. 

3. Buy new furniture. ALL new furniture. Every. Damn. Thing. I’m going to burn any object that’s ever been sat on, slept on, or had a sticky juice glass rest upon.  No exceptions. And now when you visit, your butts won’t be touching anything except a folding chair.  And not just any folding chair, but the metal kind that they use for AA meetings in church basements. 

4. Institute a family visitor cover-charge. Recovering from raising you three lunatics comes at a price, and each time you want to visit we’re going to collect a piece of it at the door.  Don’t worry, you only have to pay when you visit. So you do have options to avoid the toll, if you catch my drift. 

5. Remodel the kitchen. By that I mean basically replace the whole thing. You’ve ripped every cabinet door off the hinges at some point, and as toddlers, somehow managed to pull the drawers down to your level each time you wanted to get your grubby little hands on a spoon or fork or garlic press. 

Now we’re getting a new kitchen and no one is going to touch it. Not even us. It will be like a museum piece. From now on, your mother and I are going out to eat. 

So come on in! It’s so great to see you kids again! 

Ahem… Twenty dollar cover.