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. 

Culture Change and Digital Technology: The NYPD under Commissioner William Bratton, 2014-2016

An insightful look into police use of digital technology – Big thanks to Susan Crawford for allowing me to be a part of it!

Culture Change and Digital Technology: The NYPD under Commissioner William Bratton, 2014-2016

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The Goal of Terrorism Will Always Fail

A father and NYC policeman says incredible resolve of Americans on 9/11 and beyond will vanquish all enemies

September 11, 2016

 

When I entered the New York City Police Academy with hundreds of other recruits on a hot summer day in July of 2001, I had no idea what to expect.

I was thrilled to become a cop in the nation’s largest city — but it was nothing like where I grew up more than 100 miles away on the east end of Long Island. I questioned my decision to join several times on the morning of my swearing-in. That same day, an academy instructor entered the auditorium and, with a bit of a smirk that suggested he was speaking from experience, promised everyone in the room that being a New York City cop was akin to having a front row seat to the greatest show on earth.

I had no idea that three months later — and long before my academy graduation — I would discover exactly what he meant. He was right about the front row seat — but the show wasn’t one I was interested in seeing.

I vividly recall Sept. 11 of 15 years ago. As a 22-year-old probationary police officer in the country’s largest police department, I witnessed this city’s greatest tragedy — and this city’s finest hours.

While it was impossible for me to fathom the magnitude of the attacks that Tuesday morning, the aftermath was not a blur. In the days that followed, I witnessed our mayor, Rudy Guiliani, implore New Yorkers to go about their lives for the sake of not letting terrorists defeat us. I saw President George W. Bush stand atop a pile of rubble at Ground Zero and assure Americans that we would confront our enemies head on. And I watched David Letterman return to the air just days after the attacks to provide some needed humor in spite of the tragedy, poignantly telling Americans why he believed New York City is the greatest city in the world.

I also witnessed how admirably members of our community responded to the attacks that day — quickly understanding that we will not bow to terrorists. Americans refuse to cower despite such personal losses.

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Author Paul Grattan, one of NYC’s finest for 15 years, wants his kids to know about 9/11.

In the years since, I have rarely reflected on that day. I graduated from the academy and went on to work the evening shift patrolling Brooklyn’s 72nd Precinct, “chasing the radio,” as we say. I was soon assigned as a neighborhood beat cop, pounding the pavement with my partner. Eventually I was promoted to sergeant and transferred to lead a transit patrol squad — and later, to a plainclothes team that combed the subways for pickpockets and perverts.

Lately my duties have me missing the streets at times, as most days I carry out administrative tasks. All the while, I never paid much mind to the events that marked the very start of my career.

That is, until this year. In the 15 years I have been a New York City cop, I have been surrounded by officers who were there on that day or on the days that followed. As the years passed, I began to realize that many have left the force. Cops move on — many retire, some change careers, and sadly, too many have succumbed to illnesses born from their rescue and recovery work. Other young officers have taken their place, following a career of service to others.

And now, a decade-and-a-half later, I realize we have reached a tipping point. NYPD officers who were actively serving during 9/11 are now outnumbered by those who had yet to join the NYPD by nearly two to one. That’s right: Almost two thirds of our uniformed force were not yet with our department in 2001 — and some of our finest women and men were as young as seven years old at the time.

There is no difference between us. Newer cops will witness tragedy and heroism just the same. They will see firsthand the strength of the communities they patrol in times of trouble, and they will unhesitatingly run toward what others run away from. I have, however, grown worried about a loss of perspective in our fight against terrorism and how we will handle the future inevitable attacks.

This is about my children.

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The officer in his rookie days. On 9/11, there was “no place I would rather be,” he said, “helping evacuate people safely from lower Manhattan.”

As post-9/11 generations come after us, we must be prepared to move from remembrance to understanding. My kids have will have no recollection of the life-saving rescue operations at the Pentagon, or of regular Americans who heroically attempted to take back a hijacked plane over the grassy fields of Pennsylvania, saving countless lives on the ground in the process. History books will tell part of the tale, but my children deserve to truly understand how and why we refuse to be defeated by our enemies.

This year, I have encouraged my fellow officers to take a moment to read about or listen to someone’s story from that September day 15 years ago — from a first responder, a survivor, a volunteer, or a family member who lost a loved one. As the years go on, I will encourage my children to do the same. I hope that each of our children learn that while our enemies can take away many things from us, they can never take away the reasons why our friends, family, and neighbors rise up to the challenges that confront them. It’s simply what we do.

We will never prevent every attack, nor rid the world of those that despise our freedoms — but if an understanding of the incredible resolve of Americans lives on for future generations, then the goals of terrorism will always fail.

I began my career uncertain if this was the right path for me. Three months later, on a Tuesday morning in September, I knew there was no place I would rather be than on a bridge over the East River helping evacuate people safely from lower Manhattan. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But more significantly, I know the men and women who were not yet on the front lines during 9/11 — and each of my amazing children — would do it in a heartbeat, too.

Paul Grattan Jr. is a sergeant and a 15-year veteran of the New York City Police Department. A graduate of the 254th session of the FBI National Academy, he currently oversees executive communications and social media for the NYPD’s Transit Bureau.

Note: This article was written for and originally published in LifeZette on September 11, 2016.

Teaching Kids to Respect the Police

It starts at home, practically from the time they can toddle

July 14, 2016 – by LifeZette’s Deidre ReillyParents shaking their heads over the current climate of distrust and disrespect toward law enforcement in America need to ask themselves a critical question: How respectful are my kids to police?

“I have teens routinely yell at me out car windows and treat me disrespectfully during traffic stops,” one police officer on the north shore of Massachusetts told LifeZette. “These are kids who have had all the advantages in life.”

“Why should we write a card for cops? All they do is kill us,” fifth-graders said to their teacher. Other kids then joined in — an example of the bandwagon mentality.

He added that it’s discouraging to be “disrespected by a kid decked out in Abercrombie & Fitch with the latest iPhone plastered to his ear. We are just working hard to keep them safe. But you can tell that many of them view us as the enemy.”

In today’s culture, nowhere is the need for respect across all relationships more important than with America’s kids. Immersed in their own lives (and their mobile devices), they often see a police officer as trouble — or at least aggravation and annoyance.

Exceptions, of course, to that attitude do exist among those who give law officers a fair chance and see them as fellow human beings.

“I had a strong friendship with a police officer all though my growing-up years,” one Murfreesboro, Tennessee, millennial said. “No matter what, he was always kind to me, and shared details with me about his profession. I always looked up to him. I am glad I had his steady influence in my life.”

Paul Grattan Jr., a police sergeant and 15-year veteran of the NYPD, believes good things begin at home. Parents play an enormous role in developing respect in youth for law enforcement officials, and Grattan is concerned about the level of distrust and disrespect many young people have for police.

“Over the last 16 years, it’s grown steadily, and it’s worse now than it ever has been,” he said. “That said, I do still find that the majority of people hold us in reasonably high regard. Negativity spreads so quickly, though — this feeling of police being the enemy.”

“People tend to focus on the small percentage of negative stories.”

The Volunteer State millennial agrees. “In this age of social media, people tend to focus on the small percentage of negative stories. That takes away from our ability to see all the good police do out there.”

“Disrespect spreads like wildfire,” said Grattan. “When any bandwagon rolls up, many young people jump on. There’s a big family problem in the U.S. — strong homes and families make a huge difference in relationships with law enforcement. When you don’t have the proper support and guidance in your environment, you are more likely to hold officials in contempt.”

Grattan said that in America’s larger urban areas, single-parent families and the complex issues that often come with lower incomes create a lack of the personal accountability that is central to all good relationships.

“At the core of this problem is the ability to take responsibility for your own actions. I can’t stress how huge that is,” he said. “It has to be taught by example in the home, and there’s just no way around that. Now everyone blames others — institutions, the government, the police — and they don’t look to themselves for fault.”

RJ Beam, a Wisconsin police officer and author of the popular website RescueHumor.com, said our smallest actions have big consequences with children.

“Almost every other time I go for lunch at Subway, I will hear a variation of the same thing,” he told LifeZette. “Some child, usually under the age of eight, will be whining in the parking lot. The parent will see me walking by, point at me and then say to their kid, ‘You better start behaving right now or that policeman will come arrest you and take you away from Mommy and Daddy forever.’ That makes me the boogeyman — something for this kid to fear.”

“We often live in the communities we serve, so it benefits everyone to have healthy relationships,” said a police sergeant.

Good instruction from parents about the role of law enforcement has to be repetitive, said Grattan. “It has to be in all you do — there are tons of teachable moments that parents are not capitalizing on. When an event occurs, break it down with the kids. React based on some level of fact, not just what others are saying. There’s no more powerful educational tool than your own example. If parents go out of their way to demonstrate how approachable police are, that will go an incredibly long way.”

The level of distrust and even hate from young kids toward police is eye-opening.
“A fifth-grade teacher reported to my boss that some of her students refused to sign a card for two cops’ families, after those cops had been killed. ‘Why should we write a card for cops? All they do is kill us,’ these fifth-graders said. Then other kids joined in. It was that bandwagon mentality again.

Those in charge looked immediately toward positive change. “My boss saw it as an opportunity — what can we do to improve that?” said Grattan. “Is it possible we’re not touching these kids’ lives as early as we could be? Now, precinct commanders are interacting with teachers and students. With greater interaction, kids can come to understand that they can be comfortable with police.”

“There are always ideas to be explored,” Grattan continued. “We must lead by example, and we must maintain professionalism. We often live right in the communities we serve, so it benefits everyone to have healthy relationships.”

He added, “A lot of parents don’t operate that way, however — they’re not teaching children to be respectful. This will only lead to more of what we’re seeing today.”

Via LifeZette, July 14, 2016 – Thank you Deidre Reilly