THINKING OF BECOMING A COP? WE NEED HEROES

I’m a former law enforcement officer, having served 30 years with Miami-Dade, rising to the rank of captain. Cops are often questioned by wannabes about what to expect as a rookie on the job. They are concerned about joining a career path in a profession that is highly scrutinized and sometimes vilified by citizens and the press. They want to know what they’re getting into, if the risks are worth the effort, if the job is too hazardous and how serious the chances are for getting into trouble.

Twenty, forty or sixty years ago, my advice was always very simple. I would tell them:

  • Don’t pass up the opportunity. You will be considered a bona fide hero for serving citizens in many ways. You will be honored to protect the community and to know you’re playing a role in keeping people safe.
  • Know that you will often face dangers, instantaneous, unexpected and deadly while you’re also expected to maintain calm.
  • You will save lives, including victims of crime and, occasionally, lives of criminals. 
  • You will be respected by men and women in and out of uniform who stand up for you and your loved ones. Why? Because it’s their job.

Alas, times have changed. Whereby police heroes were always welcomed by citizens to maintain order and repress crime, cop haters have managed to create a new animosity toward the profession which, I believe, is unwarranted. Thus, many communities are now more unsafe for citizens as well as officers. Violent crime rates are exploding around the nation, whereby some prosecutors and attorney generals have issued pro-crime policies that make it easier or attractive for criminals to commit crimes, violent and non-violent, without being held accountable. The messages are clear: Disregard cops, take what you want, set fires to cars and buildings, loot and destroy. 

It’s party time for the crooks. 

More than ever, police officers are standing down in the midst of violence because the powers to be who disarm, detest and defund cops are dictating policies that aid and abet criminals with no regard for the victims of crime. It’s not the cops fault. It’s not necessarily the fault of earnest politicians. It’s the fault of ignorant voters who have been blinded and manipulated into believing police officers are our enemy. They are not. 

In some places, hatred toward police lies in spewing the false premise that cops are systematically racist. It’s a way overused term. Nothing can be further from the truth. Not in 2022, or yet, 2000. Those days are long gone. But there are those who continue stirring the pot of hatred. I was in Miami starting in 1960, when systems were, in fact, racist to one degree or another. But those (systemic) attitudes are long passed.

I was the captain in charge of major investigation into the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black man who was caught speeding at night in 1980 on a motorcycle. He had been apprehended and beaten to death by a group of out-of-control cops. It was my responsibility to investigate, arrest and jail five officers who were charged by State Attorney Janet Reno. 

Who said, “It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it?”

Following, the Arthur McDuffie murder, Miami-Dade managers (and many other agencies) looked into every aspect of racial discrimination in the police agency, from testing, to hiring, to training and deploying. Other police agencies in America, then and now, have upgraded policies that have put the “systemic” issue of racism to rest.

 Does racism still exist? Well, it’s possible that we may find a stand-alone relic of racism here and there among the 800,000 cops in America. But it’s not even close to “systemic.” Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

To police wannabes, I offer this advice: Go for it. We need you. America needs you, much like needing soldiers to fight wars. Sadly, there are those who wish to see our government fail. Cops are at the front line to prevent that.

We need heroes.

Marshall Frank

(This Op-Ed Article appears in today’s issue of Florida Today, 1-19-22)

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/opinion/2022/01/19/thinking-becoming-cop-america-needs-you-do-opinion/6562420001/
    

If this retired police captain had a magic wand

Roughly 240 million 911 calls are logged every year in America. Five percent of those calls concern violent crime. Cops and firefighters are busy 365 days a year, making communities a safe place for residents and workers.

The best source for analyzing crime, in general, is not through the courts, lawyers, and prisons. No one is closer to such problems as is your local cop. It is he/she who responds to millions of calls for police service every year, from rescuing accident victims to surviving urban riots where everyone is at risk. They remain under the microscope.

 Marshall Frank, guest columnist

As a 30-year cop in Miami-Dade, Florida, with experience in various phases of law enforcement, I’ve seen my fair share of criminal conduct and the systems that have operated to deal with criminal behavior.

 If I had the magic wand, I would …

  • Appoint a joint committee made up of legal, social, and law enforcement personnel, to redesign drug laws that would put more emphasis on control, treatment, and mental health, rather than banishing users into prison cells for decades.
  • Establish a method by which we could identify people who suffer from psychotic issues and re-establish long-needed sanitarium facilities where mental health personnel treat the mentally ill — before committing a crime, not after. Recent studies reveal that 20% of prison inmates in state penal systems suffer from some form of advanced mental illness.
  • Decriminalize prostitution and establish laws that protect consumers. This would legitimize, sanitize and control such unenforceable ‘crimes’ that have been in the service business for centuries.
  • Reduce jail and prison populations by invoking the European model which hands out shorter sentences while converting those cost savings into funding for treatment, training and education.
  • Help released prisoners re-adapt to society after being incarcerated for many years. Such inmates often return to society with no support system or opportunities to survive with criminal records. This often results in choice recidivism, i.e. convicts committing crimes in order to return to prison.
  • Abolish capital punishment. Studies reveal that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. It is an outrageous cost to taxpayers, far more than standard incarceration. Meanwhile, the risks of executing innocents, though rare, are far too great. One is too many. The state should not be in the business of killing another human being.
  • Let judges judge by doing away with minimum-mandatory sentencing.  Laws often require a predetermined number of years for inmates to serve in prison if found guilty of a felony regardless of circumstance. Prosecutors use these laws by negotiating sentences to secure a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. Thus, many judges are stripped from exercising judicial discretion.
  • Why reinvent the wheel? We should focus on communities that have succeeded in lowering crime rates. “Stop-and-frisk” policies were highly productive in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. All citizens, black, white and purple, benefited greatly.
  • The claim that systemic racism runs rampant among police personnel is untrue. It had been true in past years. I know, I’ve been there. Some cops will occasionally be held to task for misbehavior in the heat of the moment. That does not make it “systemic.”  We need to support brave men and women in uniform, or we’ll find ourselves unable to fill vacant positions. Good cops will seek other jobs. The ultimate winners: Criminals. The losers: Citizens.
  • Citizens should oust public figures who lobby for defunding of police. It reveals other goals they have in mind which is clearly political. I firmly believe the enemies of America have been stirring hatred and sowing the seeds of chaos in order to destroy our democratic republic. The riots throughout America in 2020 and 2021 have shown this to be true. As career cops leave the profession, criminals are in wait.

    We must keep politics out of law enforcement.

    Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and author of 15 books. 

“THE YEAR OF DANGEROUS DAYS” – Review By Marshall Frank

“THE YEAR OF DANGEROUS DAYS”
Riots, Refugees and Cocaine in Miami, 1980
By Nicolas Griffin

This is a powerful read for people, especially law enforcement personnel, judges, prosecutors, and prison staff who survived Miami in the era of boundless crime, 1979-1980. Penned by a first-class Miami writer, Nicholas Griffin brings the reader into the most difficult era in law enforcement history when Dade County became the murder capital of the nation for four consecutive years.

Published 2020 by Simon & Shuster

This book includes a graphic account of:

  • The overwhelming infestation of drugs and traffickers
  • Police corruption
  • Deploying investigative units with only half the personnel available.
  • The Arthur McDuffie Case in which multiple cops, after a long chase, took turns beating a man to death for speeding.
  • A trial that rendered a “Not Guilty” verdict, sparking the worst race riots in Florida history, with eighteen innocents brutally murdered, and many more injured.
  • The impact on South Florida from the Mariel Boatlift 1980 which, over a four-month period, brought 125,000 refugees, many unidentified, to the Miami area from jails, hospitals, psyche wards, crippled, insane, or infirmed. And, yes, drug smugglers.
  • That also impacted the Medical Examiner’s office whose daily dead body count nearly doubled, requiring a refrigerator truck to handle the overflow.
    For weeks and months, bodies were floating up everywhere, in canals, cars, trucks.

Yours truly is mentioned in a number of incidents and scenes. I feel honored to have been of assistance to the author. We also interviewed many other Miami-Dade cops who worked, along with others, around the clock on these cases. This includes my good friends, most notably Frank Wesolowski, Al Singleton, Raul Diaz and Lonnie Lawrence. A full list is mentioned in the book.

Nicholas Griffin is a first-class interviewer, and I’ve known many. Also mentioned are numerous other officials from various agencies in South Florida

The book is available via Amazon or at bookstores everywhere.

It’s a very good read.

Cuban people sense an opening for freedom; the U.S. cannot let them down

I’ll not forget my rookie year as a new cop for Dade County in 1960.

Until then, I had never met a Spanish-speaking person. The populations of Miami and Miami Beach were lily-white.

Schools were not integrated and neighborhoods were divided by race. Spanish-speaking folks were a novelty.

With Miami situated in southeast Florida, residents were mostly immigrants from New York and other northern states.

While Americans followed the war taking place in the mountainous Cuban terrain, many were happy to see crooked Fulgencio Batista toppled from power while a rugged, charismatic revolutionary leader emerged from the hills to assume the seat of leadership. His name: Fidel Castro. Cubans, and many Americans, were happy to see a new government take control of the Island nation. So what if he said he was “socialist.”

After Castro took full control over the new government, he unveiled his alliance with the Soviet Union and announced that he was a die-hard communist.

The stranglehold was now in place. Cities and towns in Cuba were “cleansed” of people who stood in the way of a one-party rule government. Thousands of dissidents disappeared. Families were pulled apart. Schools became propaganda strongholds for students. Thousands more frantically risked their lives rafting over ocean currents to America, many of whom never reached the shores. Everyone was stripped of their possessions.

The Cuban people no longer owned their homes or their businesses. There was no such thing as freedom of speech or the right to assemble or control of their future. Within 20 years, some 1.5 million Cubans managed to resettle in America and build new lives for themselves and their families.

In 1961, while in uniform, I had just attended a court session in Miami when I spotted a middle-aged man wearing a Cubavera shirt, selling bananas on Flagler Street at the intersection. Curiously, I approached and said, “Sir. Can I ask a question?”

He looked at my uniform. “About what?”

“Can I ask what you did when you lived in Cuba?”

Proudly, he puffed out his chest and replied in broken English, “I was vice president of a bank.”

“You have a family?” I asked.

“Si, a wife and two daughters.”

He went on to explain that they were living in a two-bedroom apartment with two other families. With furrowed eyebrows he looked at me strongly. With his finger pointing to the sky, he declared they were proud people and would not take welfare.

That was a lesson.

As years passed, I developed a closeness to the Cuban people who assimilated and worked hard to support their families. Many became teachers, business owners, military, entertainers and even police officers. Some of the best cops I ever knew were of Cuban heritage. I came to enjoy their music, their food, their humor, and die-hard honesty.

Castro’s plight was not a one-time event. Twenty years later, the Cuban economy was in dire straits. Multi-thousands were sick and injured, unable to work or contribute. Mental hospitals were beyond capacity. The elderly in Cuba were considered useless. Prisons were in overload. Too many people were taking, but not giving. The remedy? Get rid of everyone. What else?

Starting May 17, 1980, over four arduous months, more than 125,000 desperate human beings were granted exits from Cuba to reach America via rafts and rickety vessels from a port called Mariel. President Carter gave the OK as the infamous Mariel Boatlift conveyed desperate human beings to South Florida, devoid of possessions. Thousands died or disappeared. Miami became the murder capital of America for four years. Bodies surfaced everywhere, in waterways, the Everglades, in car trunks and garbage cans. The medical examiner needed a huge refrigerated truck to house the overflow of bodies.

The Cuban people have once again taken to the streets of Havana in protest as the government has failed to provide basic necessities.

Why rise up now, 61 years since Castro’s communist dictatorship began? Because the oppressed Cuban people sense an opening for the first time ever, daring to stand up against the regime, making demands.

Not for food. Not for medicine. Not for luxuries. But for the most precious commodity of all: freedom.

Perhaps that time has finally come.

I pray the American government will rise to the occasion.

 Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and author of 15 books.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/07/23/cuban-people-sense-opening-freedom-u-s-cannot-let-them-down/8012420002/

THE TRUTH ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AT THE BORDER. OP-ED By M. Frank

Let’s be brutally honest, folks. The recent surge of thousands more immigrants swarming over the southern border illegally has nothing to do with helping immigrants with humane objectives. It’s all about politics. It’s all about gaining millions of votes in future elections, legal or illegal, tipping the scales, irreversibly, for one political party over another.

Numbers matter. Years ago, people went to the polls on election day, produced a voter ID, then voted. Contrary to years past, the architects of our voting systems have now made sure that anyone and everyone can declare themselves as eligible voters, even when they’re not.

Times have changed from elections of yore. According to Ballotpedia online, 15 states now require no proof of identity, including New York, California, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Sixteen more require some form of I.D., but no photo. Nineteen still require some ID, plus photo. It’s insane that a federal election can use different systems from state to state.

When driver’s licenses are provided to immigrants who entered the country illegally via the black market, it gives them wrongful access to the voting booths. It’s just a matter of time that Republicans will be irreversibly outnumbered.

I don’t believe that political overseers are awash with sympathy for immigrants that enter the country illegally. It’s all about the quest for power.

Today, there are multiple methods for casting votes, including the new mail-in system which seems to be convenient, while critics consider that as one more system that is fallible.

How many immigrants are living here now, having crossed illegally or overstaying their visas? The common answer is roughly 11 million. (The Center for Migration Studies said it was 10.7 million in 2017). However those figures have been a standard response for the last 15 years. Separate studies conducted in 2018 by M.I.T. and Yale concluded the number was closer to 22 million.

Truth is, we really don’t know. We do know that health care, public education and criminal conduct has always been a serious battle when those numbers explode, particularly for victims who are dependent on American tax dollars to survive. Law enforcement, schools and health providers are maxed out, barely able to keep up with constant demands. Add to that the impact of COVID-19 upon our workforces, job markets and the stresses upon health care.

Then there’s the sudden surge of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the past few months. Nearly 3,000 of those kids are under age 12.

Increases in criminal conduct are inevitable considering the numbers of immigrants who have no sources of income. How will they feed and care for themselves and their families?

Marshall Frank

With the addition of the new wall, and effective enforcement by the Trump administration, this problem was far more under control than the present day.

Unemployment figures are likely to spike considering the disastrous effect COVID-19 has had on the economy. Additionally, the thousands of current and projected jobs now defunct at the Keystone XL pipeline (according to PolitiFact.com). Then there are the farming and construction industries that will likely be hiring low-paid workers, keeping Americans searching for other jobs.

We certainly feel compassion for the law-abiding folks who simply wish to live in America. But we must also preserve the nation and its people from destruction from within. Once we assemble a flood of migrants from Central America, there is always South America, Africa and Asia in future decades.

The slippery slope awaits.

There are politicians who clearly support immigrants crossing illegally into America. It’s all about votes. Votes equal power.

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.

www.marshallfrank.com