Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Spunk The Halls

My mouth has run off with me yet again. So...I posted this Facebook status update the other day on The Boogie Man Is My Friend Facebook page...

Ok. I am going to get on a soapbox. And I am sure I am going to be pelted into the dirt. Here is my OPINION. Remember, you can throw egg at me I don't care. They are just words. 

Just because cops are getting the brunt of harassment and blanket parties of hate, does not mean they (the police) need to video tape all their good deeds and display them on the internet (although some are priceless quips of candid camera and not planned) in hopes to show the world the nice side (it looks fake, although I know it is not) nor make up signs, shirts, banners, carry on bad attitudes, and "what not" which includes twisting the "hands up" crap or the "breathe" crap onto advertising materials. Sometimes our sick humor is not appreciated by all.

All of the above things make law enforcement look sensitive and insensitive at the same time. I'm not making it up. I see it. I hear it. Even my good friends who support law enforcement are crumbling and falling into despair over it.

I would wager most of America is slipping down a slope of division. Pitting two sides against each other is not going to help even if we feel one way or another. We have to come up with some solutions. One of those might be taking the high road.

I understand the anger and disgust because common sense is not prevailing in society and some of the attention is misdirected, BUT, joining the ranks of bottom feeders and throwing tantrums is no better than the looting fools. Be positive change.

Rise above it. Hold your heads high. Do your job with pride and honor. You have a shield. Let the crap bounce off of it. I know the men and women I worked next to back in the day had the utmost integrity. I was proud to serve my community and with my blue brothers and sisters.

I can't tell you how many snarly cops I have run into lately and the nice ONE I met yesterday...I enjoyed his conversation. I still smiled at the snarly ones, too. I am a huge supporter of law enforcement, duh.

All during the duration of our careers we are told to take it and we do. It is a crap philosophy because cops are people, not robots. I know the breaking point has been met...but don't go down that dark road. You don't have to agree with the opposing masses. You can tackle opposition with the right tools.

What I am most angry about is the amount of fallen officers. I don't want it to be a trending news story every day. I don't want evil to prevail over good.

You can lead by example.

Ok. I am done. Citizen Fargo out.

Whew. I need a drink.

This was in response to seeing this all over Facebook....

Photo credit: Policeone.com and South Bend Uniform Company Facebook page

And shortly after that the news hit with this breaking story from Indiana. This is now national news.

1. Absolutely the t-shirt should be allowed as free speech and the officer should be allowed to sell it at his store.

2. I don't like the "I Can't Breathe" and "Hands Up Don't Shoot" slogans either.  They are stupid and don't tell the truth of any matter, but are only geared to harass and slam cops. They could have come up with a different slogan to make their points...well, maybe...because their points are the issue. What I mean is the protesters could protest the issue, not the false truths. I know that would be asking too much. I know our humor is jaded and people are plastering the net with all kinds of comebacks to these words. They aren't good either. This is not positive to move forward and get beyond this chaos.

Let me tell you I am at odds with my fellow law enforcement buddies. Some agree with my viewpoint, but most who have contacted me via phone, IM, chat, email, etc. ...disagree with my opinion and support the sale of this t-shirt and chant the slogan or post it on their timeline. They have purchased shirts. Now...for souvenir value...they might have some historical value. Put them in your closet and support the dude's livelihood. 

3. I don't personally NOT support the sale of the shirt....first, I am poor even though the guy has to be losing money at the low price...second,because I think it puts law enforcement in a greater negative light.  I feel the guy can do whatever he wants. I support free speech and free enterprise.  I just don't support the cops wearing that nor would I wear it to support them. I just think it is an insensitive response to the mayhem.

4. Scream and jump up and down at the world because it isn't making sense but don't post vile things on your social media if you are a cop. It comes back to haunt you. Even my internet life will haunt me in new job possibilities right now. Don't post in anger, despair, frustration...any negativity. Let me do that for you. Let your family do it for you... unless you later want a job with the FBI.  Let your non-cop friends do it for you. Cops really don't have free speech even though your administrator says you do...you don't. Even if the book of cop's rights says you have the right to free association and free speech...you don't. It's something you gave away when you signed up. Look at it as a small sacrifice. At least no one can ever take away free thought. Get used to being Switzerland. For life. 

That's my take. I think cops have a shield for a reason and not just the image from the Crusades, but because you have to let things bounce off you even if it isn't fair. Life isn't fair. 

Night Sweats and Day Screams

It's funny how I still dream those dreaded cop dreams of running and running and falling down or chasing someone and only grabbing part of a shirt, losing grasp and continuing. Last night I had all those features plus the ones where I was dodging bullets, yet I forgot to wear my vest. Somehow I managed to come out of it unscathed. I think about my law enforcement days often. I am missing some things and not others. I don't like how our world has become hateful toward police and I think their world is very dangerous whereas when I worked, I felt comfortable, safe, but not complacent. I still always had my guard up...which by the way...has never left me.

I thought those days were done. Apparently not.

Many significant things have happened in the last two weeks. Here are my 12 observations of random schmandom, not related to Christmas...but just like the jingle...

12. I have been reading a lot more and I love it. I love to read. I'm very grateful my daughter loves to read as well. She is just like me when I was that age and can't get enough books. She loves real books, Kindle, internet ebooks, blah blah blah.

11.. I have gone through ups and downs with emotions debating on whether this move was the right thing. I have a good job, I have a house, I have a happy kid (for the most part). I guess I miss the wild west. I think my dad was right that he never would live anywhere else. Maybe someday I will retire back there in a nice mountain cabin and be "that lady" they always talk about.

10. I've come to grips with being alone and that is OK for now. What is will be and what is meant to be will happen. When I had this revelation...I was petting the new puppy...squuuueeeee...his furby self is like therapy crack...and thinking to myself that I was OK if things never worked out to be a "fairy tale ending." After all, Mary Poppins was a lonely old geezer who brought happiness into the world. At the same time, I realized I was contemplating my mistakes along the road and focusing too much on the past. I let them all go. Hopefully, it is not one of the fucking boomerang experiments.  I decided I need to look forward and move in a positive direction with less concentration on my mistakes and reliving history. It took a lot to get to that point. Yes, Jesus has had to hit me with a two by four. Shut it. I don't want to hear everyone's peanut gallery remarks until you walk in my shoes. Boom! How did you like that?

9. I am very grateful for my family and friends. I am blessed, very, very blessed.

8. My child is going through such hormonal changes I might not make it to my golden years. I'm telling ya...hell hath no fury like a teen-aged girl's raging hormones. Help me, Gladys. Yes, Gladys is my pseudo name I used on patrol. I might need to go undercover for a while.

7. I love being a home body right now. It's cold outside. It's warm inside. I love to read. It's great.

6. I want snow. I want to snow shoe. We have nothing. It's warm enough not to wear a coat outside most times. Ugh. I know I should keep my mouth shut because when we have unseasonably cold weather I will be bitching again.

5. I day dream a lot. Does this mean I don't know what I want to do when I grow up?

4. My office buddy and I are trying to figure out a way for me to pay for my grad school which is not covered by my discount. I have my first bachelor's here for free! Well, shit. I already have one of those. Great benefit, but it doesn't work. They offer a discount for masters or doctorates. I can't do an assistantship because I have to work. There are no scholarships here for grad school. I can't do a loan. I don't qualify for any poor man plan even though I am one. We think we have the Bursar willing to do different payment plan for me. Wish me luck!

3. I am getting old. Things do not heal like they used. I am refusing to accept it. I am 29. I am 29. Really...I got some weird skin things going on like dry rashes...bad moles developing (yes, I have an appointment with the skin cancer doctor dude)...bones creek...crepetis....(btw...spellcheck thinks crepetis should be crepes)...tooth issues...eyes going bad. I should just be put out to pasture.

2. I feel yuck. I really am unhealthy. I am sick all the time. I have got to get a move on. It's time to stop this nonsense. And asthma is kicking my ass. Time to kick it back.

1. Being a mother to a teenager is the most difficult job in the world. Period. End of story.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Inside The NYPD Bomb Squad Series With J.E. Fishman

Perhaps you have read my ramblings in book reviews or Facebook posts or heard me refer to the works of J.E. Fishman in person. But who is J.E. Fishman? What is this series based upon the NYPD Bomb Squad all about?

Well, maybe you should read further.

Let me introduce you to the worldly man himself, J.E. Fishman. He is no stranger to the pen...or in today's words...the keyboard. You can check him out on his website and Amazon if you wish to delve further into his background and certainly to explore his other writings. He is an interesting person and I found his website to be quite a window into his life.

I have never met Mr. Fishman, but I have found all of our communication to portray him as a gentleman, and an inquisitive and forthright writer. Additionally, I would call him a "thrill master" as well--that is not an insult, but points to a moniker I give him by his passion in thrill seeking, action-packed adventures-- which I surmise from his fictional books.

  Photo Credit: Amazon.com-Author's page

I found this interview not only insightful into J.E. Fishman's NYPD Bomb Squad series, but also poignant. Not in a sad or painful way by any means, but his words were moving and passionate to me. I can sense he has a keen interest in attention to details and an investigative sense about him. He has a backstory regarding how he came to write a series about the NYPD Bomb Squad. Not only did he dive right into researching and learning about the squad, he has a technical advisor. I believe he has a high regard for NYPD Bomb Squad Commander, Lt.  Mark Torre. I think I can say that with conviction and confidence.

Fargo: What inspired you to start a series around a bomb squad?

J.E. Fishman: Ah, there’s a story. We have a small apartment in New York’s West Village. Two and a half blocks from the apartment is the back of the local police precinct with a pair of garage doors that say Bomb Squad on them. We walk past there a lot and I figured, “Oh, this is one of the bomb squad stations.” Then, one summer night coming home from dinner, the doors stood open. There were a bunch of guys sitting by the response trucks smoking cigars. We got to talking, they showed us a robot and introduced us to one of the dogs, and I came to learn that this wasn’t “a” bomb squad, it was “the” Bomb Squad. Several dozen techs covering all of New York. I started to wonder whether anyone had delved into these guys dramatically, and I found out that the answer was no. They’ve sort of received cameos in fiction, but no full exploration. So I decided to write the series.

Fargo: Tell me more about The Concise History of the NYPD Bomb Squad:  Dynamite?

J.E. Fishman: The NYPD Bomb Squad is the oldest in the world, founded as the Italian Squad at the instigation of Theodore Roosevelt when he was a police commissioner. Since all the guys are so intense about the history of their squad, I decided to do some research on it--even though the books are contemporary. What I learned was pretty fascinating. There have been times when hundreds of bombs were going off in Manhattan per year. During World War I German saboteurs were attempting to--and sometimes succeeding at--using bombs to disrupt shipping coming out of New York Harbor. In the Teens, anarchists twice tried to blow up St. Patrick's Cathedral. In the Seventies, radicals were setting off bombs inside department stores and outside of office buildings. Crazy times.

The  precursor to the NYPD Bomb Squad began in response to bombings by organized crime extortionists of the so-called Black Hand around the turn of the last century. They would send notes to successful business owners demanding money under bomb threat. They blew up the most successful Italian-American bank (on Elizabeth Street) and drove it to ruin. They extorted the famous tenor Enrico Caruso for money. This stuff is touched upon in the third of the series, The Long Black Hand. But I thought it would be fun to give people the straight historical material, too, which is why I wrote the nonfiction book.

Fargo: Has your view of the inside workings of law enforcement changed since consulting with Lt. Torre? Any increased or different appreciation for the work? How so? How about for specialty assignments such as special tactics? Any differences from your expectations?

J.E. Fishman: I didn't start with a particularly well-informed view of the inner workings of law enforcement. Before I began working on this series, my entire personal contact with law enforcement amounted to a couple of tickets for moving violations! So any notions I had came from “public” sources: books, newspapers, television, movies. Out in the real world, if we law-abiding civilians interact with cops at all, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s beat cops in uniforms. The elite units like the NYPD Bomb Squad are like a foreign country. We sort of know what they do in the abstract, but we don’t know in detail how they do it. Fortunately for me—as an author and as a person—through Mark Torre I got a passport to that foreign country.

The biggest thing I’ve come to appreciate about the work of the Bomb Squad—and I’m sure this applies to all law enforcement, but especially to all elite squads—is to what degree cops like this have to hold opposing views in their heads at the same time. For example, they are well aware that what they’re doing has great importance for society, not to mention for the people whose lives they save. And yet, they also know not only that most of their work will go unacknowledged but that success is often defined by the very fact of having their work go unacknowledged by the public. After all, the media only tends to pay attention for any sustained length of time when the bomb goes off. No one wants to be famous for being the guy who got killed defusing the bomb.

Another of this psychological balancing act is how the bomb tech has to be calmest—literally have the clearest thinking and the steadiest hands—at the moment of greatest tension. You have to know in some part of your soul how dangerous the situation is while at the same time putting the danger completely out of your mind. The NYPD Bomb Squad is unique in many ways, both in relation to other specialty units and even compared to other bomb squads. (I should hasten to add, however, that being unique in many ways doesn’t mean being unique in all ways. Every bomb squad in the country, for example, undergoes similar training at the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School.) What makes their jobs unique is not just the fact that New York remains in some sense the No. 1 target for terrorists in the U.S., but also, the very reasons that’s so make for increased challenges: the density and the constant media attention.

The biggest surprise for me was learningand I say this with all due respecthow seriously these guys take their work. They’re not just trying to get through the day and punch the clock. There’s a total embrace. It’s a kind of fraternity and they really do have one another’s backs. The Bomb Squad is the only police unit I know of that suspends the notion of rank in the presence of a known threat. If you’re the guy closest to the bomb, you’re in charge of that scene, even if there's a guy who outranks you standing five hundred feet away.

Fargo: What have you learned about the NYPD Bomb Squad since consulting with a technical advisor? 

J. E. Fishman: Well, first off, since my technical consultant is the active commander of the unit, I’ve learned all that a person in that position has to juggle. One second he’s fighting the bureaucracy for more equipment and the next second he’s trying to keep New York from getting blown up. Then he’s advising a terrorism task force about precautionary procedures and an hour later he’s counseling one of his guys who’s in the midst of personal problems. He’s like an older brother and an advocate and a boss all at the same time. And meanwhile, of course, he has to maintain his own edge in the craft, so to speak…maintaining his own level of expertise in a highly technical field.

Besides that, well, in a sense it’s all there in the books: the specialized equipment, the procedures. The most impressive thing to me is how dedicated the detectives are (and they’re all detectives). When they’re not out on a case, they study the techniques of bomb makers around the world, trying to stay out ahead of them. They understand the science and mechanics of bomb making. They also generally have a great sense of the history of their unit. Not surprisingly, perhaps, there have been several instances in which multiple family members have served in the squad.
Fargo: What is next in the works after Bottle Rocket?

J.E. Fishman: The series will continue, although not at the torrid pace I set last year. I haven’t even worked out what Bottle Rocket is about exactly, although I have some ideas. Meanwhile, I just finished a horror novel under a pen name, which will be shopped by my agent early this year. Then, too, I want to write the long-overdue second book in the Phu Goldberg series, Ruby Red Dead. I have several concepts for standalone thrillers, too. And right now I’m working on a historical screenplay based upon a friend’s novel about a riot of fugitive slaves in 1851.

Fargo: You have great character development and details to draw the reader in. What do you want readers to capture most from your books?

J.E. Fishman: Wow. Thank you for noticing that. There are a ton of series where the main character never changes. And, although many series like that are quite commercially successful, for me that style eventually leads to cartoon characters. I wanted this series to be about flawed heroes. Not the kind whose supposed flaws are all about that one-in-a-million time when their whole family was murdered by a serial killer, but the kind who are flawed because all humans are flawed. And because we’re flawed, we may or may not improve ourselves, but there’s always something to learn about ourselves and how to get along in life. And, again, it doesn’t mean you have to change deep down, but that learning about life is the character arc. And doing your job well in spite of your flaws is what makes you a hero, in my opinion.

So that’s what I want people to take away most of all. Real heroes aren’t perfect people. They’re in many ways the opposite of perfect. But what makes them different from you and me is their willingness to set everything aside and overcome those imperfections at risk of their own lives.

Fargo: Anything you would like to add?

J. E. Fishman: Thank you for having me and for being a fan of my books. With the new year, I hope book readers will resolve to support their favorite authors by paying full price occasionally for their books and not only focus on the flash sales and the freebies. Even at full price, a great novel is a great value.

Fargo: And I, as well, agree. Thank you, Mr. Fishman, for opening the door to your books and for such an honest and revealing interview. I am anxious to read The Concise History of the NYPD Bomb Squad:  Dynamite?-- my purchase waiting for me! You can also get it in paperback as well which I prefer. Check out Amazon for J.E. Fishman's entire collection of works!