Category Archives: Media

The Hill: Comedians may be one of the last sources for honest commentary

As America becomes more and more easily offended, could comedy be the only place for honest political commentary in today’s politically-correct society? Could America learn how to thicken it’s collective skin from these comics and move toward more free speech in the upcoming years?

To read the entire piece the The Hill, click here.

The Hill: When a union local betrays all of organized labor

In my November 3rd piece for The Hill, I wrote about this week’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) strike, and how America’s fifth largest city is being held hostage every few years by the same Union. The issue is particularly frustrating as I am a third generation union member and owe my union a lifetime of gratitude. However, the mission of organized labor is being trivialized by locals who abuse their strike vote time and again, with little perspective to the stakeholders they serve.

Please read, share and discuss as it’s important to all working people by clicking here.

The Hill: Why facts matter in police shootings

My latest piece in The Hill looks at the differences between the two lives lost in Los Angeles County this week.

As quoted:
“Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter” is, in my opinion a false dichotomy. As someone who grew up in both New York and Los Angeles during the crack explosion, I was taught that “No Lives Matter,” until you make a name for yourself and define how your life matters to those around you.”

PLEASE READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND SHARE IT TO GET THE FULL STORY IN THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS.

The Hill: Due Process includes law enforcement officers

This column in The Hill focuses on public demand in our current, corrosive political climate for the premature release of evidence or legal action before the completion of an investigation.  The piece examines the constitutional right to due process, which is vital to public safety and criminal justice in America. Everyone should be reminded that regardless of their political beliefs, all Americans are protected by the constitution…and a riot is no excuse for the violation of those rights.

The full piece can be read by clicking here.

The Hill: Trolling the bottom: How facts got trumped by volume

This piece in The Hill discusses the current, unfortunate state of discourse in America. It discusses “trolling” as it’s commonly seen in social media, but also examines it as a dangerous social construct that has resulted in a breakdown in trust and socialization throughout the world.

To read the full article, please click here.

John Cardillo Show: Crime & Corruption

Ben Mannes was a three-segment guest on the John Cardillo show, mornings on 880 WBIZ Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.  John is a former NYPD officer and radio personality specializing in political commentary.  Ben and John talk about Ben’s latest articles in The Hill, BLM and Public Corruption for 25 minutes.

Phone interviews are hard, but I will stop in and do the show live on my next trip to South Florida.

The Hill: Why Kaepernick, Beyonce and Black Lives Matter fail to understand cops

My latest piece in The Hill focuses on the needed clarification of roles so that the public can best understand what law enforcement does, and what roles are best left to social services to avoid deadly misunderstandings on the street.

To read the full story, please click here.

Rules to the game: Cops, criminals and the complexity of urban policing

As published this morning in The Hill:

Last weekend violent riots broke out in Milwaukee, WI, following the police shooting of 23-year old Sylville Smith, who was armed with a stolen semiautomatic handgun during a foot pursuit. Civil protests turning violent is unfortunately becoming a new norm in the divide between the African American community and the police agencies serving them, with similar protests in Ferguson, MO and Dallas, TX resulting in the unfortunate loss of life and property.  However, when looking back on the adversarial relationship between criminals and law enforcement; this new norm has not traditionally been “part of the game”.

“The game” is street vernacular in abbreviation for the “crime game” or “drug game” that encompasses the criminal activities conducted professionally in the community. Those employed in “the game” are commonly referred to as “players”.  Now, your more experienced players know that if you’re committing a criminal act and the police arrest you, chase you, or use force to apprehend you; then that’s part of “the game” and the police are doing their job in coming after you.  Examples of this are evident in the unexpected “business” relationships that arise between those in “the game” and law enforcement officers.

Outside Baltimore, MD, the name Melvin Williams may not ring a bell. Most of us remember Williams as the actor who played the neighborhood Church Deacon on the venerable HBO crime drama, “The Wire”.  However, Williams real fame is from his stint as “little Melvin” Williams, the West Baltimore drug kingpin that The Wire’s ‘Avon Barksdale’ character was actually based on.  The little known truth behind how Williams ended up inspiring the character as the drug kingpin who was the focus of seasons 1-3 of The Wire as well as how he came to be a player on the show in seasons three and four was that he was friends with Ed Burns, the show’s co-creator who was himself the Baltimore City Police Detective that helped put Williams away in 1984. In 2003, Williams was released from prison and reconnected with Burns, who put him on the show.

Also of mention is Frank Lucas, the heroin kingpin arrested by New Jersey Narcotics Task Force Detective Richie Roberts in the 1970s, inspiring the 2007 film “American Gangster”. What’s little known to the public is that while working with Roberts up to and through his 1975 conviction, Lucas and Roberts became close friends and stayed in touch through Lucas’ prison sentences from ’75-’81 and ’84-’91 and stayed friends since; to includes Roberts being godfather to Lucas’ son, Ray.  Also from New Jersey, Joey “Coco” Diaz, an actor and comedian who in the late 1980s was imprisoned for an armed drug kidnapping, stated on his podcast “The Church of What’s Happening Now” that “even though he was a career criminal he never resented the police, they had a job to do and it was understood”.

The truth is, any criminal or urban law enforcement officer will tell you, the streets are a workplace.  Law enforcement officers and members of the community make up a workplace in where no roles are 100% clear, considering the criminals are often victimizing members of the same community that they live, and good citizens in that community often know them, their relatives, and often times the law enforcement officers that come to arrest them.

So if we’re to believe the rhetoric in the media that pushes a “racially-driven, killer cop” narrative, despite all officially-collected data pointing to the opposite, then how can community policing examples dating back over forty-five years with famed examples like Williams/Burns and Lucas/Roberts exist?  The truth is that even a career criminal will you that you can’t run from the police and not expect to be chased and tackled. If you point a firearm at a police officer, then a career criminal expects that they will be fired upon.  If you’re known to the police and have multiple priors at a certain location, then you know that they can’t just walk away when you physically resist arrest.  These are long standing rules and are common-place to anyone in “the game”, so what brings upon this change in our public narrative that has people protesting, rioting, and assassinating law enforcement officers in the name of armed, potentially deadly suspects like Sylville Smith or Alton Sterling?

If nothing else has been learned from the civil-rights era riots of Watts, Newark, Detroit, the 1992 LA riots, and last year’s riot in Baltimore; it takes generations, if ever, for a community to recover from the damage inflicted in this unrest. However, it seems that the narrative behind these riots is changing, and a belief that law enforcement should simply allow a myriad of dangerous criminal behavior to exist persists in those who are taking to the streets in the protests that are too often becoming riots.  If more people took a note from the precarious “business” relationship between law enforcement and those in “the game” on the streets of urban America, maybe there wouldn’t be such outrage over the inevitable outcome of an incredibly bad choice to raise a weapon at a police officer.

A. Benjamin Mannes (@PublicSafetySME) is a national subject matter expert in public safety. He serves as a member of the Peirce College Criminal Justice Studies Advisory Board in Philadelphia and is a Governor on the Executive Board of InfraGard, the FBI-coordinated public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection.

Arizona Republic: 5 ways to address mass shootings (without the politics)

AZ Republic Masthead 7-13-16

Published on July 13, 2016 in the [Phoenix] Arizona Republic following the mass shootings in Orlando and Dallas.

My Turn: Too often, lawmakers turn their attention to solutions that won’t work. Here are a few that will.

In December 2012, my op-ed was published in the Philadelphia Daily News offering effective responses that can be taken by lawmakers and leaders to address the Sandy Hook massacre, in conjunction with writing my elected officials to plead for common-sense solutions to violent crime.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, I find myself writing again in response to the incidents at San Bernardino, Orlando and Dallas in addition to the thousands who are victimized senselessly on the streets of America’s cities every year.

As an expert in law enforcement and security, I am wrought with disappointment and disbelief at how quickly a massacre like the Orlando attack can be politicized by the media and lawmakers.

Why simply ‘banning’ firearms won’t work

The argument predictably shifted from the search for answers in the attack to the tools used in the attack. Why? It’s politically a lot easier to blame the weapons used in the attack than to delve into the murky waters of the current psyche of our nation, why these incidents are on the rise, and what we can do to prevent future incidents.

An astute observation to make is: Despite all the talking heads, why has the majority of our nation’s law enforcement stayed off the issue of the weapon used, and on the issue of the assailants in question?

One reason is because law-enforcement professionals know that an operable, maintained firearm could work for over 100 years, and there are approximately more than 300 million firearms owned in the United States. Regardless, our legislators hurried to draft a bill to regulate a few specific types of weapons, which would have little effect on the underlying issue of the few dangerous people seeking to use these weapons unlawfully.

Therefore, one should ask political leaders if there are more effective ways to address this vital issue to our security.

5 solutions that’ll actually work

I want to offer some ways our legislators can address  mass violence and invest in effective strategies for security, law enforcement and mental-health treatment, including:

  • Refine legislation that actually improves the myriad existing, effective laws, which include a requirement for background checks for personal transfers (which could be as easy as the parties of a personal sale going to a gun store or police station to show identification when privately selling a firearm) and immediate legislation for public-safety modifications to health-privacy laws (HIPAA). The HIPAA revision should fund the creation of a state mental-health treatment database, to tie mandatory notifications from mental-health professionals to law enforcement when someone is undergoing treatment for potentially dangerous conditions (to include outpatient treatment when pharmacological intervention is required), who can cross-check files with firearms registration (and requests to buy new weapons).
  • Immediately increase funding for the enforcement of existing laws, which includes recruitment and support for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and its task forces, to better target interstate smuggling and straw-purchasing of illegal firearms; and providing timely enforcement when a prohibited person is seeking a firearm. This can also accompany federal support for state firearms enforcement and heightened sentences for other crimes where a firearm was used or recovered, similar to “Face 5” in Georgia or “Project Exile” in Virginia.
  • Legislate professional standards for security and law-enforcement officers specializing in critical infrastructure protection, as America needs to accept the need for professionally trained and equipped staff on-site to intervene if an incident occurs.
  • Require training in the safe handling, retention and use of a firearm for any civilian owner, similar to qualifications that security officers must complete, as well as laws addressing the securing of firearms at home, to prevent theft or access by prohibited persons.
  • Fund training for workplaces and schools in recognizing and reporting abnormal behavior, and fund an early-intervention tip line coordinated with local law enforcement.

Although these solutions are less “popular” in addressing the threat of mass-violence, I hope that my elected officials can begin a meaningful, non-partisan discussion with an impact on violent crime. Offering popular legislation that does not pass is the equivalent of “kicking of the can down the road,” but if we are to work together to address the causes versus the tools used, we may be able to save lives.

A. Benjamin Mannes serves as governor on the executive board of InfraGard, the FBI-coordinated public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection, and is a member of the Peirce College criminal justice studies advisory board. Email him at bmannes@philadelphiainfragard.org; Twitter, @PublicSafetySME.

Philadelphia Daily News: “Guns, Common Sense and Low Hanging Fruit”

Guns, common sense, 'low-hanging fruit' - philly-archives

Published on December 31, 2012 following the mass-shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

AS A FORMER law-enforcement officer, homeland security inspector and intelligence analyst for both federal and municipal jurisdictions (and a law-abiding registered voter), I have written to my elected officials to plead for their support in common-sense solutions to recent rising trends in violent crime, to include tragedies such as the mass-murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

As a citizen with a specific skill set in crime suppression, I believe in the inalienable right to self-defense, and am aware of the statistical disparities between crimes committed by legal, responsible gun owners and those who succumb to criminality or are afflicted with a mental-health disorder.

The undisputable facts are that an operable, maintained firearm will last well over 100 years, and there are currently more than 270 million firearms in private circulation throughout the United States. Therefore, I asked my political leaders, as educated men of public service: “How will newer, more-stringent gun laws prevent future attacks or violent crimes committed by those who have no intention to abide by even the current set of laws regulating firearms in our nation and states?”

I am keenly aware of the fact that in a city of 329 homicides (thus far) this year; a police officer may not always be here when I need one. Therefore, I believe in a responsible citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, for self-defense, and believe (from experience) that the type of weapon possessed has little importance over the quality of the individual in possession of that weapon.

I urge my leaders to dismiss the popular, yet baseless concept that firearms themselves equate to violent crime. I believe that instead of spending their valuable time and our needed tax dollars on arguing new gun legislation, that time and money would be better invested in new strategies for security, law enforcement and mental-health treatment.

I offer my support and assistance in identifying the “low-hanging fruit” to protect our citizenry and enforce the law in an efficient, effective manner, to include:

* Professional recruitment, training, and equipment for school police (who, in places like Philadelphia and New York, are currently not certified/armed police officers, despite their name and funding, necessitating a redundant detail of city police at high-risk schools).

* Legislation for a HIPAA-compliant (or modifications to HIPAA) State Mental Health Treatment Database, to tie mandatory notifications from medical and mental-health professionals to law enforcement when someone is undergoing mental-health treatment (to include outpatient treatment when pharmacological intervention is required), who can cross-check files with firearms registration (and requests to buy new weapons).

* More law-enforcement officers specializing in critical infrastructure protection (like the Los Angeles General Services Police and D.C. Protective Services Division, for which Philadelphia currently has no equivalent).

* Zero-tolerance enforcement and heightened sentences for illegal weapons offenses or other crimes where a firearm was used or recovered, similar to “Face 5” in Georgia or “Project Exile” in Virginia.

* Increased funding, recruitment, and support for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and its task forces, so that more investigations and prosecutions can be conducted for interstate smuggling and straw-purchasing operations for illegal firearms.

* Legislation requiring safes or strongboxes for legal firearms owners when the weapon is not secured on their person.

* Legislation requiring training in the safe handling, retention and use of a firearm for any civilian owner.

* Training for workplaces and schools in recognizing and reporting abnormal behavior, and an early-intervention tipline.

I am making a desperate plea to my fellow citizens to force our political leaders at all levels to begin a meaningful and effective discussion that would have an immediate impact on violent crime in America. Let’s see if they take me up on my offer – or opt for the politically popular “kicking of the can down the road.”

A. Benjamin Mannes, CPP

Philadelphia, PA