Tag Archives: Firearms

Law enforcement revives crime fighting initiatives as communities see recent spike

My latest piece in The Hill entitled “Law enforcement revives crime fighting initiatives as communities see recent spike” breaks down some of the “new” crime-fighting initiatives in cities like Baltimore & Chicago; and examines their potential effectiveness. Please share your thoughts and let’s discuss.

To read the entire column, click here.

The Hill: America needs a ‘Duck and Cover’ for domestic terrorism

Despite a persistent threat and great courses like the CAT Eyes Program & “Run, Hide, Fight“, there still is no standardized effort to train citizens on terrorism and what they should do if an attack were to occur. If your local law enforcement agency, school or workplace hasn’t trained you in what to do; ask them to immediately!

In the meantime, this piece examines what can be done to try and make Americans more vigilant and mentally prepared for what may occur.

Click here to read the full story in The Hill.

How ’60 Minutes’ got it wrong about Chicago

This piece in The Hill looks at last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” segment entitled “Crisis in Chicago” and discuses how their analysis fails to truly explore the cause and effect of a violent crime epidemic in Chicago that left 764 people dead within the last year.

To read the full article, please click here.

The Hill: ‘Status offenses’ limit criminal justice reform efforts

My latest piece in The Hill takes on how some politically charged types of crime are becoming modern-day “Status Offenses” & how that impacts Criminal Justice Reform efforts. Please share and discuss as I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, as it impacts me personally.

To read the full article, please click here.

John Cardillo & Ben Mannes discuss tactics and the Tulsa shooting

Ben Mannes appeared again on The John Cardillo Show, which airs weekday mornings on WBIZ 880AM in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, to discuss the latest controversial police shooting of an unarmed suspect. The shooting of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black suspect with PCP in his vehicle by Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby was, in my opinion about poor tactics and/or training, not her justification to use deadly force.

In watching the video, it was clear that Crutcher should have complied and was being given clear and lawful orders, ignoring them by walking back to his vehicle (albeit with his hands up).  Tactically, I believed this to call for nonlethal/less-lethal force such as a taser, takedown, or impact weapon. Had Officer Shelby and her backup officers bridged the distance and attempted a less lethal intervention method he got to his driver’s door, Crutcher would be alive and in custody now.

On an important note, had Crutcher listened and lawfully complied with Shelby (which is hard to do on PCP), and the officers on the scene not been afraid to go ‘old school’ and put hands on him; Crutcher would be alive today.

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.

Armed Teachers in Schools: Mannes on “It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle”

Aired on the Comcast Network (Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) on Aug 25, 2013

With students returning to school, their security and safety remain a number one priority, especially in light of the Newtown, CT massacre and recent college campus shootings. Many proposals have been suggested, including allowing teachers to carry firearms as a means of protecting themselves and their students. Some even suggest allowing college students to carry guns. Is that one way to keep kids safe? Or could it lead to even more dangerous situations? IYC debates allowing weapons on campus.

An expert panel featuring A. Benjamin Mannes debated this issue on live TV:

Philadelphia Metro: Barriers and Burritos

Page 1 Phila Metro 8-12-13 Page 2 Phila Metro 8-12-13