Tag Archives: legislation

The Hill: States are gambling with law enforcement safety

My Sunday, February 12, 2017 piece in The Hill discusses the discrepancies in state laws that classify a peace officer in one state, but that same position is just a guard in another state; and how this failure to standardize roles is putting police and corrections officers at risk.  This is drawn contextually with the hostage siege in a Delaware prison that resulted in the killing of a hero Corrections Sergeant, and the signing of several pro-law enforcement executive orders by President Trump just one week later.

Please click here to read the full story.

The Hill: Political blowback hampers FBI corruption probes

My latest piece that ran in The Hill yesterday was entitled “Political blowback hampers FBI corruption probes”. It focuses on public corruption and the FBI investigations therein. This will be the first in a series on corruption using Philadelphia as a key example, and how it can serve as a cautionary tale for other states and cities.

Click here to read the piece in The Hill and let me know what your thoughts are.

What’s Missing from the DoJ Civil Rights Division’s Police Investigations

baltimore police doj report

Vanita Gupta, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, discussed the department’s findings on the investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Associated Press/Brian Witte

Today, I was published in The Hill, in regards to the US Justice Department, Civil Rights Division’s release of a scathing, 163 page report on Wednesday, which details their investigation into the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD). The report concluded that BPD has exhibits systematic racial bias against African-Americans.

This DoJ report is quite similar to the ones written following investigations in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Ferguson, MO and Albuquerque, NM following controversial police uses of force.

However, in reviewing the report’s findings, one is left to wonder what elements are missing from these scathing reports that seem very quick to cite race as the pivotal factor in their conclusions.  Furthermore, one is left to wonder what the lasting effect these reports and their resulting consent decrees have on policing in their respective cities. At the end of the day, the nature of these DoJ reports can beg the question of their effectiveness.  Could a better use of governmental resources can easily be directed at the reasons crime is so high in the very communities where these DoJ reports are focused? If we, as a collective, recognize the job of the police, in responding to and preventing crime in the context of the high-crime areas where these investigations are conducted; then we can understand these statistics much better.

Please read the whole article and my talking points by visiting The Hill by clicking here, free of charge.

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 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