Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This afternoon, the New York City Police Department's Chief of Department, Joseph Esposito, walked out of One Police Plaza, for the last time as chief, as he retired after 44 years with the department.

Two days after I was appointed police commissioner in August 2000, I called then Assistant Chief Esposito to my office to discuss his future with the NYPD. As a two star assistant chief, he was a borough commander in Brooklyn, and one of the most decorated and respected chiefs in the agency.
I told him that I was looking for someone to replace Joseph Dunne, the department's former chief, who had been promoted to my first deputy. I told him that I wanted a chief of department that the men and women in the department respected, that would lead by example, and who could help me continue to reduce crime, enhance community relations, and that could bolster the morale of the men and women in the field.

For the first few minutes of our conversation, he thought I was asking for his recommendation. I was not.

"Do you want it?" I asked.

Two days later, on the morning of August 25, 2000, he was sworn in as the New York City Police Department's  Chief of Department - the highest ranking uniform member of the agency.
I told him that morning, that he would be the best chief, the department had ever seen, and he has easily lived up to my expectations.

Joe Esposito will go down in New York City's history, as not only the longest reigning chief, and most decorated; but without a doubt, the best there has ever been.
My wife Hala and I, wish him and his family all the best.

May God Bless them always.


Saturday, March 16, 2013



In the spring of 1975, I was introduced to my new partner.
I was a U.S. Army military police officer, and he was a four year old German Shepherd, with which I would ultimately patrol and secure, one of our government s nuclear missile batteries, in Sak Sa Ni, South Korea.

With his army serial number, Y102, tattooed on the inside of his right ear, he stood on the inside of his kennel, staring and growling at me, as if I were the enemy. My sergeant said, "have a seat right there in front of him, feed him some meat and cheese every so often, and eventually he'll allow you in the kennel, so you can take him out for a walk."
Well, it wasn't as easy as it sounded. King was a sentry dog, one of the most aggressive types of working dogs in the U.S. armed forces. Their training consisted of basic obedience, agitation, and extremely aggressive attack work. They were not trained for socializing as police patrol dogs or house pets. They were trained to alert on intruders, attack them, and rip them to shreds, and King was quite good at his job.

Given that sentry dogs, were "one handler" dogs, his prior handler had left Korea to return to the United States, and I was to be his new partner and handler. That was if, he allowed me.
Over the next few days, he ate tons of treats, and I got closer to my new pal. And, once I got up the nerve to take him out of the kennel, we became one; A partnership, closer than most people would understand.

He was a stunning black and tan German Shepherd, and he looked just like Rin Tin Tin, another German Shepherd with U.S. Army roots. Rin Tin Tin, or Rinty as he was called, was found as a small pup in Lorrain, France, by U.S. Air Corporal, Lee Duncan, back in 1918, during World War I. He was eventually brought back to the U.S.. where he died at in 1932, but not before leaving a bloodline that wound up in a weekly TV adventure between 1954 and 1959, that every kid at the time, including me, loved and admired. It was he I thought of, when I first met, and began working with King.
King would respond to my voice, my hand commands, or to a look, or a movement. I didn't have to say a word, but he knew what I was thinking and why. With me, he was playful and loving, but with anyone else, he was deadly. He had no fear and he had no hesitation. If he perceived a threat, he dealt with it the way he knew how, and you didn't want to be on the receiving end.
In 1976, I left Korea, and I left King to a new handler. In the past 35 years, I have thought of him often.

Since then I have had many dogs, most recently, Duke and Duchess. Both German Shepherds, both trained like King, and playful, loving and caring members of my family. Both enormously protective.
For someone that has never had a dog, or a pet of any kind, it is difficult to understand, how close you can become to an animal. In June 2011, Duke passed away, and there are no words to explain how horrible that loss was, for me and my family. He is sadly missed, which is why I felt compelled to write about the recent loss of another German Shepherd.
His name was Ape, and he was 2 years and 4 months old, and had been on active duty for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for just over two weeks.
Two days ago, he was shot and killed by a deranged gunman, who had already shot and killed four people in Herkimer, New York.

Ape was a tactical dog, much like the one that accompanied the U.S. Navy SEALS on the raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. Equipped with a camera, he entered an abandoned bar in the small upstate New York town, with and FBI assault team behind him, in search for the murder suspect. As he breached the door, he was shot in the chest by the gunman, who was then shot and killed by the FBI.

Ape was transported to a local veterinarian, where he died from his wounds. He was later transported to FBI Headquarters, where he will be buried, and his name will be added to a memorial for dogs killed in the line of duty.

As someone who trained dogs for more than 30 years, I know that Ape died doing something he loved doing. It was what he was trained to do, and although it cost him his life, he saved the lives of his handler and teammates, which could have been killed or seriously hurt.

Dating back to the days of Rin Tin Tin, and King, military and police dogs have increasingly become an important tool, in military operations, and law enforcement. Ape's loss is a demonstration, of just how important their missions are, or deadly they could be.
As an American citizen, I am grateful for his service, and his ultimate sacrifice... for his loss allowed others to live.

As a dog handler and trainer, my thoughts and prayers are with his team members, and most importantly his handler and trainer. It is he or she that will feel this loss the most.
To his handler, Ape wasn't just a dog, or a pet, or a tool. He was a partner, a protector, and patriot, and most importantly, he was a best friend.

A friend that will be missed forever.

God Bless his teammates that put their lives on the line for this country, and may Ape, forever rest in peace.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Taxpayers, Economy and Society Benefit from Prison Reform

According to the U.S. Attorney General's Office in a recent article in "Business Insider," the sequestration could result in a major budget cut to the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to the tune of approximately $338 million.

Representatives from the Department of Justice said that they are "acutely concerned" about inmate and staff safety, a sentiment echoed by Attorney General Eric Holder, who said that these cuts could endanger the lives of staff and inmates in the federal prison system.

The recent murder of federal correction officer Eric Williams at the U.S. Penitentiary at Canaan, a high security prison for men, is a vivid reminder of the dangers our nation's correctional staff face daily, but could be worsened by the budget cuts as a result of the sequestration.
In addition to cuts that could jeopardize staff and inmate safety, freezing future hiring  and forcing 36,700 BOP staff to take an average of 12 days unpaid furlough during the remainder of the fiscal year will devastate staff morale to say the least, not to mention the financial burden such actions will have on BOP staff members and their families.

For the past two decades, criminal justice experts around the country, including several former Republican and Democratic attorney's general, state and federal judges and prosecutors, and members of the U.S. Congress have been racking their brains in an attempt to address criminal justice and prison reform.

One thing that has consistently been on the table has been considerations for alternative sentencing for first-time and non-violent offenders, in an attempt to reduce the present federal prison population that has gone from 25,000 in 1980 to more than an estimated 229,300 by this year's end. Another possibility has been to enhance good-time incentives, reward inmates for good behavior, and get them back into society faster, where they can work, pay taxes, take care of their families, and pay their fines and restitutions.

There has never been a better time to muster the courage to address this issue than right now.
The BOP presently allocates 54 days incentivized good-time per year, per inmate, far less than many state prison systems around the country. Enhancing the good time allocation from 54 days a year to 120 or 128 days a year could create nearly $1 billion annual savings to the BOP's staggering $6.6 billion budget. The additional good-time incentives would immediately and substantially reduce inmate overcrowding.  In addition, this would be an added incentive for inmates to comply with institutional rules and regulations, thereby reducing violence, creating safer facilities for staff and inmates alike.

Another possible remedy could be the passing of HR-62, the Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2013, that is presently sitting in the House. The bill was introduced on 3 January 2013, and referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations for review on 25 January 2013.

This bill would require the BOP to change its good time policy to require that prisoners be released if they (1) have served one half or more of their sentence, (2) are age 45 or older, (3) have never been convicted of a crime of violence, and (4) have not engaged in any violation of BOP disciplinary rules involving violent conduct.

The passing of this bill could generate another enormous cost savings to the American tax payer, reduce overcrowding, and also create an incentive for better behavior by the inmate population, which reduces violence, making the facilities safer for inmates and staff.

Lastly, BOP wardens have the statutory authority to recommend up to 12 months halfway house/home detention, in addition to an inmate's present allocation of 54 days a year good time. Historically, maximum halfway house/home detention recommendations have been rare; however, this alone could result in substantial cost savings to the American taxpayer.

These are just a few things that could dramatically and immediately reduce the federal prison population without letting violent offenders back on the streets. Such changes would also create enormous cost savings for the American taxpayer, reduce inmate violence in BOP's higher classification facilities, and generate collateral economic income, by getting these offenders back into society so they can work, pay taxes, take care of their family, and pay their restitutions and fines.
There is no question that criminal justice and prison reform will happen some time in the future, but it must begin today.

We cannot jeopardize the safety and security of the men and women who put their lives on the line day in and day out while staffing and securing our nation's prisons. There are ways to effectively and efficiently cut the BOP's budget without doing so.
The benefit to the American taxpayer and the economy can be enormous. The benefit to society could be immeasurable.

There is no better time to begin addressing this issue than today.