Tag Archives: FOP

FOP Lodge 5 supplemental college scholarship selection process

 

Education has always been important to me. During my nearly three-decade career as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department, I was able to attend college, obtaining both an Associates Degree at the Community College of Philadelphia and a Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Joseph’s University.

That dedication to education extended to my career. I have always maintained and continue to feel that continuing and advanced education is important for police officers. My last decade as an active officer was spent as a teacher with the PPD’s Advanced Training Unit.

I have been honored to serve on the Scholarship Committee for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 for all three years since the program was first instituted. The four-person committee met earlier this week to select the seven scholarship winners for this year.

Each year, the FOP awards $10,000 spread across seven college scholarships, two in the amount of $2,500 and five in the amount of $1,000 each.

These scholarships go to high school students who will be entering college in the fall. The applicants all have FOP Lodge #5 relatives either active, retired, or deceased.

The quality of the applicants was strong in Year One back in 2016, and the selection process was difficult. The number of applicants has risen each year since, growing from about a dozen and a half in that first year to two dozen last year, and then this year with more than 40 applying. The quality of those applicants has not dropped off.

Needless to say, it was not an easy task to whittle down these tremendous students. But that is the job, and I take that job seriously. It is my opinion from sitting in on the selection meeting that the other members of the committee take it seriously as well.

When we go through the application packages, we have little clue as to the race, or the religious or ethnic background of those applicants. Our only hint as to sex is usually their first name. These things are never a consideration in the evaluation process.

The applicants were all asked to supply an application form with some basic information. They were also advised to include high school grade transcripts, extra-curricular activities (both school and other), college acceptance letters, and recommendations from teachers and other influencers.

They are also asked to write a brief essay describing themselves, what they hope to get out of their college experience, and how they hope to help their community in the future.

The vast majority of the applicants have great transcripts. They are mostly ‘A’ students with a history of academic success that has continued to the present.

That successful academic profile often becomes the first step in separating the applicants for me. The discipline that it takes for a young person to succeed in their school work when faced with so many distractions in today’s modern world is impressive when found.

Unfortunately, some applicants provide nothing more than the basic application. That is unfortunate, as an incomplete or “lesser” overall package is going to likely be a separator as well.

The best applicants for me, those who make it down to my final grouping, have it all: strong academic transcripts, community/activity involvement, adult recommendations, and an interesting essay.

Even then, I still went to the committee selection meeting having a dozen kids who I had difficulty separating from one another. I had gotten my personal selections down to a ‘top group’ of four, and then a secondary group made up of another eight students.

That is where the committee discussion process comes in to play. We all begin to compare our names and notes, and start to kick around some of the “positives” that we found raised some of those applicants above the others.

It is fairly amazing to me, at least over these first three years, how the committee members have frequently found many of the same names rising to the top of our individual lists. Getting to the seven overall scholarship winners is pretty much a process of finding those kids who stood out to all of us.

The discussion of which kids will receive the two higher valued $2,500 awards is usually a bit more detailed. We frequently will explore and discuss their essays and adult recommendations, looking for interesting experiences that touched us in some way.

In addition to seeing the quality of the kids, these first three years on the Scholarship Committee have been highlighted for me by the cooperation among the committee members. There have been no arguments or other controversies in our meetings or discussions.

Another important point: the FOP itself has no input whatsoever into who will receive a scholarship. No one from the FOP Lodge #5, not President John McNesby or any other officer, has ever approached me to make a “recommendation” or to try and influence the selection process in any way. It is my opinion, based on our meetings and discussions, that no one else on the committee has ever been so influenced.

I am not naming the 2018 scholarship award winners here at this time. That is not my place, as the FOP will make those announcements public at a time that they feel is most appropriate. The scholarship selectees will be honored as part of an FOP awards ceremony in late May.

Note that I called them “selectees” and not “winners” – that was intentional. It’s not that they aren’t winners, these kids most certainly can be described in that way. But the fact is that every single applicant is a winner as far as I am concerned. The same can be said for the parents who are raising these talented and impressive young people.

Applications for the 2019 FOP Lodge #5 scholarships are scheduled to open in September or October. Those applications will be accepted until a deadline, which usually comes the following February. Pay attention to the website, the Peace Officer magazine, and other notices.

Importantly, if your student intends to apply next year, please guide them through the process. Make sure that they turn in more than a simple application form, and that their package stands out.

Get those transcripts together, especially including their most recent grades. Get a few recommendations from teachers and adults running the businesses and programs they have been participating with as a volunteer or activity participant. Make sure they understand that their essay reflects their education, but also their passion and maturity.

Good luck to anyone who chooses to participate in the program into the future. This is a program that I believe is important, and one that I hope and believe will grow in both the amount and number of scholarships offered. Congratulations to those who will be honored next month, and who have been honored in the previous two years as well.

Judicial Misconduct at Broad & Champlost

Philadelphia Judge Craig M. Washington is either the single stupidest person in the history of the American judicial system or he is the most callous, ignorant and disrespectful.

There is no middle ground for the actions that Washington took yesterday at the 35th police district here in the former ‘City of Brotherly Love’ which can no longer claim that moniker with any credibility whatsoever.

The latest in a string of murders of Philly cops happened just days ago when young, bright and talented police officer John Pawlowski of that very 35th district was gunned down in cold blood on our increasingly violent streets. Police officers with badges, guns, vests, and with fellow officers just a radio call away (or closer in Pawlowski’s case) are not safe, so you the average citizen most certainly are not safe.

It was under these circumstances that Mr. Washington, whom to recognize with the title ‘Judge’ would be a severe travesty of that institution, marched into the very home of the 35th district on Tuesday morning.

Washington was there to preside over ‘divisional hearings’, a process by which members of the court go out into the community and conduct preliminary hearings in criminal cases. They do this in order to better serve the community.

The process of appearing at your local police district for what can sometimes be multiple hearings before the criminal case even gets underway is far more convenient for most victims and witnesses than having to travel downtown. It is a win-win, as the victim/witness gets convenience and the justice system gets those same victims and witnesses actually showing up and actively involved in the case.

This process is what brought Washington to Broad & Champlost, the home of John Pawlowski and his fellow brother and sister 35th district officers, on Tuesday morning.

Understand that while divisional hearings have been held at the 35th district for years, these are obviously not normal circumstances inside that building. With one of their own gunned down just days ago, the officers there are still in shock and still processing their grief. After all, John Pawlowski has not even been buried yet.

Washington finally began to process the cases before him after arriving late, a bad habit that a number of justices have gotten into all over the city. At some point well into the proceedings he noticed a memorial display that had been setup which featured a photo of officer Pawlowski and some flowers.

Washington turned to court officer Blanca Rodriguez and ordered her to remove the picture, saying that it was “inappropriate” and a “distraction” to the proceedings.

Now had it ended at this point we could perhaps write off Washington as simply the most stupid individual to ever mar the bench with his presence. I mean at this point we possibly could say that he just didn’t get it, that he was too intellectually and emotionally inferior a human being to process the situation.

But then he went more than a step further. The court officer refused to take down the memorial, and Washington stormed off his bench and out to the office of the 35th district’s commanding officer, Captain John McCloskey. He demanded that McCloskey order the memorial taken down during the court proceedings.

McCloskey, being both a human being and a true leader of men, denied Washington’s request. The incensed Washington, ego bruised, then marched to a police Inspector who also turned him down. Washington had now gone from possibly stupid to utterly childish as he stomped around the district building crying and whining for someone to listen to him and do what he said. After all this was his court and he was the judge, which meant he was the boss here.

He stormed back into the area being used for the court hearings, took officer Pawlowski’s picture, and in the act that finally showed his colors he turned the fallen hero’s picture over on its face.

What Washington failed to consider was that this was not a courthouse and he was not the boss. This was a police facility, a particular facility where a family of officers were in grief and mourning. This was their house, not his. He was lucky to get out physically unscathed.

Members of the police union, FOP Lodge #5, were notified and arrived at the building and immediately confronted Washington, who scurried from his bench like a dirty, slimy, frightened rat. He ran out into his car and hastily pulled away from the district, possibly contacting a police wagon as he did so.

In these final actions, Washington proved exactly who he is. The man is not stupid, he is quite simply ignorant and disrespectful and cared more about his ego than the memory of a murdered police officer.

Philadelphia is less safe today because John Pawlowski is dead and Craig Washington will still be hearing criminal cases in a courtroom.

In a final act of cowardice by the local judiciary, the top judge in the Municipal Court system backed her man’s actions by saying that Washington’s moves were proper and did not show disrespect.

Judge Marsha Niefield, who herself should feel shamed and embarrassed this morning after her ‘rally around my buddy’ statement:

“I understand that emotions are running high, and that is completely understandable considering the tragic loss of the officer. That having been said, Judge Washington attempted to maintain the proper court decorum consistent with other places.” 

If the circumstances were not so tragic that statement would be comically ignorant rather than arrogantly so. The fact is that the memory of a fallen hero, John Pawlowski, and his fellow officers of the 35th district were completely and utterly disrespected yesterday by Washington. His actions show the street thugs how police officers can and should be viewed and treated by them.

If this is how we can treat them in their own house, then we can do even worse when they come into our neighborhoods or down to our corner. What Washington did yesterday at Broad & Champlost was nothing short of judicial misconduct.

Unions want to know your secret

Embed from Getty Images

 

I am going to preface this posting with the disclaimer that my wife is a longtime member of the Teamsters union.

At times in the past she has been directly involved with the contract negotiations for her co-workers at her company (I would jokingly call her ‘Norma Rae’ during these periods), and she is both proud and happy to have been a member of the union for the past three and a half decades.

As a police officer, we are not allowed to unionize by law, but we have do have an effective labor bargaining unit with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

My wife and I have both always been supporters of unions, both in theory and in practice.

Can you sense the ‘but’ coming here?

There is one, and from this point forward it is only my own opinion being expressed.

While unions can serve a very valuable purpose, they can and have been a detriment to their membership at times over the years.

Early in and on through the 20th century, employees unionized for legitimate reasons, including the need to battle abusive, corrupt, and unfair practices and standards of many employers.

The early labor unions sought to make work conditions safer, and to have workers share more fairly in the economic rewards of a successful business. Basically, they sought to make better the lives of those on their membership rolls.

But steadily and rapidly, those membership rolls have declined over the past few decades, and this has been for many reasons.

Let’s go back to the beginning, perhaps a century ago. Many companies cared only about their ‘bottom line’ and making profits, and so paid their employees as little as they could get away with in order to maximize those profits.

Medical insurance, job-site safety concerns, family leave and the like were all considered to be added costs, so they were out of the question. Those workers revolted ultimately, sometimes peacefully, sometimes not, physically forcing ownership and management to share the profits and improve the lives of workers.

Once in power, this ‘organized labor’ or ‘labor unions’ would regularly negotiate with management over the terms of compensation and benefits for workers. Companies learned to live with some lesser profits in return for peaceful co-existence with a dedicated labor employee pool.

Over a few decades in the early and mid-20th century, power shifted from the companies to the labor thanks largely to the force of ‘strikes’, in which labor would halt work if ownership did not meet their terms. These strikes, or even just their threat, would often intimidate companies into paying more money or giving more benefits.

As professional representatives of the massed employees, union leadership was able to itself work thanks to ‘dues’ paid by the members. Each member paid a set sum from their paycheck to the union in order that it might represent the employee more professionally and effectively.

As the post-WW II work force boomed, so the rolls of labor unions swelled, and their political influence rose along with the rolls. Political candidates saw close relationships and ‘endorsements’ from labor unions as a key to winning election.

When labor gave money, along with the power of thousands of labor member votes at election time, to a candidate then unions themselves gained power when their candidate was elected. Politicians began to ‘earmark’ special projects for their home districts, creating hundreds and thousands of union jobs, in return for the union election support.

However, this entire system became corrupted. Some union leaders took their membership dues and supported lavish lifestyles for themselves. Others used cash contributions from member dues to support political candidates whose views did not match those of the majority of membership. Still others made outrageous demands of businesses, causing those businesses to close up entirely.

In 1981, air traffic controllers working for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) walked out of their jobs in an illegal strike. President Ronald Reagan responded by firing them all, replacing them with new workers. Emboldened by the President’s stance, companies began to take similar positions, and in most cases unions were not strong enough to respond effectively.

In 1945, more than a third of American workers were in a union. But by 1979 that number would fall to less than a quarter of workers, and by the end of the 1990’s would fall under 14% of workers.

Union membership and strength declined due to a number of factors including automation at plants, production-based companies moving overseas, service-industry employees becoming part-time and unrepresented, the overall strength of the economy, and a general independence of spirit among younger workers.

What cannot be discounted is the role that the unions themselves played in their own decline. They often failed to respond properly to changing conditions in the world and with their workers, clinging to old habits and practices long past their useful point.

Today, union membership is at abysmally low levels, and the union leaders want to somehow stem the tide. Their newest tactic is so blatant and obvious that it is hard to believe that it has gotten this far.

The new tactic, laughingly called the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’, would abolish private voting on union membership. If there were a vote on whether a company should unionize or not, the vote would be public, with everyone knowing how each individual had voted.

Free choice? Hardly. This would enable unions and their supporters to ‘strong arm‘ or otherwise force or cajole those who did not support the cause into changing their votes. Even the threat of these tactics would be enough for many to vote the way the union wanted.

Is it any of my business who you are going to vote for in the November election for the Presidency? No, that is your private decision, right? Then why would anyone think that there is any legitimate reason to support such a bill for union votes?

Thankfully, a bill introduced by the unions’ Democratic Party lackeys failed, but they are trying again. Unions want to know your secret: the secret that you have a right to keep to yourself.

If unions want to get more membership, perhaps they should start by supporting candidates who will take actions that will matter to their membership by lowering taxes, cutting spending, strengthening traditional American values, and securing our Homeland.

Unions can’t get you to support them on merit, because in many cases their actions don’t deserve your support, so they want to return to the bullying tactics of the past. Let’s not give in to these ‘easy way out’ liberal union leaders. Make sure that your vote remains your business alone, and support political candidates who support that position.

Team Eddis as Mike Tyson: FOP or Bust-er

There is a fight brewing within the ranks of Philadelphia’s police officers, one that likely will be battled across the state and around the country. For the first time in over a decade, we have “union” trouble, and as with previous bouts of this type, the likelihood is that the bout will end in a knockout.

The Executive Board of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, representing thousands of Philadelphia police officers and retirees, has suddenly found itself in an unusual position, back on it’s heals and being used as a punching bag, ala Mike Tyson in his famous 1990 bout with Buster Douglas.

In that bout, fought in Tokyo, Japan on February 10th, 1990, the previously unbeaten and seemingly invincible Tyson, a boxing machine, a man seemingly born and bred to be the heavyweight champion of the world, an animistic monster, came in typically disrespectful of his opponent, the journeyman Douglas, but also uncharacteristically out of shape.

Coming into the bout, Tyson was 37-0 with 33 knockouts and 9 successful defenses of his heavyweight crown. He dispatched many of his opponents so quickly, that fans were becoming almost disinterested in his fights, one of the reasons for the move overseas.

Tyson went down that night, a victim of his own largess, and of making the classic mistake of underestimating his opponent.

The still unbeaten, and previously untouched, regime of President Bob Eddis, handpicked successor to the lodge’s longtime bombastic leader Rich Costello, is used to feeding on lesser opponents, such as the game but outmatched lightweight Donnell “Homicide” Hobbs.

Hobbs, a scrappy little fighter, has jabbed and jabbed at Team Eddis over the years, but has been unable to come anywhere close to landing a glove on them, and has been knocked to the canvas like one of Tyson’s late-80’s opponents.

But in this bout, Team Eddis’ (referred to hereafter as ‘TE’) punches are uncharacteristically weak, and they suddenly find themselves in the ring against a bigger, stronger opponent. Not only that, but the opponent has motivation, and is fighting hard. And now, the fans in the peanut gallery who once marveled in awe at their strength and skill, are turning on them with boos and jeers, and rooting on the opponent.

TE came out looking solid in the early action, but suddenly took a devastating blow when former National FOP Vice-President Ken Rocks was knocked out of the ring in his early August bid for re-election. TE fought back, reportedly counter-punching with behind-the-scenes threats to the National Lodgers. But once the involved fans, in this case the membership of Lodge #5, began to grasp what was happening in the ring, they quickly turned on TE.

Stunned and reeling, TE attempted to answer with a letter to membership spelling out their proposal to renounce our longtime fraternal affiliation with the State and National Lodges of the F.O.P. But the letter only yielded more questions, as did meetings with membership at the union hall.

Some from TE even began to attack their own members, blasting a popular, controversial and widely-read website, “Domelights”, for its posters largely negative response to TE’s plans.

The National Lodge then began to go on the offensive with an effective brochure titled “Why Now?” sent out to all Philly FOP members from National President Chuck Canterbury. The brochure spelled out the value of FOP membership, and questioned the reasoning and motivations behind TE’s suddenly anti-FOP strategy.

TE now finds itself on the ropes. It has paid out millions of dollars over the years in dues to the FOP in order to remain fully involved with the National and State lodges.

By its own reporting, approximately $400,000 per year was paid. With the current team and its immediate predecessors in charge for over a decade now, that equates to approximately $4 million of our hard-earned dollars.

Yet TE now says that this money is wasted, that it is not necessary. In their own August 2005 letter to membership, President Bob Eddis asks “What do we get through our affiliation with the State and National FOP Lodges?” Eddis then supplies the answer: “A yearly bill of over $400,000.00.

Eddis and TE thus have put themselves in a very bad position, as did Tyson when he chose to go into that now-legendary bout out of shape, with a bad game plan, and underestimating his opponent.

TE is either outright lying to membership, and there actually is value to our FOP membership, and we do get more than just a bill each year, or they have knowingly wasted millions of our dollars over the years.

When I first became a police officer in 1990, I was assigned to the 6th police district. At the same exact time, a Sergeant from the 6th by the name of John Shaw was running for FOP Lodge #5 President, and many on his team also had ties to our 6th district, which was nicknamed as “Hollywood”.

As a young, impressionable rookie with no real knowledge of the players, I went along with the overwhelming sentiment of my co-workers, and voted for Shaw. So did a lot of other folks, obviously, as he won the election, and then won re-election two years later. We all know what eventually happened.

Well, I am no longer a rookie. As the saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I have voted for TE, but I will not blindly follow anyone, any regime, especially one that attempts to insult my intelligence.

TE is either lying to us, and there is personal animus and/or a political power play at the root of this fight, or they have knowingly wasted millions of dollars. Either way, they have shown that they are no longer deserving of our trust.

It is my personal opinion that the membership of Philadelphia Lodge #5 of the Fraternal Order of Police should remain fully fraternal with the National and State Lodges.

As former VP Kenny Rocks himself said as recently as months ago, before losing the recent election: “No matter what the problem, members must know that if they call, the FOP will be there to help. NO MATTER WHAT!” and “Don’t go outside the FOP – change from within”.

In the 10th round of that legendary February 10th, 1990 bout in Tokyo, Japan, Buster Douglas floored the formerly invincible Mike Tyson with a flurry of blows, knocking out the former champion in one of the most stunning moments in boxing history.

But it was just as much Tyson beating himself on that night, as it is now Team Eddis contributing to its own KO.