Sunday, May 20, 2018

DHS Honors Fallen Law Enforcement Officers During Police Week

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the below information and photos:

WASHINGTON— Throughout the 2018 National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored law enforcement officers and their families for their service and sacrifice. In Washington and around the country, DHS has been involved in memorializing these heroes throughout the week.

Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen (seen in the below photo) attended memorials that focused on the important work that DHS law enforcement officers and agents do every day, and honored those killed in the line of duty:

“Every year, in honor of Police Week, we pay tribute to the law enforcement community,” said Secretary Nielsen. “We lay a wreath in memory of those who put on a badge, went to work, and never came home again. We take time —one week out of the year—to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘I miss you.’ We reflect on those who’ve gone before us. We remember their sacrifice, and we comfort those they’ve left behind.

“It is a remarkable privilege to lead the men and women of this Department, particularly the members of our law enforcement family. I am grateful for every one of you who has answered the call to stand up for our homeland.”

DHS is the largest employer of federal law enforcement agents. Approximately one-third of our employees serve as law enforcement officers, and nearly 70 percent perform law enforcement functions. The Department’s law enforcement family includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Federal Protective Service (FPS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

DHS also plays an important role in training law enforcement across the country through the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), which provides vital training to more than 90 federal partner organizations, as well as many state and local officers. Since its inception in 1970, FLETC has trained more than one million law enforcement professionals nationwide.

DHS is proud to participate in Police Week to pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty and honor all law enforcement officers and their families for their service to our country.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Armed Forces Day 2018

Mob Talk 18: Legal Sports Betting And The Mob

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss legalized sports gambling and how this will impact mob bookmaking and loan sharking. 

So how will the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting across the country impact the Mob. Some say this is a crippling blow, others say not so much.  And where will the Mob find new revenue streams in the future? 

You can watch the rest of the video via the below link:  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Bombshell Breach Of Security Issues

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers an interesting piece in the Washington Times.

The admonition “do not brag” likely will not be found in any intelligence manual. But strictures on revealing “sources and methods,” as well as common sense, dictate that certain matters are not discussed in public.

The obvious drawback to such disclosures — be they deliberate or accident — is that adversaries will take advantage of such information to avoid future losses.

Thus, considerable concern and dismay were heard in the intelligence community in early May about what can only be described as a bombshell breach of security procedures.

In an article distributed worldwide, the Reuters news agency reported that what were described as “four very senior members” of the Islamic State terrorist group were captured near the Turkish border by American and Iraqi intelligence officers.

Reuters reported that the team used intelligence garnered from what was described by as “a popular messaging app, WhatsApp,” which was attached to the cell phone of another ISIS figure who was captured earlier.

The chain of events began in February, when Turkish counterterrorism officers captured a man named Ismail al-Eithawi, who was a close aide to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, described as the “Iraqi-born leader of the group known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS).

The capture produced the “WhatsApp” device and a sizable amount of electronic gear and other documents. The captured man, al-Eithawi, was no flunky. According to Iraqi security officials, he was tasked with arranging the secret transfer of ISIS funds to bank accounts around the world.

…One can envision what happened when the Reuters report was circulated through Middle Eastern media: A mad scramble by ISIS figures to dispose of mobile phones that might be tapped, and to clean out the covert bank accounts before they were seized.

Who was responsible for the leak? Several retired American intelligence veterans — stressing that they had no first-hand knowledge of the episode — were hesitant to point a finger.

But these veterans stressed that any Americans with even basic training by the Central Intelligence Agency would have known instantly the necessity of keeping the seizure a secret.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

My Crime Fiction: 'Skinny's Street Fight'

The below short story originally appeared in American Crime Magazine.

Skinny's Street Fight

By Paul Davis

While vacationing with my wife and family in the Pocono Mountains, I met a retired Pennsylvania state trooper named Bob Barnes.

Over a couple of drinks at the bar, I told Barnes that I was a writer who covered crime. I mentioned that I was curious to know if the opioid crisis was as bad in the small Pennsylvania towns as it was in the cities.

Barnes told me that he was driving to Thorn, a small town a few miles away, to met a friend. He offered to introduce me to the Thorn police chief.

Thorn, Pennsylvania was a typical small town with perhaps untypical grand mountain scenery surrounding it. We entered the Thorn police station and Barnes introduced me to the police chief, Harry Keene, a short and solid man with short-cropped brown hair.    

Barnes left and Keene took me into his private office.

I'm from South Philly, but growing up in the early 1960s, I watched The Andy Griffith Show, the situation comedy centered on a small town sheriff. Sitting in the police chief's office, I felt like I was in the TV sheriff's old office, although outside of the chief's office were several officers and two civilian clerks working the phones and computers.

I asked Keene about his town's drug problems and just as we started the interview, he was called outside by one of his officers. Keene soon came back in, apologized, and said he had to leave.

He introduced me to an elderly, tall, lanky man in casual civilian attire. The chief said the man was Rocky Philips, a retired officer.

I was initially disappointed in not getting to interview the chief of police, but Rocky, I soon discovered, was a good storyteller.

"You're from Philadelphia? I knew another fella from Philly," Philips said. "But I don't think you're like him." 

He then launched into a story about this other man from Philadelphia.

John Toby was a former Philly cop who married a Thorn girl, moved to the town and became a Thorn police officer in the early 1980s. When the chief retired, Toby took over, as Philips had no interest in becoming the chief and the other officers all lacked experience.

Toby wanted to be chief. A proud army Vietnam veteran who often spoke of his harrowing experiences in the war, as well as his harrowing experiences as a Philly cop, Toby was a muscular man who was loud, rude and aggressive. To Philips, it seemed like Toby had something to prove. Philips did not like the way Toby treated people and he often cautioned the chief in private about it. Toby ignored his older, more experienced officer.

Despite Toby's brusk style, most of the town's residents liked him. Some admired him. Some were amused by him. And some thought he was the worst thing to ever come to town.   

Toby's wife was in the latter group. She soon tired of his abuse and left town.

Philips spoke to me of the time Toby and him broke up an argument between two high school students in the town's diner. Toby told the two boys to go outside and settle the argument by squaring off against each other.

"This is how we do it in the army and this is how we do it in Philly," Toby said.

Philips objected when he saw the face of the smaller boy, a quiet, sensitive, thin boy who was called called "Skinny" for obvious reasons. He didn't look like he wanted to fight, while the bigger boy was all for it.

Philips grabbed Toby's arm and told what he thought.

"I was a boxer in the army and the best way to settle a score is to fight it out," Toby said.

"Yeah,' Philips replied. "Maybe in a ring with boxing gloves and head gear, but not bare knuckles in a street fight."

"You work with what you got," Toby responded.

Philips thought of calling Skinny's widowed mother, but instead he walked up to the visibly shaken boy.

"You don't have to do this," Philips told the boy. "He doesn't have the authority to make you fight."

"I'd rather be beaten up than run away," Skinny said in a shaky voice. "I have to live in this town."

Skinny met Toby and the bigger boy in the street behind the diner. A crowd of students and some older town residents had gathered to watch the kids fight.

Philips walked over to Toby and pulled him aside. "Stop this now. That boy has 40 pounds on Skinny and he's taller and has a longer reach."

But Toby was adamant. He walked away from Philips without comment and grabbed the two boys. He pushed them together.

The fight did not last long.

The bigger boy punched Skinny square in the face and the slight boy fell to his knees. He did not get up.

Philips went to him and saw the boy was not truly hurt. The boy, who had never been struck in the face before, was dazed.

Philips, usually a mild and easy-going man, stood up in anger and shouted out Toby's name.

"Toby, you asshole! You pushed this poor boy into this humiliating scene with your phony tough guy bullshit."

Toby stood his ground, hands on his hips, and just smiled at Philip's outburst.   

"You told everybody you were a boxer in the army," Philips said. "Well, you know what? So was I. So let's see what you got."

Although he was at least ten years older than Toby and 25 pounds lighter, Philips took off his gun holster and belt and handed them to another officer. He took off his watch and wedding ring and rolled up his sleeves.  

"You're too old and scrawny for me to fight," Toby told Philips, but he looked around and saw the faces in the crowd. He didn't want to be humiliated in front of the town people, so he too removed his gun holster and belt and handled them to an officer standing near him.

Without another word Toby charged in, threw his left arm around Philips head, pulled him down and hit him in the face with an uppercut. Philips broke free and pushed Toby away.

"Are we boxing or wrestling, chief?" Philips asked. Some in the crowd laughed

Philips then stepped in and connected with a solid left jab and straight right combination that shook Toby.

Toby stepped back, but he recovered quickly. He laughed for the crowd's sake. He then moved in towards Philips and walked directly into a straight right hand that dropped him to the ground.

Like Skinny, Toby sat there dazed.

"I know all about you, Toby. I investigated you," Philips said as he stood over the fallen police chief. "Yeah, you served in the army, but you were nowhere near Vietnam. You served stateside. And yeah, you were a Philadelphia police officer, but not for long. You resigned just as they were gonna fire ya."

Philips blew out some air.

"By the way, I quit," Philips said.

The crowd shifted and spoke quietly among themselves as Toby slowly and silently lifted himself up, took his gear from the officer and walked slowly to the police station.

Without a word to anyone, John Toby resigned that afternoon and moved out of town the following morning. Philips was made the acting chief until a new chief was hired.

"So what happened to Skinny?" I asked.

"Well, he turned out OK, I guess," Philips said. "He became like another son to me. I suggested he join the army when he turned 18. He did."

"Did he come back here?"

"Yeah, he did," Philips said with a smile. "You were just talking to him."

"Harry Keene, the chief?"

"Sure was." 

© Paul Davis 2018 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gunman Who Pledged Allegiance To ISIS After Shooting Philly Cop Sentenced To Almost 50 Years In Prison

Edward Archer, the gunman who ambushed and shot Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett in the name of ISIS received a maximum sentence of nearly 50 years in prison. 

The above Philadelphia Police photo shows Archer shooting at Officer Hartnett's patrol car and the below photo is of P/O Hartnett. 

You can read Chris Palmer’s piece on the sentence and trial in the Philadelphia Inquirer via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine on the shooting via the below link:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Gritty, Early Stories Of An Incomparable Crime Writer: My Washington Times Review Of Dashiell Hammett's 'The Big Book Of The Continental Op'

The Washington Times published my review of Dashiell Hammett's The Big Book of the Continental Op.

Some months ago I visited my daughter and her Air Force husband in California. We visited San Francisco and saw Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and other well-known attractions. Although I had never been there before, I had a sense of familiarity. This was Dashiell Hammett’s town. I grew up reading Mr. Hammett’s crime stories and San Francisco appeared prominently in many of the stories.

The late Dashiell Hammett, the author of “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Thin Man” and other classic crime novels, began his writing career punching out short stories for Black Mask magazine.

Before he wrote about his more well-known detectives Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles, he created a nameless detective who narrated his early short stories. The detective, also called an operative, or Op, worked for the Continental Detective Agency. The Op was a short, fat fellow, unlike Mr. Hammett, who was tall, lean and in his youth looked like a “blonde Satan,” which is how he described Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon.”

In “The Big Book of the Continental Op,” fans of crime fiction can read a collection of all of Mr. Hammett’s Op stories. The book was edited by Richard Layman, the president of Bruccoli Clark Layman, producers of the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” and Julie M. Rivett, Mr. Hammett’s granddaughter, who is a Dashiell Hammett scholar and spokesperson for the Hammett estate.

“The long awaited volume you hold in your hands is the first and only collection to assemble every one of Dashiell Hammett’s pioneering Continental Op adventures — twenty-eight stand-alone stories, two novels, and Hammett’s only known unfinished Continental tale.” writes Ms. Rivett in her introduction. “It is truly definitive. And it has been many decades in the making.

“At the time of this writing, the first Op story is ninety-four years old and the last one is seventy-nine, not including ‘Three Dimes,’ an undated draft fragment conserved in Hammett’s archives, first published in 2016.

“The gritty sleuth Hammett described as ‘a little man going forward day after day through mud and blood and death and deceit’ has weathered gunshots, grifters, criminal conspiracies, class struggles, temptations, neglect, and more. This volume is testament to his tenacity. He is a survivor, a working-class hero, and a landmark literary creation.”

As Ms. Rivett notes, Dashiell Hammett was a Pinkerton detective and the Continental agency was modeled on Pinkerton. Mr. Hammett worked on cases involving forgeries, bank swindles and safe burglaries, which Ms. Rivett’s states was a solid factual basis for the Op’s fictional stories.

... Despite Dashiell Hammett’s foolish sympathy for the American Communist Party and other character flaws, he was a patriot who served in the U.S. Army in both world wars. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

You can read the rest of my review via the below link:

"The contemporary novelist's job is to take pieces of life and arrange them on paper. And the more direct their passage from street to paper, the more lifelike they should be" - Dashiell Hammett (seen in the above photo).

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Dashiell Hammett via the below link: