Not a Prayer!… (?)

The Commencement Exercises for the Jacob Gunther Elementary School were held on June 24, 1992 with this chaplain’s name (mine!) listed after the word, “Invocation.” Anyone going to the files in that school can still find that program and see my name printed in it – and perhaps never realize that I never got to say a word… or even attend! The poor principal, in some embarrassment, phoned me at 2:00 p.m. that June afternoon and shared the news that the school was now expected to follow the Supreme Court’s recent ruling forbidding prayer at a school ceremony and that I should not come to that place at 7:00!

It seems that a certain Daniel and Deborah Weisman of Rhode Island had brought a case against prayer in school to court… and it made it all the way to Washington where the Supreme Court upheld the ban in Lee v. Weisman, making it the law of the land to exclude the prayers.

I recall writing a newsletter article for the congregation I served at the time, explaining that it might be a good thing to spare people from the unwelcome presence of such a thing that sets some of them at odds with others who pray. I shared my experience of prayers attempted at other ceremonies in which the high school graduates made no attempt to hide the beer bottles from which they were drinking (in caps and gowns!) and no disguising their inattention to the words being spoken or to the spirit of respect and consideration. Such deportment troubled, disappointed, and even shocked some standing with dignity while others of the opposite spirit raised a din, while no one in authority ever said or did a thing.

So in this season of the year, when many people of faith remember with thanksgiving the freedoms we enjoy in this nation, where stories of faith can be told without threat of hindrance. There is feasting in the retelling of powerful deliverance from long-term abuse in Egypt (with miraculous establishment of a special people, God’s own people – through the sea and into the Promised Land) and the assurance that the Mighty One displays authority that conquers the very fear and sting of death itself in a surprise Third Day that changed defeated and sorrowing followers into bold and confident celebrants of the power of love and new life. How appropriate to pause… and pray.

I marvel that, in this world of so much coarseness and mockery, every meeting of the Long Island Shields includes some moments… of prayer. How unlike so many other groups we are – that we pause in our busy lives and – as a group of friends – share in reflective moments of attention of a Power greater than ourselves. It makes me feel so honored to be included in such a worthy tradition!

JGAnderson, Chaplain

Police Officer of the Month April 2015

This evening we are honored to present the Police Officer of the Month award to four members of the Suffolk County Police Department’s 1st Precinct.

On January 12th, 2015 at 0511 hrs an unknown subject entered Steve’s Hot Bagels and Bakery at 2142 Deer Park Ave, Deer Park. The subject, described as male white, in his 30’s, 5’8”, 180 pounds, goatee, black hair wearing beige pants and gray hooded sweatshirt held a black object in the direction of the woman behind the counter and threatened to kill her. He then attempted to get into the cash register and when he couldn’t he took the register, containing $500, and fled northbound on foot.

Officers responded to canvass the area to look for a pedestrian matching such description. While checking the area P.O. Aue and P.O. Fuentes in RMP 102A observed an Oldsmobile go through 2 stop signs east on Claremont Ave. Due to the proximity to the robbery the officers deduced that this could possibly be the suspect trying to flee the area. The officers attempted to stop the vehicle for the traffic infractions on Route 231. The operator of the vehicle refused to pull over and sped off at a high rate of speed at which time a lengthy pursuit commenced.

After some time the Officers lost the vehicle. Shortly after P.O. Wildeman and P.O. LoRusso in RMP 114A picked up the vehicle on 5th Ave and Michigan Ave in Brentwood and attempted to stop the car once again. The officers followed the vehicle until the operator crashed into a Jeep Grand Cherokee on Montauk Highway just west of Union Blvd in Great River. The subject, who matched the description of the robbery suspect who was believed to be armed with a gun, exited the vehicle and fled on foot. The subject was caught by the officers after a foot pursuit and was taken into custody P. O. Wildeman for numerous traffic infractions. Soon after a show up was conducted. At 0647 hrs a witness to the robbery positively identified the subject as the perpetrator.

Then at 0650 hrs the victim positively identified the subject as the perpetrator. The subject was then arrested and charged with Robbery in the first degree. The cash register and a rubber black object which the defendant is believed to have used to simulate a gun were located behind hedges at 25 Clinton Ave, Deer Park. The Officers being honored this evening are a great example of how the use of an officer’s intelligence, courage and skills can effectively combat violent crimes. These actions are the reason the Shields of Long Island are proud to honor as our Police Officers of the Month Police Officer Thomas Wildeman, Police Officer Nicola LoRusso, Police Officer Russell Aue (oww-e) and Police Officer David Fuentes.

President’s Message – April 2015

As I start my message it’s 2 weeks before our next general meeting. The calendar says it is spring but no one told this to Mother Nature. Hopefully, this will change by our April 23 meeting date.

Enough about the weather! Let’s review some of The Shields upcoming scheduled activities for your enjoyment and participation. What may possibly be the last Ptl. Phil Cardillo motorcycle ride is scheduled for Sunday April 19th. If and when they honor Phil the run will cease.

On Saturday May 23rd we will once again pay tribute to the men and women who served our country, by placing flags on their graves at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale. I hope we see you there.

Thursday to Saturday, May 28th-30th, we will be doing crowd control and security for the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged at the Mitchel Field complex in Uniondale. The smiles on the kids’ faces make this effort well worthwhile.

Lastly, Luke Johnson is busy working on the final arrangements for another picnic and LI Ducks baseball game at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip on Tuesday July 21st. Details in this edition of the Call Box.

I have recently been made aware of a NYS Thruway EZ pass “phishing” scam. People receive bogus emails allegedly from EZ pass claiming unpaid bills and containing a link to pay this bill. Any Questions, call EZ pass for clarification at 1-800-833-8655.

Hopefully we will see you at the Coral House on April 23rd. As always feel free to bring a potential new member. BE SAFE! Wear your vest.

President’s Message: February 2015

Welcome to 2015, let’s hope it is better than the end of 2014.

In December the unprovoked, cowardly, vicious ASSASINATIONS of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos shocked the police community, as well as the country. Let us always remember their sacrifice and keep these two fine officers and all police officers in our prayers.

On a much more positive note let us thank both Noele and Mike Villa for the wonderful Children’s Christmas Party at The Coral House in Baldwin. The party was well attended and the parents as well as the children had a great time. Thanks go to Bob Forrester for bringing Santa to entertain the kids. Also, our thanks go to Dave Fischer for providing many fun gifts.

Our December meeting was well attended and a great success thanks to our guest speaker Mary Murphy, PIX-11 reporter. Mary spoke of the fight to properly recognize the sacrifice of Ptl. Phil Cardillo. Mary has promised to follow the process until a decision is reached.

I have recently been made aware that what may possibly be the last memorial motorcycle ride to honor to Ptl. Phil Cardillo will be held on Sunday, April 19th.

Hopefully, a street will be named in his honor at the new NYPD academy.

I hope to see you at the February 19 meeting. Bring a potential new member.

Fraternally,
Richie

Police Officers of the Month November 2014

On Monday June 16th, 2014 Chief Martin Thompson of the Head of the Harbor Police Department was returning from a vacation to Ireland. He was accompanied by his family , including his daughter Colleen Thompson, a Deputy Sheriff in the Suffolk County Sheriffs’ Office. With his brother at the wheel of their vehicle the conversation was about the trip.

As they reached the exit from the Southern State Parkway they merged onto the Sagtikos Parkway northbound when they saw a 1994 Buick veer off the road and crash into some trees. Chief Thompson told his brother to stop the car and dial 911. Without hesitation Chief Thompson exited his vehicle and ran to the vehicle to render aid, with his daughter Colleen right behind him. Upon approaching the vehicle they observed an elderly man slumped over in the front seat. They immediately saw flames coming from the undercarriage of the vehicle and realized the seriousness of the situation. Deputy Thompson was able to enter the backseat of the vehicle and began to calm and reassure the victim help was on the way. The elderly occupant of the vehicle, later identified as Sam Parkins 85 yrs. old of Wyandanch, was reporting he was in severe pain and asked that he not be moved. Chief Thompson’s attempt to open the door was unsuccessful, he then found a large rock and broke the window , knowing that the victim had to be extricated as quickly as possible due the growing flames. At this point a retired NYC firefighter arrived on the scene and together all three first responders were able to lift the victim out of the flaming car to safety. Mr. Parkins was removed to Stony Brook Hospital with a broken pelvis, two broken legs and chest injuries.

There is no doubt the actions of Chief Thompson, his daughter Deputy Sheriff Colleen Thompson and the retired NYC firefighter saved the life of Mr. Parkins. Their quick decisive actions in spite of grave personal danger are a tribute to their bravery and devotion to duty , dedication to their community and compassion for others in time of need.

It is for these reasons the Long Island Shields are proud to name them as the Police Officers of the month.

Chaplain’s Message: February 2015

When Sir Robert Peel decided to form the first London Metropolitan Police Department, 1829 he wanted to recruit the best men that the city had to offer. While serving as England’s Home Secretary he was responsible for reorganizing the criminal and penal codes. This resulted in the passing of the Metropolitan Police Act, which established the first professional police force in Great Brittan.

It was in the local newspapers and neighborhoods that he posted the announcement below.

“I want you for PEELS’ Police”

You must be aged between 23-40 years of age.

You will be paid the following rates:
CONSTABLE – 17 shillings per week *
SERGEANT – 1 pound l shilling per week.
SUPERINTENDENT – 3 pounds 10 shillings per week.
CHIEF CONSTABLE – 13 pounds 10 shillings per week.
* Note: (20 Shillings equals 1 Pound, today $1.50 USD…..much less then !!)

Working hours will be eight ten or twelve hour shifts, seven days a week. No rest days are allowed and only one week holiday per annum, unpaid.

Every encouragement will be given to officers to grow beards as shaving is regarded as unhealthy. However beards must not exceed two inches in length.

Uniform will be worn at all times to prevent accusations of spying on the public whilst in ordinary clothes. A duty band will be worn to indicate whether or not you are on duty.

You are NOT allowed to vote in elections.

You must NOT gossip with the public. In particular avoid conversations with female servants or other women on duty. Do not walk or converse with your comrades, merely exchange a word and pass on. You will walk about 20 miles per shift.

No meal breaks are allowed. The top hat may be used to hold a snack. You must inform the Superintendent before you associate, eat or drink with any civilians. You are NOT allowed to sit down in public houses at any time.

Before attending for medical examination and interview to join the police, it is advisable to have a bath.

You must expect a hostile reception from all sections of the public and be prepared to be assaulted, stoned or stabbed in the course of your duties.

With the exception of the last sentence (in bold), a lot has changed in the manner and mode of policing! I would venture to say, that 175 years ago, Robert Peel never envisioned the height of lawlessness that law enforcement has to deal with in today’s world. Perhaps that is why the local Police Constable in London today does not carry a firearm. Given what is currently happening in Europe, that too may soon change. But here in the United States, we have a proliferation of firearms, legal and illegal, that sometimes rivals the best firearms that are issued to our police officers, to protect themselves and the citizens in their charge. But defensive weapons are only tools in a box, to be used only when appropriate and necessary, in order to do the job.

While most ordinary citizens and groups in our nation respect the police and their profession, sadly, there are those who do not. Support for law enforcement must first come from the citizens themselves, and those they elect to insure support through official legislation. One of Peel’s “Nine Principles of Policing” states: “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured, diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”

In my view, no amount of money can be enough to pay someone, who leaves his or her family and home in the morning or evening, straps on a duty belt, dons a vest, and wonders whether they will be able to return to that home safe and sound when the shift is done! That’s what 99% of police officers do, day in and day out, in all kinds of weather conditions, placing themselves in harms’ way to protect all of us from violence and danger. Indeed, it is time for ordinary citizens to speak up, and speak out, when police officers become targets for vile rhetoric and abuse by individuals and factions, whose only motive is to create discord and disharmony, and undermine our justice system. Why does it take the Line of Duty Death of a police Officer to bring out public displays of support? Why not display honor and pride for law enforcement when we are all calm and secure?

I am reminded of the words of a former President of the United States, who was also once a Police Commissioner for New York City Police Department. In speaking of officers, who have done difficult things under difficult circumstances, he said;” “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows, in the end, triumph of high achievement; and at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” And in speaking about the role and dignity of the police profession, he said: “ No man is worth his salt, who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life in a great cause.”… “Far and away the best prize that life offers, is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Truly, in law enforcement we are all doing God’s work, and that indeed, is work worth doing!

This article is dedicated to the Memory of NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu.

Seeking Peace on Earth

With “Holiday Shopping” starting before Hallowe’en this year – [can you believe it??!!], we’ve been greeted in so many – as in, a lot of commercials – by carols already – and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Now, whoa…. I’m not launching a grumple-rant with sour grapes. Instead of that, I’m just wondering how long we’ll hear “peace on earth, good will to all” without its losing its intended meaning. There has always been the trap of over-sentimentalizing the age-old phrases – feeling a “good, old-time feeling” with all its fuzzy warmth – without giving any thought to what its all about in our present world.

So, speaking for the real world where morality can make such a difference, guest speaker Matthew Bogdanos, came to visit the L.I. Shields some time back. He told us about how, when he was asked to do so, he felt challenged by what’s right and good…. to head up an investigation into the when and how, the by whom, and how much might have been lost in the outrageous looting of the National Historic Museum of Baghdad following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regieme in 2003. With a Marine officer’s education, experience, dedication, and fidelity, Colonel Bogdanos led a team that began to create an inventory of all the historic artifacts which the museum’s damaged facilities continued still to hold…. and establish a catalog of everything that now needed to be found and reclaimed. By showing respect for the people whose knowledge could make this team effort work successfully, he helped a city of frustrated, demoralized, and angry Iraqi citizens calm down the rhetoric and demonstrate the need for national pride to replace selfish profit-taking. He surmounted tribal and ethnic suspicion and hatred by focusing sharply on ability and truth.

As Bogdanos saw it, “peace on earth,” had a lot to do with restoring to the people of Iraq appropriate recognition and celebration of the incredibly long history of that ancient land. Against the backdrop of news reports making baseless and false reports of vast losses (in order to sell newspapers), Bogdanos found a way to show that, even though, yes, there were thefts, no, they weren’t as high as the hysteria-generating news items made it to appear. Furthermore there was a backdrop of unscruptulous dealers in antiquities who knew where to go and what to take as plunder from the people of Iraq in the midst of turmoil and lawlessness; these “thieves of Baghdad” needed to be stopped – or at least hindered – from wrenching profits from a nation’s heritage. By making the rest of the world aware of the kinds of items that were missing, the dealers’ markets became more and more limited; the best of the “loot” could not be easily sold.

The book “Thieves of Baghdad” has the power to make anyone who thinks he or she could ever match the service of this Colonel to simply stand in awe. It also gives the power to catch a glimpse of how our best efforts for good and the right, for honesty and respect…. can indeed make a difference in this hurt-saturated world where the hate-filled and violent villains seem to get all the headlines. With strength to care and aid, even “the little guys” can cause the marginalized, the poor, the down-trodden, the sick, and the needy of our world to also catch a glimpse of what “peace on earth” might look like, feel like.

Chaplain JGAnderson