Thursday, July 26, 2012

NEW BOOK--Naples 5-Oh

The newest adventures of the old cops in old Naples is hot off the press. It's available from, most on-line book sellers, or from yours truly--if you run into me. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


  Most folks put a lotta faith in numbers. How many poor souls are out of work? Who's ahead in the election polls? What's the favorite toilet paper? And, what's the crime rate? I can't vouch for the the other numbers but I can the crime rate stuff. It's pure bull hockey. Or at least it used to be.
  In the early 60's the FBI decided that all police agencies--not just them--should keep track of certain crimes and send the results, annually, to J Edgar's boy's. It was voluntary and most agencies saw it as a giant pain in the keester, and worse, a way to keep track of how successful they really were at suppressing crime. So most departments didn't comply until they were forced to, and then started using inventive methods of keeping track of crimes and rate of clearance.
 Since an increase in crime might cause a Chief to start packing his suitcase, it was tempting to just not count some crimes. One agency in Lee County didn't count bicycle thefts for years. There were too many of them. Would drive the larceny rate over the top.
  Some marked the crimes down, so the "important" ones didn't grow too quickly. An armed robbery would become a simple theft, and so forth.
  Another trick was to mark crimes as solved that were still on the books. Once an Investigator at the Sheriff's Office, when a notorious burglar died, cleared every outstanding burglary on the books. The thinking was it would make them look good on the annual report and the deceased sure as hell wasn't going to hand them up.
 An embarrassing problem arose when the NPD caught another prolific burglar who admitted to the ones he'd done in the City, plus those he'd done in the County. All of which had been cleared off the books by the Investigator with an eraser and blamed on the dead guy.
  I'm sure they're more honest today but I still don't put much stock in the numbers. Why? The percentage thing, for one. If you're a small town, one burglar can ruin the crime rate. Say you average 50 B&E's a year and a good burglar comes to town. Hell, he can knock out 50 by himself causing  a 100% increase in burglaries. And a Chief looking for a suitcase.
  And too many things impact the crime rate, the cops being low on the list. Once the NYPD pulled all the Cops out of one sector and put them in another, doubling the force in the second. The crime rate changed in neither.
 Putting away career criminals is the best way to control crime. There are just a few A-holes out there doing the majority of the crimes. When they are in prison, the numbers show it. We are very lucky, in Collier County, to have one of the best Cops around for busting career criminals. His name is Meade Holland. And the local crime rate shows it.
 So, if you feel safe--and you should here--your Cops are doing a good job. Don't worry about what you hear on the news.

Monday, June 27, 2011


  Naples, because of it's many stinkin' rich citizens, was always a target for burglars and jewel thieves. When most of the wealthy folks lived in Port Royal, it drew high-end thieves like flies to a dung pile. Or a politician's speech. When Alligator Alley opened, it made Naples even more attractive, being only a short drive from the cess pool of East Coast scum, in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
 One such group was the Captain America gang, named for the leader who looked like the Peter Fonda character in Easy Rider and rode a stars and stripes painted Harley chopper.
  The Capt and his gang were good, and once hit us fifteen times or so in one afternoon, all in Port Royal, and in all selecting the best jewelry. You could tell when you'd been hit by a pro. A good jewel thief would sort the costume jewelry from the real right on the spot, leaving the junk jewelry laying in a neat pile beside the jewel box or safe. Capt America was one such thief.
  After we got hammered, I got on the phone to Lauderdale to see what top-level thieves they had working, knowing we had no one in town who could pull off jobs this slick. The East coast and Naples shared the same thieves and they had an idea right away who it was.
 "Capt America," the detective said, "we found a dumped Caddy on this end of the alley this morning and wondered where he'd been."
 I asked him to explain.
 "The Capt always steals a car when he's going on a job. A Caddy or a Lincoln, something that won't look out of place in a rich neighborhood. He always works in the afternoon, and folks seeing just another Cadillac or such, think nothing of it. After the job they dump the car."
  It sounded like our gang. "And he only takes the good stuff, sorts it out on the spot. Never seen him make a mistake, taking paste jewelry for real."
 Yep, it was the Capt.
 "We're on him, the detective said and he'll slip up sooner or later." In about two months he did. And, facing some heavy time, he was negotiating. I went to Lauderdale to see if he had anything for us.
  The Capt sure did. He admitted the Port Royal jobs and even said he'd point them out. And did he ever. The Capt could tell you the order he did the burglaries in, and what he took---which was quickly disposed of to a fence.
  His memory wasn't just phenomenal for Naples, either. In all, he fessed up to over 1200 burglaries, on both coasts. All with the same detail on how they'd been done and what he'd stolen.
 I was astounded at the time, but later found out that this sharp memory is common in some criminals. Serial killers are the most noted. The actual time spent during the murder is a high point in their life--what they live for and what other die for. They remember every detail. The Boston Strangler remembered, while he was struggling with a victim, they knocked a pack of cigarettes off the radiator. It was a pack of Winstons, he said.
The investigators went back to the crime scene and found a pack of Winstons behind the radiator. 
  That good memory eventually cost Albert DeSalvo his life.

Sunday, June 26, 2011



Tuesday, June 21, 2011


 Cops in Naples were once mandated to get the job done--whatever it took. And few questions were seldom asked as to how you did it. I'm sure our jurisdiction wasn't unique at the time. It reminded me of how the Marine Corps often got the job done.
 I was fortunate enough to attend the Navy and Marine Corps boot camps. (Fortunate because it changed my life for the good) I went to the Navy bootcamp, because I was in the reserves, and the Marines when I entered the regulars. Quite a difference. Lets take for example swimming instructions.
 Obviously, since both services go to sea, being able to swim is vital. Boats sink, and Marines, during landing, jump into the water where footing is sometimes treacherous. So, in boot camp your were tested on your swimming proficiency--if any. In the Navy they asked that everyone who could not swim go to a certain area where they received instructions. Sometimes the coaching required that they come back a few times, until the skills were mastered. The Marines handled it a little differently.
 All those who could not swim were told to line up along the side of the deep end of the pool. Then, the instructors shoved them in. This, of course, caused panic and the potential drownees thrashed and beat the water trying to get back where they could grab the edge of the pool. That was impossible since the instructors had long, aluminum poles they used to push the terrified paddlers back into the middle of the pool. The only exit was at the other end of the pool, requiring a lengthy swim.
  It worked just great. Brutal? Yes. Terrifying? You bet. But, effective? In our platoon everyone was a swimmer within fifteen-minutes.
 Since a lotta former Marines go into police work, I have a suspicion that some of that "whatever works" came with them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


  There was a time when the guns seized in the line of duty could be kept by the Cop who seized them. That was unless the judge wanted it. (There were very few seized hunting rifles that got by Judge Stanley) Most of the guns seized where junk and the officer would just throw them in the Gulf. Occasionally, you'd come across a keeper.
 There was a local character we'll call Ralph Roger Dodger, who was alway good for a new gun. Ralph always carried and he was the least qualified to be anywhere near a gun. A nutcase. That's why we disarmed him so often.
  Ralph was always modifying guns or trying to make guns out of things that weren't intended for that use. On one memorable occasion, he modified a tear gas pen-like shooter into a .38. And promptly shot himself in the chest with it.
  Then he got in the "silencer" business. The Feds have strict laws against the manufacture of silencers but Ralph Roger built them anyway and advertised his wares so well the Feds  locked him away for a few years.
  He was always into something to aggravate folks, even his own family. Ralph Roger lived in an apartment over a famous Naples restaurant his family owed. One day a family member called us saying that Ralphy had gone insane and was up in his apartment threatening to kill anyone who came near him. I was in the area and took the call.
  Walking up the outside stairway I could hear him yelling inside the apartment. I knocked on the door and announced who I was.
  "You better get away from that door," Ralphy said, "or I'll blow you away."
  Being in a bad mood that day, I had no time for Ralphy's bull squat. "Ralph Roger," I said, "if I have to take this door down I'm gonna come in there and kick your ass so far up between your shoulder blades you'll have to unzip your fly to drink a Slurpee." Or something like that.
  "Oh, okay," Ralph Roger said, opening the door and handing me his gun.
  Ralph Roger was occasionally "insane" but he wasn't a fool.

Thanks to Dave Dampier for the reminder.

Monday, June 13, 2011


  A Cop meets a lotta folks. Most are just regular people, but a few are different. Some infamous. And a few famous. Someone sent me one of Ron Reagan's jokes today. It caused me to reflect on a very special day when I got to be one of his body guards.
 He was running for President and making  a whirlwind tour of Florida. The Secret Service advance men had visited a few days before, checking the lay of the land and making preparations for the visit. I had worked with these heroes--yes they are American heroes--many times before but this time it was special. Mr Reagan was a person I admired. Most politicians I disdained, so he was in a select group to me.
 I believe the advance agent saw that and asked if I'd like to be on Mr Reagan's closeup security team for the visit. I jumped at the chance. He gave me a small, circular badge that clipped on my pocket. It designated that I was allowed to be close enough to Reagan to touch him.
 That day, the helicopter landed in Cambier Park, and suddenly there he was, just like in the movies but larger than I expected, more vibrant. He strode swiftly to the outside podium and commenced his remarks. At the side, I talked with an agent, whose eyes constantly scanned the crowd.
  "He gives that speech very convincingly," I said.
 "He should," said the agent, "he gives it every day. Ten times today already, and we have three stops to go."
  "Seems like a regular guy," I said.
 "He's a champ, except he has to get up close and press the flesh. We asked him to stand back a few feet from that," he pointed to a rope strung to hold back the crowd, "but he won't. He'll be right up against it where any psycho could stick a knife in him. But, no need to argue, that's the way he is."
  And indeed, after the address that's what he did, shaking everyone's hand like they were long lost friends. I guess for many of us, having grown up seeing him on the Screen and TV, that was so.
  Howsumever, it was a day I'll never forget. And for a week or so after folks asked about my adventure, guarding Mr Reagan. Trouble was, of all the things I might have been able to comment on, they only asked one thing: "Do you think he dyes his hair?"
 Such is politics in American. How have we lasted so long?