Occupation: Law Enforcement Officer
Favorite Quote: ”Never complain about things you permit.”
Back when I was about 7 years old, my mother was a barber at Lee Winteregg’s Barbershop in Englewood, Ohio. The shoe shiner, a 15 year-old Englewood Police Explorer, would come by the shop on his moped with his handcuffs, CB radio, and get me excited about police work. In 1995, eight years later, I too became an Englewood Police Explorer and that same shoe shiner was a police officer and my Explorer advisor.
I hated high school...I think I maintained a 1.3 GPA my Freshman and Sophomore year. Instead of dreading to apply myself to curricula I considered to be pointless at the time, my Junior and Senior years were spent at the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in Piqua, Ohio studying Law Enforcement. My two instructors, Bill Weldy and Steve Hendricks, both retired from the Dayton Police Department, were second to none. Upon graduating in 1998, I started performing undercover alcohol buys for Troy, Dayton and Cincinnati Police Departments while also attending Sinclair Community College (“Sinclair”) to obtain my AAS degree in Police Science: Law Enforcement Administration. Gary Tucker and Bob Rice were great teachers, emphasizing in enforcing the spirit of the law rather than its letter.
In 1999, I was hired by a private contractor to work with local law enforcement agencies performing undercover narcotics investigations. After completing the undercover academy, I landed assignments in Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Iowa. In 2002, I returned to Ohio and conducted undercover drug buys for local law enforcement while I retorted to Sinclair to finish my coursework. After finally obtaining my associates degree, I became a police officer and have worked in law enforcement ever since.
Years ago, while working as a police officer, a supervisor once told me I was not permitted to run license plates on vehicles parked on private property through our NCIC/LEADS database. A few months later, another supervisor advised me I could not cite someone for speed on a roadway outside of our municipal jurisdiction. In both instances, the supervisors were wrong (though I dare not tell them they were wrong) and the law supported my position. In the following months, I attended training events and seminars throughout the state and in neighboring states. Most officers I encountered displayed the same deficient knowledge of case law that were critical to their daily functions as police officers. I recognized this shortfall was not their ignorance, but lack of resources and the priority placed on legal subject matters was absent ab initio. When I went through the police academy, the legal curriculum consisted primarily of criminal law sections and lacked procedural and case law subject matters. In fact, in my 151 pages of notes, only four cases were mentioned. The lack of legal education amongst law enforcement was confirmed in 2013 when a revealed only 49% of officers receive AT LEAST annual legal training, 31% of officers receive legal training ‟rarely ever,” and 20% of officers ‟never” receive legal updates.
I was fortunate to be exposed to law enforcement at a young age through the programs I mentioned earlier. My case law knowledge and hunger to learn law itself would cease to exist if it were not for my sublime instructors preaching the importance of them. Therein lies the problem - these people all appeared prior to my graduating from the police academy. A college degree is not required to attend a police academy and the academy curriculum does not emphasize case law enough. But yet knowledge of codified and case law is so important that an officer may be civilly and criminally liable under the color of law doctrine if their conduct is contrary to well-settled law, even if their conduct is performed in good faith. It is as if officers are required to have complete knowledge of their respective federal circuit, state supreme court, and U.S. Supreme Court rulings while making split second decisions while jurors and attorneys have the the timely hindsight of 20/20 for scrutinize officers’ judgments.
In recognizing this serious deficiency of legal knowledge, I was determined to create a way to deliver law enforcement-related case law rulings to street officers, regardless of their budget constraints, educational status, or rank. The timing for my project was parallel to the explosion of the Android and Apple smartphones, which prompted the creation of what is now U.S. Cop.
In 2008, I decided to return to college and obtain a bachelor’s degree Public Safety Management from Franklin University and subsequent master’s degree in Criminal Justice (Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention focus) from the University of Cincinnati. In 2013, I started my final academic journey by entering law school to obtain my Juris Doctor degree. During law school, I served as a clerk to a law firm where I primarily defended officers that were terminated or being sued for civil rights violations, and also defended clients on the other side of the fence who were unnecessarily searched and beaten by law enforcement officers. I quickly learned the best way to learn how to be a great cop is to learn how to be a good defense attorney.
My ultimate goals are to (1) educate law enforcement officers at academies and universities as to the importance of legal knowledge, provide legal resources, and explain the consequences of ignoring relevant court decisions; (2) manage a medium to large sized police agency; and (3) defend police officers in administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings when good faith is apropos. It is my impression that individual officer should have civil and criminal immunity from constitutional violations if it can be shown their employer’s law director failed to educate them with court percents pertinent to their job functions. To expect an officer to act as an attorney by proactively keeping up-to-date with court precedents is unrealistic.
I thank everyone for their support and encourage everyone to email me if you have any feature requests, accolades, or constructive feedback.
- FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association
- National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators
- National Association of Special Investigation Units
- Police Executive Research Forum
- The Reid Institute
- Ohio Association of Public Safety Directors
- Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police
- Ohio Auto Theft Investigators Association
- Ohio Narcotics Association of Regional Coordinating Officers
- National District Attorneys Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- ADAP (Advanced Detection, Apprehension, & Prosecution) `07
- Administrative and Mid Level Supervision `11
- Advanced Public Records `12
- ASP Tactical Baton `07
- Basic Pistol Course
- Criminal Procedure Update `10
- Defensive Driver Training `06
- Drug Interdiction `01
- Drug Interdiction for Patrol `09
- Drug Identification - Supervisory `98
- Drug Recognition Expert `09
- Emergency Vehicle Operations `98
- Field Training Officer `09
- Force Science Analyst - Certified `12
- HazMat/WMD `07
- Human Trafficking `12
- Insurance Fraud `10
- Internal Investigations `10
- Interview Techniques `09
- Investigation and Prosecution of Child Fatalities and Physical Abuse `11
- Leadership Training `98
- Legal Tactics `06
- LiDAR & RADAR Operator `07
- Linguistic Statement Analysis - Advanced `10
- Kinesic Roadside and Field Interview `11
- Missing Persons `07
- Monadnock PR-24 and MEB Instructor `01
- Non-Stranger Sexual Assault Response and Investigation `10
- Oleoresin Capsicum (OC spray) `06
- Peace Officer Basic Training `06
- Reid Interviewing & Interrogation - Advanced `09
- Report Writing `09
- Responding to Robbery, Homicide, & Other In-Progress Crimes `09
- Supervision in a Nutshell `10
- Tactical Training for Fraud Investigators `10
- TASER (end user) `07
- Traffic Crash Investigations `07
- Undercover Investigations `99
- Vehicle Stop Interdictions: Drug Interdiction for Patrol `09
- VIN Cloning and Motor Vehicle Title Fraud `10
- White Collar and Fraud Investigation `10
Last updated 06-13-2014