5 Things Divorcing Parents Should Know

When you had your child or children your life changed from being focused on yourself to suddenly having to consider how all your life choices would impact the kids. That is the way it should be. What is in the child’s best interest should always be a parent’s top priority especially when considering divorce. The first thing you should know is our adversarial legal system is not child focused or family friendly. The emotional and financial price you pay when you each hire separate divorce lawyers is higher than you can now imagine.

Before I became a divorce attorney I was a special education teacher. My Masters is in Special Education, focusing on teaching severely emotionally disturbed children, so I came to the law with a powerful bias to act only in the best interest of the children. The 2nd important fact to know is how comfortable so many divorce lawyers are in spending their client’s college fund instead of quickly and economically helping the couple to negotiate a fair deal. After 8 years of litigation and witnessing the total financial and emotional devastation of too many families I vowed to no longer take adversarial divorces and to do only divorce mediation. In the following 3 years, after working with over 150 couples with 100% success rate, I am convinced that divorce mediation should be the solution of first resort for 85% of the couples who are contemplating divorce. So the 3rd thing you need to know is there is an alternative to divorce court, mediation.

It is easier to deal with a situation when basic information is already known. In the 8 community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) property division is pretty clear. What ever was totally owned prior to marriage or received by gift or inheritance is separate property that goes to the spouse who owns it. If it was partially paid for using wages or income earned during the marriage, the “community” gains an interest in it that can be calculated. Division of property in community property states is one of the easiest issues to deal with because it is so clear cut. But what about the other 42 states? These states use an equitable distribution system to divide marital property. Each state has its own rules that can be ascertained prior to starting the divorce process. So there is some uncertainty in non community property states but an experienced lawyer/mediator generally knows what the court will do in most situations and can be a valuable guide to couples who are unfamiliar with the laws. The 4th thing to keep in mind is that there is no point in fighting over property division. You can protect your co-parenting relationship and end up with more property if you divide everything the way a neutral 3rd party (mediator) suggests.

In litigated divorce cases, child custody and visitation issues can be the most contentious and emotional. If the parents can agree to a custody arrangement, which they eventually do in 90% of custody cases, they can avoid court altogether. Why should a couple wait until they are on the courthouse steps to make a deal? Only 10% of custody cases are litigated. A couple could always seek the services of a child therapist to advise them instead of going to court. The courts typically apply a “best interest of the child” standard in determining who should get primary custody. Wouldn’t the parents themselves be in the best position to decide how their children should be raised? When a couple works together in mediation they are in control of the final outcome, not lawyers or judges. When the couple has an intention to effectively co-parent by always keeping the best interest of the child foremost in their mind, they will produce a much more satisfying outcome than if a solution is imposed upon them from above. Child custody issues are the most inappropriate issues to be decided within an adversarial system. The win/lose game that is played in court always results in tension between the parents. Not only will this tension negatively affect the health and happiness of the parents but the children will be caught in the middle of a battle, ducking verbal and emotional bullets as they fly over their heads. The adversarial system does not protect the co-parenting relationship of parents and should be avoided if at all possible. An emotionally vulnerable client in the hands of a “zealous advocate” who is more concerned with enriching themselves than in helping their client is a dangerous combination. The last thing to keep in mind is that avoiding divorce attorneys and court should be the #1 priority if you want to protect your health, spirit, co-parenting relationship and pocketbook.

India Tourist Visa Guidelines for Visa Extension

Longer extensions must be approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The process of applying for one can give you a bit of a grace period while they consider it. It’s important to note that if you stay in the country illegally beyond the period of your visa, you may face fines, deportation and/or up to five years in prison.

Visa conversions and extensions are handled by the MHA only between 10 A.M. and noon, Monday to Friday. The address for the main office is Foreigners’ Division, MHA, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi. If you want to change your visa status from one category to another, you should go in person to the office. In case of serious illness, you can send a representative. If you aren’t in Delhi, go to the nearest Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO), which will forward your case to the MHA for approval. Applications for extensions or conversions should be made a few months before your current visa expires, if possible.

In general, you can’t change the category of your visa while you are in India; e.g., if you are in India on a Tourist Visa, you can’t just decide to take up a job. In such a case, you have to go back to your own country to apply for a new visa. The MHA does have the authority to give you a different visa if there are extraordinary circumstances, but they rarely do it.

PIO Cards and OCI Status- If your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were Indian nationals, or if you are the spouse of an Indian citizen or PIO, or if you once held an India passport, you can get a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) Card that is valid for 15 years. This card allows visa-free entry to PIOs living abroad, but you do have to register if you stay more than 180 days.

There is also a status called Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) that is available to PIOs or others who either are or were eligible for Indian citizenship at a certain time. This is not dual citizenship. Rather, it’s essentially a permanent visa that allows you to come and go as you wish and to stay as long as you like without registering. It gives you most of the privileges enjoyed by Indian citizens, except that you can’t vote, buy agricultural land, or hold certain public offices.

Exit Visa- If your passport is lost or stolen; you have gone to the FRRO so you can get your visa transferred to the new passport. Or you can get an Exit Visa, which will allow you a certain number of days in which to leave the country legally. Without one or the other, you won’t be able to leave India. To get an Exit Visa, you need to present your new passport, a letter from your embassy giving details of the lost or stolen passport, and the original police report, as well as proof of date of entry into India (i.e., your boarding pass, a letter from the airline on which you arrived verifying date and place for your arrival in India, or a photocopy of your visa and entry stamp).

Special Permits- In order to visit certain restricted or protected areas, including the Andaman Islands, Lakshadweep, parts of Ladakh, and some of the Northeastern States, you will need a special permit. Some permits (excluding Inner Line permits for border areas of Ladakh, which take only a day) may take a week or two to get, so you should apply well in advance. You can get permits come Sikkim from embassies and consulates abroad before you come, or the Foreigners’ Registration Offices in India, and in Darjeeling and Siliguri, as well as at certain major airports.

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DUI Breathalyzer Accuracy

Anyone that has been stopped and arrested for a DUI charge is likely to find the entire process to be very difficult and stressful. Plus, with the reported increase in accidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance, the authorities are making every effort to prosecute all offenders. In order to prove a person is driving under the influence, the law enforcement official that made the stop has a choice of asking the driver to take a roadside sobriety test or use a breathalyzer. A first course of action may be the sobriety test which involves simple tests like walking in a straight line, lifting one foot off the ground, touch the tip of your nose, etc.

But, these tests aren’t entirely reliable and the most common option used is the breathalyzer. A field breathalyzer is quick to use and basically involves breathing air into a device that is analyzed to determine whether of not the driver has consumed too much alcohol to be on the road.

While the breath analysis is the favored method to test the concentration of blood alcohol in a roadside stop, they are nowhere near as reliable or accurate as blood tests. But, for the case of DUI investigations, it is seen as an acceptable option, provided it is administered in the correct fashion.

The breathalyzer tests aren’t complicated and a useful piece of portable kit to analyze a sample, but the result generated by this device may not be as reliable as the authorities would like you to believe. In fact, it has been reported that neither the spectroscopic BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test nor the breathalyzer test is 100% trustworthy. This mostly relates to alcohol not affecting everyone the same, with many people able to consume quite a lot and still not be drunk.

Even though the test can give a positive indication that the BAC reading is high, this doesn’t actually confirm the driver was under the influence of alcohol while in control of their vehicle.

Scientific studies have taken place in relation to the accuracy of the breath alcohol tests, and their conclusion was that they are inherently unreliable. These studies have indicated that the breath readings can be up to 15% outside of the true blood alcohol levels.

So, in the event of being stopped for a DUI charge, you don’t really want the result from a breathalyzer to be the defining factor that determines the sentence issued. The best course of action is to get in touch with a skilled and reputable DUI attorney who is able to use their knowledge of the law to help fight this offense.

A DUI charge is a serious offense that has the potential to lead to a variety of legal consequences, which can include a period of prison time, attending alcohol or drug awareness classes, taking part in community service, having to pay a high fine, or the loss of your driver’s license. There are situations where the sentence given is more severe, such as having a minor on-board at the time or not being a first offense.

In the approach to defend the DUI charge that involves a breath analysis, any qualified criminal defense lawyer will be aware that there could be several operational and theoretical issues. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the results of blood-alcohol analysis being regarded as unreliable, and attempt to show that this type of data isn’t enough to prosecute. By using a lawyer it is possible to get the get outcome with a case either closed or a sentence kept to a minimum.

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Cost Effective Law Enforcement Aerial Patrol

While many of our law enforcement officers will make a major stand in regards to flying helicopters and the versatility of the helicopter, for many law enforcement agencies there are far more cost effective options available to perform many of the same mission roles as a helicopter.

Starting with the helicopter it does offer vertical takeoff and decent as well as hover capability. Hover capability is vital for performing officer insertion or extraction in confined areas where landing is not normally practical. Hover capability is also critical for life rescue work.

We now enter into an area that may turn a few heads. How often and how needed are these capabilities for your particular organization? Larger cities or metropolitan areas may in fact need all of the capabilities of a helicopter and may have the need even for a large helicopter for proper tactical deployment of personnel and or equipment. Now if an analytical approach to bang for the buck is applied to a majority of law enforcement missions, the actual number of times per year that these capabilities were utilized are most likely very low. For many cities not willing or by the private service of EMS helicopter operators, or the services of the Coast Guard, many EMS missions are not even covered by law enforcement agencies.

Large cities and metro departments can even benefit from a slightly mixed fleet of affordable aircraft and more expensive helicopters. With smaller cheaper aircraft to perform normal patrols and surveillance with the more mission – enhanced aircraft providing the special mission services it can offer.

Many law enforcement agencies not only in the United States but also across the world have made some very significant purchases in regards to new helicopters in the past few years. Aircraft such as the Eurocopter B2 and B3’s as well as Bell 206 L4 and 407 helicopters. Agencies have been replacing older aircraft with high component and or high airframe times with newer aircraft with more performance and the ability to safely carry the many mission support tools needed for airborne law enforcement.

Agencies have been able to find ways to procure new aircraft but very often the maintenance and repair area after the initial purchase is overlooked. Right along with this oversight is the increased operational costs and possible increase in insurance costs associated with the new purchase. A typical scenario seen across the industry is when an aircraft enters a major inspection is that the money needed to repair or replace the inspection items is often not available or was not budgeted for in the maintenance operating budget. This can be an administrative short-sight, an agency with a fixed maintenance budget, inaccurate information on DOC’s (Direct Operating Costs) as the area in which you operate may have more atmospheric contaminates to cause corrosion that were not taken into account at the time of purchase. Another possibility can be the hours that were actually flown exceeded the planned hours for the budget, this brings those time life items to an earlier calendar time than previously planned.

Now where to get approval for the unplanned expenses or if planned and the actual costs are higher than estimated? Since the budgets are tight many agencies have had to keep aircraft grounded until such time that funds are allocated, and the aircraft components repaired to get the aircraft back in the air. Consequently, have had some aircraft become the dreaded hanger queen for months while awaiting funding. This not only makes the unit less efficient but also sets the stage for the same scenario for the following year as other aircraft now bear the burden of additional flight hours from the previously mentioned grounded ship now carrying its fair share of the flight hour program.

The unit supervisor may be suddenly faced with some rather humbling data to provide the supervising police staff or civilian officials in regards to budget.

Operationally, there are some options available, be it for a small town or the large law enforcement unit. A quick look at actual mission roles and calls will normally reveal that calls responded to only required an aircraft to have slow circular flight capability and that hover capability was in fact not needed. A check with your pilots will also reveal a safety reason for doing orbits rather than hover. Hovering burns more fuel, the pilot is also in a vulnerable position in regards to performance (high torque, high EGT, or other operational parameters), and it is also a very vulnerable position if the engine or some other component decides to fail at this critical time.

For helicopters to effectively enter into an authoritative state there has to be enough potential energy available to become a successful maneuver. The pilot requires two things to perform this critical skill, altitude and or forward speed. Forward speed and altitude are the sources of our potential energy which induce the rotational forces needed to safely perform authorization. Since most police work is performed at low altitude the safe pilot will keep the aircraft moving forward in the event that an authorization should have to be performed.

A gyroplane is in a constant state of authorization and in the event to make an emergency landing, the pilot simply maintains airspeed to sustain authorization and perform the landing approach to touchdown.

Options that make a lot of sense from a budget point of view are, helicopters that can be operated for patrol use at a far cheaper rate than our mission specialized aircraft. This does not necessarily mean the aircraft is not capable of many of the same missions. Since the growth of the UAV market, many systems used for these aircraft are the same systems required for law enforcement use. These systems have become quite lightweight and compact in size. Another option is to use another aircraft that is still a rotorcraft but can operate far more efficiently than the helicopter in many of the same mission roles- the gyroplane. I would like to direct your attention to what has performed in both testing and actual missions roles with his gyroplanes. Pilots may frown on this move but they are your pilots and expected to fly as your pilots. Naturally training will be required but their job is to fly. The same holds true for the mechanics that may raise a fit about working on a small gyroplane. It is the ability to perform the mission that is their responsibility and management’s responsibility to the community to provide effective law enforcement capability but it shouldn’t come at too great of a burden to the taxpayer.

With these thoughts in mind as well as privatized law enforcement roles for gyroplanes Groen Brothers has recently released their newest gyroplane model. The Sparrowhawk III is designed for the use in homeland security roles, private law enforcement / security as well a normal law enforcement roles. The affectivity of light gyroplanes was been validated time and again from Ken Wallis and his use of specialized equipment to perform cadaver searches to port surveys for Saudi Arabia. Not too long ago the German government entered into testing of gyroplanes in a law enforcement role but not much feedback to the rest of the law enforcement community has surfaced from these tests.

If there is any indication of the value of the operational advantages of the gyroplane as simple look at the Sikorsky demonstrator and test vehicle X-2, a coaxial hybrid with a large pusher propeller located at the tail. For pilots and mechanic that simply are not informed of the aircraft type resistance to change can be accepted. Once they understand that the probable future of law enforcement aviation is most likely going to be an aircraft of similar design as the X-2, then the benefits of gyroplane technology will come to be appreciated.

Sticker shock of continuing maintenance costs after the initial purchase of a helicopter has left many agencies and local governments shaking their heads at the high costs they most likely never thought they would encounter. There are economical options; helicopters operations in most agencies began with small simple reciprocating powered helicopters. The purchase of former military helicopters showed the potential of turbine powered law enforcement helicopters but the added budgetary costs of newer aircraft and the tightening of local government purse strings has even lead to the loss of some law enforcement airborne units all-together. I am sure that any of those pilots would rather be flying and performing their law enforcement role than to be grounded or without a job. The modern gyroplane is no tinker toy and for any that approach the aircraft with as much of an attitude they will quickly get themselves into trouble. Like any other aircraft it does have operational parameters for safe flight and only flies like a gyroplane, not like an airplane and not like a helicopter, it is its’ own unique form of aerial transportation.

The gyroplane also provides as good of an observation platform as any helicopter and much of the associated vibrations found with helicopters is not as pronounced in gyroplanes putting less vibration on fragile equipment such as radios and navigation equipment. This means lighter equipment can replace bulkier equipment.

In regards to the dreaded airworthiness directives that can quickly down a fleet of helicopters the combined use of gyroplanes can still keep a unit effective and performing law enforcement aerial duties at a fraction of the cost. Inclusive to gyroplane maintenance costs is they typically have far fewer time life components to replace, inspect or overhaul further reducing the operational dollars needed to support the unit’s mission. Fuel being of concern of late can also be brought under a manageable budget with many aircraft using premium auto fuel in place of expensive Avgas or jet fuel.

So before a unit decides it can no longer provide the needed support to ground officers or provide valuable service to the community by closing the hanger doors. The unit may want to explore the possibilities of using a platform that quite simply provides more bang for the buck than the helicopter to perform many of the same missions.

FAQS About Public Defenders

When you are learning about public defense, the first question you are likely to ask is, “What is a public defender?” So let’s not waste anytime answering this question, and many more frequently asked questions about public defense lawyers. A public defender is a criminal defense lawyer that works for the state and paid by the government. They provide free legal representation to defendants that are facing criminal charges that are punishable by jail time. Continue reading to read more common questions and answers just like this one!

Do Defendants Have to Pay for a Public Defender?

No, clients do not pay. However, a judge must decide that a defendant qualifies for public defense before one is appointed to them. In cases that a person is fully capable of paying for a private representation, they may be denied state assistance.

Is a Public Defender Less Qualified Than a Regular Criminal Lawyer?

No, both public defenders and private criminal attorneys are equally qualified in terms of education requirements, certifications, and licensing. The only difference is the level of skills and experience of each person.

Should I Use Public Representation or Hire My Own Lawyer?

Although public defenders are equally qualified doesn’t mean they are the most promising option for defense. Since they work for the state, their case loads are extremely rigorous and overflowing. This means they only have a limited amount of time to spend on each case. A private attorney can provide personalized representation to ensure you avoid the maximum penalties if convicted of your charges. Whether you are facing a petty charge like shoplifting, or a major charge like manslaughter, private counsel is the best choice, no matter the price. You can’t put a price on freedom, after all.

Can a Public Defense Lawyer Reject My Case?

If you are indigent and cannot pay your bills as they come due, it would be both unethical and illegal to have your case rejected since it is a violation to your Constitutional rights. Although a case can be handed over from one lawyer to another, it cannot be rejected and ultimately “skipped over” or denied. A person who is entitled to free representation will get it, no matter what.

Can I Request a New Lawyer?

If you are found to be eligible for state defense, you will be assigned a lawyer by the court. If this lawyer does not meet your expectations or recover the plea arrangement that you wanted, you do not have any options. Unless you can prove to a judge that your current lawyer is somehow violating your right to adequate representation, you cannot switch or be appointed a new one. Inadequate representation includes scenarios like missing appointments, failing to meet deadlines, forcing you to a certain plea, not informing you of case status and court dates, and ignoring critical evidence. And if you choose to appeal your conviction, you must hire private representation anyway, so asking to switch at that point wouldn’t be necessary.

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Is the Cost of Bail Higher for Felony Charges?

Discovering that your loved one has been arrested is not an enjoyable experience. No one wants to get this phone call; especially because your first thought is likely about the expense it will cost you. Finding out that your loved one was arrested on serious felony charges is even more disturbing, and can cause your mind to go into a whirlwind of questions and concerns. As history shows, many people want to know if a felony charge will increase the cost of a bail bond. The answer to this question, however, is not cut and dry. Continue reading to learn how the cost of bail is calculated, and whether or not the severity of the crime affects the total price of bail.

Cost of Bail

Bonds are set by judges who consider various factors before deciding on an amount. These factors include, but are not limited to, the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of their crime, and whether or not they are a flight risk. So in short, “yes”; the cost of bail is absolutely affected by the severity of criminal charges. This is for many reasons.

Bail Schedules

Most states have bail schedules with predetermined bond amounts for certain categories of crimes. For instance, shoplifting might come with an automatic bail schedule of $1000, while domestic violence might have a $10,000 bond or more. The more serious the crime, the higher the bond amount set by the judge. If a charge is a violent one, such as assault, battery, domestic disturbances, and child abuse, you can guarantee that the bond will be set high. Furthermore, all preset bond amounts, however, can be increased upon the judge’s discretion depending on the previously discussed factors. But not to worry, our U.S. Constitution protects us from excessive bond amounts. So they will be fair.

Bail Bondsmen

Unless you want to pay the jail or courts the full bond amount in cash or property, you will need to hire a bail bondsman. They charge a nonrefundable fee that is a set percentage of the total bond amount. For felony charges, bond amounts will be higher, which means the cost of a bail bond will be too. The premium a bail bondsman is allowed to charge is controlled and regulated by the State’s Insurance Department. Currently, this rates are set between 10 and 15 percent. This means that the total allowable premium that bail bond companies are allowed to charge can be anywhere between these percentages. They get to choose how much they charge within this range. If a person is facing a felony charge and they have a history for fleeing, a bail bondsman will charge on the higher end, closer to the 15% marker. For first time or minor offenses, most stick with the 10% charge.

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Estafa Vs B.P.22 – What Is the Difference?

We’re pretty sure there’s a point in time that you became party to a transaction, either as payee or payer. Of course as payee, receiving cash is much preferred as you are sure that your payment was given to you in full sans any further action needed from your end. Now as payer, issuing a check is so much more convenient, especially for substantial transactions, as you would not have to worry about bringing cash and making sure that all your expenses are accounted and debited for, up to the last centavo.

It’s great if all transactions went smoothly without any hitch. However, with both parties making and receiving payment all in good faith. But what if you were conned by someone you had the mistake of trusting? Or what if you issued a check as a show of good faith to close out on a deal but at the time of issuance, the account has insufficient funds and you made a mental note to replenish the account as soon as you got paid. Alas, you then notice that your check bounced.

The above instances had surged over the years and has caused an unfortunate chain reaction which prompted the filing of either or both the following cases: Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambasa (BP) 22 or the Bouncing Checks Law.

Estafa Through Issuance of Unfunded Checks
The crime of Estafa is punished under the Revised Penal Code. One can be held guilty for Estafa by means of issuing a bouncing check with the use of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:
“By postdating a check, or issuing a check in payment of an obligation when the offender had no funds in the bank, or his funds deposited therein were not sufficient to cover the amount of the check. (Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 4885)”

How can a person be held guilty for Estafa?

Under the RPC, the following elements are necessary to hold a person guilty of Estafa:

  1. Postdating or issuance of a check in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check was issued
  2. Insufficiency of funds to cover the check, and
  3. Damage to the payee thereof.

The most important element here is the damage caused. Absent any of the following elements, a person cannot be held liable for Estafa.

Case in point:

Andres owns and operates a trading good business and bought merchandise from Bonifacio and issued an unfunded check in consideration of the goods received.

In this scenario, Andres can be held liable for Estafa because he issued a check knowing it to be without sufficient funds to pay the items he bought from Bonifacio. The issuance of the bounced check here was with fraudulent intent.

Bouncing Checks Law (BP 22)
Unlike Estafa which has its basis under the RPC, BP 22 is enacted through a special law. A person can be charged for violation of BP 22 when he commits the following acts:

  1. Making or drawing and issuing any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment;
  2. Having sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank when he makes or draws and issues a check, shall fail to keep sufficient funds or to maintain a credit to cover the full amount of the check if presented within a period of ninety (90) days from the date appearing thereon, for which reason it is dishonored by the drawee bank.

How can a person be held guilty for Violation of BP 22?

Violation of BP 22 can be filed against any person when the following are present:

  1. Making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply for account or for value;
  2. Knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and
  3. Subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.

Same with Estafa, the presence of all these requirements is important. Otherwise, the charge of BP 22 will not attach. Note that knowledge of insufficiency of funds is presumed when it is proved that the issuer received a notice of dishonor and that within 5 days from receipt thereof, he failed to pay the amount of the check or make arrangement for its payment. Additionally, in BP 22, good faith is immaterial. Meaning, the mere issuance of an unfunded check already consummates the crime.

Using the same example above, Andres can also be charged for Violation of BP 22, other than Estafa, because BP 22 cases also cover issuances of bouncing checks for value received.

Where does the disparity lie?

It is Estafa when, among others, you issue an unfunded check with fraudulent intent in consideration of something of value you received. Here intent is material and good faith may be used as a defense.

It is a case for Violation of BP 22 when you issue an unfunded check whether or not it is for an obligation you contracted prior to the issuance of the check or not. Simply put, you are liable for BP 22 whether you issue a check for a present or a past obligation.

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What Interfaith Law Enforcement Chaplains Have In Common With Law Enforcement Officers

Learning to understand the Law Enforcement culture and the unique pressures that officers experience day-to-day is an important part of being an Interfaith Law Enforcement Chaplain. At first it may seem that the culture of Law Enforcement and that of Faith Communities have very little in common. However, members of the clergy may have more in common with Law Enforcement Officers than what is immediately obvious. These similarities provide the foundation upon which to build a relationship of understanding and trust.

“On” All The Time

Members of the clergy understand something of what it means to be on duty all the time. They could be out shopping in the produce section of a supermarket and find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a conversation with someone from their community about an important life issue. Members of the clergy can’t disengage with “I’m not on duty right now,” for doing so would likely go against their nature and possibly cause irreparable damage to their relationships in the community. Law enforcement officers have a similar “on” all the time experience of life and can’t easily step out of the problem solving role that members of the public may project on them. Family, friends and neighbors may also have difficulties in seeing an officer outside of his or her role. Being “on” all the time is a source of stress because it does not allow for the individual, outside of a professional role, to be experienced. When a chaplain understands this, it can help the chaplain be present for an officer without contributing to the demands already being placed on the officer. Being “On” all the time as a Law Enforcement Officer has an additional stress, that of sustained alertness for potential danger. Not being aware of this can cause a Chaplain to misinterpret the normal hyper alert behavior of an officer as being distant or unapproachable.

Tips

  • Don’t assume too casual or overly friendly demeanor when communicating with Law Enforcement Officers. Let officers set the tone and thereby let you know what is appropriate for your interactions.
  • Do be courteous, kind and professional.

Set Apart

Some clergy wear vestments that set them apart from the public and even those who do not wear any particular identifying clothing or symbol of their office can experience being set apart from society. This can be in the form of expectations that the public have of clergy: to have faultless personal lives and spotless behavior all the time, and to never deviate from an inhumane standard of perfection. Similarly, Law Enforcement Officers are seemingly under sustained scrutiny. Their badges, uniforms and weapons, make them stand out from a crowd that expects perfect politeness and faultless behavior. Sometimes the individual behind the uniform is lost in all the expectation. The pressure to show up perfectly can have the effect of dehumanizing a person and cause an ever-deepening rift between their on duty personality and who they really are. When a chaplain understands this about an officer, it can help the chaplain to be present for the person behind the uniform with patience, letting the officer lead with instructions, conversation and requests-and above all to have a strong capacity to listen to the officer with as little judgment as possible.

Tips

  • Avoid expressing personal opinions about matters of social conduct.
  • Do listen, frequently and carefully

Professional, Not Personal

Regardless of an officer’s opinion about local laws, private faith, political parties, or personal preferences regarding social trends, he or she has to apply the law with sustained professionalism toward everyone. Officers interact with people from every walk of life and way of thinking and believing and have to be able to function with fairness and equanimity in this diverse environment. An Interfaith Law Enforcement Chaplain will no doubt have strong personal faith conviction and a deep spiritual practice. Regardless of the chaplain’s private faith, he or she will be serving officers and members of the public from every-and no-faith tradition; at no time is it appropriate to proselytize. An Interfaith Law Enforcement Chaplain has to apply compassion and service with sustained professionalism toward everyone.

Tips

  • Don’t bring anything to the conversation that was not requested. Testimonies of faith, no matter what the tradition, must not be brought into the conversation with officers unless specifically requested.
  • Do be respectful of what officers want to talk about and follow their lead. Include in this the ability to respect an officer’s wish to talk about anything.

Federal Law Enforcement Programs

With almost 1% of the adult population of the United States currently incarcerated (1,404,503), it is clear that there is a never-ending demand for qualified people to work in law enforcement. From front line police officers to end of the line prison workers, having well-trained enforcers of the law is critical to keeping law and order. Providing education for these agents falls to federal law enforcement programs.

Types of Available Positions:

Policing: officers, sheriffs and deputies at the state and local level as well as Military Police.

Federal Agents: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and IRS are just a few of the 88 Federal Agencies who offer employment for officers.

Prisons: wardens and correctional officers.

Probation Officers: employed by state and local governments.

National Security: Border Agents, Coast Guard, Air Marshals, Postal Inspectors, State Department, and Homeland Security.

Although the amount of education required for each position may vary, all applicants would be well-supported by courses obtained from one of the federal enforcement programs available.

FLETA is a great resource if you are thinking about getting an education which will lead to a job in Federal enforcement. FLETA (Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation) offers a comprehensive and transparent accreditation for institutions which offer federal law enforcement programs. With so many federal law programs to select from, using this website should help you narrow your choices.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC): 12 separate programs from Criminal Investigator Training Program to Uniformed Police Training Program.

Customs and Border Protection: three programs including the Basic Entry Specialist Training Program and the U.S. Border Patrol Spanish Task-Based Language Teaching Program.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) National Criminal Investigation Training Academy: Special Agent Basic Training Program and one other.

The Air Force Special Investigations Academy: offers a basic course.

U.S. Military Police School: civilian police academy.

The Department of Energy: Basic Security Police Officer Training.

TSA (Transportation Safety Agency): 3 air marshal courses including the Federal Air Marshal Training Program Part 1 and II.

U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement Academy: two programs including the Basic Boarding Officer Course.

U.S. Federal Reserve System: Basic Law Enforcing Courses.

U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Training Center: two courses including Basic Special Agent Course.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service: Basic Inspector Training, Postal Police Officer Basic Training and a Facilitator Program.

U.S. Secret Service, James J. Rowley Training Center: Special Agent Training Course and two others.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS): Special Agent Basic Training Program and an instructor course.