Partnering with the FCPO to Share the Gospel with the Moldovan Delegation

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Last Saturday, September 20, 2014 I had the incredible privilege of meeting a group of Moldovan police officers and government officials who were visiting Chattanooga, TN as part of an ongoing relationship with the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers.

Moldova is an Eastern European country that was formerly part of the Communist Soviet Union (USSR).  On average, police officers earn about $240 per month.  Their weapons are usually shared, their equipment worn and dated, and few have the luxury of wearing body armor.  Nevertheless, their spirit is strong and God is working in their hearts and lives.

Map of MoldovaAs retired LEO from the Chicago area, TJ Tichy, writes, “This historic exchange is the culmination of the hard work of 3 teams of FCPO Law enforcement officers.  The first team arrived there in 2011 headed by Sheriff Jim Hammond of Hamilton County/Chattanooga, TN.  In 2012, the second team was headed up by then Police Chief of Arkansas City, Kansas PD, Sean Wallace. The third visit in 2013 was headed up by Sgt. Danny Jones of the Chattanooga Police Department. Sgt. Jones then spearheaded the effort to make this exchange possible in just three short years.”

During their week-long visit, they toured the Chattanooga Police Department, the Hamilton County Courts Building, the Hamilton County Jail, and viewed demonstrations from SWAT, Bomb Squad, K-9, and much more.  They also attended a church service, and enjoyed some leisure time sight-seeing and shopping in the Scenic City (Chattanooga’s nickname).

The culmination of their visit was the breakfast, which was hosted at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Rock City Lodge #22.  It was my distinct honor to present Bibles to each member of the Moldovan Delegation, and then preach the Gospel.  The Bibles were made possible by a very generous donation from the Romanian Bible Society, which was arranged by my friend Tony Lane, Director of the Romanian-American Churches in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) Denomination.

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The message I preached was “Will You Also Believe?” from John 20:30-31.  John’s Gospel tells of 7 miraculous signs performed by Jesus, and John says that they are written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing that we would have eternal life.  I spoke briefly of the message of redemption found in each sign, and then shared my personal testimony of how Jesus raised my wife from the dead after a massive heart attack in 2008 (read Raised from the Dead).  There was a strong presence of the Holy Spirit, and I could see in the eyes of everyone present that God was working.  Please continue to pray that hearts will be changed, and revival will spread in Moldova.

I am so extremely grateful to be a part of what God is doing in ministry to the Moldovans and law enforcement nationwide.  I commend all those who have made sacrifices to make this ministry possible, and pray your reward is great.

Please take a moment to enjoy the entire photo album from the breakfast, as well as the welcome dinner and airport departure.

MOLDOVAN PHOTO SLIDESHOW

If you would like more information about the ministry to Moldova, or would like to participate in a future trip, contact the FCPO at FCPO@FCPO.org or online at http://www.FCPO.org.

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Remember to Wear Your Vest: The Right Body Armor Can Save Your Life

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Just this week, we learned of an officer involved shooting in Atlanta in which a man stabbed a plain clothes officer before being shot by another.  There would be no need to recount all of the other shootings, except to say that several officers’ lives have been saved from countless firearm and edged weapon assaults just this year by wearing a vest.  Covered Law Enforcement has supported and promoted the Below 100 initiative since it’s inception, which is to reduce line of duty deaths to below 100 each year by focusing on 5 major tenets.  One of those tenets is the reminder, “wear your vest.”

We were contacted recently by a representative from SafeGuard Armor who expressed the desire to submit educational resources for officers about the types, fit, and benefits of body armor.  Take a moment to read this information, and visit their website for more resources.  And remember, you may go home hot or a little uncomfortable, but you’ll be alive…Wear Your Vest!


Every day, the men and women of our police forces put their safety on the line to ensure the security of others. Tragically, 105 officers died in 2013 in the US alone. While absolute safety can never be guaranteed in the line of duty, body armor can help save lives, and reduce the severity of injury. The wide variety of products on the market ensures officers can be protected in every situation they face – from stab vests for patrolling volatile neighborhoods,  to ballistic armors for armed encounters.

Let’s take a look at the various types available, and the benefits they offer.

Patrol Protection: Knife and Needle Armors

For officers on patrol, the next call could lead to a risky scenario. In domestic disturbances or low-level crimes, sharp and blunt weapons may be a threat.

Edged blade protection is designed to help prevent injury from sharp items, including knives or broken glass. Depending on the situation an officer is in, a suspect may pull a knife with every intention of attacking, or even break a bottle as an improvised weapon. Various edged blade vests are available to suit numerous threat levels: category level II or III. The latter category applies to attacks performed with a higher number of joules, and so should be worn by officers entering potentially dangerous situations.

Officers may also face attacks involving sharp objects in the line of duty, typically known as spike threats. An attacker may use needles, ice picks, lengthy nails or other projected items to inflict damage if they feel under threat. As spiked weapons will penetrate most fabrics by passing through the minute spaces between threads, body armors specific to this threat are designed to stop the object completely before it can reach the flesh underneath. Kevlar is the most common material used in spiked weapon armors, and has high success rates.

Firearms Protection: Ballistic Armors

Unfortunately, guns continue to be a threat to patrol officers and SWAT teams. All manner of rounds and weapons can fall into the hands of criminals, with high- and low-velocities. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for ballistic protection, and so you should always ensure you choose the right armor. As with edged blade weapon vests, ballistic armor is categorized by protection level: II, IIIa or IV. Levels II and IIIa are manufactured to provide protection against the most common firearms, such as the 9mm .44 Magnum. These are typically worn for situations in which a lower level of firearms resistance is expected.

However, for protection against high-velocity bullets from weapons with a larger caliber, level IV ballistic armor is essential. These are most commonly used by SWAT teams and military forces, as they can protect against submachine guns and rifles. Level IV armor vests incorporate plates into their design, created using such robust materials as Dyneema polyethylene or even ceramics for optimum reinforcement. Being prepared for an expected threat before entering a situation is essential, and when you choose your armor, you must feel reassured if you are to perform your duties to the best of your ability.

Hidden Protection Versus Vests on Display

When choosing body armor, you must choose between covert, overt, or covert / overt. These are designed to suit various situations, and selecting the right one for the right task is vital.

Discrete Protection: Covert

As the name suggests, covert armors provide a high level of discrete protection, and are worn beneath clothing. These are typically donned by officers performing close protection or undercover operations, and are manufactured to be as thin as possible without compromising on quality. These are generally fitted with moisture wicking fabrics for cooling comfort over long periods. For low-key protection, these are unmatched.

Displayed Protection: Overt

These are the vests most civilians would recognize on police officers. Overt armor is worn above clothing, and is most commonly black, though other colors are produced for various applications. Patrol officers and SWAT teams will often be seen wearing black vests over their uniforms – there is often no need to disguise protection. Unlike covert vests, overt vests are not required to be specifically thin or implement cooling fabrics.

Multiple Applications: Covert / Overt

For officers operating in areas posing various risks (exposure to sharp & blunt weapons, firearms etc.), some armors combine covert and overt features for versatile protection. Covert / overt vests can be worn comfortably beneath or on top of clothing, for discrete or clear protection. These are designed to provide more protection than standard covert vests, but will be thinner than normal overt-specific vests.

Maximum Coverage: Choosing the Right Size

Size is a key factor when choosing armor, whatever the situation you face. This is more important than basic comfort – the wrong fit can leave you exposed.

A protective vest is designed to protect vital organs from an attack, as opposed to the full torso – to ensure maximum protection, the vest should reach no lower than the navel. If a vest hangs around the groin, it’s too big. By stopping at the navel area, a protective vest still protects the vital organs without being cumbersome – if a vest restricts movement, it may place the wearer in danger, defeating its own purpose. An officer needs a full range of motion: sitting, bending, crouching, running – your protective vest should never interfere with your mobility or flexibility. Size guides are available to ensure you match your build to the perfect vest.Vest Fit Guide

Safety First and Foremost

Before you wear a protective vest – whether it’s a spiked weapon vest or a ballistics vest – you should always check its condition. If there are any signs of extensive wear or damage, then you should NOT use it. If there are any flaws with the armor, this could negate its protective value, and leave you exposed to danger. Raise any concerns with a superior, and be sure you have adequate protection before you enter any dangerous situation.

The nature of a police officer’s work means each situation must be approached with caution, and, with so many dangerous weapons in the wrong hands, protection can never be taken for granted. For police in all departments – from patrol officers to SWAT teams – armor can mean the difference between life and death. Take the time to ensure you have the best vests for the situations you face, and stay safe.

For more educational resources about body armor, visit SafeGuard Armor’s website.

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Lessons Learned from the NLEOMF 2014 Mid-Year Officer Fatalities Report

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) just released its 2014 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report, which details all line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) so far this year.  As always, this research is very telling, and has some serious implications for those of us who are serving.  As you review the report (by clicking on the banner or report title above), take a few moments to reflect on a few lessons that come to mind.  Perhaps there are other points you would like to share in the comments below.

1. Age (and years of service) ain’t nothing but a number.

Yeah, I just went all 1994 R. Kelly on you…well, at least some of you will get it.  The point is that none of us is exempt from the reality of LODDs.  The age range this year is from 22 with less than a year of service to 69 with over 40 years of service.  The average is 42 with 13 years of service.  I don’t want to imply that any of these deaths are related to complacency, and I will stress that point later, but it is a good reminder that none of us should allow ourselves to become complacent.  No matter our level of skill, training, or years of experience, we must always be vigilant.  No call is routine.

2. We still aren’t keeping up with officer suicides.

I know this is a touchy subject, but I have to go here.  According to Chaplain Rob Michaels with Serve & Protect (a national crisis hotline for America’s first responders), somewhere between 4 and 10 times as many officers die each year from suicide as do in the line of duty.  Keeping accurate statistics is difficult, and nowhere are retired officers who still carry of the baggage of their careers included.  We still carry around the stigma of mental illness not only for those we serve, but for ourselves as well.  That fact is one reason I so appreciate the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT-Memphis Model) training, as I had the privilege to share at an area graduation for new CIT officers.  We must address the issue of mental health not only for those we are serving, but also for our own.  The good news, according to Rob, is that the hotline receives over 400 calls a month from those needing assistance.  We are becoming educated and aware, and we are reaching out for help.  I still would like to see an accurate count and greater awareness in this area.

By the way, Rob Michaels will be speaking on Friday, October 17, 2014 at this year’s FCPO National Conference in Chattanooga, TN.  Click on the banner for more details, the flyer, the line-up of great speakers including Covered LE’s Jonathan Parker, and to register.

3. Trainers and trainees need to take EVOC more seriously.

The report points out that traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of death so far this year – for the second year in a row.  By saying we need to take Emergency Vehicle Operations Courses more seriously, I am not implying that we don’t take them seriously now.  But we can always do more and do it better.  If we’re honest with ourselves, many times EVOC becomes just another in-service class we have to get through because we’ve been forced to review it.  And when we drive…yeah, that’s part of our problem.  We race each other and test our limits and act like a bunch of cops.  Testing our limits is not bad if we learn those limits and don’t exceed them on the streets.  The problem is that we push the limits on the streets when conditions are different from the training environment and much less than favorable.  And many times, we push the limits when it really isn’t necessary.  So what’s the answer?  Keep reading…

4. The Below 100 initiative is more than just a good idea.

Several years ago, Law Officer Magazine presented Below 100 – an initiative to reduce LODDs by focusing on 5 Tenets.  The premise is that we will never eliminate deaths because of the nature of the profession.  Some deaths simply aren’t preventable.  But, their research pointed out several factors that could prevent deaths.  If we eliminated the “preventable” deaths, we could get the LODD numbers below 100.  Since the inception of the initiative, Covered Law Enforcement has been a supporter and has worked to increase awareness, and the initiative is working.  Sure, we are focused on your spiritual well-being, but we don’t want you to “meet your Maker” any sooner than necessary!  Just for review (but please visit the website or attend a training), here are the 5 tenets:

    • Wear your seatbelt – Nobody ever got ambushed at 30+ mph, and no research hasBelow 100 5 Tenets shown any officer got killed because he/she was trapped by a seatbelt.  Get the facts…and wear your seatbelt.
    • Wear your vest – If you have been fortunate enough to have been issued body armor, wear it!  So what if you get a little hot or uncomfortable.  At least you’ll have a significantly greater chance of going home.  Several officers just this year have already been saved by their vests.
    • Watch your speed – Slow down!  Arrive alive!  Do the math and you’ll see that those extra 10-20 mph won’t make that much of a difference in arrival time, but could be the difference in maintaining control of your patrol vehicle or braking distance.
    • W.I.N. – Train yourself to ask, “What’s Important Now?”  Follow your training, follow your instincts, and focus on the most important decisions.
    • Remember, complacency kills! – Simple enough.  Train and stay vigilant.

5. We have to figure out physical fitness and heart health.

Job-related illnesses, and specifically heart attacks, rose drastically.  I’m still relatively young, but I have a family history of heart disease.  I’ve always been in pretty good shape and I eat well, but it took a serious back injury that was at least in part the result of a work-related incident in late 2013 to really get me going.  Well, I also have to give credit to the constant reminders from a ministry partner that the bad guys are training even when we aren’t.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to start making even small changes to improve your health.

My department offers a voluntary fitness program that rewards officers with annual comp-time for successfully completing an annual fitness assessment.  The city also offers an employee wellness center with workout facilities and health and nutrition programs.  I’d like to see more and more-frequent rewards, incentives, and compensation for officers to get healthy and stay that way.  Either way, we have to get serious about our health.  There are resources, and challenges, and other opportunities out there.  Perhaps our readers could share more about how they get moving and stay active given the difficult hours and eating habits.

6. Overall, we are doing better than any other time in recent history.

I saved this for last so that we can end on a positive note.  We train to win, and win we shall.  The report shows that numbers are higher than last year, but they are lower than the previous 40-50 years.  There is no black cloud of doom hanging over law enforcement professionals.  Thousands and thousands of officers complete their shifts successfully every day.  We don’t have to live in fear, and neither do our families.  Sometimes we focus so much on the fatalities that we create anxiety among the ranks.  The stress of it all really takes its toll on our spouses and children.  In the end, we train, do our best, and leave the rest to God.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy (and by no means do I want to diminish the seriousness and importance of LODDs), is that thousands of law enforcement families are becoming casualties of the profession.  But, there’s even good news here as well.  God is raising up ministries like Covered Law Enforcement and our partners at Badge of Hope Ministries to bring health and healing to law enforcement families.

Brothers and sisters, be safe out there!  Take time to review the NLEOMF report, pass this information along, and encourage those around you.  Policing is a noble calling…serve well!

– Jonathan

P.S. If you have been blessed by this post or our ministry, consider partnering with us on our “Pay it Forward” fundraising campaign.  We are asking for 100 people to give at least $25 as we sponsor officers to attend several upcoming faith-building conferences and continue to distribute resources to officers nation-wide.  Click on the banner to make your tax-deductible gift today!

Pay-It-Forward-Banner

 

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Pay it Forward Fundraising Campaign 2014: “Give today like you’ll need us tomorrow”

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Dear Friends,

Cops are great about rallying around great causes and supporting one another.  Two weeks ago, I attended a benefit breakfast sponsored by some of my fellow officers to raise funds for an officer who was diagnosed with brain cancer.  I’m guessing somewhere around 1,000 people showed up to raise nearly $5,500 in just a few hours.  We’re still asking you to join us in praying for Nathan Rogers, that God would heal him and draw him closer in faith.

Support, encouragement, and prayer for one another really are key characteristics of Christian community.  Combined with gifts, which are a tangible expression of our love, these offerings of love become the visible expression of Christ’s love to the world.  We become His hands and feet.

Through our ministry, several years ago you helped us raise over $1,800 to help an officer’s family travel back to New York to visit the officer’s mother who was dying of cancer.  She died shortly after the visit, but had the opportunity to see her son and newborn granddaughter first.  Their family will forever cherish that visit.

In November, you gave nearly $2,000 to assist a high school senior named Gabby who is an undocumented immigrant, brought to the United States as an infant by a family member who ultimately neglected her.  Gabby, who is pursuing a Criminal Justice degree and a career in the Navy, is now well on her way to citizenship, and will be attending college in the Fall.  Through the relationship that has been developed and the support we have offered, I have “earned the right to be heard.”  Gabby and I have had many conversations about faith.  She has read much of the Bible I gave her.  Her high school senior project was about the effects of prison ministry on recidivism.  God is working!

In May, we assisted a church in Colorado as they hosted a law enforcement appreciation day.  I was able to advise the pastor, provide resources, and donate door prizes.

Last month, your giving supported a Deputy’s son who is raising money for children being treated by St. Jude’s Hospital.  We purchased two police ride-on motorcycles that the children are sure to enjoy.

Throughout the past year, we have mailed ministry packets, auto decals, and other resources to officers all over the country.  We have supported ministry conferences, given door prizes, and so much more.  As you see on the attached “Pay it Forward” banner, we have received countless testimonies and words of appreciation for how our ministry is making an impact.  We currently have over 3,800 fans on our Facebook page.  Our community, our reach, our ministry is growing!

Our mission of promoting faith and solidarity among Christian law enforcement officers and sharing the Gospel with those who are not yet believers is being accomplished.  And we still need your support!

This October, I will be speaking at the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO) annual national conference in Chattanooga, TN.  Then, in November, I will be joining Badge of Hope Ministries to speak at their marriage conference in Union, MO.  I would like to sponsor officers from those areas so that they can attend.  They will be exposed to our ministry.  They will meet other Christian cops.  They will encounter Jesus.  I would also like to mail out hundreds more ministry packets to cops around the country.

And I need your support!  I’m asking for at least 100 people who will give $25 or more to support our ministry efforts in the upcoming year.  Can I count on you?

Give today like you’ll need us tomorrow…”Pay it Forward” by clicking HERE to give your best tax-deductible gift today, or for more information, visit our support page at www.donate.CoveredLawEnforcement.org.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support, prayers, and encouragement.  Please let me know if we may assist you in any way.

Blessings,
Jonathan Parker, Founder / President
Covered Law Enforcement
P.O. Box 4533
Cleveland, TN  37320-4533
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
– Romans 4:7 (NKJV)
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Interesting Lessons from a New Book – The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases

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I wrote recently about a conversation I had with a homeless man, Roger, whose brother had been murdered in 1991.  He talked about how his inability to cope with the murder and forgive the offender sent him into a downward spiral in life.  He made a statement that gripped me.  He said, “When a member of the family is killed, it kills the whole family.”

As I thought about his struggle, I also thought about a new “crime and justice” related book that I was sent to review, The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths are Solving America’s Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber.  It’s an interesting look into the world of amateur investigation and crime-solving, especially related to cold case homicides.  As I read through the book, I found that it contained some interesting lessons for us all.

1. There are THOUSANDS of unidentified-yet-not-forgotten bodies in morgues and graveyards around the country.

Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but we forget…and we forget the significance of this statistic.  Think about the statement by Roger, then think about the thousands of family members and friends who have no idea where their loved ones are.  This book isn’t simply about murders, or even unsolved murders.  It’s about murders or unresolved deaths of people like “Tent Girl” and “Lady of the Dunes” – bodies found with no clear identity.  On our end, they are often just another case except perhaps for the primary officer or investigator who takes a personal interest.  On the other end, they are someone’s brother, sister, father, or mother.  They are a wound that never heals, a pain that isn’t resolved, and a hope deferred that the Bible says makes the heart-sick.  And there are thousands of them all around us that have occurred throughout recent history.

2. They deserve our undying commitment to compassion, excellence, and professionalism.

Every person is created in the image of God.  Each one has value, and each one is loved by someone.  Those points alone should be enough motivation to always do our best.  I’m not implying that anyone out there would intentionally flaw a case or contaminate a crime scene.  But do we treat every case with the same commitment to detail, compassion, and professionalism?  Do we treat each case – whether a homicide or a petty theft – as if it involved our loved one?  Once “Tent Girl” was identified – decades after her body was found, her sister expressed such appreciation for the care of her remains that she became an assistant coroner.  There is lasting value in treating others with value.

3. Real life crime isn’t like television dramas.

I teach a class on the nobility of the calling to serve in law enforcement.  I begin by looking at popular media portrayals of our profession and what it is that we do.  I talk about how public perception is formed from these portrayals, which often leaves the public disillusioned and dissatisfied with our abilities.  In return, we become cynical and sarcastic.  In real life, crimes aren’t solved in a 30 minute or one hour segment.  In real life, we don’t always have DNA, fingerprints, eye-witnesses, and twelve camera angles.  We don’t have geniuses sitting in a technology center waiting to retrieve any detail from perfectly constructed databases.  In fact, those networks and databases or technology don’t really exist, are too expensive and unavailable, or don’t function the same in real life.  And we know this.  That’s why my next point is so significant.

4. There is value in partnering with the community to resolve issues and solve crime.

We can’t solve all the crime by ourselves.  In fact, these crimes aren’t about us anyway.  We’re here to serve others and bring some sense of resolution to them.  When our knowledge, leads, and resources are so limited, why do we refuse the assistance of others?  Why do act like “civilians” are so inferior to our superb investigative skills?  I get the fact that we don’t want to compromise investigations or damage the case for prosecution.  But what’s wrong with extending the olive branch and asking for help from the community?  This book talks about the strained relations throughout the years that have played out in varying ways as “amateur sleuths” have attempted to enter into the world of crime solving.  These amateurs – like Florida hotel developer turned America’s Most Wanted television host John Walsh – have pushed for advancements in technology or communication.  They have solved cases and reconnected families.  And at times, they have served as educators to the law enforcement community.

There is still much for us to learn, and plenty of work out there.  All of us – cop or not – have a “nosy” side that is interested in investigation.  The plethora of television programs related to crime, justice, and policing wouldn’t exist otherwise.  And for those who might be interested in taking it beyond the job or the favorite primetime program, this book is a great start.

Now that I’ve read it, I’m giving it away.  If you’d be interested in reading it, like our Facebook post for this article at www.Facebook.com/CoveredLawEnforcement and you will be entered to win it and a few other Covered LE logo items.

*By the way, I was not compensated for this review and have no vested interest in its sale, review, or book giveaway.  I simply thought it presented an opportunity to share some interesting lessons related to compassion, integrity, and professionalism, and that some of our readers might be interest in the book.

– Jonathan

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