The local policeman helping elderly ladies across the street; driving your son home after a night of partying; hanging out on street corners chewing the fat about the high school football win; virtually gone. Time is too valuable and the environment too hostile. The more relaxed streets of a helpful public servant have turned dangerously into a war zone with blue suited combatants fearful not only for your life, but more for their own.
Gangs are more organized, and individuals, have become more violent and armed like some first rate military garrison. Their attitudes fueled by permissive, slimy societal mores and morays, as well as a lack of legal punishment as a deterrent. Just consider the battleground city of Chicago with thousands of shootings a year, and more actual deaths than some foreign theater of war.
We’re seeing where average Joe Citizen is called on to aid local officers more than once, and our own awareness of these who stand as battlements against an expanding defiant and dangerous force is developing more and more among responsible, everyday members of the body politic.
Former Asst. FBI Director Concerned
One person, one expert, one resistant force who has fought that fight on many fronts is Mr. Ron Hosko.
Ronald T. Hosko retired from a distinguished thirty year career in the FBI. A graduate of the Temple University School of Law, he began his work as an FBI Special Agent. In the late 1980s, he transferred to Chicago, working undercover in assignments focused on complex financial and violent crimes. He worked closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in joint task forces, serving on both the Jackson and Chicago SWAT teams targeting the most dangerous subjects of FBI investigations. He went on to lead the FBI’s Crisis Management Unit in Quantico, Virginia before serving as an assistant special agent in charge in Philadelphia. During that time, Mr. Hosko was awarded the FBI’s Shield of Bravery for his actions during a violent ransom kidnapping.
He was promoted to the Senior Executive Service and conducted multiple serious and fatal shooting investigations involving FBI and associated law enforcement personnel and led a seminal 20 year review of FBI shooting incidents. Ron was promoted to serve as SAC (Special Agent in Charge) of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, overseeing all criminal and cyber cases in the FBI’s second largest field office.
In 2012, he was asked to serve as assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, responsible for oversight of the organization’s largest program, worldwide. He has served in important roles at the Salt Lake City and Torino, Italy Olympics, World Cup, national political conventions.
He’s remains active in “protecting America’s protectors” and supporting law enforcement through his position as President of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. (I encourage your review of our original articles on Mr Hosko and the FBI and its activities, in PART 1 and PART 2) Don’t miss PART 2 of this article
Law enforcement has changed. It’s had to in order to keep up with more sophisticated criminals and their enhanced techniques for stealing, murdering, dealing and terrorizing America.
RB – What changes (laws, attitudes, federal involvement etc.) have you witnessed in your time in law enforcement that made/makes your job easier or harder in dealing with general criminal situations? Have these changes also applied to more specific areas/trends such as organized, terrorism related or white-collar crimes?
RH – For the FBI, we faced continually shifting Administration and Congressional priorities (i.e., white collar crimes in the mid to late 80s, to gangs in the 1990s, to counterintelligence and espionage in the late 1990s, to terrorism after 9/11, to the rise of cyber intrusions and crimes in the last 8-10 years. The FBI has jurisdiction in each and continually works to identify the threats and intelligence gaps and prioritize resources to address them.
More recently, we’ve seen across the country, the police encountering a “post-Ferguson” world where viral videos are arm-chair quarterbacked, where homicides and violent crimes have been on the rise and where violent and deadly attacks on police have increased. Meanwhile, police ranks are being diminished with retirements and resignations and applicant pools are drying up.
RB – Had you found that you and your fellow officers are/were more involved in new/expanding areas of overall law enforcement such as:
RH – Yes. The FBI has continually expanded Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the country, and with great success.
b) Politically influenced activities/events?
RH – The FBI focused on public corruption, including of high government officials. It’s their top criminal priority because of the potential harm on the public trust in their elected (and appointed) officials.
c) General civil unrest?
RH – No
RH – I’ve watched this from “a distance” because it was not traditional FBI work even though it’s often woven into that work.
RB – Have expanding areas of crime made local LE more involved with more specific requirements and how have these areas affected overall law enforcement efficiency on all levels?
RH – The FBI knew it’s core missions would only be enhanced and complemented by joint task forces. We hosted hundreds, covering areas like violent and gang crimes, terrorism, corruption, financial crimes and crimes against children. We all benefited from joint efforts, especially in light of finite resources and constrained budgets.
RB – More and more we see the public interjecting themselves into law enforcement situations as everyone now has that cell phone with a camera. Has this made the job of law enforcement easier? Harder? More involved and detailed? Have body cameras improved law enforcement? In the work of the LELDF has this technology had a positive or negative/confusing effect on cases?
RH – We’ve been cautious supporters of body cameras based on our belief that rational people are more likely to do the right thing if they think they’re being recorded. That possibly means fewer bogus complaints against police, fewer legitimate complaints against police who may be acting more professionally, and a means by which police actions can be reviewed by supervisors and the public. Body cameras are not a panacea. Their use requires thoughtful policies, lots of infrastructure investment in review and storage, etc.
The public’s use of cameras can be more troubling, particularly when necessary and appropriate police work results in a beehive of agitated citizens trying to record an encounter. Too often, individuals engage irresponsibly, posing a threat to police who are simply trying to do their job. A secondary effect is a partial encounter that’s misunderstood and misinterpreted by people ignorant of the demands on police, ignorant of their lawful use of different tactics, ignorant of the law on the use of force by police, and generally ignorant.
RB – A) In looking at the many levels of law enforcement groups your office deals with (local, federal, street activities, prosecutions), have you seen any general issues related to quality LEO recruitment? Retention? Morale? New considerations?
RH – From my distance, I’m very concerned about the future of policing. Rising crime in many places, rising community conflict, attacks on police, and declining recruitment all spell potential trouble. Agencies have begun to lower their hiring standards to get more recruits in the door. Some of that has been done in the past with tragic results. Law enforcement will have to rise to the challenge, collaborate with new thoughtful community partners to hire and retain the right people with the right compensation and benefits. More broadly, law enforcement has to work harder in minority communities to open the door for recruits that help departments better mirror the communities they serve. It can be a dangerous, poorly paying job in too many places. That needs to change.
B) Have qualifications and requirements for individuals changed/refined much over the years?
RH – In the 90s and beyond, my former organization was hiring amazing talent, young men and women from the service academies with “real world” experience, former police officers, attorneys, bankers, accountants. Now, we need cyber-equipped recruits on top of that. It’s getting harder, particularly when you see the private sector competition, the potential benefits there. Policing is demanding and often dangerous. It takes special people with the right motivation.
RB – A) Has training change dramatically based on more aggressive, better armed criminals, better LE equipment availability, more involved/sophisticated tactics?
RH – Tactical skills and the judgments needed to employ those skills judiciously and effectively, are always needed by law enforcement. But now, with our communities dealing with so many who have drug and alcohol problems, and/or who are mentally ill, the challenge is identifying those issues quickly and then responding appropriately. Police are the tip of the government spear in dealing with citizens and they must know what mental illness looks and feels like and they work to de-escalate a situation. Crisis intervention skills are a must.
B) Has the art of negotiation changed over time or have we reached a point of being past efficient talking and requiring more action?
RH – That art is now more infused with better information on the array of other drivers of a crisis – religious drivers, mental illness, drug abuse, depression, etc. It’s more important than ever for crisis negotiators to have insights into all of these and respond, to the best of their abilities, as guardians rather than warriors.
RB – They say there might be 20,000 gun laws around the country. More and more the attitude seems to be to create a new law for each situation based on changing social conditions (race, religion, immigration status, state of mind/motivation etc.), technology (3D printed guns) etc. Having been on the front line that deals with the very specific, immediate law perspective of street enforcement, does a growing number of specific laws create confusion, too many arresting/charging options, overly expanding and later, prosecutorial discretion considerations for the officers etc.? How do changing laws affect the LELDF activities and preparation?
RH – Laws are continually changing, facing legal challenges, etc. It’s the job of law enforcement to stay abreast of those developments, to share information and intelligence on illegal gun production, distribution and use. It can be done. And it’s important for law enforcement to synthesize their efforts with local, state and/or federal prosecutors so that everyone is “on the same page.”
The LELDF is attentive to the supreme law of the land as it relates to our cases. Most commonly, we look to the Court’s decision on Graham v. Connor as we evaluate a charged officer’s actions in a case under review. That is, did the officer act in an “objectively reasonable” manner as might another officer with the same training, experience, and set of circumstances. We’ve been very successful, certainly in my 4+ years as president, amassing a 17-0-1 record with officers we’ve helped defend.
In Part 2, we’ll look into the election of President Trump and appointment of AG Sessions and any benefit or influence on the LELDF’s dealing with specific or general law enforcement training, and their defense of local law enforcement.
We can’t thank Mr Hosko enough for his time in expressing his thoughts on these important changes in law enforcement. He and his colleagues are to be commended, even revered for putting themselves in the line of fire for the rest of America. Visit the LELDF website and see how you can support them in supporting you.
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