Monday, April 20, 2015

Militant Extremists: Desecrating Islamic Dignity

Religious individuals exercise a human right ignited by their moral compass, personal inclination, and inner calling to believe in something greater than themselves.

Religion allows believers to express reverence, piety, devotion, hope, and charity. It is commonly understood as an established profession of faith involving liturgical practices, community, prayer, and a way of life.

The world religions allows believers to follow their understanding of a natural law that urges worship; a divine positive law revealed through sacred writings; and a fire within their hearts that inflames devotion.

For believers, goodness from the heart is essential to a life of faith. The heart must be the source of acts of charity, sacrifice, devotion, pilgrimages, vows, sanctifying experiences, and holydays.

Faith for believers is complemented by reason and is natural. Yet, they also believe that faith is inspired by divine revelation through sacred writings, and therefore it is supernatural.

A life of faith deserves the protection of every just society and respect from other faith-based communities.

Religion Honors Human Rights

Religion demands great respect for the freedom of all people and it is never authentic if it tries to force its teachings, values, or beliefs upon anyone.

Faith in any religion must always have freedom, tolerance for other faiths, (as well as for those who chose not to practice religion) and charity as core values if it is to be worthy of respect.

Every human being has the inalienable right to follow the dictates of their own conscience and to choose whatever persuasion they desire. The great religions of the world, notably Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, honor the dignity of other faiths and human rights.

Each of these religions commends piety, justice, fortitude, temperance, and self-control.

Yet, there can be grave contradictions to the dignity of religion expressed through blasphemy, hypocrisy, sacrilege, and desecration. These offenses have taken place in every faith from the beginning of time.

Islam: A Magnificent Faith

The religion taught by the prophet Muhammad, which has the Koran (Qu ‘ran) as its sacred book, is a magnificent faith deserving of respect not only from its followers but of every person who upholds freedom, dignity, and human rights.

As with every great faith, being a Muslim (a follower of Islam) is a personal experience that involves life-enriching virtues of piety, humility, self-surrender, kindness, gentleness, prayer, charity, love, bearing witness, fasting, service, and respect for life.

The Islamic faith has heart-warming ethics at its core, with values inspired by the Prophet Muhammad that includes justice, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, sincerity, truth, generosity, humility, tolerance, modesty, responsibility, and courage.

Militant Extremism: An Infectious Disease

As with other great faiths, Muslims abhor hypocrisy, cheating, envy, anger, divisiveness, and extremism.

Militant extremists are not faithful to Islam and desecrate its teaching. Recent headlines paint the picture of individuals dishonoring Islamic dignity including the following:

•April 20: Islamic State Shoots and Beheads 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya
•April 18: Christian migrants thrown overboard by Muslims ‘in dispute over prayer’
•April 16: Nothing Sacred: ISIS destroys Christian grave sites in Mosul
•April 12: Two Muslims Burn 14-Year-Old Christian Boy in Pakistan
•April 2: 147 Killed in Islamic Extremists Attack in Kenya College
•March 25: Muslims Slaughter Eighty-Two Christians as they Sleep in Nigeria

Final Reflections

The Muslim faith is one of great dignity deserving respect because of its belief in the sacredness of human life, charity, prayer, service, and the rights of all people.

Yet, there is an ongoing escalation of atrocities throughout the world by militant extremists dishonoring Islamic dignity through acts of hypocrisy, blasphemy, sacrilege, and desecration. These are contemptuous actions screaming to heaven for justice.

Along with every true Muslim believer, the world community must condemn these evils. Every step necessary must be taken to bring militant extremists to justice, and prevent the continual escalation of atrocities that dishonor not only the Islamic faith, but the human rights of people throughout the world.

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Vincent’s authors a weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. Thousands of the Indonesian Muslims congregate during Eid ul Fitr mass prayer in Istiqlac Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, located in Central Jakarta, Indonesia, August 31, 2011. (Gunawan Kartapranata)
2. People washing up to pray at Badshahi Mosque, June 10, 2004. (Pale blue dot)
3. The Blue Mosque at sunset, June 6, 2004. (Constantin Barbu)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Holocaust Remembrance Day: April 16, 2015

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, we must pause to commemorate
"Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day."

It is a solemn day to remember the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust.

The Innocence of a Child

Anne Frank stands as the most memorable child of World War II and one of the most enduring children of all of history. Anne is a testimony to the dignity of the human being and that virtue endures despite the darkest possibility of inhumanity.

"The Diary of Anne Frank" charts the two years of this young Jewish girl from 1942-1944 when she hid with her family and another family from the Nazis. The book has become one of the critical documents of the twentieth century and profoundly inspires diversity, the power of the pen, and the triumph of good over evil. Anne's book is one of the world's most read literary treasures, selling over 25 million copies and being translated into 67 different languages.

As a German-Jewish teenager, Anne was forced into hiding to escape execution from the Nazis during the Holocaust. After 25 months of hiding with her family, she was betrayed to the Nazis and deported to the Bergen-Bergen concentration camp. She died at 15 years old of typhus in March of 1945 while in the concentration camp.

Despite the dark chaos of intolerance, hatred, and ignorance during her time, Anne Frank continued to believe in the goodness of humanity. On July 15, 1944, Anne wrote:

"It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more."

Testimonial of a Holocaust Survivor

As a counterpoint to the evil that took place in Auschwitz, I am reminded of an event I took part in on March 28, 2007. The Anti-Defamation League celebrated a Solidarity Seder with law enforcement, government, community, faith-based, corporate, and citizen guests in Trenton, N.J. It was fittingly held at the Trenton War Memorial—a national historic site—built as “a great community center” dedicated to the memory of American soldiers and sailors who died fighting World War I.

Prior to the Seder, a representative of the Anti-Defamation League explained the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Contradicting their hatred, he shared these treasured words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door"

Testimonials were then shared, including one from a young man who spoke about the heartbreak of seeing his mother arrested as they attempted to enter America from Mexico. This young man went on to proudly become an American citizen and applied to become a member of the United States Army. Another young man stated there are no complaints about immigration as American’s enjoy the fruits and vegetables harvested through the labor and sweat of immigrants working on farms.

The most moving testimonial was by Holocaust survivor Shelly Zeiger who spoke passionately about “the town’s fool.” This man, lovingly referred to as Anton by Zeiger, was ridiculed as a misfit by his townspeople in western Ukraine and considered a fool because of his obsessive respect for all life. Although a Catholic, Anton risked his own life to hide Jewish neighbors in his home. Anton hid Shelly, his father and mother, and two girls from the Nazis in the Zbrow ghetto for 27 months beginning in 1942. Shelly said, “Anton was truly a hero who teaches us to respect each human being, for courage can be found in the most unlikely of persons.”

After the war, Shelly and his family came to America. Years later, he mustered enough courage to go back to his hometown in the Ukraine to find Anton. He found him and brought him to live with him and his family in America, a country whose appreciation for diversity is the heartbeat of the nation and the world.

Liberation Monument, Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ

Surrounded by the historic significance of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline, is the Liberation Monument. Designed by Sculptor Natan Rapaport, this inspirational statue depicts a World War II American Soldier carrying a survivor from the Auschwitz concentration camp. The image moves the soul to reflect on the values of compassion, character, and community.

The legacy of America urges a rebirth of patriotism that will transform us once again into a nation destined to be a hope for the world through our commitment to moral leadership, persevering vigilance, and dedicated collaboration.

In an atrocity unparalleled in evil and scope, six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Between 1940 and 1945, about 1.5 million men, women, and children died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the author of 36 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide. In his book, Night, one of the most profound and renowned works of Holocaust literature, Wiesel records his lifelong personal anguish with the Holocaust:

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

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1. US Army medics help evacuate ill and starving survivors. Buchenwald, Germany, April 1, 1945. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum
2. Diary of Anne Frank
3. Inmates waving a home-made American flag greet U.S. Seventh Army troops upon their arrival at the Allach concentration camp on April 30, 1945.
Photo credit: National Archives, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives
4. The Liberation Monument (Bill Kimbark)

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Abraham Lincoln: Assassinated 150 Years Ago Today

As America commemorates the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination today, we must pause and allow his patriotism to reignite our nation.

My newest article on our 16th president titled "Lincoln's Leadership Lessons for Law Enforcement," was published in The New Jersey Police Chief Magazine, February 2014 edition gives insight on the enduring principles he lived by:

*Leadership must be open to silence, study, and self containment
*Leadership possesses extraordinary empathy and concern for others
*Leadership must be grounded in moral self confidence developed by understanding through study and hard work
*The foundation of authentic leadership is moral character
*Leadership realizes that some things that are right legally are not right morally
*Leadership honors military service especially those who offered the ultimate sacrifice
*Leadership is approachable and not confined to an ivory tower
*Leadership utilizes the power of persuasion, not the manipulation of aggressiveness
*Leadership masters the art of communication and public speaking
*Leadership expresses visionary principles which are constantly reaffirmed

These principles of character, ethics, and leadership have been addressed in my presentations, articles, newest book, and blogs including:

Abraham Lincoln: An Enduring Icon of Leadership/Posted December 12, 2006

Americans of all ages continue to be captivated by the life, death, legacy and message of Abraham Lincoln.

During speaking engagements with students, educators, and law enforcement personnel throughout the country, I am continually astounded at the detailed information individuals have on Abraham Lincoln including specific dates from his life, the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, his second inaugural, and his assassination by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC on April 14, 1865.

During recent character education presentations, students from a 3rd grade class were able to recently quote to me with admirable precision President Lincoln's words from Gettysburg on November 19, 1863:
"that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

In our troubled times, so besieged by violence, turmoil, and scandal, Abraham Lincoln remains an icon of dedication to country. From his early days of studying by the fireside as a young boy to his rise to the presidency, the character of Lincoln is worthy of emulation. Lincoln's courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity serve as an example that what is needed in America's response to the current crisis of violence, scandal, and division is newfound perseverance, unity, strength, and transformation.

Aside from publication in the New Jersey Police Chief Magazine, February 2014, the full length article was also published in The Chief of Police, Winter, 2014 edition.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Columbine, Virginia Tech Anniversaries: Reverence, Vigilance, Prevention

As America commemorates the anniversaries of the Columbine High School and Virginia Tech tragedies on the fateful days of April 16th and 20th respectively, we must pause.

The events demand reverence for those who lost their lives and prayer for their families.

Vigilance, especially during these tragic anniversary times is also in order. An abundance of caution must be the foundation of mitigation, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery principles of crisis management.

Columbine: A Snapshot

On April 20, 1999, two students killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado before committing suicide. The tragedy sparked a national response on school violence, bullying, character education, crisis planning, warning signs, police tactics, and firearms.

The tragedy continues to be analyzed due to its issues including the following:

•Diversionary tactics
•Propane tanks converted to bombs
•Nearly 100 explosive devices and bombs
•Firearms including a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun, a Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9mm, and a 9mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun.

Columbine, and other incidents, led to a U.S. Secret Service report that shared the following findings relative to pre-attack behavior:

•Incidents of targeted violence at school were rarely sudden, impulsive acts.
•Prior to most incidents, other people knew about the attacker's idea and/or plan to attack.
•Most attackers did not threaten their targets directly prior to advancing the attack.
•There is no accurate or useful profile of students who engaged in targeted school violence.
•Most attackers engaged in some behavior prior to the incident that caused others concern or indicated a need for help.
•Most attackers had difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures. Moreover, many had considered or attempted suicide.
•Many attackers felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others prior to the attack.
•Most attackers had access to and had used weapons prior to the attack.
•In many cases, other students were involved in some capacity.
•Despite prompt law enforcement responses, most shooting incidents were stopped by means other than law enforcement intervention.

Virginia Tech: A Snapshot

The serenity of Virginia Tech was shattered on April 16, 2007, with 32 students and teachers killed and 17 wounded.

This violence was particularly heart-wrenching because it was preventable. But lessons were not learned from the Columbine tragedy and numerous government documents including the following:

•“Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools,” August 1998
•“The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States” by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education, May 2002
•“Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities,” May 2003

Despite a student killing two students on the fourth floor of the West Ambler Johnston residence hall, there were no precautions taken by school administration that other shootings may occur. It was more than two hours later when an email alert was sent to the entire campus, but no emergency actions, such as lockdown, were implemented. Reprehensibly, the email did not emphasize that two students were killed or that the shooter was still at large.

Virginia Tech was eerily reminiscent of the Columbine tragedy-whose eighth anniversary was to be commemorated in just four days. It would be later discovered that the killer was obsessed with the Columbine killings.

How is it conceivable that two people are killed on a college campus during the anniversary week of Columbine, with a killer at large and no lockdown implemented? The failure of leadership is inexcusable as nothing was done to prevent the additional killings and injuries over two hours later.

Also, despite the pleadings of a vigilant professor calling for help for this student who manifested severe, troubling warning signs, school officials failed to provide the proper intervention to protect the campus. Not only were there warning signs, but the university had been put on notice at least a year and a half before the incident.

America wake-up: character education, warning signs, threat assessment, and crisis planning principles must be the order of the day.

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Linkedin: Vincent J. Bove Consulting, Speaker Services, Publishing

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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column on Friday, April 17, 2015, titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. Campus Attacks / Cover from Publication (Courtesy of U.S. Secret Service, FBI, U.S. Department of Education.
2. Mourners during Virginia Tech's Day of Remembrance honoring the 32 people killed in a mass shooting one year earlier, in Blacksburg, Va., on April 16, 2008. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
3. Victims of Violent Crime by Age. (Courtesy U.S. Department of Education)

The issues addressed in this blog / column are covered extensively in Vincent's newest book, "Listen To Their Cries: Calling the Nation to Renewal from Columbine to Virginia Tech."

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Sanctuary Profaned: Protecting America's Houses of Worship

In the classic novel, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” the innocent Esmeralda finds herself framed for murder and witchcraft.

Despite proclaiming her innocence, she confesses after being threatened to have her foot crushed in a vice, and is sentenced to a public hanging.

Just seconds before her execution, Quasimodo, the hunchback of the book's title, heroically saves Esmeralda and brings her to the cathedral screaming with thunderous, dramatic, and frantic vehemence, “Sanctuary, Sanctuary, Sanctuary!”

Violence Unleashed

Yet, the innocence represented by Quasimodo saving Esmeralda by giving her sanctuary is a stark contrast to the violence that can take place in houses of worship.

Just after the Columbine tragedy of 1999, I began a speaking circuit throughout the United States to address violence.

The school violence prevention conferences I spoke at were filled with law enforcement officials, teachers, counselors, government officials, administrators, and faith-based leaders.

During my presentations, I continually told attendees that violence was unleashed, as indicated by tragedies taking place in our schools, campuses, communities, and workplaces.

I stressed that violence was even impacting places once considered sanctuary: our houses of worship.

Unfortunately, this violence continues, as recently depicted during my leadership keynote for the FBI, which included my commentary on these headlines:

•Armed guards keep watch over church services
•Church pastor killed during service, police say
•Shooting at mosque in Coachella, California might be a hate crime, police say
•4 shot, 1 dead at California retreat center
•Estranged Wife Fatally Shot During Services at New Jersey Church
•Catholic priest was found murdered in his California rectory
•Gunman Fatally Shoots Member of New Life Church in Colorado
•Two Killed at “Youth With A Mission” in Colorado
•Shooting at Sikh temple in Wisconsin, at least 7 dead
•Guard killed during shooting at Holocaust museum
•Man Fatally Shoots Ex-Wife As She Plays Church Organ, Police Say
•Man arrested for shooting at Chicago-area mosque with pellet rifle as hundreds worship inside
•Ex-Ku Klux Klan leader charged in Kansas Jewish center killings

In “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013” this FBI report states:

“The 6 incidents in houses of worship resulted in 21 people killed and 27 wounded…The ages of the shooters ranged from 24 to 69. Most incidents occurred on Sunday (3), with the rest occurring on Tuesday (1), a Friday (1), and a Saturday (1). In all, 3 shooters were apprehended (2 of whom were restrained by civilians until police arrived), and 3 committed suicide at the scene (2 before police arrived and 1 after).”

World Events Demand Vigilance

Compounding domestic incidents in houses of worship that include hate crime, domestic violence, and murder, the acceleration of terrorist incidents worldwide urges fully dedicated crisis planning.

Just recently, the massacre of 148 Christians by Islamic extremists at a college in Kenya, reminds of the devastating consequences of terrorism.
The possibility for a major terrorist attack in the United States always exists and demands vigilance.

Security must be enhanced and must include awareness and prevention training, security vulnerability assessments by board-certified professionals, drills, programs, target-hardening, partnerships, certifications, and protocols.

Recommendations: A Partial List

The collaboration of our houses of worship, law enforcement, and private security should include learning from the aforementioned FBI active shooter document, active shooter training as available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and implementing “Recommended Best Practices for Securing Houses of Worship” by ASIS International including the following:

•Report suspicious packages to police, and do not touch the suspicious package. Develop a Suspicious Package Protocol with instructions on reporting to police as well as not touching or moving the item. Address this issue in emergency evacuation procedures.
•Request local law enforcement presence during high volume worship times and holiday celebrations.
•Include law enforcement in your security planning process.
•Consider hiring off-duty police officers as part of your security program.

Simply stated, a word to the wise urging vigilance: “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Note Well:
Linkedin: Vincent J. Bove Consulting, Speaker Services, Publishing

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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. NYPD presence at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, February 28, 2015 (Vincent J. Bove)
2. NYPD officers at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, December 26, 2014. (Vincent J. Bove)

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

America’s Gangs: Guns, Drugs, Violence, Prison, Death

Gangs have been glamorized in movies such as "West Side Story," "Gangs of New York," "Goodfellas," American Gangster, and "Boyz in the Hood."

But beyond Hollywood, poisonous gang activities are taking place throughout American communities, schools, prisons, shopping malls, and even the military.

FBI Concerns
According to the FBI, there are some 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs with about 1.4 million members criminally active in America.

Many of these gangs are highly sophisticated, and organized, using violence for control.

Illegal money-making activities include robbery, gun and drug trafficking, fraud, white-collar crime, extortion, and prostitution.

Gangs also exploit the most advanced technologies and social media for recruitment, communication, targeting enemies, and advancing criminal activities.

The National Gang Intelligence Center on the FBI site states:
•Gangs are responsible for about 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in others.
•Gangs are increasingly becoming engaged in alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution as well as counterfeiting, identity theft, and mortgage fraud.
•Family members assist with gang activities during a gang member’s incarceration.
•Gang infiltration of the U.S. Military involves at least 53 gangs identified on domestic and international installations.
•Gang members often acquire high-powered, military style weapons, posing serious threats to law enforcement and communities.
•Gangs encourage members, associates, and relatives to obtain law enforcement, judiciary, or legal employment in order to gather information on rival gangs and law enforcement operations.

The MS-13 Threat
To clearly understand the gang threat, let us take a look at one of these gangs, MS-13. The FBI assessment of MS-13 states that it operatives in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia. Its membership is about 6,000-10,000 nationwide.
This FBI description captures their brutality:

"they have severed the fingers of their rivals with machetes… brutally murdered suspected informants including a 17-year-old pregnant federal witness… attacked law enforcement officers… committed a string of rapes, assaults, break-ins, auto thefts, extortions, and frauds across the United States… been involved with everything from drug and firearms trafficking to prostitution and money laundering… and are sowing violence and discord not just in the United States but around the world".

Prevention through Awareness
A primary defense in protecting youth from gang influence is to prevent initiation at the earliest stage possible. In order to be effective in this regard, the collaborative partnership between the schools, law enforcement, and families is critical.

A wake-up call should ring within a parent, educator, security, or law enforcement official if a child exhibits any warning signs:
•Admits involvement
•Is obsessed with gang clothing
•Uses gang logos / graffiti
•Deceitful about their activities
•Declining grades / truancy
•Contempt for authority
•Obsessed with gangster lyrics
•Associates with gang members
•Uses gang hand signs
•Has physical injuries from gang initiation
•Produces unexplained cash and jewelry
•Substance abuse
•Has possession of a weapon

Final Reflection
Gangs are an American reality with members often disenfranchised, marginalized, misguided youth who can themselves be products of dysfunctional families or a cycle of violence, and gang involved parents and family members.

Gang members can also be individuals from oppressed countries where violence and a survival of the fittest mentality by any means is a way of life.

The desperate allurement of American youth to the gang culture can be expressive of a need for recognition, protection, and belonging.

America's response must be exercised through not only the criminal justice system where there must be consequences for illegal activity but though a collaboration of law enforcement, private security, family, community, faith-based, and educational partners.

Prevention of gang indoctrination and involvement must begin with awareness at the earliest years of educational formation in the home and school.

America must make positive alternatives attractive to counter the false allurement of the gang culture that ends only in disillusionment, violence, prison, or even death.

Note Well:
Linkedin: Vincent J. Bove Consulting, Speaker Services, Publishing

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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. NY FBI SWAT with MS-13 suspects in custody. (Photo Courtesy FBI)
2. FBI arresting alleged gang member in New York. (Photo Courtesy FBI)
3. MS-13 suspect in custody. (Photo Courtesy FBI)
4. MS-13 tattoos. (Photo Courtesy FBI)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Secret Service Scandals: Review, Resolve, Renew

The professionalism of dedicated secret service agents since 1865 is deserving of recognition, respect, and appreciation.

It is important to accentuate their service to America by understanding the vision and mission of the agency:

The vision of the United States Secret Service is to uphold the tradition of excellence in its investigative and protective mission through a dedicated, highly-trained, diverse, partner-oriented workforce that employs progressive technology and promotes professionalism.

The mission of the Secret Service is to ensure the security of our President, our Vice President, their families, the White House, the Vice President’s Residence, national and visiting world leaders, former Presidents, and events of national significance. The Secret Service also protects the integrity of our currency and investigates crimes against our national financial system committed by criminals around the world and in cyberspace.

Transparency, Accountability, Commitment
But recently, this once-proud agency has been blistered with numerous scandals.

Transparency, accountability and commitment must be front and center for the agency’s renewal.

America needs the Secret Service and we must appreciate all who proudly honor the calling to its vision and mission.

The dignity of this renowned agency demands transformation and refusal from within its ranks to accept deviance, deficiencies, and dysfunction.

The fact is that agents are human beings and like all of us are capable of meritorious actions or shameful behavior.

But because the Secret Service is responsible for safeguarding lives, property and critical information-as well as preserving the morale of the nation-mediocrity and distractions from duty can be devastating.

The Secret Service mission deserves world-class on-going training, certifications, critically discerning recruitment, performance reviews, and, when necessary counseling, reassignments, suspensions and terminations.

The mission of all law enforcement, especially one as critical as the Secret Service-responsible for protecting the president-cannot be undermined by mediocrity, superficiality, incompetence or apathy.

Honor, leadership, ethics, and character must be the hallmarks of the Secret Service and these virtues deserve unwavering perseverance.

Recent Secret Service Scandals-A Partial List
Renewal of the agency will take place when recent scandals including these published reports are honestly addressed and remedied:

June-Aug. 2011: Agents responsible for protecting the White House are pulled from their posts to protect the home of a friend of agency Director Mark Sullivan.

Nov. 2011: Several bullets hit the White House but an inferior Secret Service investigation fails to realize it until four days later when the marks were noticed by a housekeeper.

April 23, 2012: About a dozen agents are sent home from Columbia after a scandal of their involvement with prostitutes.

May 2013: An agency supervisor tires to re-enter a woman’s room after mistakenly leaving a bullet there.

March 23, 2014: After being found passed out by intoxication in a hotel hallway during a presidential trip, three agents are sent home from the Netherlands.

Sept. 16, 2014: an armed security guard violates the agency protocol by being in the same elevator with the president.

Sept. 19, 2014: a knife-wielding man climbs the White House fence, enters the mansion and has access to the bottom floor before being apprehended.

Oct. 29, 2014: the agency’s investigator of the Columbia prostitution scandal is forced to resign after his arrest regarding prostitution in Florida.

June 13, 2015: Four assistant agency directors were fired, with the option of retiring or reassignment.

March 4, 2015: After drinking at a party, two senior agents run into a White House security barrier, passing through security tape of an active bomb investigation.

Renewal Without Excuses
Dysfunctional alcohol, prostitution, incompetence, or apathy issues deserve swift accountability and cover-ups, excuses, or enabling is unacceptable.

In my many keynotes for the FBI and law enforcement officials, the human deficiencies that can distract us from our mission are honestly addressed. As counterpoint to these weaknesses, character, ethics, leadership, and moral courage are always stressed as the pillars of patriotic and personal responsibility.

The good name of the Secret Service can be restored when leadership is the foundation and this must begin immediately, as it is critical, not only to their vision and mission, but to America.

Note Well:
Linkedin: Vincent J. Bove Consulting, Speaker Services, Publishing

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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. Secret Service agent (Courtesy U.S. Secret Service)
2. Secret Service agents providing motorcade protection (Courtesy U.S. Secret Service)
3. Secret Service Canine Explosives Detection Unit screens vehicles and event sites for explosives (Courtesy U.S. Secret Service)

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Monday, March 16, 2015

America’s Flag, Patriotism: Resuscitating Our Destiny

The American flag is the symbol of our nation, deserving of reverence, honor and dignity.

As immortalized by the iconic flag raising by U.S. Marines during the battle of Iwo Jima, our flag is the rallying point for America’s patriotism. Iwo Jima’s flag raising gave America hope, a counterpoint to the heart-wrenching sinking of our ships at Pearl Harbor.

This heroic battle profoundly portrays America’s courage, claiming nearly 7,000 U.S. fatalities and 25,851 casualties.

As documented in Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, more medals for action on Iwo Jima were awarded than any battle in American history. It is a profound expression of when “Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue.”

During all of World War II, which lasted over four years, eighty-four Medals of Honor were awarded to U.S. Marines. This averaged to twenty-two a year, about two a month. But at Iwo Jima, in just one month of fighting, twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines.

Iwo Jima, inseparable from the sacrosanct moment of the flag raising, stands as America’s most heroic battle.

At Iwo Jima, the flag was raised forever proclaiming the greatness, courage and character of America. Our flag, honored at Iwo Jima, must be eternally revered in every community, school, workplace, home, police department, military base and heart of all privileged to call America home.

University of California Flag Ban Scandal

The recent scandal at the University of California, Irvine by the student government to ban displaying America’s flag from a lobby is dysfunctional, disappointing and disturbing.

The student council approved a resolution prompting removal of America’s sacred symbol from a lobby wall. The resolution cited 25 reasons for the ban including the possibility of the flag symbolizing America’s “exceptionalism and superiority.”

The resolution stated “freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible, can be interpreted as hate speech.”

One could only imagine if any of those responsible for this reprehensible dishonoring of America’s sacred symbol would have had the courage to endure the sacrifices made at Iwo Jima. Or aside from this epic moment, would any of those supporting the ban have ever honored the flag as heroically done countless times throughout America’s history.

One wonders where the lack of wisdom, understanding, fortitude or patriotic influence was lost on those who supported this flag banning, as it is clearly dysfunctional. Perhaps a deficiency took place somewhere during formational years by the family, community, school or media.

The shameful contempt for our flag to create “a culturally inclusive space” was delusional. The fact is irrefutable for if one truly understands the American flag; diversity, unity, bravery, freedom, liberty and human rights are honored, upheld and protected whenever our flag is honored.

Honoring the American Flag

Throughout my entire life, respect, honor and dignity for America, symbolized by our flag was instilled and continuously cultivated.

Honoring the flag took place in my earliest years when I proudly raised the flag on the home of my parents and grandparents. This respect continued throughout college and post graduate studies as I always took the initiative to display a large American flag from the room of wherever I lived. Honoring the flag remains with me always, even as I write this column, with the flag proudly displayed prominently at my home. It is a personal reminder of devotion to country and a testimony to my community of the courage, compassion and character of America.

Final Reflection

Respect for America through our flag is a sacred privilege and responsibility. This respect is solemnly proclaimed in our pledge of allegiance, deserving of luminosity within our souls.

May honor for America’s flag forever live in the hearts of all who love her and are truly dedicated to the reawakening of the nation.

Note Well:
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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. The Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., can be seen prior to the Sunset Parade, June 4, 2013 (Adrian R. Rowan, public domain photograph from
2. American flags, Rockefeller Center, Nov. 7, 2014. (Vincent J. Bove)
3. American flags at Rockefeller Center, Memorial Day weekend, 2011. (Vincent J. Bove)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ferguson’s Mission: Cultivate Community Policing

Society can only be harmonious when governmental authority is moral. This is demonstrated when the dignity of every community member is respected.

Legitimate government honors a moral code demonstrated through good-will toward community members.

Society needs behavior that is moral, reasonable and just, otherwise authority becomes shameful, abusive and intrusive.

Positons of trust in every level of American government must have moral principles as the foundation. Respect is the fundamental right of every person and enshrined in our Bill of Rights as:

•freedom of speech, press, religion
•prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures
•the right to peaceably assembly
•citizenship rights, due process and equal protection of laws

Government must also dedicate itself to the development of the entire community through family, education, health, employment, housing, security and culture.

It is government’s role, understood as both politicians and government employees to serve. Government’s dedication to improving the lives of community members-especially those who are marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed must always be paramount.

A just government dedicates itself to the dignity of the human person. In return; truthfulness, justice and patriotic participation throughout the community is animated.

Ferguson’s Failure of Community

The tragic chaos that unfolded after the lethal shooting in Ferguson was exacerbated due to the failure of government officials to honor principles of reasonable authority, community policing and human dignity deserved by each and every community member.

A community cannot be harmonious when members are oppressed and dignity is denied.

Government representatives must have a code of ethics that respects the principles of society, authority and the common good. When these principles are honored, society flourishes. When they are violated, the results are dysfunction, disparities and disorder.

Effective policing demands moral courage by law enforcement officials that includes the refusal to be pawns of political leaders-who without a moral code, reprehensibly view community members merely as revenue pawns.

Interaction between the community and police officials demands initiatives that cultivate collaboration. This is summarized in this timeless policing principle of Sir Robert Peel:

•Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police.

When this indefatigable principle is honored, community harmony is promoted. If violated by politicians, government employees, law enforcement officials or community members, the outcome-as witnessed in Ferguson-is disorder, contempt and chaos.

Department of Justice: A Scathing Report

On March 4, the Justice Department (DOJ) released findings of two civil rights investigations related to Ferguson.

The DOJ found that Ferguson Municipal Court has a pattern or practice of:

•Focusing on revenue over public safety, leading to court practices that violate the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements.
•Court practices exacerbating the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices and imposing particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty. Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.

The DOJ found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) has a pattern or practice of:

•Conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment
•Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment
•Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment

The DOJ found a pattern or practice of racial bias in both the FPD and municipal court with intentional discrimination by direct evidence of racial bias and stereotyping.

Final Reflection
Ferguson must rise by rebuilding trust, healing hostilities and building community. A transformation is possible when the bill of rights is respected, a moral code honored and community policing principles adhered to.
America, take heed as human rights, morals and ethics must be the order of the day in every level of government, community and heart of each person.

Note Well
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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

1. U.S. Capitol (Courtesy U.S. Capital Visitor Center)
2. Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson speaks to media on West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 19, 2014. (Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Understanding Islam Is Essential to Community Policing

All who adhere to the great religions of the world understand that faith, hope and charity are sacrosanct.

Every human being experiences these virtues throughout their lifetime as well as pain, trails and anguish.

For those who believe,faith allows individuals, families, society and the international community to blossom-despite life’s challenges.

Faith gives people answers to the meaning of life. It provides a guide to conscience and our actions, demanding that respect, goodness and tolerance are expressed for every member of the human family.

The true hallmark of any person who proclaims a life of faith is manifested through honoring the dignity of every human person.

Moral Code: The Heart of Humanity

In the life of faith, a moral code is exemplified by the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This moral foundation is essential for not only believers but for every human person. It urges respect for humanity and especially compassion for all wounded by the trials of life.

The golden rule requires acts of charity by every person including:
• Feeding the hungry
• Giving drink to the thirsty
• Clothing the naked
• Sheltering the homeless
• Visiting the sick
• Burying the Dead
• Visiting the Imprisoned

A Call for Dialogue

There are destructive tensions throughout the world. Dialogue must remain an antidote to the venom of war, conflict, violence, ignorance and misunderstandings.

For those who represent the great faiths of the world, especially Christians, Muslims and Jews, dialogue is expressed through respect, dignity and charity. Dialogue has the power to build harmony for faith based communities-as well as for non-believers-fostering social justice, moral values, freedom and liberty.

America is a land filled with churches, mosques, synagogues and temples with the responsibility to intensify dialogue through faith-based communities. Our bill of rights proclaims that freedom of religion is sacrosanct. Therefore, we have the moral foundation to cultivate human rights, religious freedom and peaceful coexistence.

Our nation must be the catalyst for resolving misunderstandings between nations and faiths that include intolerance, racism, injustices, ignorance, wars and violence.

Community Policing, Cultivating Dialogue

Law enforcement and communities throughout the United States have recently experienced controversies crystallizing the importance of community policing.

The community policing philosophy is misunderstood if only perceived as a crime prevention mechanism. It also has the capacity and responsibility to build cohesiveness not only with race relations but with all faith-based communities.

During my community policing initiatives over the last 20 years, I have experienced outstanding dynamics between law enforcement and faith based communities. These were witnessed not only through invocations and benedictions at law enforcement events by leaders from every faith but also through ironclad partnerships.

One example that comes to mind is an event coordinated by the North Jersey Regional Crime Prevention Officers Association and hosted by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

It featured Sohail Mohammed, a dedicated Muslim and respected attorney who delivered an insightful presentation to law enforcement and community leaders titled “Understanding Islam and the Muslims.”

Sohail Mohammed demonstrated how the Muslim communities throughout New Jersey forged strong ties to police, the FBI, government officials and religious leaders from other faiths. I attended another event, as a guest of the FBI, that exemplified this collaboration.

Sohail’s presentation including practical demonstrations of Muslim customs-enhanced law enforcement/community bridges by understanding the pillars of Islam. These pillars-faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage-complement the teachings of every faith based community. The speaker enlightened attendees with information on the Prophet Muhammad, the Holy Quran, sayings of the prophet and Ramadan.

Final Reflection

Forged partnerships with the entire community based on America’s sacred principle of freedom of religion, is the strength of our country and hope for the future.

The ideals of community policing are critical to reawakening the nation by igniting dialogue, enhancing respect and cultivating partnerships with law enforcement agencies and communities throughout America.

1. The Kaaba at al-Haram Mosque during the start of Hajj, Dec. 4, 2008. (Al Jazeera)
2. FBI Tampa Field Officer holding forum to promote dialogue with law enforcement and the Arab/Muslim community. (Photo Courtesy FBI)

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As authored for Vincent’s weekly column titled “Reawakening the Nation” (Friday, March 6, 2015 edition) for the Epoch Times, 35 countries, 21 languages and growing.

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