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As the community mourns the loss of the first officer to be killed in the line of duty in the Police Department’s history, thoughts turn to the family he left behind.
Police Cpl. Matthew Edwards, 31, was fatally shot while on duty July 23.
The Woodhaven resident is survived by his wife of 11 years, Shannon, and their children, Luke, 9, and Moriah, 7.
According to the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police officers’ union, $100,000 in life and accident insurance will be paid. The total was doubled because Edwards died in the line of duty.
The city will continue to provide medical, dental and optical insurance coverage to Edwards’ widow and children.
They police the fake police.
The three veteran Chicago police officers in a little-known unit dedicated to cracking down on phony cops have hundreds of stories of people posing as police officers. The tales range from clever and sophisticated to stupidly brazen.
Police Officers Don Edwards and Roman Matthews, and Sgt. John Spellman make up the 18-year-old unit.
The three of them are tackling a problem common to the nation’s big cities. The Chicago unit is identical to one in the New York Police Department.
In a recent case in Chicago, an impersonator persuaded an 80-year-old woman to withdraw about $18,000 from her bank account in order to pay her husband’s bail. In a panic to have her husband freed, the woman never checked to see if he was indeed in police custody.
“Once these knuckleheads start talking to you, they own you,” said Matthews, a four-year veteran of the unit.
Just this week, a repo man was charged after pretending to be a police officer and creating a ruse with the owner of the car he was trying to repossess, police said.
And then there is the well-known case of the 14-year-old boy masquerading as a cop and going out on calls with a Chicago police officer.
During the holidays, which the officers say is a lucrative time for con artists, the Police Impersonation Unit is aimed at protecting the elderly. There have been three arrests in the last three weeks of men impersonating police officers.
Fake officers, who combine tough-cop attitude with easily acquired police props, often gain their victims’ trust by playing on their respect or fear of police. Senior citizens are popular targets, as are immigrants, drug dealers and others not likely to cooperate with a police investigation, the officers said.
Police say part of fake cops’ success comes from looking the part.
“These guys, especially the ones who prey on the elderly, are very nice in their appearance — wearing shirt and ties — and that puts people at ease,” said Lt. David Naleway of the Internal Affairs’ general investigation section.
To further enhance the cop look, impersonators need only a few props: A police belt, a radio, and sweaters with police patches are all available through online stores or elsewhere. Some impersonators have even bought old Crown Victoria police cruisers, Naleway said.
But one key tool of an impersonator is a fake badge, preferably a silver star like the ones Chicago police wear.
In one recent case, a Hyde Park man used a security guard badge to pose as a federal agent outside of the Goodman Theatre. In another, an admitted gang member on parole used a plastic sheriff’s badge to pose as a police officer. Both men were charged with impersonation of a peace officer.
Obvious fake badges may tip off some would-be victims, but the unit has seen some eye-popping copies of the new Chicago police badge hitting the streets.
Naleway says the key to not being a victim is asking to see not only the badge, but also the city ID card that comes with a hologram.
“Very few people will ever look at (the ID) and then, because they honestly believe that they’re the police, they’re afraid to ask to see the ID,” Naleway said. “A real police officer will never be offended if you ask to see their ID.”
While the impersonators’ goal is clear — money — there is a similar kind of criminal whose motives aren’t always clear.
The case of the phony teenage cop gained national headlines and embarrassed police brass when the uniformed teen walked into the Grand Crossing Police District and, for five hours, drove a squad car and answered calls with another officer.
Police classify the teen — who is in jail for violating terms of his probation — as an impostor rather than an impersonator. An impersonator, they said, poses as an officer in order to commit crimes, while an impostor merely seeks to look the part. “We don’t know what their motive is,” Naleway concedes. “Maybe it’s ego more than anything else.”
The boy was an extraordinary abnormality, police say, because of his confidence, his attention to detail in assembling his police uniform and his familiarity with police procedure.
The average impersonator can be exposed in brief chit-chat with a real officer.
The Police Impersonation Unit’s officers downplay the threat of impostors, saying impersonators routinely rob seniors of their life savings.
“(Impostors are) making up a story, that’s all it is,” Naleway said. “The impersonators are the ones out there hurting people.”
– Ask to see both the officer’s star and city ID card. Chicago police officers are required to carry both.
– Be cautious any time a police officer calls you at home to tell you a family member is in custody. Police only call if the family member is a minor.
– Never meet officers in front of the police station or places such as banks or ATMs.
– If you believe that the person trying to pull you off the road isn’t a real police officer, call police from your cell phone immediately, slow down to 10 mph and go to the nearest busy intersection, gas station or major business.
By William Lee
The Elizabeth City Police Department K-9 Unit was training hard last week, preparing Officer Caleb Hudson and his new dog, a German shepherd named Nero, for certification next month.
This time, Hudson had donned a protective suit and walked to the middle of a vacant ball field behind the Elizabeth City Boys and Girls Club.
As Hudson played a fleeing suspect, Baska, another German shepherd, chased him down on Officer Grady Edwards’ command and bit hard on his calf muscle. Hudson went to his knees.
Nero watched and barked from Hudson’s nearby patrol car.
Nero is one of five police dogs donated to K-9 units by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol after it disbanded its K-9 force last year. Nero was the one Elizabeth City wanted most, said Officer Glen Needham, supervisor of the department’s K-9 Unit.
A North Carolina state trooper caught on video kicking his police dog last year drew national attention and forced an investigation. As a result, the Highway Patrol gave away its German shepherds trained for drug sniffing, apprehension and searches and will re-establish its K-9 unit with Labradors used only for drug sniffing, said Capt. Everett Clendenin, spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
Despite the bad publicity about the Highway Patrol unit, Nero is well-trained and gentle around people, Needham said. But when commanded, he can aggressively apprehend a suspect. Nero was not the dog abused in the video.
“We are so glad to get Nero,” Needham said. “He’s a wonderful, smart dog.”
Nero brings the Elizabeth City K-9 Unit to four dogs, the most ever in a program that started about 20 years ago.
On a routine traffic stop, a dog gets a “free air sniff” around the vehicle, Needham said. If he smells drugs, that gives police probable cause for a search.
“It can go from speeding to recovery of narcotics to weapons and then a positive identification of a gang member,” Needham said. “It happens a lot.”
Training is more about practice with rewards. Handlers and dogs have an affection for each other, Needham said. Handlers use a collar that pops when pulled to get the dog’s attention. Commands are given loudly in German.
“We do not choke our dogs,” Needham said. “We do not kick our dogs. We do not abuse our dogs.”
Police dogs are trained to sniff drugs, apprehend suspects and conduct searches. Including training, each dog costs more than $10,000, said Joan Ellis, a member of a residents group that raises money for the K-9 Unit.
One of the biggest reasons the group formed was the effectiveness of police dogs in making arrests of gang members, she said.
Police dogs can be more effective than hiring another officer, said Debbie Leete, a member of the fundraising group. Leete also operates a dog search-and-rescue business with her husband.
“Their presence alone and the reaction people have to them makes a difference,” she said. “Those guys back down.”
The residents group is holding a jail-a-thon Wednesday, mailing out more than 300 volunteer arrest warrants, Ellis said. Bail will be $100 each.
Baska was bought with money donated by the group raised by earlier fund raisers.
A Lee County deputy from Cape Coral is being recognized for his efforts in saving the life of a woman injured in a traffic crash.
Cpl. Chad Edwards has been named as Deputy of the Quarter for the months of July through September.
Edwards was dispatched to the scene of a traffic crash on Alico Road involving injuries on Sept. 30. Upon arrival he quickly assessed the chaotic situation and immediately began attending to a female victim laying on the ground. The woman was not breathing and had no pulse. Edwards instructed a civilian on how to give CPR compressions while Edwards administered emergency breaths to the woman.
After approximately five minutes of CPR, the woman coughed and began to breathe on her own. Lee County Fire/Rescue then arrived and took the woman to a local hospital. Edwards restored life into the woman, who would have passed on had he not been there, officials said in announcing the Deputy of the Quarter recognition Monday.
The Corrections Deputy of the Quarter, John Khan, also is from Cape Coral.
On Sept. 15, while on his way to work, Khan came across an accident at the intersection of Diplomat Parkway and Northeast 24th Avenue in Cape Coral. As Khan responded, he recognized that one of the victims involved in the accident was a co-worker. Khan immediately secured the officer’s gun belt and secured it in his vehicle. Meanwhile, the driver of the other vehicle was being tended to by civilians that also responded to the scene.
While Khan was assisting, he smelled smoke and noticed that the engine compartment of one of the vehicles was on fire. Khan immediately advised the nearest firefighter and the fire was quickly extinguished. Khan then assisted EMS with getting the victims into an ambulance for transport.
The Corrections Civilian of the Quarter, Mary Abernathy, is from Cape Coral as well.
On Sept. 5, Abernathy, a supervisor, was on her way to work at the Core facility when she stopped at the Dairy Queen on Colonial Boulevard. While inside, a man entered the store and appeared to be in some type of medical distress. The man explained he had been working in his yard just a few moments earlier and was bitten by something. Abernathy used her prior experience in Lee County Sheriff’s Office nursing and training to asses and assist this person in need prior to an ambulance arriving.
Volunteer of the Quarter is Jack Frost.
Since Jack Frost of Fort Myers started working with the V.O.I.C.E. program in July 2002, he has volunteered over 7600 hours of his time. This past August alone, he worked more than 165 hours. Frost was the Volunteer of the Year for 2006 and worked over 2000 hours last year. Frost is a true value to the V.O.I.C.E. program and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office who shows his dedication year after year, officials said.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is proud to recognize all the individuals listed above for their hard work and dedication.