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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Ultimate Betrayal

When I learned that Lt. Joe Gliniewicz from Fox Lake, IL, was shot and killed while investigating 3 suspicious subjects, I was devastated. There were 7 officers shot that week in incidents across the country and emotions were already running high. So when it happened so close to home, it felt like an epidemic that was closing in. I actually believed there was a full-on assault against police officers.

The police response from all over the state to join the extensive manhunt for the 3 “shooters” was not surprising. There were officers on the perimeter who were overheated and dehydrated but refused to give up their positions.

The sea of blue that enveloped Fox Lake on the day of the funeral was a testament to the support that the law enforcement family extends to one another. Having been indoctrinated into the police profession at an early age, I know what it’s like to be a part of the “brotherhood” and there is no greater feeling. When the police come together for good, we are at our best.

This is precisely why we in law enforcement feel so betrayed by Gliniewicz’ carefully choreographed staging of his own death. I learned early on in my career that law-breakers lie to cover up wrongdoing in both criminal and immoral acts. I have come to expect this.

But cops are supposed to be the good guys. They aren’t supposed to lie and when they do, it doesn’t bode well for our profession. The very core of policing is built on public trust, and when trust is eroded, the police risk becoming ineffective. The public should demand that their police officers enforce the law in an equitable way with service and justice as foundational principles. We can clearly see the consequence of officers who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy.  Their actions not only weaken our system of justice but also threaten the reputation of honorable and worthy police officers all across the nation.

There are two kinds of mistakes: mistakes of the head and mistakes of the heart. Mistakes of the head are calculated and willful acts of misconduct (and should really be called "on-purposes"). Mistakes of the heart are truly accidental where there is no malice or forethought. I have the utmost empathy for well meaning officers who try and fail. Especially since unlike most professions, mistakes in law enforcement can be fatal mistakes.

Joe Gliniewicz is an example of law enforcement at its worst. His criminal actions leading up to his death tarnished the badge and his staged murder ranks up there with deplorable acts like planting evidence and coerced confessions.

The “hometown hero” was a selfish man whose private character was far different from his public persona. I can hardly imagine what his family went through as the details of his corruption and his calculated ruse began to unfold. The betrayal to the law enforcement community pales in comparison to that of his own children. My hope is they can move forward someday and find peace with the memory of what was good about their father because I have to believe (for their sake) that parts of him were good.

As for the law enforcement community, we’ll take another tarnish on each of our badges because the public tends to paint us all with a broad brush. But we will continue to rebuild trust one contact at a time so the citizens we serve are reminded that guys like Gliniewicz are the exception.

We can begin this thought process by recognizing that it was police officers who sifted through the grain and the chaff to get to the truth. Law Enforcement agencies worked together to uncover and expose one of their own. I believe there was a time in the not so distant past where that investigation might have turned out differently.

I offer my sincerest gratitude to those in my profession who had the excruciating job of investigating this case.

We must always search for the truth no matter where it leads us; even when it leads where we’d rather not go.

21 comments:

Ak Ak said...

As a civilian law enforcement supporter, I too, was alarmed at the assault on police that was occurring. I traveled to Fox Lake to attend the memorial service to show my support to LE and offer my condolences. I shook hands with kids in the Explorer program who were devastated at his death.

While this betrayal is not mine to take on, I was struggling with what to make of it: the affect on LEOs, the kids and community members who respected him, the exhaustive resources spent.

Which is why I really appreciate your closing thoughts: "We can begin this thought process by recognizing that it was police officers who sifted through the grain and the chaff to get to the truth."

Absolutely. So, to the men and women who worked so hard to find and expose the truth, thank you. Your service and commitment is greatly appreciated.

Happily Retired in D8 said...

Very well written and she nails it. There are a lot of cop suicides stemming from PTSD or depression, and I have sympathy for them. But this guy was another coward criminal that was afraid to face the consequences of his actions and I have no sympathy for him... only for his family that has to deal with his ultimate betrayal.

Happily Retired in D8 said...

Very well written and she nails it. There are a lot of cop suicides stemming from PTSD or depression, and I have sympathy for them. But this guy was another coward criminal that was afraid to face the consequences of his actions and I have no sympathy for him... only for his family that has to deal with his ultimate betrayal.

thinkb4youpost said...

I can certainly appreciate the importance of recognizing this act as a betrayal and that it should be met with a level of seriousness, but I feel like people lose their sense of humanity when things like this surface. How do you think his four children will feel reading an article like this about their father? Sometimes I wish social media would leave well enough alone. It's devastating to me that this man's poor family already suffering the loss of their father now has to also suffer the ridicule and scrutiny. I think the findings should have been privately shared with the wife so that she could have chosen how or if the children were to have learned about this.

JoeS said...

You're completely wrong. This should not be kept private. The public spent hundreds of thousands of dollars investigation and searching for the "cop killers." The public has every right to know what truly did happen. Plus it sounds as if his wife and one son had knowledge of everything he had been doing.

RAG said...

This was very well written and on point. Only thing I add is that having 40+ years in this I still think there could be more to the story.

Donnie Bowerman said...

Thank you, Commander. I am long since retired from my law enforcement career. Though I worked many officer deaths, bad guy- or self-inflicted, the crimes committed by any LEOs were luckily investigated while we were still able to apprehend, charge, suspend, prosecute, convict, and, finally, Fire!!! Yes, it was all accomplished with some amount of anguish, but also much satisfaction when we got rid of a bad cop. I feel sorry for the good citizens who lined the streets and sidewalks, holding signs, shedding tears, waving flags. I feel sorry for the good officers of Fox Lake, and for the hundreds of others who potentially risked their own lives to hunt down three fictitious shooters. And I feel sorry for the hundreds and hundreds of officers from around the country who came to honor this man who had so despicably disgraced his badge. And, painfully, the badges worn by nearly a million decent law enforcement officers across the nation.

Like I said, I'm retired. To those of you who honor the badge each day by honoring your oath to serve and protect, stay safe. It was bad in my day, and it sure hasn't gotten any better.

Donnie Bowerman said...

Thank you, Commander. I am long since retired from my law enforcement career. Though I worked many officer deaths, bad guy- or self-inflicted, the crimes committed by any LEOs were luckily investigated while we were still able to apprehend, charge, suspend, prosecute, convict, and, finally, Fire!!! Yes, it was all accomplished with some amount of anguish, but also much satisfaction when we got rid of a bad cop. I feel sorry for the good citizens who lined the streets and sidewalks, holding signs, shedding tears, waving flags. I feel sorry for the good officers of Fox Lake, and for the hundreds of others who potentially risked their own lives to hunt down three fictitious shooters. And I feel sorry for the hundreds and hundreds of officers from around the country who came to honor this man who had so despicably disgraced his badge. And, painfully, the badges worn by nearly a million decent law enforcement officers across the nation.

Like I said, I'm retired. To those of you who honor the badge each day by honoring your oath to serve and protect, stay safe. It was bad in my day, and it sure hasn't gotten any better.

Unknown said...

I am also retired leo and agree with what you have written. I worked with a lot of good guys and some of the bad ones and managed to survive for 30 years. I have helped some of these bad ones become unemployed over greed and stupidity and have no regrets since they tarnished the badge that I wore. Please be safe out there and let everyone know that there are a lot more good guys than bad that wear the badge.

Steve Clements said...

This is well written. However I choose to see the huge loss to this family unit municipal unit and will allow God to judge him. When I stack his failings against King David's failings...this man was a light weight. The most tragic part of this is he didn't receive the forgiveness and restoration possible with God. He bought the lie there was no way out. Psalm 51 is a man finding the way out.
Those among us without sin can cast a stone at his corpse. The same media that was putting him on a pedestal are now tar and feathering him. Mary the virgin and mother of Jesus and Mary Magdelen were two very different women but both neede the redemption Jesus brought.
Let's focus on our lives for there is still hope.
The woman caught in adultry was not judged because truth be told we are all lawbreakers to Gods standards. Jesus came to deliver out of sin not judge it. If we say we have no sin we call God a liar.
Don't take your life. Overcome sin through the Good news...fulfill your destiny and purpose.

Unknown said...

I see your point of view,but this all in the news everywhere besides social media. ..one way or another they are going to hear this for awhile. ...

erahn08 said...

And now this family you speak of is also under investigation.

Ben Yomtoob said...

Thank you very much Kristen. Everyone talked about what a wonderful person he was and what great thing he did when he died. When the bad stuff came out, I started wondering -- if this is what the "good guys" do, how bad must the "bad apples" be. I'm concerned that many people fear that law enforcement is often too tolerant and too forgiving of bad behavior in their midst based on seeing how the police unions always come to the defense of police when the wrong doing seem fairly obvious.

It was great to see you say "very core of policing is built on public trust, and when trust is eroded, the police risk becoming ineffective". I really hope that this is at the core of most LEO belief systems and that I am needlessly paranoid that it's not the case. We really need more people like you speaking out to help build back the trust that many of the recent incidents have undermined.

William Kirby said...

Well said. However, we are slowly learning that his "public persona" was not as upstanding as we once thought and/or believed. Many missed opportunities for administration to intercede and maybe prevent other immoral and illegal acts from ever occurring. You are absolutely correct though in asserting that this is another black eye we must overcome to establish trust in the communities we serve. We are in a profession where one such act of unprofessionalism affects the whole--and this betrayal ranks amongst the worst.

Bob Cleveland said...

Kudos to you for writing about this!

Suicide is a particularly mean thing to do, which, via a permanent solution to a temporary problem, only accomplishes the transfer of his pain to everybody who know him. And when it's a sham like this, it leaves even more pain behind.

I hope everyone who heard or read the factual account of his demise will read this. Your stand should help offset some of what appears as betrayal.

Kim Torcaso said...

It's ok to post comments, but people need to keep in mind to keep it clean. This man still has children and family who loved him dearly no matter the circumstances. They still will have to read or hear the pouring of insults and criticism. His kids don't deserve the threats and insults now coming their way through media, school and publicity. Making Joe pay for his mistakes is not beating down his kids or family members with insults.
Joe is now where he deserves to be whether with the good lord or else where. Which ever it may be.

Unknown said...

Simply I would like to thank all law enforcement personnel who perform their job day in and day out with honesty and integrity.
Sad that a few can sometimes tarnish the majority.

Tommy Ostrowski said...

AS ALWAYS WELL WRITTEN

Cone Of Silence said...

Each day that goes by, another layer of this story is peeled back.

Now, it's alleged in an ABC7 link that the Lt's son staged a 'sham marriage' to the Lt's mistress in order to obtain more military benefits. She was a volunteer with his Fox Lake Explorer Scouts. ... ( http://abc7chicago.com/news/gliniewicz-may-have-arranged-sham-marriage-between-son-mistress-report-says/1071246/ )

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Tommy Ostrowski said...

Your thoughts on making mistakes either being of the Head or Heart is Spot on