Archive for November, 2015



This is a great article written by Samson J. De Sessa and posted to the Fire Engineering websiteon 01/03/2013.   Though the article talks about brotherhood within the fire service – it also applies to law enforcement.  Everyone whp has ever worn the badge, or had a family member who wears one, knows that the ultimate sacrifice might be asked of them. We know that in an instant, any assignment can turn into danger, then death, then unending sorrow.  Brotherhood binds us together.    And for all the ladies out their who serve and protect –  this brotHERhood includes you.


Readers of the following will likely fall into one of three categories: Those who get it, those who don’t care, and those who will inevitably make fun of it all. You may think, “Yeah, this totally makes sense”, or “Blah, blah, blah”, or you will immediately start blaming others for “the way things are around here” and start tearing it apart. I encourage you to read and think about what YOU can do to improve your department’s brotherhood. Stow the pointing fingers for a few minutes, keyboard pundits, and try to accept the challenge with a positive outlook for once–you may just achieve a positive outcome.

Which words come to mind when you hear “brotherhood”? I often hear these, among others:

  • Tradition
  • Pride
  • Honor
  • Family
  • Loyalty
  • Friendship
  • Solidarity
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • Heritage
  • Camaraderie

One definition describes brotherhood as the feeling of kinship with and closeness to a specific group of people or all people. Some say “the Brotherhood” is the whole fire service, some say it is the union membership, and still others claim it represents paid, sworn firefighters. Is it a willingness to lie for each other to keep from getting in trouble? I have visited many firehouses over my 21-year-career and have seen houses that seem to get the concept of brotherhood, whereas others that don’t even have a clue. I have been to industrial, municipal, volunteer, federal, and even foreign fire brigades, and have asked, “Why are some departments so rich in brotherhood, but others just don’t really seem to care?

Over time I found that the answer depends on the caliber of people. We enjoy the benefits of brotherhood, but many people have a hard time associating it with terms like “individual responsibility,” “personal accountability,” “servanthood,” “stewardship,” and “ethics.” What do these expressions have to do with brotherhood? It does not just happen by accident. Being a part of this fire service brotherhood means more than getting 10 percent off on your gas station coffee just because of the cool uniform. Many brothers and sisters are more concerned about what they can get from the fire service versus what they can give. People are sometimes taunted for “going the extra mile,” but why is going above and beyond not always a popular concept? Chief Alan Brunacini brought customer service principles to the fire service industry in the 1990s . Why did you join the service, if not to help people?

Chief Rick Lasky says that brotherhood “defines a value system that we need to abide by. One where brothers stand by each other, stand up for each other, stand up for the fire service and stand up for our family. It does not, however, mean that you take advantage of each other and play on the whole brotherhood thing for personal gain, especially when you are wrong. Being a brother means I will do everything I can for you, but it also means that you as my brother would never ask me to do something that would risk my own family’s financial security.” I would like to submit to you that as public servants we are called to stand up for the communities we serve as well. You may remember the adage, “Do no harm.”

To really understand the brotherhood, one must realize that it is something much bigger than you. You belong to something elite, something special, yet something fragile. Every time one of us forgets that we represent something greater than ourselves, problems occur. When our people get caught doing something less-than-honorable, it casts a shadow over the entire brotherhood. Whether it’s a city firefighter busted for arson, a volunteer chief caught misappropriating funds, or a county medic caught stealing drugs–it all reflects poorly on all of us. It chisels away from the brotherhood. Conversely, in the few years following September 11, 2001, brotherhood was something so obvious you could almost breathe it in every fire department in every community. Fire Department of New York personnel displayed brotherhood for each other, for their community, and for the world. They put others before themselves because they knew it was bigger than them and we all benefitted. They earned the public’s confidence. The impacts of our actions affect all of us in the future, whether positive or negative.

Most of us joined a department that already had a certain degree of brotherhood handed down and entrusted to us, but that does not mean that the next generation will necessarily inherit from us. The brotherhood is similar to a family. Families are bonded by blood, but that does not necessarily make them good families. Strong, thriving families are forged by hard work, communication, fun, and loyalty to one another. Our family is no different. Brotherhood is a family by choice.

Brotherhood requires action. You have to make brotherhood, which takes work and commitment to imperfect people. You have to forgive things that happened years ago, and see others as more important than you. Pride is a great feeling in the context of brotherhood, but selfish pride is the antithesis of brotherhood. It is self-centered and it strips brotherhood from the individual and often from others around them. Stop pointing your finger at everyone else and start accepting your role in both the problem and the solution.

So, how do we do it? How do we build brotherhood? Be engaged, take action, and get involved. Be there for each other–it’s that easy. Be there when a brother or sister needs you. Make yourself available when someone needs your time. Invest in each other. Build each other up instead of always tearing each other down. It’s occasionally fun to laugh at someone else’s expense, but honestly, how often are we saying “good job” to another member? If we say we are willing to lay down our lives for each other in a fire, why don’t we reflect that in the firehouse? Why must you berate a fellow firefighter behind his back for forgetting to take out the trash and bring conflict into the firehouse over similar petty issues? Those attitudes will transfer to the fire scene. Let the little things go. Ask yourself, “Will this matter to me in five years?” If not, let it go. Put in the work; it is worth it. Besides, we owe it to those who have gone before us and to the next generation to cement a legacy with a solid foundation of brotherhood. They will inherit tomorrow what we put into it today. Remember, your fire service heritage is the very fabric from which the brotherhood is cut. Are you being a good steward of our brotherhood? Would you be proud to have your son or daughter work for your department? If the answer is “no,” then start making changes now. Whether you are a firefighter or fire chief, the answer to authentic brotherhood is in you.

Samson J. DeSessa is the assistant fire chief at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Texas.

original article @


dawning of the day…

Today, 24 November 2015 — the members of the Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department are honored to play at a graduation ceremony for Chicago’s newest and now bravest.  Welcome to the Chicago Police Department.    You are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances — act with courage, honor, and self-sacrifice.  Never forget this.

We’ve all been to academy graduations and heard the speeches. Some are thought provoking and some are quickly forgotten. We came across this speech presented by Capt. Gary Hoelzer and thought it was so profound and meaningful that we wanted to share it with all of you. There are at least a couple of challenges in this speech that should hit home for everyone.

I hope you don’t consider this your last lecture; but rather your first of many family talks. I’d like you to remember back to that moment in time when you chose law enforcement as your vocation, profession and calling. For me, I have to go back 34 years: I’m standing in the foyer of a church in Fenton—in a crowd, yet alone in my thoughts grappling with a career choice. My only criteria was that when I looked back on a career, I wanted to measure my success by how much I gave, not by how much I received. So I asked myself, “If I could do anything with my life, what would it be?” As my mind sifted through the possibilities, I soon considered policing. I’d been reading a Bible paraphrase popular in the 60’s and 70’s in Paul’s letter to the Romans in the thirteenth chapter. It actually used the term “police officer” when it stated, “The police officer is God’s agent to commend those who do good, and to strike fear in the heart of those who would do evil.”

That’s also a rough definition of the word “justice.” Justice is the standard of societies and of the nations of the earth. It’s a valuable two-sided coin. On one side, to do justice is to bring down those who’d victimize and oppress others. On the other side of the same coin, justice is to lift up those who have been victimized and oppressed, as well as those who need a helping hand and to restore them to a meaningful place in society. Justice—criminal justice—is a high calling for a noble cause.

I also wanted to be like Jim Reed and Pete Malloy of ADAM-12. I wanted to patrol the streets of St. Louis County in that chocolate brown car like they patrolled L.A. in their black and white. Rushing to crime scenes, consoling victims, showing compassion to the down and out and arresting bad guys.

My Calling
I was on field training with FTO Russ Dabbs. We were patrolling along Tesson Ferry and I’d progressed to the point where I was driving. I saw a 16 or 17 year old that should have probably been in school, so I turned the patrol car around to check him out. As we turned, we saw something fly away from his hand. Glimmering in the sun, as it landed 20 feet or so away, was a knife with a six-inch blade. As soon as the tires of the patrol car hit the shoulder, the kid ran. I slammed on the brakes, threw open the car door, tossed down my sunglasses (I wouldn’t do that again), while Dabbs said what all good FTO’s say, “Go get ‘em!”

The chase was on. Over a fence I went and I was in full speed running across a bank parking lot in the middle of the day. People were coming and going, watching the spectacle, as a young cop chased a real “bad guy.” I caught him just as he entered a residential area. In the meantime, my FTO slid behind the wheel, turned on the red lights and came around the block to meet up with us. I cuffed him and placed him in the patrol car and then we made the journey to the precinct station (he was wanted for burglary).

When we arrived at the station, we walked in with our prisoner and as I was processing him, I heard my FTO tell our sergeant, “You should have been there Sarge. It was just like ADAM-12!” Upon hearing this, I was ecstatic!

Now, I tell you that story because there will come a time in a year, five years or 30 years when you will grow weary in the work. Long shifts, short on sleep, court in the morning after working the midnight shift, promotions or special assignments that go to someone else, insults and threats. Just remember back to the moment you chose law enforcement as your calling. You may grow weary in the work, but don’t grow weary of the work.

The Cost of the Calling
As glamorous as foot pursuits across a crowded parking lot can be, confronting certain elements of society alone at midnight isn’t so glamorous. The first time could be terrifying. I was off of field training, still in my rookie year, and I was in a low-speed vehicle pursuit with a subject with a warrant out for his arrest. It was around midnight and my nearest assist officer was about four miles (or 400 miles) away.
Apparently, the driver didn’t want to go to jail that night, so I followed him as he meandered through neighborhood streets until finally he swerved into a residential driveway. His door swung open and he made a run for the front door of the house. In a split second, my brain summed up my options:

1.    Chase him, catch him, fight him, take him to jail. Consequences: I could get hurt or killed, yet fulfill my calling.

2.    Delay, let him get away, work it out another way. Consequence: Fear would triumph, and I would turn in my badge. I’m not willing to pay the cost, so there’s another line of work waiting for me.

I chose the former. I caught him before he entered the house and was in for the fight of my life. Bottom line: We both went to the hospital for minor injuries, he went to jail and I kept my badge.

I was confronted that night with the real cost that may have to be paid in the struggle for this noble calling. It has been said that “All give some, and some give all.” Ask the Fernau family. Glennon Fernau1 is an example for us of one who gave all. Whenever I hear of one who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I always remember that his life wasn’t taken from him; rather, he gave it willingly for this great and noble calling. There’s a cost that must be paid in this struggle for justice.

Another example: Several years ago our detectives were out looking for a man who’d been harassing and stalking his estranged wife because of the threat we felt he was to her. As they were searching for him, the call came out for “shots fired.” The husband was chasing her around her place of employment firing rounds as she tried to get away. I responded to that call and what struck me later was how abnormal it was to human survival to watch five officers scream toward that scene and not go away from it. They’d all experienced their life-or-death fights, and had kept their badges—even when it could cost them dearly. That’s why I appreciate going to work every day because I work with common, ordinary heroes.

Staying True to the Call: Moral Courage
My final point is that some officers are willing to die for the call, but are unable or unwilling to live for the call. The best of departments are still comprised of fallible human beings who at times stray down the wrong path. Some of those individuals could be veterans or supervisors who attempt to lead you down that path of moral compromise. Refuse to go there with them. Unnecessary use of force, falsifying police reports, cheating on a time sheet—I’ve seen it all. The badge doesn’t excuse immoral, even unlawful behavior. One of the hardest days of my 30-year career was looking my sergeant in the face and telling him, “I will not do that.”

And at times your own human weakness will be apparent as you’re tempted. Beware of the big three that have damaged or ended many a good career: Anger, greed and lust. I’ve seen careers thrown away for a gallon of gasoline and a parking space. Don’t throw all of your hard work—and pride—away for a moment’s gratification or advantage. Many have.

A plaque hangs in the St. Charles City Police Department and it reads, “Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it.” May you choose that path that brings honor to your badge, to your department, to your family and to this noble profession of law enforcement.

You’ve started and now finished a difficult and challenging course at the St. Louis County & Municipal Police Academy. We’re very proud of you, for who you’ve become these last six months and for the noble vocation you have chosen. It won’t build you a great portfolio of the world’s riches, but it will produce expressions of appreciation and admiration, and even derision and hostility. Every shift will be somehow the same, yet starkly different in its shades and hues of the human condition—innocent, tragic, gracious, violent, thankful and mean.

May God bless you and go with you, in the sacrifice of your service.


true blue gala…

On Saturday, 07 November 2015 — the band was honored to provide some background music at the Chicago Police Foundation (CPF) “TRUE BLUE” charity event. The CPF was established to provide supplemental funding to the Chicago Police Department for additional resources to help improve public safety in our city. There were over 300 guests at the inaugural event held at Chicago Police Headquarters. ‪#‎theCPD‬ Additional Information on the CPF can be found online @


we are forever grateful…

In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln spoke of America’s obligation to repay our debt to those who died in service to our country when he said:

“It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

They died for liberty – they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless . . . Earth may run red with other wars, but they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.

To our brothers and sisters in the band who served, to all of our family, friends, fans and co-workers who served and all those currently serving today – we are forever grateful.  


PC Dave Philips at rest…

From the Guardian — Hundreds of people have paid their last respects at the funeral of PC Dave Phillips, who was killed in a hit-and-run.

The congregation stood as the 34-year-old Merseyside police officer’s coffin was carried into Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Earlier, Phillips’s widow, Jen, 28, led the procession of mourners through the city’s streets.

She walked behind her husband’s coffin, which had been draped in a blue Merseyside police force cloth, holding her seven-year-old daughter Abigail’s hand as younger daughter Sophie, three, followed behind.

Phillips died after he was hit by a Mitsubishi pick-up truck while trying to use a stinger device on the stolen vehicle in Wallasey in the early hours of 5 October.

Jen Phillips arrives at her husband’s funeral
Jen Phillips arrives at her husband’s funeral. Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Six uniformed pallbearers carried his coffin to the front of the cathedral before taking their seats.

Scores of uniformed officers from Merseyside police had marched behind the hearse as it was led through Liverpool by horses from the force’s mounted department.

More officers from around the country joined in, making the city’s streets awash with a sea of black.

The Merseyside police chief constable, Sir Jon Murphy, and the region’s police and crime commissioner, Jane Kennedy, were also in attendance.

A policeman’s hat sits on top of the coffin of PC David Phillips
A policeman’s hat sits on top of the coffin of PC David Phillips. Photograph: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Inside, the cathedral was adorned with blue and white flowers draped with blue ribbons to symbolise Phillips’s work in the force.

Dozens of candles were lit in an arrow shape behind his coffin, which stood in the middle of the cathedral.

As the service began, the Rev Lyndon Bannon, assistant priest at Willaston in Wirral and assistant headteacher of Woodchurch Church of England high school in Wirral, welcomed the mourners.

Two framed pictures of Phillips with his family bookmarked the officer’s coffin. One showed him holding hands with daughters as they walked through a forest, the other showed a montage of the his family.

The order of service handed out to the congregation showed a picture of Phillips wearing his uniform and smiling. A further picture showed the officer at home.

Bannon described Phillips as “a loving gentleman”. He said that, as an officer, he had “served the nation” and, like other officers, had put his life on the line every day.

He spoke of Phillips’s widow as being an inspiration before inviting her and Abigail to light a candle in his memory.

Mother and daughter walked together hand in hand before lighting the candle which stood to the side of the father-of-two’s coffin.

Phillips’s sister, Hannah Whieldon, led the tributes to the officer following the hymn The Lord’s My Shepherd. She said he had stored the hymn on his phone to let his loved ones know he wanted it sung at his funeral.

“But that was Dave,” she said. “Everything organised, nothing left to chance. But in the end some things were beyond his control.

The cortege passes through Liverpool on the way to the funeral service
The cortege passes through Liverpool on the way to the funeral service. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

“He would never have chosen this time to leave us. We all need him so much, especially his wife and precious daughters, but he was called to be with God, where I have no doubt he is happily mowing the golf greens of heaven in preparation for a game, whilst keeping an eye out for us all.”

She said the family were humbled by the outpouring of support they had received following her brother’s death and added that his presence would be “constant and immovable”.

Whieldon told mourners she was speaking about her brother with pride. She said: “A man that great, that selfless and giving doesn’t just leave you. Every word he ever said to us has left a track.

“We as a family will continue to cling to those moments – sometimes with tears and regrets for what we’ve lost, sometimes with the fond laughter of remembrance, but always with boundless love, and for every day of our lives.”