National Police Week: Exploring Law Enforcement Lives and Leadership

May 13, 2013

Being a police officer is a dangerous job. The officer’s family members worry every day that she or he will be safe while on duty. A police officer’s retirement party is a happier occasion than any other professional retirement: not only has the officer concluded a successful career, but the officer has also survived—it is a lucky day, since police officers do put their lives on the line every day.

Today as I took the Metro (Washington, DC’s subway), I saw dozens of law enforcement officials, friends and family all heading to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for the 25th annual candlelight vigil tonight for the many fallen Federal, state and local law enforcement personnel, just as we were putting the finishing touches on our own collection of Law Enforcement books for the occasion.

National-Police-Week_Law-Enforcement-Books-at-GPO-BookstoreThus, we are reminded that it is National Police Week, an annual commemoration held every May to honor the work of law enforcement officers and to honor the sacrifices of officers who have fallen in the line of duty in the previous year and add their names to the memorial. GPO would like to honor the day as well, by discussing two recent titles that deal with the dangerous careers of law enforcement officials.

Two recent Federal publications that highlight the dangerous lives and leadership challenges of law enforcement officers include Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World and 2011 The FBI Story.

Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World

Police-Leadership-Challenges_Report-coverPolice Leadership Challenges in a Changing World is a report in PDF format that discusses the difficult issues relating to integrating a new generation of recruits into the force of established officers. Traditionally, police organizations foster a “paramilitary culture and industrial-type bureaucracy”. Younger officers come from a generation used to a more dynamic environment, in part due to their experiences of growing up in the Web generation. Police management staff will need to learn to adjust to these different experiences of the younger recruits and learn how to exploit their skill set as strengths for the organization. At the same time, management needs to work with older staff to grow them into the idea of utilizing the different dynamics of the younger recruits. Communication and a tight-knit team are key requirements for successful police work. Police leaders will have considerable issues that they can turn into significant resources with some thoughtful adaptation of older and younger officers’ working styles.

Police leaders—especially if they come from the “paramilitary culture” are going to have to struggle against their own habits if they want to make the organizational culture more open to change and accountability. According to the report, the paramilitary culture does not allow for change and accountability much—it’s designed to provide routine—and today’s citizens are going to have different expectations of the force that is supposed to protect them.

The FBI Story

2011-The-FBI-Story-ISBN 9780160902574

In the report 2011 The FBI Story, the writers cover the stories of major events that happened during the report year. Each page covers a different story.

Some of the stories are historical pieces, such as page 13, subtitled “A Byte Out of History: Early African-American Agents”, which gives brief but fascinating vignettes of early agents, including the probable first African-American agent of the FBI, James Wormley Jones, and a father and son team working in Los Angeles from the 1940s through the 1970s, Special Agents Jesse and Robert Strider.

Other interesting stories include the capture of James “Whitey” Bulger, the takedown of a casino cheating ring, the indictment of a human trafficking ring which involved 600 Thai victims, the Bureau’s ongoing search for the I-35 bank robber bandit in Texas, reviews of cutting edge forensic techniques and investigative technologies, and a quick look at some of the major cases of the report year. It’s a fascinating review of one of the more exciting government agencies, and the report is easily accessible for any adult audience to read.

If you’re curious to know what your police force is doing in their day-to-day service, reading one of these reports will give you a good idea of the challenges of being a police officer. The reports are also of high interest for criminal justice students, scholars, and law enforcement professionals from the uniformed service all the way to supervisory criminal investigators and chiefs.

And if you’re in Washington, DC, tonight, drop by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, stop by the Candlelight Vigil and leave a rose in honor of those who sacrificed all to keep the rest of us safe. If not, click below to watch the live webcast online, United By Light, and to dedicate a candle to a special law enforcement officer:

2013-National-Police-Week-DC-United-by-Light-Candlelight-Vigil-Simulcast

How can I obtain a copy of these publications: Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World and 2011 The FBI Story?

Or explore our entire collection of Law Enforcement print and electronic publications on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

Adapted by Government Book Talk Editor and U.S. Government Online Bookstore Manager Michele Bartram from a post written for the FDLP Community Blog by guest blogger Jennifer Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America

November 18, 2011

Every single day, someone somewhere makes a gigantic mistake by giving his or her money to a fraudster,” says Bart Chilton, one of the commissioners of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Chilton is the author of Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America, a shocking new book available from GPO about some of the worst perpetrators of investment fraud in recent U.S. history.

Figure 1: Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America available from GPO.

Ponzimonium looks to the CFTC’s own recent public case files stemming from fraud investigations that began with the recent economic downturn- talk about hitting people when they’re down! Because of the this, the book is generating a lot of positive buzz in The New York Times, TheStreet, and other media outlets.

The CFTC is an independent Federal agency with the mandate to regulate commodity futures and options markets in the United States. After the financial crisis of 2008, their authority was expanded under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to include over-the-counter derivatives markets and hopefully prevent and uncover more of these frauds.

What is a Ponzi scheme, you ask?

The world really learned about Ponzi schemes in December of 2008 when, as Chilton writes in his introduction, “legendary investment guru Bernard Madoff ‘made off’ with an estimated US$50 billion in what was called the ‘Mother of all Ponzi Schemes’.” (By the way, an interesting related read is the report about the Investigation of Failure of the Securities and Exchange Commission To Uncover Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, also available from GPO.)

Unlike pure pyramid schemes in which it is mandatory that a new investor recruit others into the deal in order to receive payments, Ponzi schemes purport to offer investors a “too good to be true” deal by simply handing over their money. However, no real investment is made by the criminal.

Instead, Ponzi schemes, named after 1920’s postage stamp speculator-fraudster Charles Ponzi, are scams in which early “investors’—often friends, colleagues, and family members—are asked to invest in a this great “no risk” deal offering unbelievable returns.

Typically, the investor makes an initial investment and then some purported “phantom profits” are paid out by the con artist (really just money from other investors), prompting that investor to assume that his or her money has increased in value—and inspiring the investor to turn over more money to invest and tell others about it. In actuality, the perpetrators pocket the money for themselves.

This splendid infographic from the New York Times explains the concept visually:

Figure 2. Ponzi scheme infographic. Image source: The New York Times 12/21/2008 Week in Review.

Made in Madoff’s Image

Ponzimonium introduces some of the lesser known, but equally  despicable fraudsters that have been uncovered since 2008 by the CFTC and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).

The book lays out the fascinating and dramatic details behind the fraudulent schemes, their smooth-talking masterminds, and their many honest, hard-working victims, who often lose the money they’ve saved for their kids’ college funds, needed health care expenses, or their own retirement as a result of misplaced trust in these criminals.

These stories are so engrossing— at times it felt like I was taking in a marathon of America’s Most Wanted or I Almost Got Away with It episodes— I found it hard to decide which of these criminals is the most despicable. Was it Beau Diamond of Diamond Ventures who wiped out his parents’ savings along with 200 other clients who invested US$37 million? Or how about Marvin R. Cooper of Billion Coupons, who created a combination Ponzi and pyramid scheme called an affinity fraud, to target and recruit fellow deaf community members in the U.S. and Japan? And there’s James Ossie of CRE Capital Corporation (CRE) who bilked investors out of US$25 million, including a desperate father’s US$200,000 he invested to fund his young daughter’s cancer treatments.

Figure 3. Fraudster Marvin R. Cooper and deaf client. Image source: BusinessInsider.com

The human side behind these frauds makes them all the more compelling… and contemptible.

The best way to avoid getting swindled, advises Chilton, is to “remember what your parents told you when you were little: ‘Don’t take candy from strangers’”, and my personal favorite, “Just because it is on the TV, Internet, etc. doesn’t mean it’s real!” That’s advice you can take to the bank.

Some “don’t miss” features of this book

Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America includes some very useful features for its readers that make this a valuable resource for any investor.

  • Red Flags of Fraud: Includes 20 red flags to look out for when considering an investment.
  • Investor Checklist: Detailed list of questions to ask before investing.
  • Investors’ Bill of Rights: Common sense advice and legal rights for any investor.
  • Resources: Useful contact information for victims or witnesses of a fraud.
  • Glossary of Fraud Terms: Definitions of legal and financial terms within each story.
  • The Loot: Color photos of the criminals’ misbegotten gains and lavish lifestyle.
  • The Numbers: Calculations of the staggering amounts collected, paid, lost, or stolen, and prison sentences and restitution.

How can you get this Ponzimonium eBook?

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. She has been researching identity theft and privacy issues for years, both on the web and in the real world, and is a big fan of more fraud protection for citizens.


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