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[00:00:02.860] - Intro
Welcome to The CopDoc Podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopDoc shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing, communities, academia, and other government agencies. And now, please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc Podcast.
[00:00:43.160] - Steve Morreale
Well, hello, everybody. This is Steve Morreale from Boston, and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast. Another episode is underway and we're talking to Jim Gagliano, and he is on the banks of the Hudson River north of West Point. Good morning, Jim.
[00:00:56.050] - Jim Gagliano
Good morning, Doc. It's good to join you. Look, I've never been called a thought leader. That makes me feel much more important than I really am.
[00:01:02.080] - Steve Morreale
Well, give me a little bit of time to see if that sticks or not, but I'm very glad to have you.
[00:01:06.850] - Jim Gagliano
[00:01:09.340] - Steve Morreale
So just to let the audience know who you are, I came upon you because of some of the things you had been writing. You are the mayor of a small village in New York, and I'll let you talk about that, but you are a retired FBI agent. Thank you for your service. You went to West Point and was an officer and served abroad, and I believe it was Afghanistan. Again, thank you for your service. And I think we have an awful lot in common myself with DEA, having worked in Newark and New York, and you in New York, and I'm reading your bio that you were in Mexico City as an assistant league at. But I'd like you to talk about how you ended up in the military and how that brought you into the FBI and your trajectory and your history there and what you're doing now.
[00:01:54.640] - Jim Gagliano
Oh, I appreciate that. Yeah. Steve so I was a military brat, so my family's history goes way back, all the way back to the Civil War. On my mother's side and on my father's side, World War II. And I always say jokingly, the only conflict that I know of, major conflict war that my family didn't participate in was World War I. It was so short where the United States was only in it for a little over a year, and we didn't have anybody of age at that time. But, yeah, my father's a West Point graduate class in 1960. You should have gotten him because he graduated the top of his West Point class. I graduated in 1987. I graduated at the bottom of mine. So obviously the Cop Doc budget is not what it should be to get thought leaders. Anyhow, I spent four years in the infantry at the height of the Cold War. So I was in the US. Army as an infantry officer with the 10th Mountain Division from 1987 to 1991. And I was kid and say the furthest I deployed during the Cold War was Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and Fort Irwin, California.
[00:02:53.940] - Jim Gagliano
I didn't see time over in the sandbox in the Middle east until the global war on terror, until I was an FBI agent. I came into the FBI in 1991. I did it because I was looking for more action. And then, of course, our military gets deployed, and we've been at war for essentially two decades, but it was the right call. The experiences were just incredible. I had opportunities to do things and to work with people, and there as history was being made, not because of who I was or how great I was, but I really I felt like far scump in a certain sense, because I've been almost everywhere where bad stuff has happened. Spent 25 years in the FBI and retired to go to work at St. John's as a professor in the homeland security, criminal justice, organizational leadership, branches of the department of professional studies, and then got wrapped into a doctoral program there. And as you pointed out, I currently serve as the 29th mayor of a small upstate village in a place called Cornwall and Hudson.
[00:03:50.610] - Steve Morreale
Well, that's great, and let's talk a little bit about why you would I was just talking to somebody yesterday why you would take the plunge to go back to school, although I think those of us who have done that have a tendency to understand that we never stop learning. And I presume that's one of the motivating factors of taking the plunge to get into a doctoral program.
[00:04:09.600] - Jim Gagliano
I think you nailed it. My father, who really is the only real hero that I've ever known, my father was a guy who got his doctorate at Georgia Tech back in 1976 in operations research and then was a professor at Georgia Tech in Georgia state. I think maybe it's part of my insecurities. I think it was because I felt like academically at west point, I struggled. I grew up in a small town on the east side of Atlanta called Decatur, Georgia. And it's no excuse. I mean, as my father said, it doesn't matter where you go to school. If you apply yourself, you can do well. And I think at West Point, I just didn't take the academics as seriously as I should have. And then as well, you know, for basically 30 years and 33 total years in government service, there just wasn't time for me to pursue an advanced degree. And so when I did finish, I wanted to go back, and maybe part of it was to prove it to myself. And the other part is kind of what you're doing. We have the practical experience. We have the practical application chops.
[00:05:02.140] - Jim Gagliano
People can google and see what you've done and who you've served with. And, you know, in the DEA, it's like the FBI, everything is six degrees of separation. You can always find out about somebody by calling a buddy who knows a buddy who knows a buddy who knows personal question. So I wanted to add to that because especially with the way the country is changing right now in regards to the view of the policing profession, how this country views policing as a profession, I felt like having the theoretical application chop would be as important as having been there and done the job. So that's really what drew me into it, is maybe a second chance to do a little bit better than I did the first time around 30 years ago. And then also my second act is going to be defending law enforcement officers that are righteous, the ones that are unjustly accused of crimes or unfairly treated, to be able to speak to the policing profession. That's why I'm doing it.
[00:05:50.020] - Steve Morreale
Well, that's good, and you're in a good place. St. John's University is a great place, and I know many people who have gone there, and it certainly attracts a lot of people from the New York to greater New York area, but beyond. And so as you're working on your coursework and such, how do you find that you're able to apply? As soon as you said something, I thought, well, eventually you're going to be a pracademic like myself. And what that means is somebody with a practical experience, with an academic credential. There are some people who are pure academics who don't necessarily like me using that term, but I think it's appropriate. And I think that having your feet in both buckets gives you some credibility as long as you maintain an open mind. Because when you're in the classroom, I'm sure you're experiencing this. There are some in that classroom who want to hear war stories. That's not what teaching is all about. Teaching is about trying to get people to think differently, to open their eyes, to examine, to ask questions, to be curious. I'm sure that you have changed from the first time you taught to where war stories were a way to get through a class to where you are now probably more cerebral.
[00:06:52.440] - Steve Morreale
I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but tell me how that transition happened for you.
[00:06:56.430] - Jim Gagliano
I think you just laid out the roadmap. When I first started, it was, oh my gosh, I'm dealing with undergrads, and there's this incredible pressure that you want to ensure that when they leave your class, they take something away. That's a building block for the future. And obviously when they take a 101 course and then a 102 course or a 300 level course, you want to make sure that they're getting the foundation that they need. I think war stories used in small dosages and applied expertly are a good thing, because I think the other thing that we are is I think we're ambassadors for the law enforcement profession. And so, yes, while teaching young undergrads the theories behind homeland security or criminal justice theories, while that's important, I think it's also important that we're the examples that we're somebody that they look up to and say, hey, I want to follow on that person's footsteps. I want to join the Marshall Service, or, I want to work for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, or I want to be a police officer. And so I think it's a doubleedged thing. And I do try to balance my courses, making sure to keep them interesting.
[00:07:57.540] - Jim Gagliano
I think communication and the ability to convey a thought and to tell stories in an interesting fashion, I think that's critical. No one wants to go to a course and sit through it where you're falling asleep and it's not exciting. But by the same token, you know that there are certain markers and certain things the students need to leave your classroom with.
[00:08:14.890] - Steve Morreale
Well, that's interesting because this is something we don't talk about often in the classroom, because when I'm talking to academics or academics, if you will, we talk about research and such. But in this case, we're walking down the road to the idea of what do you do in the classroom and how do you engage people in the classroom? And I say that those stories that we might tell help to apply a lesson. And one of the things that comes to mind, and I'm guessing the same look, leasing as an MP, I was a police officer. I was with the DEA. There's a lot of boredom in there. There's a lot of boredom in the FBI. There's a lot of times that you're having to write and think, but you're not on the street. It's when you are on the street that things change. But you have to paint the picture. I think, for students is, look, policing is a noble profession. Law enforcement is a noble profession. But there will be many times where you're doing things that you would prefer not to do, and some of them are boring. It's moments of chaos followed by hours of boredom, meaning you have to write and you have to collect.
[00:09:09.280] - Steve Morreale
And I'm seeing your head shake. I have the benefit of seeing you on a camera. But how do you see that?
[00:09:14.370] - Jim Gagliano
I think you laid it out there expertly. I mean, there's a famous adage in regards to combat that says when young men and women go off to war, it is hours upon hours and days upon days and weeks upon weeks and even months upon months of abject boredom interrupted by brief spurts of sheer terror and violence. And look, you know, you can be a law enforcement officer and spend a 25 year career and never have drawn your weapon or never had to put your hands on somebody or never been in some violent altercation. That can happen, but you have to be prepared for the worst. That's why we require law enforcement officers to go through an academy to do practical applications and to do physical fitness and require that because, yeah, maybe in your career, you may never have to chase somebody and climb over a nine foot high fence and leap over a growling dog. But when it happens and you're my partner, I want you to be able to do that. And I think I'll wrap it up by saying what you described also was I used to call it the Miami Vice effect.
[00:10:14.250] - Jim Gagliano
Now, young coeds today aren't going to be as familiar with Miami Vice, but when I was a kid at the military academy in the mid 80s, miami Vice was all the rage. Everybody had that. It was. Must see TV. And basically Crockett and Tubs, the two detectives there, they got in a shootout in every episode. There was never paperwork. They never had to have their shooting scrutinized by higher ups or by the US. Attorney's office. They never had to do anything other than being these exciting dope deals, these reverses undercover operations. They'd kill the bad guys and then boom, onto the next episode. That ain't policing.
[00:10:47.040] - Steve Morreale
No, it's not. That's a good one. That's a good one. And one of the things I think is really important for those who are in criminal justice and I don't know what you're experiencing, but I'd say 30% of the people in a criminal justice classroom for us at Worcester State University are interested in policing and others are not. They're interested in allied fields, helping Fields, victim advocates, risk management, cybercrime, all of that stuff. Some of the things that we're starting to talk about, terror prevention and such, but it seems to me very important to humanize the officers or the agents, because we come to work we come to work sometimes pissed off from something that happened to the family, the daughter or the son pissed you off. And you come to work with some emotions, and you have to kind of work through those things. But police are human. And so what I want to talk about, Jim and by the way, we're talking to Jim Gaglino, a retired FBI agent, the mayor of Cornwall in the Hudson, and a doctoral student and professor at St. John's University. Talking to him in New York today.
[00:11:41.940] - Steve Morreale
Tell us a bit about your journey through the FBI.
[00:11:44.880] - Jim Gagliano
Sure. Well, I started in 1991, and I think what really drew me was having been given a book entitled Donnie Brasco. It was written by an FBI agent named Joe Pastone, who back in the 70s, infiltrated the Colombo and Benato crime families and had literally been proposed to be made, I mean, the mob the first time that had ever happened. No one had gotten that high in the rank of one of the five families in New York, the Lakosa Nostril families in New York. And obviously this was the subject of a movie years later with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. But I was enthralled by reading that. And I'm like, I want to do that. Like, I want to work undercover and I want to be on the street, and I want to do those kinds of things. I think for those that might be inclined or predisposed to go into law enforcement, there's so many areas that you can go into, as you just pointed out, as well. Think about it this way. There are probably some 7000 to 8000 law enforcement officers across the united states, a country of 327,000,000 people, and it's like less than one half of one half of 1% are folks that decide to go into field of law enforcement.
[00:12:48.190] - Jim Gagliano
Now, I'd love to say that I knew the FBI was the place that I wanted to go, and that was going to be the place where I was going to find whatever success I found. But I didn't do it that way. I applied to the NYPD, I applied to ATF, I applied to DEA, I applied to the marshall service. And it happened to work out that the FBI was the first one that I got through the process. And there was a position I spent 25 years and I say it's the old jack of all trade, master of none. I tell people that all the time because I looked at my FBI career the same way I did a military career, and I only spent four years in the army. I left as a first lieutenant promotable. I was just about to become a captain. But the military moves people around every three to four years. The FBI used to do that, and they don't anymore. And I know part of it is budgetary, because moving people costs money. And also you've got a way, do I want somebody to have a lot of experience in this particular area, in this particular community, and work in this particular violation, or do I want to move people around to give them more expertise, that kind of thing?
[00:13:43.410] - Jim Gagliano
Well, in the FBI, I worked on an organized crime squad on the john gotti squad, the gambino crime family squad in queens, and then I worked on a columbian cocaine squad, also out in queens. Then I went undercover. Then I tried out for the new york office SWAT team and served on that. Then I tried out for the FBI's hostage rescue team and got sent down to quantico and spent four years doing that. Then I came back. Obviously, 911 happened. That kind of changed everything. The FBI evolved. I think everything related to law enforcement evolved. And then I went into the supervisory ranks, and then I went into the crisis response ranks as a crisis management coordinator for new york city. Then I took over my first office, a satellite office out of new york city, which was up in a place called ghosh in new york, not far from where I am right now, in middletown. Well, it's right next to middletown.
[00:14:28.030] - Steve Morreale
Yes, I know where it Is.
[00:14:29.880] - Steve Morreale
And then I set up a Safe Streets Task Force where I had one of everything. It was like Noah's Ark. I had a DEA agent. I had a Marshal's service agent. I had somebody from DOCs. I had somebody from CBP. I had somebody from BOP.
[00:14:42.040] - Steve Morreale
I had a lot of different badges. I did that in Lowell. I know the feeling.
[00:14:46.390] - Jim Gagliano
So I had about 35 or 40 guys. We went after the violent street gangs because at the time in Newburgh, New York, which was a city very close to where I am now and where I was working then, they weren't worried about al Qaeda there. That wasn't on their radar. They were worried about, are the blood's going to shoot it out with the Latin Kings? And is some two year old going to get caught in the crosshairs? And so I did that. As you pointed out, after that, the FBI wanted me to go to headquarters. I refused to do it. I did not want to go to DC. So I took a promotion as a DLAT, the deputy legal attache, GS 15 level in Mexico City. When I got there, the legal attache, an Ses, or Senior Executive Service position, he retired, which allowed me to move into that acting position. And I spent about 18 months in Mexico. And to your point earlier, working very closely, because I say all the time in Mexico, in Latin America, the DEA is the 500 pound gorilla on the block. It's not the FBI. So we closely worked on the Chapel Guzman case.
[00:15:39.880] - Jim Gagliano
He was a huge at the time and some other cases. But yeah did that. And then when I retired, as you pointed out, decided to go into academia. But I was very blessed. I was a jack of many trades. I've done a lot of different things in the FBI, but I'm a master of none of them.
[00:15:52.930] - Steve Morreale
A couple of things. You said something, and I'm curious for you to set us straight. There's a SWAT team and an HRT for the FBI. Tell me the difference between the two and their responsibility.
[00:16:02.260] - Jim Gagliano
Excellent question. So let's go back to the seminal moment, since you're going to have students listening to this. What caused SWAT in this country to become a thing? In August 1, 1966, a Vietnam vet by the name of Charles Whitman killed his mother in Texas and then took a rifle and a handgun, climbed the clock tower, university of Texas, and gunned down, I think, off the top of my head, killed either 15 or 16 coeds. And at the time, a campus police officer and a local cop were the two that went up the stairs and engaged with the shooter and essentially interdicted and neutralized him. That was a wake up call. That was and kind of use that as the seminal moment in mass shootings, if you will, and also the formation of special weapons and tactics. So the FBI really didn't get into the game until the 1970s when two FBI agents were murdered in Miami. No, that was later I stand corrected.
[00:16:59.830] - Steve Morreale
[00:17:00.390] - Steve Morreale
The American Indian Movement, Leonard Peltier killed two FBI agents, basically executed them behind their car. And the FBI then decided that they needed to get into the business of having specialized tactical teams as well. And then, as you pointed out, in April of 1986, Platt and Mattox, the two bank robbers shot it out with FBI agents, and the FBI agents were armed with six shot revolvers, five shot revolvers, and were killed by high powered rifles. And the FBI decided to move into pistols at times. So your question was, what's the difference between SWAT and the hostage rescue team? So, FBI divisions, there's 56 of them. Across the 50 states, there's 56 of major field divisions. They all have a SWAT team. In New York City, when I ran the team there, there were 45 men on the team. In a place like Columbia, South Carolina, you might have a six or nine man team. So what's the difference between that and the hostage rescue team? Well, in 1983, the federal government took a look at, obviously, what had happened in Munich in 1072, where the Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists. And Germany, at the time did not have any tactical response either.
[00:18:05.740] - Jim Gagliano
In fact, after World War II, they were limited in what they could put together in the paramilitary realm, and they realized they needed to come up with a better unit for that, and they came up with GSG Nine. Well, every country now has a special operations team, but the problem is, in the United States, the problem or the benefit is a thing called Pasi Kamatatas, which means the military cannot perform law enforcement duties. So we had the Olympics coming up in 1984 in La. And so the Department of justice took a look at this and said, we can't use Seal Team Six. We can't use Delta Force. We can't use the Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon. We can't use these folks. If anything, God forbid, happens at the 84 Olympics, what should we do? And that was the genesis, the impetus behind the formation of the hostage rescue team. The deal was a tier one asset that could do hostage rescue and had explosive breaching capabilities, could fast rope, could parachute, could do all the things that the British Special Air Service could do, but was not a military unit.
[00:19:08.760] - Steve Morreale
[00:19:09.100] - Jim Gagliano
FBI agents can become SWAT operators in their respective field division. They try out for the team. It's usually a one week or two week selection. You want to get on HRT, there's only 52 operators there. Every year, the team has a try out. People that want to try out go down. It's a two week selection process. If they're lucky enough to make the team, they get assigned to HRT.
[00:19:28.830] - Steve Morreale
Thank you. Thank you. That's very, very informative, I have to say. So the FBI has had criticism in the past, and one of the things, even with 911 and the 911 commission report and the compartmentalization of information, the lack of sharing, all of those kinds of things. I think we have taken some quantum leaps to try to reach that gap and begin to become more what do I want to say?
[00:19:54.000] - Jim Gagliano
[00:19:54.750] - Steve Morreale
Collaborative is the word. I have the word relationship there with other agencies and bring them in. You've got JTTFs throughout the country. What kinds of friction were you watching, at least from your vantage point, that caused that and began to undo it?
[00:20:10.330] - Jim Gagliano
Okay, so let's look at the history of the FBI. The FBI was formed in 1924. A 29 year old by the name of J. Edgar Hoover took over what was then the Bureau of Investigation, became the Department of Investigation, and then became the Federal Bureau of Investigation. J. Edgar Hoover led the agency for 48 years across eight different presidents, from Calvin Coolidge all the way to Richard M. Nixon. When Hoover died in 1972, congress rightly decided that they needed to put a term limit on FBI directors. They wanted it to be able to overlap any presidential administration, so they capped it at ten years. In the history of the FBI, 114 years, there have only been eight Senate confirmed directors. I served under four of them. That's how interesting it is. And because Jed Jaw was there for a half a century. Okay, so as you moved into the realm of the FBI, and the FBI did some amazing things. I mean, Hoover's thing was, I want college educated men. I want them to go out there and have a level of maturity that you might not have in a police officer that you hire right out of high school.
[00:21:17.970] - Jim Gagliano
They don't have the life experiences. They don't have a four year degree. And in those days, when Hoover was around, you had to be an accountant or an attorney. So people that came in the FBI were in their mid 30s. They weren't hired at 19, 2021 years old. All right? All the stuff you see in the movie, the FBI guy rolls in. He's got the pinstripe suit on. He's got the fedora, he's got the wing tips. He's really stiff. He walks in, you've got all the experienced cops that are there. It's a crime scene. And the FBI guy goes, all right, guys, beat it. We'll take it from here. Don't call us. We'll call you. A lot of that stuff wasn't just urban legend. A lot of that stuff was true. The FBI was not collaborative. The word that we just used as far as being integral, especially in post 911 America, integral in solving crime. 911 was another seminal moment for the FBI. Certainly it was a seminal moment for everybody. But I think it forced us to become more of a sharing agency, an intelligence driven agency. And I think it repaired a lot of the fractures and fissures in the relationship between local cops and FBI agents.
[00:22:19.980] - Jim Gagliano
We've come a long way. It's not perfect. You pointed out that it even happened at the upper echelons of the federal government because the CIA and the FBI didn't connect the dots. When you had 19 terrorists that all wanted to take flying lessons in the United States, they didn't care about taking off or landing. All they wanted to know was how do I keep this plane in the air? And it didn't set off any bells and whistles with the CIA that had a lot of these guys on their Terra watch list. And because we had those walls and you correctly used the term, they are silos, they are compartmentalized. I think we've come a long way. I think we've still got a long way to go, but I think we're much better than we used to be, Steve.
[00:22:58.420] - Steve Morreale
You know, one of the things I talk about and I've experienced is what I call jurisdictional vanity. That we're the FBI, we're the DEA, we're the state police, you are just the local police, those kinds of things. And that irritates people for sure. But I think that when we get rid of that jurisdictional vanity, in other words, we solve this. We don't need you, we'll have you in the background, but we're going to make the announcement and we're not even going to say who it is. I think that's come a long way too, because that friction between agencies is what can break cost some breakdown. If you think about Uvaldi, who was in charge, that is a case study in the future for us as to who was supposed to take the lead there and so many people died. But I also think that one of the reasons that the FBI gets a bad rap at times is because they are responsible for civil rights violations, investigations, many of which will cause them to walk in and basically make judgments on what a police department or police officers did. And that causes friction because that's a responsibility that they themselves have.
[00:23:57.480] - Jim Gagliano
Yeah, and one of the things, I mean, I think you put enough feathers in my cap and I think I've done enough selfaggrandizing and talking about my career and how important I am. But one of the things I am supremely proud of is I sit on the board of directors for the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, the LELDF, and I'm going to use your show to make a shameless plug here. Because it is an organization that is designed to protect and defend and provide resources to police officers, law enforcement officers who are unjustly accused of crimes. Now, you can go to policedefense.org and you can look up the background. It was an organization that was begun by former Attorney General Edwin Meese. And you can take a look at a number of the people that are on the board of Directors, of which I am one. And what our job is, is to take a look. At particular cases. And I'll give you an example. Derek Chauvin is the guy who pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day of 2020 and was convicted of murder for that and is serving time right now in prison for that.
[00:24:59.620] - Jim Gagliano
That's not a case that the law enforcement Legal Defense Fund would take. But a police officer down in Atlanta was accused of murdering a man who took his Taser and fired at him. And the police officer used deadly force. He was fired from the Atlanta Police Department. He was a victim of the anticop hysteria and lost his job and was facing murder charges. Now, the DA down there has finally seemed fit to dismiss those charges, but the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund defended and would continue to defend that person. So talk about the FBI doing civil rights cases. Yes, we are charged with looking at public corruption and looking at police brutality. What I will argue, as a doctoral candidate in his dissertation phase, who is writing a dissertation related to a study of the NYPD, the oldest and largest police force in the United States, they've been around since the 17 hundreds, and they have 360 cops. Think about it this way. The FBI only has 12,000 agents, one in three. And we cover the Globe and the NYPD in a city of eight 4 million people, the five boroughs has 360 cops. I am studying their use of fatal force.
[00:26:07.750] - Jim Gagliano
And I will tell you this as somebody who worked undercover against corrupt police officers, but who is a fierce defender of police officers when they're doing their job. In doing this study, this determination on fatal use of police force and officer involved shootings from 2000 to 2020, the NYPD, a majority minority department, is one of the most restrained police departments in the world. You'd never know that by watching the news. You'd never know that by how the false narrative and the promotion of tropes and columns can be pushed by people who are, quoteunquote, activists. But it is the truth. And that's something that I'm committed to doing now, is to looking at finding ways to defend police officers for doing their job. As you well know, it's a tough damn job.
[00:26:50.430] - Steve Morreale
[00:26:50.890] - Jim Gagliano
And we are losing police officers, potential candidates who look at the climate right now and say, there's no way in hell I want to be a part of that. Officers are retiring in droves, so recruitment and retention has become a real issue. And that's something that I think we need to stand up and defend good police officers and help tip the scales a little bit back where people will look at it and say it's an honorable profession. And I don't have to worry about losing my not just my life because it's a dangerous profession, but the things that I could potentially be accused of for just doing my job.
[00:27:21.390] - Steve Morreale
We're talking to Jim Gagliano, and he is in New York right now, retired FBI agent, the mayor of a small hamlet or village on the Hudson. And I like what you're saying. So if I bring it back to your doctoral study, it's about research, but it's about asking questions and seeking to find the answer to those questions and provide evidence. And it sounds like you're moving in that direction to say, look, it's not as bad as you may think. I suppose there are a few, but I just can't believe that there are having been in the profession for a long, long, long time, that there are people who get up and say, I want to kill somebody today who carry a badge and a gun. I suppose there's a few out there, but I certainly don't believe that that is the vast majority. And I think also, Jim, the whole idea of duty to intervene and the fact that some people in Minneapolis were standing by and didn't do anything and there was a power differential, one was an FTO and others were young officers and didn't necessarily want to push that senior officer. But I honestly believe that one of the things that we have to talk about in policing is that when you're engaged in something where you've chased somebody, somebody's bitten you, somebody's spit at you, somebody's led you on a car chase, somebody's turned around and tried to kick you in the hoopsies, you're pretty ramped up.
[00:28:34.120] - Steve Morreale
And if there's a second or third person in, we have to recognize you're emotional about what just happened. Let me slap you and back you off. And I'll take this where I'm coming in to stop it from happening, not for acting on your emotions because someone just tried to hurt you or maybe even pull a gun on you. And I'm seeing you shake your head. Tell me what you think when I say that.
[00:28:54.490] - Jim Gagliano
First of all, I think when the question becomes when a cop makes a mistake, it can have consequential terminations. Meaning police officers, law enforcement officers are armed instruments of the state. Now, that's an important distinction. Armed instruments of the state. They have the right to deprive you of your liberty by apprehending you and bringing you to justice. They have the right to take a life. Now, in order to do that, there are rules of the road. You can't just go out to your point and just shoot somebody indiscriminately. I don't like the way that they did this. I don't like the way they did that or they resisted arrest. The important thing. And I think what you are getting at was de-escalation. And I get that, and it's become a buzzword right now in the community and in the profession in regards to how do you ramp somebody down when they are hyped up, when they're on drugs, when they're on a bender, when they're fearing that they're going to go to jail for the rest of their life? And so all bets are all. Well, that's your job as a law enforcement officer.
[00:29:54.190] - Jim Gagliano
Whatever level of force is applied against you, you're allowed to go one level above that. Not two, not three, not four. Now, what do I mean by levels? Well, a stern rebuke or a talking to is a level. The next thing might be putting your hands on somebody. The next thing might be using a pressure point or possibly using a collapsible baton. The next thing could be pepper spray. The next thing could be an electric mesh blanket. And the next thing could be a taser last. And there's no coming back from this is the fatal use of force. And that is something that should be a last resort. But I don't want police officers going into things fearful that the scrutiny, the unfair scrutiny of them is going to be such that they potentially put themselves in even more dangerous predicaments because they are afraid to apply fatal force if it is deserved. And I'll wrap this up by saying, Steve, you started this off by talking about my research and your question. My question is, do racial disparities exist in the use of fatal force in the NYPD? And that boils it down to that's.
[00:30:56.460] - Jim Gagliano
My question yes or no? Do they exist? Yes. Show the evidence. Do they not exist? No. Show the evidence. And so that's essentially what I'm seeking to do.
[00:31:05.670] - Steve Morreale
Yeah. Let the data tell the story. And I understand that, you know, soft skills are so important in policing, and I'm so glad to be able to talk about this, but police training but it also strikes me as this, look, I'm going back in history, but here I was an MP, and I trained on a Cold 45, for goodness sakes. And then I come to a police department. And now in the police department, I train with my weapon maybe three times a year. That's it. Three times a year I come to the DEA and I train every couple of months, and they give me unlimited ammunition to go and shoot on my own because that weapon is so important to be able to master, as you know, in the military. And it's troubling to me that there is so much funding issues, forgetting the defunding call, but there's so many funding issues in policing. We really don't put a lot of money unless it's a major department, we don't put a lot of money into public safety. And as you know it as a mayor, I know it as a former town official. But it troubles me that some police departments will accept that we can't afford to send you to the range but once a year with that weapon.
[00:32:04.150] - Steve Morreale
And that's troubling to me. So as a town official, how would you argue that I want my officers who carry that weapon as an agent of the state to be much more proficient than they are now?
[00:32:17.470] - Jim Gagliano
Well, that's another great question, and I'll put it to you like this. We've been talking about the NYPD. There's 360 police officers in the NYPD. The NYPD had a 7 billion with a b billion dollar budget before the city Council irrationally reduced them by a billion dollars. They're quote, unquote, reimagining policing. And they're taking money away from a very restrained police department that has done a great job in turning the city around from the bad old days of the so. I have a small police department of 13 officers, three full-time and ten part-time officers, and the budget can be anywhere between 200 and $300,000 a year, $400,000 at the top end for departments that are the size of the one that I'm not the chief, but the one that I oversee is the chief executive. It does come down to resources. Now, I'll say this. You have a right as a chief executive or as a council, because where I'm the mayor, I have one vote on the council, five members on the council. The mayor's vote is no more important or no less important than any of the other four members. However, I set the agenda, and that's important.
[00:33:22.740] - Jim Gagliano
And what do I mean by that? Well, resource allocation, putting the budget together, concurring with or differing with department head that wants more money for this or less money than this. Yeah. You pointed out that in the FBI, we do quarterly, as I know the DEA does as well, firearms training. Our police department does it twice a year. Some police departments do it once a year.
[00:33:43.090] - Steve Morreale
Right. That's my point.
[00:33:44.250] - Jim Gagliano
Right now, with supply chain issues and things like that and everything, with inflation, some departments can't even afford the bullets to shoot to do their training. It's priorities. And I'll give you one last example I'll get off. This one is, you know, when I became the mayor, about a year and a half ago, one of the things that I immediately said was going to happen on day one, and it did was I was going to require my police department to be outfitted with body worn cameras. Now, studies have been done, namely down in New York City, that show that body-worn cameras exonerate far more cops than they indict. Look, the bad cops, the ones that have busted, the ones that cameras bust for doing the wrong thing, god bless the cameras. And that's a good thing, but it's an infinitesimal amount of range. The good thing is, is that in far more instances, it results in a reduction in CCRB complaints, civilian complaint, review Board complaints, because somebody comes in and says, he grabbed me by the neck and he called me a nasty so and so. Really? Let's go to the camera. Well, I'm sorry, ma'am, he said, have a nice day, and here's your license back.
[00:34:42.120] - Jim Gagliano
That's not exactly what you said. And then the complaint goes away. So I know I kind of hijacked that from talking about budgets, but I was looking at it from priorities, put money into where your priorities are.
[00:34:51.850] - Steve Morreale
I think what you did, too, and I think it's extremely important, the value of body worn cameras. And I truly believe that this country is going to an absolute requirement eventually for all police departments. Where that money is going to come from, that's for politicians to figure out. But I do think you're exactly right. And I think if you go back in history, so many people were against wearing them, but those who wear them now see that it may modify your behavior a little bit, because I know I'm going to be on tape, but more importantly, that I have evidence that will exonerate you, as you said. And I know people who are working on that with New York. And first of all, I think about this. The ACLU wanted it. Now they don't because it's actually causing some problems. It's causing more problems for the civilians who are making false assertions than for the police who are doing their job. So we need to wind down, and I want to ask a couple of questions. You'll have the last word, Jim, but where do we have to work to repair the trust issues in policing?
[00:35:46.000] - Jim Gagliano
Man, you talk about an esoteric question that there might not be one definitive answer for. In fact, there isn't. There's a lot of I think part of it goes back to building that trust between law enforcement officers and the communities that they're supposed to protect and serve. And I'll use as an example. And you know what? I'll make another shameless plug. Back in 2011 or 2012, I think it was 2011, new York magazine came in to do a study on why Newburgh, New York, a city that I was the FBI chief over. It was in Orange County. One of the three counties I had was a Veritable gang, Bloodbath, and that this tiny city of 290 people was the murder capital of New York State. Not the South Bronx, not Washington Heights, not Jamaica, Queens, not Brownsville, Brooklyn, not bedstyle, but Newburgh New York. What they found out when they came in, they wanted to do this deep dive into Newburgh and what the problems were. And you can talk about joblessness and the vast majority of folks who live in the inner city. There exists somewhere around the poverty line. There's all kinds of things that can contribute to the socioeconomic problem.
[00:36:51.040] - Jim Gagliano
But when it came to the policing piece, we did a number of Takedowns major federal task force, Safe Streets task force takedowns. And I think what surprised the writer the most was the fact that the people there were not up in arms about what I was doing. I had been a coach at the Boys and Girls Club on Liberty Street at the heart of the Blood Territory street gang. The Blood for years, and I knew many of the kids and I knew some of the gangbang. And look, I didn't cut them any slack if they were out shooting people or extorting people or selling poison. But the bottom line was I'll wrap it up by saying I had traction in the community. So the people that worked for me, the community by default, tended to trust. Now, look, that doesn't mean that everybody agreed. That doesn't mean that some people weren't upset about it. That doesn't mean some people didn't accuse me of getting to know the kids for 15 or 20 years so that I could arrest them later because that was my long term plan. But the bottom line is it's traction. And I'm not suggesting that a cop has to live in the community that they protect and serve, but damn, it does help.
[00:37:53.140] - Jim Gagliano
And when police are involved in those communities, even if they volunteer there, but they get to know the people, it can have a lasting impact on that relationship. And then when enforcement action has to take place, the automatic default isn't, hey, we have an occupying army here that's coming in like fascists and bringing the boot down on regular people just trying to get ahead.
[00:38:13.060] - Steve Morreale
Well, what I'm hearing you say, and I truly espouse the fact, that policing is about people. And policing is about relationships. And relationships, good relationships earn trust. And so it's almost like a trust bank that you've heard before that people didn't give you a hard time because they knew you were doing it for the right thing. You were engaging local police officers in your task force to make that happen. So we've been talking to - - - go ahead.
[00:38:33.790] - Jim Gagliano
And I know we're running up against let me just interject and add one thing to that. You just nailed it. Policing, more than anything else, is communication. It's how you talk to people. Now, that doesn't mean that you put up with garbage from people, but it's how you talk to people and how you connect with them. When I go and I talk to young kids about being a cop, I talk to young kids, the first thing they want to know is how many people have you shot? When did you use your gun?
[00:38:54.940] - Steve Morreale
[00:38:55.270] - Jim Gagliano
And I say to them, that these two things. And I'm grabbing my ears because people are listening to this and this. And I'm pointing to my mouth, my ears, my eyes, my mouth. Being able to communicate with people and convey messages to people were far more important for me and my job in getting to success, what success looked like, which was keeping the community safe and hopefully even for the bad element, being able to take them out of the community without loss of life on either side. Communication, to your point, is probably the most essential skill for a police officer.
[00:39:25.080] - Steve Morreale
Well, so I'll leave with this. Listening is the most important thing I think we learned that in FBI and DEA much more than when I was on patrol. When I say, may I see your license or registration? I don't want to listen to you on your crap, lady. But I think you have to realize that when you're sitting and talking to somebody, they do not have a relationship with the police department, and they need to vent no more than you and I need to vent. When we're going and we're sitting at a restaurant and we've been ignored and we're going to pay good money and we want to talk to the manager to say, hey, I'm not happy right now. I'm hoping you can make me happy. And when somebody says, I hear you, how can you hear me? You didn't let me finish talking. So I think if we use that lesson to say, let people vent, let people talk, what's the old adage? Seek first to understand and then be understood the old Covey principle. And I think that's very important. I've had a great time talking with you, Jimmy. Bring an awful lot to the table.
[00:40:14.260] - Steve Morreale
I'm not sure you're a thought leader, but you're beginning to convince me that you have many, many thoughts that have great value. So I want to thank you very much for joining us, and I wish you the best in your doctoral program and in the classroom. We're getting back to classes next week. You have the last word. Young people who might be interested in policing, how do you convince them to at least consider.
[00:40:30.150] - Jim Gagliano
You know, everything, the pendulum swings and everything tends to ultimately course correct. So the country sometimes goes too far in one direction, and then it automatically course corrects in the other direction before it kind of settles down in the middle or on the fulcrum, where it really should tend to be, whether it's politics, whether it's a profession like policing. So I would tell people that if they're interested in it, these are tough times to be a police officer. There's no doubt about it. It is an eminently rewarding profession. I understand that the scrutiny now and sometimes the unfair scrutiny is anathema. It tends to force people not to consider this as a profession, but it's one of those kind of things where one of the places you can really make a difference. And for people that have that in them, that they want to make a difference, as you pointed out earlier, Steve, nobody joins the ranks to become a cop. I want to go kill people or I want to go and be a bully. I would just say what they're doing now by studying, by learning, by listening to your point is a good thing.
[00:41:30.730] - Jim Gagliano
And if it's something that they consider a year or two from now, being educated is a great way to put yourself in a position to join the DEA or to join the FBI and to be in a great profession.
[00:41:40.840] - Steve Morreale
Terrific. All right, well, that's another episode in the can. This is Steve Morreale from Boston. You've been listening to the copdoc podcast, and we've been talking to Jim Gagliano in New York. And I appreciate everything you have to offer, and I hope to have you back.
[00:41:53.280] - Jim Gagliano
Absolutely. I appreciate you having me on, Steve, and I'd love to return.
[00:41:56.050] - Jim Gagliano
Thanks a bunch.
[00:41:58.160] - Outro
Thanks for listening to The CopDdoc podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.