Steve Gould is a sergeant with the Leverett, MA Police Department. A Massachusetts native, he served as a Conservation Officer on Cape Cod, then spent 10 years as a full-time police officer in Eastham, Police Department on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
In a leap of faith, he packed up his family and belongings to travel to the west coast, landing a job as a civilian police background investigator with the City of Los Angeles, focused on conducting background investigations for police officers.
During his time there, he was hearing stories from LAPD veterans and got the idea to record the stories, leading to his creation and hosting of the Things Police See Podcast.
Steve returned to Massachusetts, starting back in policing in the small town of Leverett, near the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, in Western Massachusetts.
We talk about policing, differences in policing approach and culture between the east and west coast, small-town policing, police reform, and podcasting. An interesting chat, with a practitioner.
[00:00:02.690] - 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.
[00:00:31.830] - Steve Morreale
Well, Hello, everybody. another episode of The CopDoc Podcast, I'm Steve Morreale. Coming to you from Boston. And today we speak with a colleague in Western Mass. It's Steve Gould, and he is a colleague, both in policing but also a fellow podcaster. Steve hosts Things Police See, something I came upon and have come to love. He interviews guests about things that they see from all over. And so I want to say good morning to you, Steve.
[00:00:53.710] - Steve Gould
Good morning, sir. Thank you for having me on.
[00:00:55.320] - Steve Morreale
Glad to have you. So you're sitting in Western Mass. Tell the people where you are in relation to Springfield and Boston.
[00:01:02.320] - Steve Gould
So I live in the North Quabbin area, and I work just in the beginning of Western Mass. About a half an hour west of here. That's where I am. I'm a stones throw from the Quabbin, as they say, the Quabbin.
[00:01:14.880] - Steve Morreale
And, of course, you're close to, UMass, you're in a town of called Leverett. So what I want to talk about is your past and what brought you to policing. And then we'll talk a bit about podcasting. We'll talk about policing as it is. But tell us about your history. What got you into policing?
[00:01:28.380] - Steve Gould
I was born and raised on the Cape, and my father was a police officer for 32 years. Retired Lieutenant at the end.
[00:01:34.270] - Steve Morreale
And where was he?
[00:01:35.050] - Steve Gould
He was in Orleans.
[00:01:35.920] - Steve Morreale
I got you.
[00:01:36.380] - Speaker 2
He was Orleans on Lower Capes. So about 45 minutes over the bridge. And I grew up. I was the kid first of all, that wanted a cap gun. When I was three, I wanted a BB gun. When I was seven, I was watching Westerns. I very much loved the idea of police officers and getting the bad guy. Nothing was better to me than to have my dad come home for supper in uniform. Every time he came home, I would ask him if I could see his gun.
[00:02:05.120] - Steve Gould
Probably every 100th time. He'd be like, all right, let's go in the other room. Show me his gun. You'd be like, all right. Don't ask me if you're getting for a while, but I wanted to be a police officer for ever since I was a little kid. Ever since I saw my dad doing it, it's a smaller town. And I loved how when I hop in the car with him to go to the dump on Saturday, and we do errands. And he seemed to know everything about the town.
[00:02:31.930] - Steve Gould
He knew the bad guys who to stay away from what happened over here. People will come up and randomly thank him. When we were in true value, buying something for his garden. The whole picture of it to me was like, he really was like a man around town. He was helping people out there. And I was seeing, of course, I wasn't seeing any of the horrible things he had to deal with. I was just seeing people being the reaction.
[00:02:59.680] - Steve Morreale
The reaction from the community.
[00:03:01.440] - Steve Gould
Right. Exactly. And it was very probably unlike what a lot of people see policing as because it's not city policing. It's not big city stuff. It's small town. And that really stuck with me. And I've always wanted to work for a town and be kind of a community caretaker type of thing. I never even applied to be like a statie or I never applied to a big agency. If I was going to be a cop, and I did stray from it for a few years, it was going to be for a small town.
[00:03:35.310] - Steve Gould
So I kind of knew.
[00:03:36.290] - Steve Morreale
So you went to school?
[00:03:39.490] - Steve Gould
No. Believe it or not, I go to College and I'm going to be a CJ major, and my dad pulls me aside and he goes, please, anything but, yes, anything but CJ. You can still be a cop without CJ.
[00:03:52.820] - Steve Gould
Yes. He said, you can be a cop with a high school diploma. He goes, Why don't you get a degree in business or computers? Because I was always techie. I always loved computers. He said you could fall back on that if you don't like being a cop, because he knew very well the lifestyle and you never know if you're going to like it. So I ended up getting a four year Bachelor's of science and computer information systems.
[00:04:15.400] - Steve Morreale
[00:04:15.940] - Steve Gould
With the concentration in business. Totally. And then I graduated and went right into law enforcement pretty much. And then I kind of wished I had the CJ degree because of the Quinn bill, you get that extra pay? Yeah.
[00:04:32.990] - Steve Morreale
Well, I understand that. But I also think when we talk about Quinn bill, and certainly, you know that I'm the chair of the criminal Justice Department at Worcester State University, and the Quinn bill is coming. And if you hadn't been and it would have counted for you. But it always stymied me why we were pigeonholing people into a CJ degree for police only because CIS extremely important to police departments, especially now. And you know that because what are you looking at? Let me see what's in your phone.
[00:05:06.890] - Steve Morreale
Let me go behind the scenes. Who sent that social media?
[00:05:11.270] - Steve Gould
[00:05:11.960] - Steve Morreale
Piece and see if we can string it. It's extremely important to know that. But I think in some ways, the Commonwealth and it's not just the Commonwealth has been a bit short-sighted with that. And that's hard to do. So you end up applying to a police department or police agency. And where did you start?
[00:05:28.550] - Steve Gould
Believe it or not, I started as a natural resource officer. So on Cape Cod, I mean, everybody is familiar with what a game warden is. But on Cape Cod, the communities, some of them choose to have natural resource officers because of just the diversity of what's going on there. There's fresh water, there's saltwater, there's shellfish, there's lobster, there's finfish. There's a lot that needs to be managed. And also there's lots of conservation land. So some towns on the Cape create this position called the Natural resource Officer.
[00:06:02.950] - Steve Gould
It's not state. It's a local, and you go to town hall. And, Steve, you literally raise your hand to conservation officer. Natural resource officer, police officer, Shellfish Constable, assistant Harbormaster. I think it was five and maybe animal control. So you get five or six designations in this conglomerate makes the natural resource officer. And all they required was the intermittent police Academy. So we go to Intermittent Police Academy. You get sworn and all those things. But it's full time. We carried sidearms badges, uniforms and a truck.
[00:06:42.790] - Steve Gould
Big green truck with blue lights. And I did that for four years. And for a kid out of College, I was a marine guy for the town of Yarmouth, so I was in on hiring the summer guys to run the patrol boats. We did the conservation lands. It was a really dynamic and very cool job for a young guy to have the Department still going. They're still sworn they're still doing a bunch of great guys there. But it can be contentious because it is a bit strange to people to grasp the idea that there's another agency with police authority and guns.
[00:07:27.650] - Steve Morreale
I have to say so whether it's shellfish or it's lobstering illegally, those kinds of things are fishing illegally.
[00:07:34.610] - Steve Morreale
All of those kinds of things carry a pretty hefty fine. They don't mess around with natural resources, do they?
[00:07:41.050] - Steve Gould
No. They make it easy. Chapter 90 B has a ton of waterways stuff in it, and it's all arrestable, warrantless arrest. So they don't mess around because I think probably in the spirit of game wardens usually working alone. So that means if you don't have a whistle on your 16-foot skiff, you don't have a bailer, that's arrestable, which I always thought was hilarious.
[00:08:05.130] - Steve Morreale
I don't think he made a lot of arrests for that, though.
[00:08:07.330] - Steve Gould
No zero. But I always wonder what the judge would say if you put them up there. The guy didn't have a life jacket. Your rest.
[00:08:12.750] - Steve Morreale
He was missing his whistle. What was my choice, your Honor, we were on a boat. I understand that's crazy. So what happened after that? So four years, then what happened?
[00:08:23.890] - Steve Gould
I did four years of that. And as I got older, I bought a house on the Cape, and it just was tough to make ends meet. There wasn't a lot of detail working that job. So I started kind of looking at just being a straight up cop, just going to full time police Academy. And I kind of put my feelers out for that. I knew obviously new guys that were cops. I was already in that world kind of because I was doing the natural resource thing, and I ended up becoming a full time patrolman in East Ham, where I spent ten years.
[00:08:59.940] - Steve Gould
And I went to the full time Academy. And just a great ten years. It was a great Department to work for. There's a lot of change there when I was there. And those Cape towns are crazy, man. It's like the town could go from 5500 people to 35,000 in the summer because of the kind of removing or backing out of reserves. You really didn't have any more cops. So you go from your population could quadruple or more. And you still just have 15-16 guys.
[00:09:38.190] - Steve Morreale
That's actually in a small department. That's not a bad size. The Cape coming from Buzzards Bay all the way to Provincetown, and you have upper Cape, mid Cape and Lower Cape. And so you were home in Orleans. So you knew the Cape. The only time you had gone away was to college. Is that right?
[00:09:57.200] - Steve Gould
[00:09:58.630] - Steve Morreale
Okay. So what I'm curious to know is after ten years, I happen to know that you pulled the plug and you moved and you did what I think is a ballsy thing to say. Let's go to the left coast. What the hell caused that? What were you thinking?
[00:10:18.570] - Steve Gould
It sounded like every one of my family members before I left. I don't know if I want to say existential crisis. That might be a little strong or midlife crisis. I was only 35, 36, but my wife and I were both born and raised here, spend our whole lives here, and we would often talk on the couch and the kids are in bed or our kid at the time was in bed. And we'd say, what if we lived somewhere else? What if we tried? We never been to the West Coast before it looks.
[00:10:52.700] - Steve Gould
It's a whole different thing out there. You know, it's like we just got in our minds that we were like we were robbing ourselves of seeing some things and life experience. And it wasn't like a rash decision. It went on for a couple of years and built to a head. And finally, I was like, we have enough saved up and we could rent our house in the Cape, like, lickety split.
[00:11:21.640] - Steve Morreale
[00:11:22.440] - Steve Gould
We really could make a run at this. My plan was I'll leave my money in the retirement system so we can come back. But let's get on a plane and go out. Let's go out and visit a friend of ours in Los Angeles, Southern California, and see what it's like out there. And this is probably 2015. So we went up there. We loved it. It's incredible up there. The geography wise. It's like you have high desert. You have real desert, you have mountains and you have the beach, you have everything within an hour or two.
[00:12:02.100] - Steve Gould
And we just said, yeah, we're going to do it. I mean, people were floored because it was written in stone that I was going to do my 30 years here in the Cape as a cop, retire and happily ever after. And we started telling people our plan. And it was like people were shocked. They were like, you’re going to do what out of your mind. Like, what are you going to do for health insurance? What if this happens? What if that happens?
[00:12:30.840] - Steve Morreale
Well, because you were going out there without any job yet.
[00:12:35.050] - Steve Gould
Nothing. Yeah. So I applied six months before we left, I applied to Los Angeles Police Department to the personnel division who runs backgrounds. So to be a background investigator because I looked at Ice job, searched out there, and I said, Geez, I read the requirements. I said, I could do that job. It's not crazy. It's civilian. I don't have to go. I have to worry about transferring my Academy or going to their Academy. I could just do this job. And I applied. Never heard a word. I didn't hear anything until we ended up renting our house.
[00:13:16.890] - Steve Gould
And we took a big old fifth wheel camper. US and our two kids at the time. And we headed out there and about halfway across the country, I got a call from backgrounds and they said, Are you still interested in this job?
[00:13:31.350] - Steve Morreale
Yeah, I'm on my way, actually.
[00:13:33.020] - Steve Gould
Absolutely. I am. I'm thinking in my head, Steve. I'm like, I don't want to tell them what I'm doing because they might think I'm nuts. You know what I mean? Like you did what, yeah.
[00:13:41.840] - Steve Morreale
We may have to do a background really on you. You nut.
[00:13:44.530] - Steve Gould
Exactly what's wrong with this guy?
[00:13:45.760] - Steve Morreale
[00:13:46.520] - Steve Gould
So I told him, absolutely. So we land in LA. We're living in San Dimas. I don't know if you remember that from Bill and Ted's. Excellent adventure.
[00:13:54.250] - Steve Gould
But San Dimas.
[00:13:55.620] - Steve Gould
We're in a beautiful campground. You wake up in the morning, there's snow covered mountains, but it's 65 70 deg where you are. It's beautiful. And we lived there for a while, and I ended up we were only there a couple of months. And I got a call from LAPD for an interview to come in. And I couldn't believe it because I was getting nervous.
[00:14:18.870] - Steve Morreale
So you're without for a little while, they had said, Are you interested? But that wasn't the job offer at the time.
[00:14:24.730] - Steve Gould
[00:14:24.730] - Steve Morreale
[00:14:25.570] - Steve Gould
I mean, we really had to work up to this leap of faith. We're going to jump and hope that we're provided for it type of thing. And we're paying for everything out of savings. And also I had health insurance, but it was under Cobra. So basically, we found out that you can get Cobra up to six months after you leave your job. You don't even have to get it. You can just go. And then if an event happens, you can put in for it. All you got to do is back, pay your premiums you would have owed, and they'll pay for it.
[00:15:05.110] - Steve Morreale
Another leap of faith, Steve. And by the way, we're talking to Steve Gould, and Steve is a Leverett police officer now Leverett, Massachusetts. And more importantly, maybe it's not more importantly, but as importantly, he is the host and creator of Things Police Podcast. And Steve was very instrumental in helping me. As I heard what he was doing, and I was getting started here. So I've been a guest on his show, and I asked him to be a guest here. Finally, a few months later, you're in California, and you've got the opportunity to be a background investigator, right?
[00:15:41.080] - Steve Gould
[00:15:41.810] - Steve Morreale
Okay. Who were you doing? Background investigations for only for the Los Angeles Police.
[00:15:49.710] - Steve Gould
Yes. There's backgrounds is broken up into police and fire. I was put on the police side, and we would do police officers, lax police officers and the occasional Park Ranger for the city. That's who we did them on fire. Backgrounds were a little less intensive because they're not post. So some guys would occasionally do a fire one, too. But it was kind of a different procedure. So if you were police, you're a police. If you were fire or fire, some guys would cross over because they kind of knew both sides.
[00:16:28.290] - Steve Morreale
Well, it must have been beneficial. Well, I know it was beneficial for them to have somebody who had already done law enforcement for 13 or 14 years in Massachusetts. But I suppose as you moved out, East Coast and West Coast are completely different, as you know, in terms of their policing, philosophies and such, I learned that you learned pretty quick, I'm sure. But it certainly seems to me that you made a living. You found out I want to kind of condense this and go back to backgrounds for a moment. But you stayed doing that kind of work for how long?
[00:17:02.610] - Steve Gould
I did backgrounds for two years.
[00:17:04.370] - Steve Morreale
[00:17:04.730] - Steve Gould
Just under two years.
[00:17:05.760] - Steve Morreale
So you're out there in California, you get itchy to come home. I presume. But I also know that during that period of time, someone was suggesting what turned out to be the podcast. Talk about that.
[00:17:18.990] - Steve Gould
Yeah. So total time in California was about four years. But at the two-year mark, the thing about backgrounds is I'm working with Legends of LAPD. Like, I'm not exaggerating these guys. Robbery homicide, guys, two deaths down for me, was a managing supervisor of the OJ Simpson trial. And guys, I'm seriously working with guys that have been five, six, seven shootings. They've solved quadruple homicides. So lunchtime for me was like.
[00:17:53.570] - Steve Gould
I'm just like, your eyes are wide open. I have the benefit of watching you on video.
[00:17:59.030] - Steve Gould
But I'm just listening to these stories. And some of these guys have stories from LAPD from the late 60s and 70s.
[00:18:08.100] - Steve Morreale
Like listening to Joseph Wambaugh and The Choir Boys and the writer that he was right. Just crazy stuff, right?
[00:18:14.620] - Steve Gould
Just insane. And I'm thinking and at this time it was really starting to heat up the anti-police rhetoric. And I thought to myself, listening to these guys, man, being a fan of podcast myself, knowing how influential and powerful they are, you can just binge listen to them and taking the train into work thinking, Geez, if someone could be a fly on the wall here and hear what these and been through and really hear them share the stories. Not all PC, not all afraid to talk about the details, not making it all nice, but really hear how it affected them and what they saw.
[00:18:47.590] - Steve Gould
I think people would really appreciate these guys. And I think people go away saying, how did that guy go to work the next day? How do these guys keep doing this job? It's insane. So that's when that's how the podcast was born. I said and believe me, I thought about it for a few months and I was like, I was nervous to ask one of them. I'm like, I don't think these guys will talk about this, record them, even the thought of it like saying, hey, can I record a conversation with you about these war stories?
[00:19:10.210] - Steve Morreale
I thought they'd say get the hell out of here, but come to find out, some of them were open to it. And the best part is see if they're retired, so they really don't care. These guys let it rip. I mean, I have active duty people on as well who are great but love the retired guys.
[00:19:25.390] - Steve Morreale
There's no holes barred with them.
[00:19:27.050] - Steve Gould
That's it. And they tell it how it is. And everyone I spoke with more and more amazed at their stories. And these guys and gals go through it. And, you know, you've seen it all. I've had guests cry, they break down, they're reliving this horrible stuff.
[00:19:41.810] - Steve Morreale
Well, in some cases, and when we start talking about wellness and officer wellness and the question you just raised, which is a part of what we're talking about on the podcast generally, what you realize is, let me tell you, 911 is coming and it's the 20th anniversary, and I was fortunate and unfortunate enough to go to 911. Like I've told you before, I'm a little concerned about what I'll see on TV because it'll be a trigger. And when you're asking people to recall what was going on, we can start the story.
[00:20:08.960] - Steve Morreale
That's the easy part, but it opens a little bit of a can that we've closed because we don't really want to remember that. That's how we move on in my mind. And that's why you get the visceral response, which I think is interesting. So talk about things. Police. See the podcast. You're in your 80 plus, is that right? You've interviewed people tell my listeners what they will hear when they join your podcast.
[00:20:30.930] - Steve Gould
We have, I think 80 over 80 interviews now an hour or more. I don't put a time limit on it. You are a guest of mine, and by the way, you're going to love this. I pull into a DCR swimming area on duty and one of the kids yells over to me, he must have talked to other people about me. I don't know, because I got to go back and ask him. But he goes, hey, love the podcast. And I go, oh, boy, I'm like thinking about, is this good or bad?
[00:20:55.210] - Steve Gould
And he goes, I love the Morreale. And I go, Wait a second. Do you know Morreale. He goes, yeah, he was my professor,
[00:21:01.150] - Steve Morreale
Oh, for God's sake.
[00:21:02.910] - Steve Morreale
You're kidding me. No, it was great. That guy was great. I'm like that's too funny.
[00:21:08.230] - Steve Morreale
It's a small world, isn't it?
[00:21:09.490] - Speaker 2
It is. The podcast is really. I've run into other people and maybe one guy just by my voice. He says, do you have a podcast?
[00:21:16.540] - Steve Gould
You do have a booming bassy voice. I think we both do, but I think that's neat.
[00:21:21.470] - Steve Gould
It's really neat. And it was really cool that he brought you up. That was so cool. But the podcast, I kept it simple because in law enforcement, you learn how to interview and get things out of people. But that wasn't what this was. I'm interviewing in a lot of cases like Master Interrogators. So I thought to myself, podcasts I listened to that are successful, but are simple. A lot of them just have boilerplate questions they ask. And I thought, I'm just going to come up with five questions, five or six questions and ask everybody these.
[00:21:49.000] - Steve Gould
And that way, if there's a lull in conversation or whatever, I can go to the next question. And I said, It's very simple. But from every guest, I will get their first hot call. The first call, you were on duty as a young officer or agent. How did it go? How did you feel? What happened? How did you sleep that night type of thing? Then I asked about a bizarre call, like a weird and bizarre, weird call. Cops have a million of them. And I ask about their most intense or terrifying call.
[00:22:12.290] - Steve Gould
You should just say just intense. But I added terrifying, because a lot of times we are afraid that's part of being brave, you can't be courageous without fear. So I thought intense and terrifying. And then I asked about a heartwarming thing, which I'm always sure to give them these questions beforehand because I don't cops struggle with that one because they feel like they feel like nothing, even if it's heartwarming. A lot of times it comes out of a terrible thing.
[00:22:33.380] - Steve Morreale
[00:22:34.010] - Steve Gould
So sometimes they have trouble with that, but they always deliver. These guys are amazing. I have to say, I give them all credit. They are the podcast. It's their stories that people are loving. And then the last one I ask, which is way more popular than I thought it would be is advice, because there's a lot of you forget how nerve racking it is. When you're testing for an agency or you're in police Academy, you would pay anything for a little drop of knowledge from one of these vets.
[00:22:57.870] - Steve Morreale
And so experience and sharing advice with new cadets and recruits is the last question. And Jesus, people love it. That's the one that I get all the time. Don't forget to ask that question.
[00:23:08.180] - Steve Morreale
So we're talking again with Steve Gould. He is a Leveret police officer, which is out in Western Massachusetts, former background investigator for LAPD and before the natural resource officer and police officer in Eastham on the Cape of Massachusetts. He is a podcaster. We're just talking about things police see, how do you find your guests?
[00:23:24.830] - Steve Gould
At first it was just like I had said, it was just the pool of guys. I knew 1st 20 were just guys from around the office. And then when you interview people, they usually will tell you like, I know this guy likes to spin in a yarn about a war story. Like, why don't you ask him a lot of word of mouth? And when word of mouth started getting dry, I just straight up, started asking the audience, can you help me? You guys want me to keep it going?
[00:23:46.090] - Steve Gould
Do you work for an agency? Do you get a dad and uncle, a grandfather who works highway patrol in Indiana? Whatever. I don't care. From the Hays cop to New York City, people love to hear cop talk. That's what I found out. I get emails about every episode. It doesn't matter what they did. People are fascinated. Even in your little town, where there's 1000 people and you have a police Department with two cops to some people that is like a clandestine organization. What goes on in that building, you know what I mean?
[00:24:12.300] - Steve Gould
And they love to hear what these guys are doing and what they're seeing. So started word of mouth. Then I started asking. And then Daniel Jerkowitz is actually a New York cop young guy. But one of these, he's killing. He's a go getter. And he said, Steve, I'm going to hook it's. Bumpit marketing is what he does. And he actually gives huge discounts to people in law enforcement who are trying to hustle Daniel Jerkowitz. And he said, I'm going to build you a website for free.
[00:24:34.360] - Steve Gould
I'm just going to build. I said, what he's like? Yeah, I can get your email. I can get the website. I'm going to get your guest entry form. You need this. This is going to make it easier for you. And it has. Now people can just go over to the website. They can enter the guest form. A lot of people volunteer people.
[00:24:49.100] - Steve Gould
I know it's so and so.
[00:24:50.050] - Steve Gould
Yeah, exactly. Now that it's followers, it's become easier in a lot of ways. But some ways not because also people when it's word of mouth. People kind of have that trust thing with you. We're sharing kind of intimate stories here. They're not sure how big is my reach. Are they going to get in trouble? It makes it a little tough, too. So I always tell people, check with me if you're on the job, check with management. We don't want to do.
[00:25:11.270] - Steve Gould
But I also know what is a little different than many podcasts is when I'm talking to somebody, whether it is a scholar, an academic a think tank person or police chief or some high ranking official. I in the same way have to ask, would you need permission? I choose not to mask who I'm speaking to, but you do. That's not a bad thing. And I think that allows people to say, you're not using the super-secret voice changer. I know which is crazy. But you'll say here's a police officer in a Midwest city, and I think whatever it might be just a mask, which I think is really important, and it keeps the stories flowing.
[00:25:44.100] - Steve Morreale
Steve, I want to switch area of topics to talk about the fact that you were a police officer, went out to La, had the experience out there bringing it back to now Western Massachusetts, central Massachusetts, Western. You sort of on the border. And now you are one of those police officers in that small town. And so talk about that. Talk about what has changed. Talk about what you love about policing. Talk about you becoming indoctrinated in a small town. And I also understand that your agency is now policing another town.
[00:26:14.280] - Steve Morreale
So tell us a little bit about that.
[00:26:15.610] - Steve Gould
Yeah. Absolutely. I was coming back and we wanted to be in this area. We knew that we wanted to write the farm community. We wanted some land hard to do in Cape Cod, very expensive place to live. So we started coming back and I knew the chief, and we knew him through a friend. And it was a pretty easy process because of COVID and all that. We did Zoom interviews and they saw my resume and they did my background and we knew all the same mutual people.
[00:26:37.450] - Steve Gould
So I got on there and I worked for a small agency before. This is like, smaller than small. This is like very small-town stuff, and I didn't really know how I'd feel about it or how it would go, because this is like everybody I was in the newspaper, a couple of newspapers. I Googled my name when we got home before I started. And that was like a big story in the paper about me and my background and my final interview. I didn't even know it.
[00:27:01.550] - Steve Gould
But I think there was a reporter there for my final interview with people. He quoted me from my interview in the paper, and I said, oh, my goodness, these people, really. But then I go on a few calls. Are you the guy from California? Yeah.
[00:27:15.530] - Steve Morreale
[00:27:16.190] - Steve Gould
I'm like, wow, they know all about me. I had a guy my first day. I was doing a little traffic for a tree company. The guy walks across his line, comes up to me and goes, Are you the guy from California? I am. He goes, I read about you in the paper. I said, I'm here. This is the small-town USA. And I got to tell you, Steve, I like it. I like it a lot. I've already had calls. I've gotten to know people at some of the small stores that I go into for coffee and stuff and have had calls involving their family.
[00:27:38.640] - Steve Gould
But I already had built a little relationship just having a cup of Joe with them. And it was like, you can see the effectiveness of that kind of policing when you are really embedded. City policing is humanity stacked on humanity. And these guys don't LAPD. They've been doing community policing for 30 years. When I was there. They have neighborhood meetings weekly in South Central and in East La. Weekly. They have officers of the same ethnic backgrounds policing these areas, meeting with moms and dads every week, doing the shaking hands, trying to be community police officers.
[00:28:11.170] - Steve Gould
It doesn't work in the city.
[00:28:12.820] - Steve Morreale
It works in a small. Here's the problem. Steven. I know you experienced that those particular officers, they have a relationship, but they're not the ones that are showing up at the calls. And so the rest of them don't necessarily have those relationships. And that deteriorates all the hard work that you put into with community meetings. Unless I can show up later on and kind of fix things.
[00:28:35.540] - Steve Gould
[00:28:36.010] - Steve Morreale
But I can't control all of that stuff. So you're right. You lose a bit of that control and a relationship which you have been able to create where you are.
[00:28:43.090] - Steve Gould
That's exactly what it is. It's like I'm not joking. You. I've picked up the phone at the police Department and gone. I'll be right over to a domestic. My buddy joked with me, my buddy is a Detective Sergeant. He goes, Well, do you answer the 911 call, then go to the call and I go, I've done that. It wasn't a 911 call. They called the station because we have a regional dispatch. Yeah, you're right. It's your face. You being around all the time.
[00:29:02.470] - Steve Gould
It's not a captain at a community policing event, and then a patrolman comes. It's Steve Gould. I know this guy now. You probably know better than me. But I saw that article that came out a month or so ago about why Massachusetts is effective with their policing and why they have better numbers than a lot of places. And it's because of these little fictions because all these little towns have their own little police departments.
[00:29:22.750] - Steve Morreale
It's local patrol, which is why we keep them that small.
[00:29:26.610] - Steve Gould
[00:29:27.160] - Steve Morreale
I do agree. And I will tell you in many places except in rural areas, many people won't understand that necessarily in a lot of ways. Let me ask you this question, Steve.
[00:29:36.430] - Steve Morreale
So you've been back for how long?
[00:29:37.790] - Steve Gould
Been back since December 2020.
[00:29:40.960] - Steve Gould
Okay. So you've been at this for a while. What I don't think people all understand is that you've gone on many calls, but only a small amount have necessitated arrest. Is that true?
[00:29:52.680] - Steve Gould
[00:29:53.030] - Steve Morreale
So explain that. Does that mean you've used your discretion? It was not necessary. There were other ways to handle it. What goes through your mind as you're making these decisions because you have the ultimate decision.
[00:30:04.650] - Steve Gould
Yeah. I mean, officer discretion, right? So, it's a big thing. And especially with COVID, I came back to a state of policing that was kind of coming out of COVID, but still in it. And I didn't realize the courts and everybody else had said, hey, if something's arrestable or you can summon summons unless it's exigent, unless it's a domestic or yeah, there's been harm. Exactly. As long as this person doesn't need, like, an OUI, they have to come in because you have to get them off the road.
[00:30:42.520] - Steve Gould
Don't do it. So yeah, I've had suspended operators and all kinds of stuff like that where they're pretty much set up. Do the complaint, just tow the car, do the complaint. Some things we can't help. It. Like I said, like domestic or whatever. We're ordered by the court to do it. But I always try to. It's like the telling police Academy, you know, when someone gets it or when they don't like when you're making that decision to write a money ticket, say you can tell by the way they are.
[00:31:06.240] - Steve Gould
So if I pull somebody over for speeding, they're suspended. And it was for parking tickets. And they were a College student and they didn't pay their parking tickets at, UMass. And now they have the suspended license. It's like, I'm not going to rest this person. I'm going to summons them. I'll tow the car. I'm not going to let them drive. But if I get a guy who's suspended and operating and it's for child support payments, I'm going to hook that guy. This guy needs to stand in front of a judge.
[00:31:26.150] - Steve Gould
So that's kind of how I
[00:31:27.290] - Steve Morreale
Well, it's about consequences, right?
[00:31:28.870] - Steve Gould
[00:31:29.110] - Steve Morreale
I mean, that's what you're going through? Got you. And so tell us about the expansion of Leverett and its policing responsibilities.
[00:31:36.570] - Steve Gould
They're kind of doing something. As I came on board, they already started it. That hasn't been done that much. They've taken over policing for the nearby town, Wendell. That only has just under 1000 residents. They are chief of police, retired, and they had, like, a part time patrolman that didn't want to stay on. And the towns came to an agreement and said, My chief, he's a younger chief, and he was willing. And he said, yeah, he said we could make this work. And the thing that's interesting, is we're kind of contracted by them to do their services, police services.
[00:32:03.780] - Steve Gould
And we make it work legally so it can work. But we're not a, it's not a regional.
[00:32:08.290] - Steve Morreale
It's not a regional. You're doing it by contract and mutual aid.
[00:32:11.710] - Steve Gould
Exactly. Because we were told and what this is way above my pay grade. But I was told regionalization is very difficult. It's very hard to detect it by a lot of people here. It would take forever. And so they said, just do the contracted thing. But it's gone really well. We added their name on the side of my car and I go up, no, patch is the same. I got you. I think we need a bigger commitment for you. But as of right now, we go up there and they were a little wary.
[00:32:35.290] - Steve Gould
And I understand because who are these Leverett guys coming up here? They're not our police. And they had a chief of police who often wore jeans and a flannel. You know what I mean? Like, I'm talking old school stuff. Yeah, country stuff. And now we're completely uniform tach vest. We have uniform and marked cruisers. And my chief has done a very good job at utilizing grants to get us all the equipment the bigger cities have. So we're looking like a cop when we come up. It's been kind of my mission to spend a lot of time at the town center meet and greeting people
[00:33:03.550] - Steve Morreale
Doing what you did in Leverett.
[00:33:04.730] - Steve Gould
Exactly. Yeah. And I enjoy it. I truly do. I really like it. And the people, they have started to come out of the woodwork a little bit. They're requesting radar patrols. They're saying, hey, you know what? There are speeders are out of control on this road. Do you mind coming by? Of course we'll be there. So we go there. We log it. We make sure they see us, we respond, help them as much as we can. And when I thought, how are they going to react to us?
[00:33:24.880] - Steve Gould
Actually, it's been wonderful. They really appreciate it. I was having a conversation with a guy, and I'm sure he was a nice guy. And he said, I don't mean any offense by this, but a lot of people in town think police should be like dogs seldom seem to come running when called. And I was like, Well, you did call me a dog there, but I get the vibe. And to me, that's positive. He's not saying I want no police. He's saying we don't want a big police presence.
[00:33:47.530] - Steve Gould
And why would you have one? It's a tiny town. So that's kind of my experience so far, it's been good. I'm happy and proud to say, like I've heard through the great find that I have a good rep.
[00:33:57.990] - Steve Morreale
So for several thousand people in that town between the two towns, the police are quite important, right? When the proverbial shit hits the fan, you got to have somebody to call. You don't want self-policing. You don't want somebody coming out with a shotgun. That's why we rely on police. Steve, I want to wind down, but I want to talk a little bit about your experience and you're comparing and contrasting your experience between California and their post and the new Massachusetts POST. And what post can be might be, even though it's very confusing right now because it's a new entity that is just beginning to formalize.
[00:34:32.880] - Steve Gould
Yeah, I'd love to talk about that. And just I want to know that I may be swimming in over my head a little, but I'll keep it vague, and I'm only going to tell you my understanding of it. I'm not in these meetings in Massachusetts. I only hear what the troops here, and I think you'll find it interesting because I think you have a little bit more of inside baseball than I do. So I'll start with California way more squared away than the East Coast. I didn't even think about it doing a comparison.
[00:34:55.780] - Steve Gould
But when I got there, I saw other training and how strict they are. And I thought, wow, don't get me wrong. There are agencies in the Northeast that like the Mass state Police. They are squared away and strict and have a tough Academy. But the lack in Massachusetts, the lack of standards that are enforceable, it shows in California, they have the California POST. We had two background investigators dedicated to auditing us because POST would come every couple of months and bust our chops for our backgrounds to make sure they were POST Okay. So every time something happened, like a Dorner thing, the cop that went haywire, everybody goes, who did his background? Did POST check it out? You know what I mean? So they're keeping their eye on everything.
[00:35:33.710] - Steve Morreale
It's another layer of oversight.
[00:35:35.570] - Steve Gould
Yes. And they're extremely strict. There a lot of money goes into it. And my understanding was always just listening to admin talk. Mass doesn't want to do POST because it's going to cost a lot of money. Like California dumps a lot of money into police standards and policing it. They're very, very strict there. You can't do anything without certifications. You are not getting on the job unless you have them completed. There's no waivers. There's none of that stuff. If you want to be a cop in La, you want to be a reserve in La.
[00:36:03.050] - Steve Gould
Guess what you're doing the exact same amount of hours as a full-time guy.
[00:36:06.000] - Steve Morreale
[00:36:06.160] - Steve Gould
And guess what? If you want to go from reserve to full time, you're going to do it again in the full time Academy. Even though you already did the full time Academy, it's like to the 10th degree very high standard. So when I tell them about Mass and I say, well, some of these small towns, they kind of give the old town hall and we'll get you qualified in the sidearm. Once we free up a firearms guy from the town over and you end up working. And maybe the town clerk wasn't in.
[00:36:27.400] - Steve Gould
So you didn't get sworn in for a couple of months now, when I tell guys stories like that out there, they're like, what are you even talking about? How does that even happen? The difference is mind numbing. And I think maybe that is the difference between, like we were saying, how beneficial these small towns, small towns, having their own forces and having that relationship with the community is out there. They don't do that so much because there's so much training required. It's going to be like a County Sheriff that picks up these unincorporated areas.
[00:36:54.010] - Steve Gould
There's not going to be like a little untrained police Department bumping around town. They're not going to do that there. It's illegal.
[00:37:00.580] - Steve Morreale
So, you know, Massachusetts well. And with your dad having been a police officer for so long, we had counties. We have county sheriffs. But the fact of the matter is we don't have county sheriffs similar to what other others are that are both law enforcement created for law enforcement service, but also for corrections service. We're only corrections. And all sheriffs in Massachusetts that many people out here outside of Massachusetts don't know are basically beholden to the state. There is no more county government here. So did you find that a little different?
[00:37:29.820] - Steve Morreale
I'm sure they found what you were telling them about. A little different, too.
[00:37:32.770] - Steve Gould
[00:37:33.230] - Steve Morreale
We have no county sheriffs per se, the same as they do.
[00:37:35.990] - Steve Morreale
Yeah, the rest of the country, the southwest, the south, the Midwest, the West Coast county's king. These guys run it. These sheriffs fly around in helicopters. Hey, I got to go here. Let's get my chopper. Yeah, you're right. The power of the county in Massachusetts specifically is so diminished, like they won't give county sheriffs in Massachusetts ticket books. They won't let them do Chapter 90. It's very odd. And it's funny, because when I remember going to police reading the laws and they'll be like on the criminal complaint, just write common law for this one because it was written in 1790.
[00:38:11.370] - Steve Gould
You know what I mean? It's like some of these laws are, and Constable's, still have authority and have no training requirements.
[00:38:19.230] - Steve Morreale
Well, having gone to a meeting a little while ago, POST is looking at all of this stuff. They're looking at specials, reserves, constable. Well, exactly. But what are we going to do and what constitutes a police officer? And like you just said, there are sheriffs or Sheriff's deputies that do have police authority, but they're limited, but they will now be controlled by post, which everybody is on standby to say. Well, what is this going to mean? We were talking before you came on to say even the reserves who have worked for a while and have gone to a reserve intermittent Academy are going to have to go to a bridge or they're not going to be certified as police officers, right.
[00:38:54.770] - Steve Morreale
And some of the small towns around you are probably scratching their head like, we can't afford another full-time officer.
[00:39:00.460] - Steve Gould
Yeah. Let me run this by you, Steve. Like you're saying, what I'm hearing right now is these little departments, we have full timers. That kind of are the backbone. But the reservists are filling shifts. They're a lot of our coverage. They are very much part of our police Department. And by the way, a lot of it is these guys aren't doing it for the money. They're doing it because they live in town or they live nearby or they grew up in town. They're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
[00:39:25.060] - Steve Morreale
Most of these people is in the right place. And they were told, if you do this Academy, then you can be a police officer and help out. Now, there's teachers, plumbers machinists. I work with all of them, and they're all capable, smart people. And they're incredibly frustrated because it's like the rumor mill. You know what cops are like a bunch of hens like, we can't help ourselves. It's vicious.
[00:39:42.490] - Steve Gould
You hear what I heard?
[00:39:44.530] - Steve Gould
I heard you got to do the superstar's in the 45 week Academy. It's like what we've heard is it started when I got here, there's going to be a bridge and that bridge. It's going to bring them in to the fold of being a certified police officer, and they'll be able to work full time. And we're like, oh, okay. So they're going to make them go through this big program. And then lately, it's been the Chiefs are not into that because they have reserves that actually failed full time academy, but came back and are now working as reserves.
[00:40:12.270] - Steve Gould
So they don't really think it's appropriate that someone who failed full time Academy is now going to be able to do this bridge and become certified.
[00:40:17.360] - Steve Morreale
Well, my own feeling on that is this. That I think that they're not going to win that battle. And I'm not sure that they should. Understanding, I think there are going to be some people who are going to lose the battle if you can't meet at least minimum standards. And I'm not talking about running, jogging, jumping as much as I am about the school work and those kinds of things, then it's going to separate the wheat from the chaff. That doesn't mean people were bad. I mean, it's almost like a volunteer fire Department.
[00:40:40.950] - Steve Morreale
Not everybody can do it. And the reason I'm saying this, Steve, is because I truly believe there's tremendous state oversight, this has to work. The governor went to bat, and obviously many of the legislature went to bat. And there's some irony that the oversight is coming from, in many cases civilian. And I don't mean that capital C meaning some disdain. But there are judges. And there are members of advocacy groups that are members of the Commission, with only one police officer police chief. That will be the loan law enforcement representative.
[00:41:13.180] - Steve Morreale
So my point is, you can see sitting around the table 10, 15, 20 people saying, we're going to cut them some slack and somebody's saying, we're not cutting slack.
[00:41:21.380] - Steve Gould
That's not the point of POST.
[00:41:21.980] - Steve Morreale
That's exactly it. And so I do think that that's going to be an uphill battle.
[00:41:26.180] - Steve Gould
So you think they're going to say, not everybody.
[00:41:28.720] - Steve Morreale
This is what you have to do. And if you can't meet it, I'm sorry, sayonara.
[00:41:32.180] - Steve Gould
Okay. But at the end of the bridge, will they be full time?
[00:41:35.610] - Steve Morreale
Yes. If they can make that cut.
[00:41:36.810] - Steve Gould
Got you. So I'm not going to name him. But I'm friends with the state rep. And I've chatted with him in about a little bit. And he said it makes a lot of sense. He said, we have a lot of people in legislature and government. We're looking at this and they don't understand when they look down at the paper and they see Officer A as 800 plus hours of training, went to a full time Academy and has authority to arrest takes someone's freedom or life. Then we have Officer B working the exact same shift, by the way, running all the same equipment, has the same authority as a 140 hours Academy from 2001.
[00:42:07.010] - Steve Gould
They don't like it.
[00:42:08.380] - Steve Morreale
Well, think about this, too. I mean, we have reserves in our town, and they've cracked down a little bit. They used to be special to ride around special officers, right? As opposed to reserves and delineation. I won't get into Massachusetts. Yeah, it is. It's different. But what troubles me. And I will tell you where I came to know this was on the personnel board. On the personnel board. People would come in and they would say, We're going to have an officer, a reserve officer. We're looking for an appointment.
[00:42:33.080] - Steve Morreale
Okay. And we need you to set their pay at one point in time, many years ago was $12 an hour, $12 an hour. I said, that's ridiculous. I would say. And I knew that a reserve could work shifts, and sometimes it was 24 hours requirement to keep active 24 hours a month. This is what troubled me. They have all of the Safari, $12 an hour, and we're not paying insurance for them. And it just blew my mind. I think we went to $20 or $21, which is still not that much, but it certainly was better than $12.
[00:43:01.220] - Steve Morreale
So I think there's a lot of that out there. There's a lot of people out there that will do the job for next to nothing. And I understand why they do that. We digress in talking about reserves, but I think it's something that's going to have to be wrestled with, like anything else. It's going to take time. It may be a couple of years before this all sort of filters out and the regulations are promulgated and the training has started. I know they're trying to create a bridge fairly quickly how long it will be and how long it will take to put people through.
[00:43:27.920] - Steve Morreale
I know what they're beginning to do is the certification of police officers is going to take some time. They're doing certification, A to F. It has a three-year certification or a one year certification. All of those kinds of things are being talked about. Trust me, it is a cluster right now, but it clearly is starting to take some shape, so I'm happy.
[00:43:45.600] - Steve Morreale
Well listen, I wish you the best of luck in your quest as you create this new policing presence in another community on top of the community you already do. And I wish you good luck with the podcast. We've been talking to Steve Gould. He's sitting in Western Massachusetts now. He is a member of the LeVert Police Department. But as important, I would suggest that you listen to Things Police See, a podcast that he hosts, and how can they find you?
[00:44:10.050] - Steve Gould
Thingspolicesee.com you can go there if you go under episodes. It has links to Spotify, Itunes and Google podcasts. The website is probably the best way if you want to write me a message, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:44:21.500] - Steve Gould
[00:44:22.120] - Steve Morreale
That's a good one. I want to thank you for your time for energy, for your support for me and my podcast and for keeping in touch. You know, we will continue to be in touch because we're like-minded, my friend, and it's back to work for you tomorrow?
[00:44:35.060] - Steve Gould
I'm going to do a roadwork. A little detail action tomorrow and then Tuesday, got to put up a fence for the wife's garden. So that's all my week is planned. Back to work.
[00:44:44.210] - Steve Morreale
It is. Well, listen. So thanks, everybody. This is Steve Morreale and you're listening to The CopDoc Podcast. This episode is finished and we appreciate everything you do. Thanks for reaching out and listening to the episode. We are growing. We're breaking the top 200 in some places and the top 100 in others. So that's because you're listening. We appreciate it. If there's anything we can do, reach out email@example.com and I'll get back to you.
[00:45:09.230] - Steve Morreale
Thanks again, and again Thanks, Steve. I'll give you the last word.
[00:45:12.080] - Steve Gould
My pleasure. I love the podcast. Keep up the good work.
[00:45:15.080] - Steve Morreale
Thanks, my friend.
[00:45:15.830] - Steve Morreale
Hey, everybody, a few things before you leave first. Thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only from the US but from across the globe. It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:45:43.730] - Outro
Thanks for listening to The CopDoc 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.