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Law Enforcement Today | August 28, 2014

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Westchester County NY Newspaper Becomes the News Instead of Reporting It

Westchester County NY Newspaper Becomes the News Instead of Reporting It
James P Gaffney

A burglary occurs when an individual enters or remains unlawfully within a building or a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. All that is required in a burglary is the intent to commit a crime upon an unlawful entry. The actual commission of a crime is not required.

On Saturday, a residence located on Davis Avenue, in White Plains, NY was unlawfully entered. A burglary occurred. This residence is owned by an individual who happens to be a registered gun owner. This individual is one of thousands of people whose name and address were published as registered gun owners in a recent Journal News article.

Media reports do not indicate if an actual theft occurred, but New York State Senator Greg Ball (R-Patterson) indicated a gun box safe was the  target. The Senator is also holding the Journal News accountable for this act or others, which may follow.

The Journal News told ABC News that its readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods,” after the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Really?  Is the key action needed after a horrific tragedy to target legally registered gun owners?   Perhaps the more appropriate approach would be taking civic responsibility by learning how to identify and possibly circumvent an Active Shooter from acting out. The Journal News’ readers should have advised that the Newtown, Connecticut massacre is a game-changing incident.

Each Active Shooter Incident is a tragedy. The circumstances of Newton now have people of all walks of life realizing a change is required in our laws, rules, and regulations on a local, state, and federal level to overcome the Active Shooter before he acts out. Newtown is about America taking decisive action to assist law enforcement to overcome an Active Shooter. Legally registered gun owners have the protection of the 2nd Amendment. The action of the Journal News demonstrates why individuals who believe in the 2nd Amendment are fearful their rights will be taken from them.

The Journal News editors have used the Sandy Hook tragedy as the reason for seeking to publicize all registered gun owners in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam, New York counties. How is justice served or another tragedy prevented by publicizing gun owners?  A more cynical person might conclude that the Journal News wanted to increase readership.  If so, this editorial decision backfired with other media outlets reporting that readership is down by 40 per cent.

The Journal News overlooked there are two types of information. One is the type of information known on a need to know basis, and the other is information one wants to know. A need never existed for the Journal News or its readers to be provided with the names and addresses of registered gun owners. Responsible reporting was abandoned by the Journal News to create an attention-getting headline in a time of despair. Rather than serving justice, the Journal News has perverted justice by publicizing the names of law-abiding citizens, retired police officers, battered women, and other individuals who felt the need to protect themselves.

The best response to the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy is preventing another from occurring. An Active Shooting incident (ASI) cannot be overcome by identifying lawful gun owners. An ASI can be prevented by identifying individuals who appear to be a danger to themselves, and others before they lash out and kill.

Police theorists have identified the warning signs indicating that an individual intends to carry out an ASI. Such troubled and potentially violent individuals advise others of their evil intention either verbally or in writing. Citizens, school authorities, and law enforcement must report and investigate such warning signs. Understanding the warning signs and the importance of (just as in Homeland Security)  “if you see something say something” is what will save lives.  An interactive map of registered gun owners is useless in preventing or overcoming an Active Shooter.

The Five Stages of the Active Shooter was presented by Lt. Dan Marcou, an associate of Bright-Line Consulting, on January 10, 2013, at Iona College. Marcou advised participants about the Fantasy, Planning, and Preparation stages. Most often, an Active Shooter proceeds through three stages in which law enforcement’s can intervene if the warning signs are reported. The last two stages, Approach and Implementation, are very dangerous. This is when the Active Shooter is ready to initiate action.  We must learn how to intervene at the first three (safer) stages.

The Journal News reported about Lt Marcou’s presentation the next day. The attempted burglary White Plains occurred on Saturday. Could a reader of the Journal News chosen the house on Davis Avenue, in White Plains, NY to enter in an attempt to steal a firearm?  The Journal News over-reaction to the Newtown incident did two things. It failed to seek a positive solution in addressing an ASI, and it opened a flood-gate of criticism for itself for never considering the lives of those it placed in jeopardy. 

Judge Jeanine Pirro has challenged the Journal News to stand up for itself rather than run and hide. Judge Pirro is a resident of Westchester County and a registered gun owner who was “outed” by the Journal News.  As the DA, she has been responsible for putting many violent predators behind bars.  As a public figure and Fox News correspondent, host of the Justice with Judge Jeanine Pirro, she has additional concerns involving personal protection and maintaining her privacy.

Judge Pirro has challenged the Journal News to respond to the outcry regarding their ill-advised decision.  The judge mentioned on her program that many lives are in jeopardy due to the actions of the Journal News. The residences of police officers have now been publicized. Are family members of the officers now in jeopardy?  Judge Pirro believes they are at risk.

What about witnesses whose testimony sends someone to prison?  What about the detectives who investigate cases, and DAs, who prosecute criminals? And what about the judges who actually sentences individuals to serve time in jail or a prison? Are all these people now at risk?

Along with those considerations, the Journal News has also identified residences, which are considered “soft” because homeowners are not armed.  Conversely, the paper has identified residences, which are “strong,” where a firearm can be acquired.

This is troubling because as a writer on the topic of Active Shooter, I am aware, the Active Shooter often possesses or obtains firearms via a friend or relative.   The action of the Journal News has now made it possible for a potential Active Shooter to obtain a firearm from a host of locations throughout Westchester and Rockland Counties. All that is required is to pick a dot on an interactive map within the counties of Westchester and Rockland.

Additional trouble for the Journal News is the response of the Affiliated Police Association of Westchester County, which held a press conference on January 15 at the Westchester County Courthouse. The Association advised the Journal News, and the public that the organization will hold the paper accountable for any incident in which its members are involved in an incident as a result of their name being made public by the Journal News.

We must remember the simple scientific principle of Action vs Reaction. It is known whomever goes first most often wins. Recognizing this proven principle of science Sandy Hook needs to be the game-changer. The primary goal is to eliminate an Active Shooter the opportunity to go first. A law enforcement agency can intervene, law enforcement can make the first move, law enforcement can stop an Active Shooter before he acts out with the assistance of individuals who do not ignore warning signs. 

Jim Gaffney, MPA is Law Enforcement Today’s risk management /police administration    contributor. He has served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years in varying capacities, culminating with Executive Officer and PIO. He is a member of ILEETA, IACP, and IACSP. Jim is a Certified Force Science Analyst. He mentors law enforcement’s next generation as an adjunct criminal justice professor in the New York City area. Jim brings the street into the classroom to prepare students today for their roles as police officers tomorrow.  He is CEO of Bright Line Consulting and can be reached via

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