Officers Down: Two more NJ officers just died. Both were under the age of 40.

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NEW JERSEY– On Easter Sunday, within hours of each other, the State of New Jersey lost two police officers due to COVID-19.

First, the Paterson Police Department announced that 34-year-old Officer Francesco Scorpo died. He was with the department since 2015.

On Facebook, the department said:

“He will be remembered not only for being an exemplary police officer, but as an exceptional and very special human being.” 

Hours later, the Bedminster Police Department announced that 38-year-old Sergeant AlTerek Patterson died. He joined the department in 2006 and was promoted to sergeant in 2014.

The department wrote on Facebook:

“Sergeant Patterson always had a smile on his face and touched the lives of so many residents at their time of need.”

The New Jersey State PBA President Colligan said on Twitter:

“These are the darkest of days as we work to protect our communities while battling this invisible killer. We have now lost five officers, and while we are shaken, our resolve remains unwavering. Pray for these families.”

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Law Enforcement Today has been reporting on the losses suffered by New Jersey State because of the Wuhan virus.

The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association sadly announced that Bernard Waddell, Sr. lost his life on Wednesday, after contracting COVID-19. Waddell was serving as a Hudson County Correctional Police Officer and had 28 years of service. 

The NJ State PBA said in their Facebook post:

“His death is a grim reminder of the risks that our members face every day serving the public in the face of this pandemic. We ask that you keep Officer Waddell’s family and colleagues in your prayers at this difficult time as we mourn his loss.”

Out thoughts and prayers absolutely go out to the family and co-workers of Officer Waddell. 

While he is not the first member of the New Jersey law enforcement community to contract the virus, he is the first reported to die from complications of the disease.

There are currently 383 cops in the state who have tested positive for COVID-19,with more than 3,000 being quarantined. State officials continue to plead with residents to obey the governor’s stay-at-home order, noting that illegal gatherings threaten not only participants, but the officers called upon to break them up.

Col. Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the NJ State Police, said, referring to the space needed to practice social distancing:

“We cannot do this profession from six feet away sometimes.”

The state attorney general said last week that officers didn’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE), and Callahan added Tuesday that health care workers needed to be the first priority when doling out gear.

The State Troopers Fraternal Association announced Tuesday that it was partnering with a health care union to collect PPE, including gloves and masks. Donations can be dropped off at the association’s headquarters starting Wednesday, according to a press release.

With most people staying home as directed, police are are highly susceptible to contracting the virus as they come in contact with more people than just about everyone not working in hospitals. 

And of course, they still have to deal with the culture of anti-police sentiment. 

You know how they say it’s illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded building? Well, a woman in New Jersey is facing charges for something quite similar.

Except she told police officers, after coughing on them while getting processed at the station, that she had COVID-19.

Now, that woman is facing charges for said claim.

According to authorities, a 28-year-old woman from Wayne, New Jersey was arrested after she crashed her vehicle while she was intoxicated.

The woman, Lea Piazza, was hemmed up after the single-car accident on March 12th in Hanover.

When the inebriated woman was getting processed at the station, police asked her to kindly cover her mouth while she was coughing.

Her response to that was allegedly the following:

“Oh, by the way, I have the coronavirus and so do you now.”

Reportedly, Piazza further claimed that she’d contracted COVID-19 from her boyfriend, who she alleged carried the virus.

Police did not take that comment lightly, and three officers that had come into contact with the suspect immediately self-quarantined. That was, until the boyfriend of Piazza contacted police and described her claims as being “100% false.”

Now, on top of the charges she was facing related to that drunken crash, Piazza is now also facing charges for creating a false public alarm related to her alleged comments to police.

We at Law Enforcement Today are pleased to see the department taking that action seriously, because even if that woman thought she was being funny, there’s nothing hilarious at causing a false-panic.

Charging someone for raising that kind of false-flag isn’t surprising, considering what many police departments are doing in light of the pandemic. Some departments are actually not arresting people for serious crimes because of concerns over the virus. 

With the ever-growing fears surrounding the COVID-19 virus, the Philadelphia Police Department has completely (and, hopefully, temporarily) changed policing as we know it.

Under the guidance of Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, Law Enforcement Today is told a number of different “non-violent” crimes will become non-jailable offenses and instead will be “effectuated via arrest warrant.”

Police will be able to detain the offender for enough time to positively identify them and collect evidence for their case. After that, the offenders will be released.

Reports will be completed per normal, and then submitted to the district attorney’s office. At that point, DA Larry Krasner will get to decide whether an arrest warrant will be issued for the offender’s arrest, which would likely occur once the COVID-19 is no longer a looming threat.

I’m going to go ahead and guess that there will be close to zero arrests made at the behest of Krasner. But that’s a whole different story (one which you can find plenty of information about on Law Enforcement Today).

Included in the Commissioner’s list of nonviolent crimes are: All narcotic offenses; theft from persons; retail theft; theft from auto; burglary; vandalism; all bench warrants; stolen auto; economic crimes (bad checks, fraud); and prostitution.

Commissioner Outlaw did leave room for extenuating circumstances, stating:

“If an officer believes that releasing the offender would pose a threat to public safety, the officer will notify a supervisor, who will review the totality of the circumstances and utilize discretion, in the interest of public safety, in determining the appropriate course of action.”

In a statement to the public, Commissioner Outlaw said:

“Our mission is to protect and promote the health and safety of our officers and the community we serve to the best of our ability while continuing to discharge every aspect of our core duties.”

The Commissioner released the new temporary arrest policy the day after Krasner called for a reduction in low-level crime arrests.

On Monday, Krasner said:

“People charged with non-violent offenses generally should not be added to the jail population at this time. Doing so would only increase risk of infection to police officers, guards, other detainees and workers.”

He also said:

“We want to make sure the police are safe and don’t have prolonged contact with people that have the virus. Taking one person back to the police station risks everyone at the station. They go into custody, they endanger other inmates in that great cruise ship that is a jail. And then they go to court.”

Because Larry Krasner is generally so concerned about the safety and wellbeing of law enforcement.

Krasner had said earlier that his office revised policies regarding charging and bail. The changes were made “in order to ensure only people who present a danger to the public are held in detention.”

Krasner continued:

“You can issue a warrant for an arrest and come back later. In many jurisdictions, you can issue a summons. Creative people in the courts, police and our office could come together and allow us to not abandon cases.”

Not to keep beating a dead horse, but Larry Krasner is more likely to sprout wings and fly to the White House to give President Trump a hug than he is to “not abandon cases.”

So it’s discouraging that the day after he “urged” Commissioner Outlaw to reduce arrests, she does just that.

Additionally, on Monday, Philadelphia courts were announced as being closed until April 1 due to the pandemic.

Krasner bestowed his seal of approval on Outlaw following the announcement.

In a phone interview, he said:

“It’s clear to me that the police commissioner is trying to be thoughtful and creative as we move into uncharted territory. We commend her for putting the safety of the public’s health first.”

Further, Krasner said that this new policy could result in “thousands” of deferred arrest warrants. He encouraged officers to “exercise diligence” when getting all information for suspects, victims, and witnesses in order to assist as much as possible in future investigations.

Oh, shucks. Thanks, Mr. Krasner! See, usually law enforcement just goes around conducting crappy investigations all willy-nilly, because no one ever told them to actually do a good job with them and get all the pertinent information.

I hope the sarcasm there is glaringly obvious.

He continued:

“We as prosecutors will be doing a lot of things later.”

Krasner also said that offenders would be encouraged to voluntarily surrender once the pandemic calmed down and he and his minions were back to pretending to send people to jail.  In exchange, offenders would be offered more leniency in sentencing. Which they already enjoy regularly so I’m not sure how much more leniency can be offered.

More changes during the Wuhan virus scare under Commissioner Outlaw, per the released memo:

“Personnel from several plain-clothes units will be temporarily reassigned to uniform patrol duties.

The ‘Live Stop’ vehicle impoundment program will be suspended until further notice.

In-service MPO and other types of training will be temporarily suspended.

Roll calls will be modified to ensure proper social distancing; and officers will take measures to ensure the same when responding to calls for service.”

Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby said in a statement:

“We are supportive of Commissioner Outlaw’s directive on making arrests during the [COVID-19] crisis. The directive was released to keep officers safe during this public-health crisis. Meanwhile, violent offenders will be arrested and processed with the guidance of a police supervisor.”

Well that’s good, because we all know police officers can’t make arrests for violent offenders unless their patrol mommy or daddy come to the scene and say it’s ok for them to do it.

Never fear, though. Larry spoke to the criminals he seems to love so much and gave them a “stern” warning:

“I want to be clear: People who do violence and commit truly serious offenses risk being charged and held in custody. You do not want to be in any jail or prison right now, and I suggest that this warning ought to affect people’s decision-making and behaviors beyond this public health emergency.”

 That should cause them to shake in their Air Force 1’s.

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