Inside the American Police

Hall of Fame and Museum: Morbid kitsch and money. Lots of money.

Such issues, Weiner says, are an important part of his bureau's review process, though no review has been undertaken of NACOP and AFP. In the past two years, via certified mail, Weiner has sent requests for financial information to both groups. He has never received a reply.

"We see no need to expend organization funds redundantly furnishing additional private entities with information already contained in registrations duly filed with each state in which there are programs," explains PR consultant Paul Scott Abbott.

Federal law does require that nonprofits file annual tax returns, known as 990s, that detail all revenues and expenses. The forms are public record, and a nonprofit group must make available for public perusal copies of its past three filings.

AFP and NACOP's 990s from fiscal years 1990 through 1993 indicate that Arenberg, Van Brode, Chitwood, and Shepherd have never claimed any compensation as AFP/NACOP directors and officers. However, the same 990 forms show that during the same time period, American Fraternal Programmers received nearly four million dollars in "service fees" from the combined coffers of NACOP and AFP. And because American Fraternal Programmers is a privately held, for-profit corporation, it has no obligation to publicly disclose how it spends the money it takes in -- or how much its officers and directors are paid.

Abbott declined to provide New Times with any financial statements for American Fraternal Programmers. He does say, however, that last year the company had a total of 36 employees "drawing a total of $517,451 in wages," and that "based upon the average of 28 employees per quarter, the average wage was less than $18,500." Where the rest of the money goes, Abbott didn't specify. (Abbott also provided a Social Security Administration document showing Arenberg's lifetime earnings record. According to the figures, it wasn't until 1982 that Arenberg cleared $30,000 in salary, and he never drew more than $60,000 in a year. The document, however, shows only earnings, and thus excludes nontaxable fringe benefits, payments to qualified pension plans, or other deferred compensation.)

"There doesn't seem to be any question that Arenberg is personally benefiting from this whole arrangement," says a lawyer in the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office who requested anonymity. Last year Pennsylvania fined AFP for using unregistered fundraisers. "We've taken him apart and looked at him in detail," the lawyer says. "He's got a for-profit company that's providing 'services' to his nonprofits, and his and others' salaries, which could be in six figures, are being funneled through this management company."

That in itself is not illegal, says the attorney. "In a case like this, the only way for us to make an issue of it would be to show he's saying one thing on solicitations and then prove that absolutely none of the money is going to what he's saying. As long as some of it goes to the cause he represents, there really isn't anything we can do."

It's a dreary autumn afternoon, but inside the Miami Beach Convention Center, at a booth toward the north end of the mezzanine, the mood is bright. On this, the second day of the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Suzy Sawyer, the burly, gregarious wife of a retired Maryland cop, continually bounds from her booth to greet old friends. Michael Kelly, chief of the Lewiston, Maine, police department, stops by to offer thanks. Chief Cel Rivera from Lorain, Ohio, asks Sawyer for technical advice. Terence McCardle, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent in charge for Boston, gives her a big hug, while a bevy of other chiefs cluster around the table reviewing brochures and waiting for a chance to talk to "the angel," as one thief refers to Sawyer.

She is the founder of COPS, or Concerns of Police Survivors. The group dates back to 1983, when, while attending National Peace Officers Memorial Day events in Washington, D.C., Sawyer noticed that police widows seemed to be a forgotten group. A year later, after Sawyer had taken it upon herself to lay the foundation, 110 survivors formally founded the organization in order to address what they saw as a neglected facet of police life: counseling and aid to survivors of slain officers.

COPS now has chapters in nineteen states, including Florida. It has five paid employees, whose salaries range from $14,600 to $47,106. About a half-dozen times a year, the organization holds free grief seminars for survivors. It also provides free counseling to children of slain officers, has established a national peer-support group, and helps departments craft line-of-duty-death manuals. Earlier this year, COPS held its first weeklong grief camp, operated free of charge and staffed by survivors and professional counselors.

Jenny Wolf is among the survivors COPS has aided; her husband Ted, a Maryland state trooper, was shot and killed in 1991 during what began as a routine traffic stop. According to Ben Wolman, a Maryland Fraternal Order of Police attorney, Ted's death was hard enough for Jenny to deal with. Her grief was compounded, says Wolman, by the American Federation of Police.

After Ted Wolf's murder, local merchants began receiving calls from telemarketers, asking them to buy ads in the Police Times. Part of the payment would go to Trooper Wolf's family, the solicitors said.

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