Inside the American Police

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

As to how AFP's spending achieves those purposes, Abbott asserts that with 55 percent of all expenditures going to "program services," the group "compares quite favorably with many widely recognized charitable organizations and has been commended by media and others." He mentions Police Times and other published materials as "an important part of AFP [educational] programs." As an example, he cites a publication called Take the Law into Your Own Hands Legally, noting that it was acknowledged with a letter of appreciation from Judge Lance A. Ito. (In his letter, Ito stated he had not yet read the book.) As for training expenditures, Abbott points out, "[AFP's] Private Security Officer Training School [has] trained more than 10,000 security officers since it began offering state-sanctioned training in 1990." He would not comment about how spending money to train private security officers qualifies as a service to AFP's members and donors.

Finally, Abbott says that according to AFP's internal audit, the group paid American Fraternal Programmers "exactly $368,532.78 for the period of July 1, 1993 through June 30, 1994" -- and not the $1,784,686 listed on the 990 form, which covers the same time period. He suggests the disparity may be due to "incorrectly reading and/or interpreting the material" on the part of New Times.

Concerned about what he terms "scurrilous criticism" that has been leveled at his boss, Abbott calls Arenberg a crusader "against tyranny, injustice, and public corruption.

"I pray you will look hard and find the truth and in this, perhaps the final story to be written about Arenberg before he leaves behind the Hall of Fame and all his good deeds as legacies, you portray him not as the sinner his persecutors contend he is," implores the PR consultant, "but rather as the saint many of us who know him well believe he more truly is."

At the mention of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, Dan Rosenblatt lets out an exasperated sigh. "We get people calling here complaining about them all the time," he says. "I get regular calls from citizens who are outraged that they get a telemarketing call from 'our' representative. I have to tell them we don't do that."

Rosenblatt is executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In addition to running the day-to-day operations of the nation's oldest and largest organization of police executives, Rosenblatt is often called upon to perform another task: telling irate citizens that it's Arenberg's group, not his, that's hitting them up for cash. The confusion has become so pronounced, in fact, that since 1987, IACP has produced for public consumption three reports detailing the financial activities of Arenberg's various organizations.

Founded in 1893 for the purpose of pooling resources and strengthening ties between police departments, the 13,000-member IACP is no slouch: Its criminal data files were the basis for the FBI's Identification and Uniform Crime Reports Divisions. The FBI also adopted IACP's bomb data center. The group has lobbied for higher mandatory police training standards and was instrumental in establishing the National Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation.

About ten times a month, from big cities to spots far off the beaten track, the IACP holds a training seminar on some aspect of policing. Eschewing phone and mail solicitations, the group takes a more restrained approach to fundraising, acquiring its money from membership dues, conference registration and exhibition fees, payments for training programs, and a few federal grants. It has 30 standing committees, as well as research, information, and psychological-services divisions, and a section devoted to helping individual departments write promotion exams.

NACOP, on the other hand, was originally incorporated by Gerald Arenberg in 1967 as the National Police Museum, Inc. For 15 years subsequently, it was known as the International Academy of Criminology, and then, in 1982, was given its current moniker. Although it claims a membership of 11,000, unlike the IACP it will not release a specific list of members, nor will it specify the subjects and locations of the "60 training seminars" Paul Scott Abbott says NACOP offers on an annual basis.

Most of the names on NACOP's letterhead are not preceded by the word "Chief." The group's president, Dennis Ray Martin, is a rural deputy sheriff who has a part-time job as chief (and sole officer) of the police department in Albee-Maple Grove Township, Michigan. The executive vice president, Morton Feldman, was dismissed as a lieutenant from the Broward County Sheriff's Office in 1993 for conduct unbecoming an officer.

But then, according to NACOP's statement of purpose A which, as required by law, is on file with the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services A the group doesn't really have that much to do with police chiefs. NACOP's purpose, says the filing, is to "engage in direct mail or telemarketing contacts to make citizens aware of the problems that face the modern law enforcement officer, the toll in deaths and injuries, and the work of the American Police Hall of Fame."

Every year NACOP does issue a report regarding police deaths in the line of duty. Not surprisingly, the majority are killed by criminals armed with guns. Though this might lead one to believe the group would favor some form of gun control, precisely the opposite is true: NACOP and AFP are among the scant few law enforcement associations that support the pro-gun lobby.

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