Aug 18, 2015

The Failure Of Fritzgerald, Allentown's Police Chief

I considered Allentown Police Chief Joel Fritzgerald a failure after he implied that his son's arrest may have been racial profiling. One of the reasons Fritzgerald was hired was to quell such accusations, not make them. I was critical of his hiring, Allentown hasn't had much success with national searches. We even hired out of town professionals to conduct the search, spare us such pageantry. Today, we learn that the police department is defending the treatment of the Shula Singer, because he was hostile. I would imagine that most people arrested are hostile. With lawsuits piling up against Allentown's Police Department, should Fritzgerald be in a double down mode? Don't expect Pawlowski to be tuned into this situation, he has his own legal problems.


Concerned Allentonian said...

Three words come to mind while watching the APD takedown and removal of the Shula Singer:

Ryan Gabriele Alles

Anonymous said...

I don't know this guy or anything about him. Of course as the story was related to me by one of the "new" residents of the area he was intoxicated, drunk, high, nuts or a combination of some or all, a pain in the a**. In fact it was "the second time" he committed this atrocious act in one day. So the solution to challenges with residents who don't "think and act the way they should" in the "new" Allentown is violence. Not surprising in the town where our default is to exterminate those who obviously are "mentally challenged" and commit a capital crime. A unique way to promote gentrification. Oh how far we have come in the era of the death of memory.

Monkey Momma said...

I'd hate to think of what he'd want the police to do if they actually came across someone who was truly hostile. For better or worse, the videos "speaks" for themselves. Even if it was a set-up, the cop responded inappropriately and with excessive force. The police have a tough job - but the Shula Singer wasn't one of the tough assignments.

Anonymous said...

From the one video I watched, I heard the officer repeatedly ordering the man to put his hands behind his back, I assume to be handcuffed. The fact the officer repeated the order makes me believe the man was refusing to comply, resisting a typical arrest.

From watching TV, as lame as that sounds, refusing to comply means you will STILL get your hands placed behind your back to be cuffed. It's YOUR choice how that is accomplished, but know this, it will be done.

Whether an arrest was called for in the first place, if the officer made the right decision is determined by a judge, not the individual being detained. The episode doesn't 'need' to be physically painful, but that's something more than one person determines, during the heat of the moment.

I would have opted to walk off before everything got this involved.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

fred@8:41, my impression from viewing the tape is that the defendant was attempting to walk away when the cop slammed him to the ground. the cop gave the order to place "hands behind back" after he already had the defendant on the ground, with a knee in his back no less. in light of these tapes (two of them) and the concurrent lawsuits against the police department, fritzgerald's not too bright defending this episode by calling the defendant hostile.

Anonymous said...

I agree, there was a brief movement away. The problem I see, even with that body motion, if the man was saying something like "I'm gonna have to kill somebody," then the man MUST be disabled, and quickly. Guess we'll see what a court determines.

Fred Windish

LVCI said...

7:29 AM Anonymous said... "I don't know this guy or anything about him"
Obviously not. James was a very active marathon runner. Several years ago he was hit by a bus while out jogging and was severally injured. He hasn't had 100% of his wits about him since. So he's none of those which you describe. It's called having a disability. Heaven help if any one of us should get hit by a bus then have people talk and act in this way towards any one of us.

How about a little "compassion" instead?

Anonymous said...

I have watched the arrest videos a few times. The officer maintained his composure as he asked the singer to place his hands behind his back. The singer did not comply and instead began waiving his hands around toward the officer. It only takes a split second to sucker punch someone, this officer first used constructive force and transitioned to hands on force in light of the singer failing to comply. There are examples of excessive force but this isn't it. The singer hammed it up moaning and screaming like someone was pulling a kidney out of his anus. It was all a show just like standing around screaming (I mean singing) at strangers. If I am dropping a couple hundred on dinner (because I can) I don't need shit crazy bellowing out oldies. I wish I could buy the Chief and the officer a beer. This is the type of nonsense the APD deals with daily.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those situations where I think both sides could have acted better. A few points that I think are pertinent:

1) I think Shula's patrons, no matter what we think of the NIZ, have a right to enjoy their meals without being intentionally disrupted.

2) Singing in public may or may not be legal, but it's not normal. I think if you're singing in one spot for an extended period of time, particularly in front of a restaurant (on what may have been multiple nights), you're going to be visited by the police department.

3) When approached by the police, it's best to remain calm. Never a good idea to raise your voice to the officer or point in his face.

4) When the police approach you, you don't get to call the end to the situation. They're evaluating your behavior and asking questions to determine your motives and mental state. You initiated the situation, and you don't get to just say that you'll stop what you're doing and start walking away. Kind of like how when you're pulled over for speeding, you don't get to tell the officer that you won't speed anymore as you decide to drive away.

5) At the same time, I wish the police would have been a bit more gentle in this situation. From what I see on the video, the singer didn't seem like he was hostile, or an immediate threat. Although I can't hear what was being said between the two, he didn't seem overly aggressive. I can understand the officer's need to control the situation and not let the singer just walk away on his own, but there has to be some way other than the full body slam to accomplish that.

Obviously there's information (what was said) that we aren't privy to. While I'm neither a fan or detractor of Fitzgerald, I find it hard to fault him for defending his men in a borderline situation. Police officers have a difficult job to do and have to make quick determinations on whether a person is a real threat, mentally unstable, or mostly harmless. Not an easy thing to do.

Dreaming of Justice said...

In Baltimore, turning your back and walking away is called "Contempt of Constable".

It is enough to not only get you rough-cuffed, but to additionally earn you one of those hell-wagon rides.

Otherwise, you people have seen pretty tame stuff by comparison.

Anonymous said...

I just receive a phone call, asking me and my family to boycott shulas on the facts they let their thugs allow a senior citizen to be body slammed, we will never go to shulas ever again in our life ,we feel shulas should close their doors dutch are known to hold a grudge forever ,and we will never go to shulas to eat, even if they offered free steak meals, shulas has Allentown senior citizes blood on their hands,

michael molovinsky said...

@9:04 is most likely the antagonist. after receiving thousands of comments from him, mostly insults, almost all unpublished, i have a knowledge of his word patterns. he is both a contrarian to me and this blog, and an apologist for the administration. although pushing 60 years of age, he uses the language of a bully, which he is., i.e. "sucker punch".

Anonymous said...

"I don't know this guy or anything about him." You're talking about the invisible police chief we've got, right? That's a big part of the problem. The guy sits in his office and rarely ventures out in the city past a block or two. There is no face to the Allentown PD.

Police have to be better at critically analyzing a situation and adjusting their amount of response. I realize that there are times where community policing only gets them injured and killed but they have to be cognizant that this was a situation where that amount of force was unnecessary.

This Allentown episode reminds me of a situation earlier in the year where a Harrisburg cop overreacted to a guy he thought was impersonating a Marine who turned out to be a legitimate, decorated Marine.

Anonymous said...

This situation is a good example why police chiefs should be home grown up through the ranks. They know the characters who repeat different behaviors that are a little off kilter.Therefore a firm but kinder approach can be utilized.Thats how APD dealt with uptown Susie back in the day,Iknow we're not in Mayberry anymore,but we are all human and the way the stronger smarter one handles the problem in that instant could make for a better outcome.PS Mayors should be home grown also!!

Anonymous said...

Apparently the City Without Limits has limits..... and this guy stepped over them.
. Who would've thought?

michael molovinsky said...

@4:02, despite $1billion dollars added to reilly's real estate portfolio, the ambience on hamilton street hasn't changed one iota. ideally, all the positions, if not home grown, should at least be familiar with allentown. the previous park directors were a classic example of the consequence of an chicago mayor, appointing a philadelphia city director, who hired an out of town park director. we lost the robin hood dam and the wall, essentially closing the parkway for probably a year.

Elijah LoPinto said...

Fred said "the man was refusing to comply, resisting a typical arrest."

To be Arrested you have to be accused of committing a crime. No crime was committed there was no reason for Arrest.

The truth is this was not what the rich people the NIZ is build for want to see so he was arrested, not for breaking any laws but for being an eyesore to the rich.

Elijah LoPinto said...

Mike said "we lost the robin hood dam and the wall, essentially closing the parkway for probably a year."

I've lost count on the number of times the parkway has been mishandled by the parks department. Through traffic is such a rarity there I am surprised not when I can't but when I can drive through the parkway.

Anonymous said...

Allentown has a place called the lehigh county jail for people with disabilities. When the med cart gets pushed through the doors, the whole place lines up. It reminded me of one flew over the cuckoo's nest. Very sad

Anonymous said...

And you have to be told you're under arrest.

Anonymous said...

It is fashionable in today's America to criticize law enforcement efforts and attack police. However,

1. I believe the law still stipulates the officer on duty makes the initial determination that an arrest is required. This is due to the immediate nature of time available to intervene. It would be absurd for the officer to tell any offender to keep on violating something/someone, but only until he goes back to the station, types something up, then get it approved by another person.

2. The proper time to 'tell someone he/she has being arrested, and explain for what reason,' would be when things are settled down, not physical. Probably, later at the police vehicle door, a location not depicted on the video I watched.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how many APD Officers are actually Atown residents. They treat the residents like we are the enemy.

AuH20 said...

How many "residents " really are the enemy of an orderly city? be sure.

Anonymous said...

The complextion connection between the poor sulu singer and the king as well as his ruler of the natives¿!(!$

There is a imaginary space limit of a 3ft perimiter around every godly human soul and this officer can clearly be seen voilating this poor souls person space first¿!($ If said officer was not placing him under arrest before throwng him to the ground, the man had every right to turn and walk away¿!($

This is sending the message in a bottle to all naysayers or anyone that may be lieabled for there failure¿!($

By the way MM will you be visting counsil chambers to stirr allentowns fermenting pot of political blue juice for a wiff of the stench of human souls on some local officials ora, thinking possibly there obviiuos heathenism and American dollar bills will keep them frm hell gate¿!($

patent pending

Anonymous said...

You may recall the machete guy who had a long history of mental illness that was shot 12 times by an APD officer while being tazed by another. The officer involved in the shooting was arrested a few months later for a drunken rampage where he was observed vandalizing property before running into a bar. While the DA ruled the use of force was justified in the machete incident, one has to wonder if multiple officers present could have subdued the suspet with the simple use of tazers. Clearly, they had a conversation with the victim, with plenty of time to understand his mental state and depoly non lethel take down tactics.

The irony is that the Morning Call went into the history of the mentally ill person run in with police over his life time but made no reference to the rampage officers past.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding the APD Chief made trouble with the County law enforcement. Apparently, they shared a facility and the APD Chief order the County out. Was this retribution for the incident that involved undercover officers?