Saturday, July 18, 2020

A Police Story

The following story also appeared in the Concord (N.H.) Monitor on 7/15/2020
and on the front page of the the Weirs Times on 7/16/2020

By Mike Moffett
Los Angeles native Jeremy Levy was 19 that day in 1992 when he drove to an L.A. junior high school where his mother taught to pick her up and make sure she got home safely. But as they stopped briefly at a Wilshire Boulevard intersection, the Levys were terrified by an approaching mob. Protesters advanced up the street, smashing every storefront window and every parked car. Unlucky pedestrians were assaulted. Terrified, Jeremy gunned the car’s engine, whipped around a barricade, and took an alternate route home.
The violent scenes of anarchy were seared into Levy’s memory. It was May 4 and the rioters were enraged by the acquittal of L.A. police officers accused of brutality in a videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King. Sixty-three people died in the chaos while many hundreds more suffered severe injuries.
Levy knew that force was needed to counter the mob violence but he understood that it was excessive police force that sparked the conflagration in the first place. And so it was that he first recognized a dichotomy that’s challenged so many communities for so many years. How can those charged with maintaining order do so while still retaining the humanity and compassion essential to effective law enforcement?
To Protect and Serve?
Raised in L.A. County, Levy was imbued with a sense of duty to help those in need. Hence his trip on that May 4 to protect his mother. And the imagery of that awful day actually propelled him on a journey where he eventually became a policeman himself—one who’d later receive national recognition for his work.
Young Levy took a job at Macy’s Department Store in what he described as “loss prevention,” monitoring video screens to catch shoplifters. While protecting store property he learned that there was a spectrum of potential responses to thievery. Not every miscreant needed to “have the book thrown at them.” Levy felt that while some thieves were incorrigible others could be steered in better directions with firm but compassionate action. He discovered a rewarding balance whereby property was protected without permanently damaging every perpetrator.
Levy went on to earn an EMT license and then sought to become a City of Los Angeles Park Ranger/Patrol Officer in 1994. Despite some wonderful qualifications he was not hired. He tried again in 1995 and was again turned away, essentially due to race, as it was explained to him. Levy is white, and the focus was on minority hiring, in part in response to the King riots. The rejection was frustrating but it gave him useful insights. He tried again in 1996 and was finally selected.
While patrolling the trails of Griffith Park Levy further developed his interpersonal skills in responding to all manner of public situations. He moved on to work in San Fernando Valley before leaving the Rangers to attend a Federal Law Enforcement Academy in Petaluma, Calif. This positioned him for a seasonal law enforcement opportunity as a federal ranger at Lake Mead, Nevada—near Las Vegas.
“It was a crazy job,” recalled Levy. “There were many accidents, deaths and drownings but our presence there saved some people and that was incredibly rewarding.”
In 1999 Levy decided to go “all in” with law enforcement and was accepted at a Nevada police academy. Sixty cadets started with 40 completing the training—including Levy. He was now a cop with the famous Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. LVMPD featured around 2500 officers tasked with the unique challenges of policing Sin City.
Levy worked downtown from 2001-07. The work was sometimes boring but often exciting. With experience came better judgement and the enhanced interpersonal skills so important to successful police officers. Inevitably there were stressful and dangerous situations and not all Levy’s colleagues could cope with it all. But Jeremy realized that he seemed to have “the right stuff.”
“There are few things more rewarding than saving lives,” explained Levy. “And we saved a lot of lives.”
As one of many examples, Levy described how he prevented a jumper from hurling himself off the top of a parking garage, eventually grabbing the man as he was about to leap to his death. The jumper later thanked Levy for intervening the way he did at a desperate time. 
"Dealing with delirious or delusional people has too often resulted in officers deploying firearms when peaceful approaches may work," observed Levy.
Levy’s compassionate instincts and laudatory record reflected the best of his Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). His efforts earned him recognition as 2005 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department CIT Officer-of-the-Year and then 2006 National CIT Officer-of-the-Year.
 Then in 2007 he was rewarded for his unique talents when he was named as an LVMPD Peer Counselor, a job he’d hold until 2020, helping numerous officers suffering from PTSD with all the associated interpersonal pathologies. Levy explained that while Ph.D/therapists certainly are well educated they can't necessarily relate to clients or patients in the same way as a peer who knows what its like on the streets.
Job stress often leads to depression and addiction," said Levy. "Some cops head down a road towards suicide. I want to think we helped many of them turn around and choose life over death.”
Levy also lauded officers' families and pointed out that the stress of police work takes a heavy toll. The divorce rate for police officers is around 80%. 
"Officers receive medals and recognition for heroic acts but medals should also go to their spouses who hang in there with them."
Levy explained that both male and female officers run a higher risk of broken relationships—not only with spouses but also with children, friends and relatives. 
"The suicide rate for police is twice the national average" added Levy. "And rates of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse are also disproportionately high. Daily exposure to traumatic scenes is just not healthy."
Levy feels that academies do well at teaching policing but wishes they could somehow also educate family members as to how to better live with police officers.
The expression “9/11” sadly resonates with most Americans over the age of 25. But Las Vegas cops also have “10/1.” October 1, 2017 was the day that Stephen Paddock barricaded himself at the Mandalay Bay Resort and opened fire on a large crowd of music fans attending a festival below his suite on the 32nd floor. Fifty eight people died immediately while 413 were wounded, with hundreds more injuries occurring during the subsequent panic. It was the worst mass shooting ever in the western hemisphere.
The casualties included police officers and Levy was quickly en route to provide support at various hospitals.
“It was horrific,” recounted the veteran policeman. “The hospital lobbies were littered with countless seat belts, of all things, as they were used as tourniquets in so many vehicles that rushed victims to the hospitals.”
The tragedy’s aftermath reinforced Levy’s faith in the innate spirit that animates communities in response to tragedy and carnage.
“It seemed like everyone in Las Vegas pulled together, at least for a while,” said Levy. “Kindness and hugs abounded.”
The sobering reminder of human mortality unified the people of Las Vegas, regardless of race or status. Folks seemed to better appreciate the first responders who put their lives on the line to serve and protect.
“Most cops are very sensitive but they often mask that sensitivity to project the strength that people expect from them,” explained Levy. “Internalizing emotions can take a toll that sometimes leads to outbursts in certain circumstances. That’s what I dealt with in 12 years of peer counseling.”
Levy explained that many policemen struggle with a challenging “identity duality.”
“We want the bad guys to fear us and the good folks to love us. But the good and bad are not always so easy to differentiate. It takes a toll and many cops develop emotional armor and sometimes cynicism to get by. Some deal with things better than others. And yes, some cops get brutalized by the demands and do bad things. But it’s hard to see people define all police by the actions of the worst cops.”
Levy added that 2020 has been an especially challenging year for law enforcement.
“Most cops are caring human beings who want to be valued,” said Levy. “They struggle with being vilified after putting their lives on the line.”
Levy’s troubled by calls to defund or eliminate police and having witnessed so much—from the King riots in L.A. to 10/1 in Las Vegas—he cringes at the notion of the thin blue line being erased. He knows the danger that would bring to every community.
“Police brutality is a symptom, not a cause of societal problems,” Levy added. “We need to focus on root causes.”
Levy retired from LVMPD earlier this year and now lives with wife Jacqueline and son Jaxon in Orange County, Calif.
“I needed to decompress a bit and recharge my batteries after being responsible for the emotional well-being of 2500 cops.”
Still, Levy remains an advocate for his brothers and sisters on their beats.
"The disconnect between some communities and police pains me. If only people better understood the true spirit of police officers and their motivation to serve and their desire to be valued. Too many officers are walking wounded with broken hearts that need healing."  
But Levy emphasized that he has no major regrets and is very proud of his career in law enforcement.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than saving lives and I think we cops save a lot of lives, in many different ways.” 
Starting, perhaps, with Levy’s own mother back in 1992.
(Weirs Times columnist Mike Moffett was introduced to Jeremy Levy at an Orange County coffee shop by his friend and co-author Fahim Fazli—a veteran Hollywood actor. The above story came about following a conversation there.)

  Mike Moffett and Jeremy Levy at an Orange County coffee shop, along with "Gracie."

Saturday, April 4, 2020



“Optimism—even, and perhaps especially in the face of difficulty—has long been an American hallmark.” – Pamela Druckerman, Franco-American journalist and author

Yes, an optimist sees a glass as half-full while a pessimist sees the same glass as half-empty. And during unsettled times both perspectives manifest themselves. But while realism is important, optimism is healthy. As long-suffering Brooklyn Dodger fans used to say, “Just wait ‘till next year!”

Then there’s optimism’s first cousin—gratitude.

As Amy Collette—author of The Gratitude Connection—put it: “Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”


But to experience real gratitude one needs context. One can’t truly appreciate blessings unless one knows what it’s like without those blessings—which brings us to our current COVID-19 pandemic.

If Americans knew more history, they’d have more context, gratitude, and optimism.

Two months ago, most folks were probably unaware of the 1918 influenza pandemic which killed scores of millions. Now people know much more about a deadly scourge many times worse than what we’re now facing.

My grandmother, Yvette Lussier, lost a younger sibling to that 1918 pandemic.

Then she lost another.

And then another.

It was a sad month for the Lussier family up in St. Liboire, Quebec, when they had to bury three children. But current circumstances that remind us of past events can teach us important history and provide context yielding gratitude and hopeful optimism.

Obviously I’m grateful Yvette survived. And Americans today probably have it better than 99% of the people who ever walked the earth. Indeed, until midway through the last century, most human lives were “nasty, brutish, and short,” to quote Thomas Hobbes.

A recent book rates a plug here: WAR FEVER: Boston, Baseball, and America in the Shadow of the Great War, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. It profiles three Boston people—symphony conductor Karl Muck, Harvard law school grad Charles Whittlesey, and Red Sox star Babe Ruth—and how 1918 and World War I changed their lives and subsequently our world.

Muck was a Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor who was arrested for pro-German sympathies, imprisoned, and then deported. His story is a reminder about how civil liberties need to be protected in times of crisis.

Whittlesey joined the U.S. Army in 1917 and as a major commanded the “Lost Battalion,” a 600 man army unit that was cut off and surrounded by Germans in September of 1918. Whittlesey and his men refused to surrender, despite going four days without food or water. Eventually 194 unwounded survivors were rescued. Their story helped inspire Americans to victory two months later.

Babe Ruth, of course, became the penultimate American sports hero in 1918. That was the season that Ruth—perhaps baseball’s best pitcher—started playing regularly in the field. He led the Major Leagues in home runs that year as Boston won the World Series in a season that was cut-short due to the flu epidemic, similar to this year’s MLB schedule being curtailed by COVID-19.

Ruth took on each day with gusto and experienced life to its fullest. His optimism and joie de vivre served him well. He set another home run record for the Red Sox in 1919 before going on to some other team where he became an American icon. I don’t think he’d have flourished had he been a pessimist.

So this time of quarantines and social distancing affords us opportunities to ponder history and find context to make us wiser, better, humbler—and perhaps more optimistic as 2020 unfolds.

And as those Brooklyn Dodger fans used to say: “Just wait ‘til next year!”


Friday, March 20, 2020


By Tim Lang, Mike Moffett, Reed Panasiti, and Howard Pearl
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Granite Staters are created equal, with certain unalienable rights—to include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter it.
Yes, we’re paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson’s wondrous words from the Declaration of Independence. And it’s time for us to declare our independence from an increasingly radical and tyrannical Democratic legislative majority in New Hampshire.
We’ll explain, as Jefferson explained in 1776 when he wrote that “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Jefferson went on to list numerous complaints against the King of England to justify our Declaration of Independence, e. g. “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”
Space doesn’t allow us to list as many grievances as did Jefferson in 1776, but we’ll give you a fair sampling.
Democrats sought to impose an unwanted income tax (SB1 - 2019 session)  involving Family Leave Insurance. 
Democrats sought to impose an unwanted tax on ski tickets (HB1652-FN)
Democrats sought to impose unwanted new sales taxes, such as on electronics (HB1492-FN-A-L)

Democrats sought an unwanted tax increase, from 8% to 40% (HB1699-FN-A) on electronic cigarettes just 63 days after voting for an initial vape tax.
Democrats sought to ban wood stoves (HB290 2019 session)
Democrats sought to raise our utility bills (HB365, SB205 2019 session, SB159 and HB1218-FN 2020 session)
Democrats sought to tell our federal government and defense department what our nuclear weapons policy should be. (HCR7 - 2019 session)

Democrats sought to allow boys to play on girls sports teams by defeating HB1251.

Democrats sought to allow girls to play on boys sports teams by defeating SB480. 
Democrats sought to allow schools to administer more intrusive non-academic and privacy-threatening surveys (SB 196).
Democrats sought to give illegal aliens drivers' licenses and thus the means to vote for Democrats (HB 397).
Democrats sought to curtail 1st Amendment rights by with legislation aimed at silencing critics and curtailing political dissent (HB 1159).
Democrats sought to curtail and abridge precious 2nd Amendment rights (HB1101, HB1115, HB1143, HB1285, HB1349, HB1350, HB1374, HB1379, SB719, HB1608). while taking the wrong position on Red Flag laws (HB1660).

Democrats opposed the wishes of most Granite Staters concerning a helmet law (HB1621) and a seat belt law (HB1622).

Democrats want to prohibit 20-year-olds from buying cigarettes and 17-year-olds from getting married but they want to let 16-year-olds vote.

Democrats vilify charter schools using profane language... “F*** charter and religious schools.” (Rep. Tamara Le, Hampton).
Democrats then turned down $46 million in federal money for charter schools.

Democrats passed an assisted suicide bill but killed a "Born Alive" bill, a "Selective Birth" bill, and a "Parental Notification" bill.
Democrats humiliated and publicly reprimanded an 80-year-old female legislator and a disabled senior citizen for missing dubiously mandated sexual harassment “training.” 

Having wasted so much time reprimanding such legislators, the House unnecessarily had to run a subsequent session until 4 a.m. to try to complete the people's business.
There are literally dozens more examples of radical Democrat conduct that could be cited. 
Thank the heavens above for Governor Sununu’s fifty plus vetoes—with at least as many to come in 2020.
When confronting tyranny in 1776, our founders mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Most of them suffered greatly for their principles, but their efforts resulted in a wondrous and unprecedented system of government where change occurs using ballots, not bullets.
So in 2020 we in New Hampshire have the power to correct the perilous course that our ship of state took after the last election. We just need to show up and vote later this year.
If only overcoming tyranny had been so easy for Jefferson and our brave founders in 1776!
(The authors are the founders of the Legislative Beer Caucustwo dozen current and former legislator-activists who believe that socializing can lead to communication and understanding among all parties. Their motto is “We have fun and we get things done.”)

#Jefferson #beercaucus

Thursday, February 27, 2020


(l-r)  LtCol Mike Moffett, USMC ret,, GySgt Tim Weiland, USMC ret, BGen Don Bolduc, US Army ret, and Bryan McCormack of Laconia


by Michael Moffett
As a sports writer, I sometimes look to Sports Illustrated for column ideas. So I was struck by a major piece in the January 30 issue of SI on hunting wild hogs—aka feral pigs—in Texas. So is hog hunting a legitimate sports topic?
Well, if it was good enough for Sports Illustrated, then it was good enough for me.
Hog hunting resonated because I’d actually been invited to participate in a real Texas Helicopter Hog Hunt on February 22—one such as described in the SI story.
The unlikely invite came about after General Don Bolduc and I were guests on a local radio show—Cail and Company. A veterans’ organization called “Helicopters for Heroes” (H4H) subsequently invited us to attend its annual weekend retreat in Ennis, Texas. The focus there is on vets with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and the weekend includes banquets, concerts, special guest speakers and cookouts, as well as shooting and hunting for those who desire such activities.
General Bolduc was a perfect invitee for such an event, as the Laconia native made 10 combat deployments to Afghanistan and is a nationally-known advocate for sufferers of PTS. He honestly addressed his own PTS challenges on a CBS-TV 60 Minutes segment.
H4H founder Philip Brooks spoke at the February 21 banquet to attendees who’d come to Texas from all over the country in search of healing and camaraderie. Brooks told of past participants who’d been on the brink of suicide before reconnecting with fellow veterans at H4H to renew their spirits and replace hopelessness with hope.
But General Bolduc stole the show. The Granite Stater eschewed the podium and microphone and walked amongst the many tables with his service dog Victor, speaking to scores of vets about his own experiences, and explaining why the condition is best described as PTS—not PTSD.
The only flag officer to publicly acknowledge his own PTS, Bolduc described how his military career was probably cut short by his open advocacy for traumatized veterans.
“Acknowledging that you need help is a sign of strength, not of weakness,” Bolduc said to the big banquet hall crowd, which was absolutely quiet.
But when the general concluded his heartfelt remarks the attendees stood and gave him a standing ovation. Many of the vets had tears streaming down their faces.
The next morning found us at the Staubach Ranch to meet with locals and youngsters, observe static displays of historic military equipment, and do range and skeet shooting. The mixing and mingling created many opportunities to bond and share experiences—good and bad.
And then there was the helicopter hog hunt.
As the SI story pointed out, Texas is plagued by millions of wild hogs running amok. They decimate crops, devouring fields of corn, sugarcane, wheat, oats, melons, pumpkins and whatever else they find appetizing, typically leaving farmland too ravaged to harvest. The feds estimate the total annual damage done by wild pigs is $1.5 billion. A USDA researcher called them “the worst invasive species we’ll ever see.” Feral pigs disrupt entire ecosystems by competing with local wildlife for vegetation and by rooting out seedlings.
So there’s a perpetual open season on hogs in the Lone Star State. And as part of the H4H Weekend, they had seven helicopters flying veterans with rifles over the Texas tundra to take out the marauding pigs. Experience has shown that for many vets, getting back on a chopper—rifle in hand—to go on missions with trusted comrades is effective and cathartic therapy to deal with painful memories.
But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
I’m not a hunter and I hate flying. Even slight turbulence causes panic, white knuckles, and the occasional involuntary and embarrassing “Whoa!” that unsettles everyone within earshot.
It probably goes back to some bad helo experiences in the Marine Corps, and memories of carrying bodies of fellow Marines down from a horrific mountaintop CH-53 crash in Korea.
Of course, the vets in Texas wanted to see the General fly out to take on the pigs. But I knew Bolduc himself had survived a terrible helo crash in Afghanistan and perhaps, like me, was averse to flying.
Bolduc is also a U.S. Senate candidate, and I pointed out that some might exploit the imagery and optics of the helo hunt against him while reinforcing negative stereotypes of veterans.
“I don’t care about any of that,” said Bolduc. “I am who I am. Let’s go!”
Inspired by the General’s authenticity, I accompanied him and two other shooters to a Vietnam era UH-1 (Huey) chopper.
“Live free or die, General!” yelled a vet with a southern accent—New Hampshire’s state motto being well-known and respected throughout the military. We were handed AR-15 rifles and three full magazines. They tied us in—two on each side—and up we went.
As we ascended, I was surprisingly euphoric. Flying over the Texas landscape I suddenly understood the appeal of the Wild West to adventurous spirits. And I marveled at how we were just handed weapons and ammo to fly and hunt, and I felt bad for the 99% of Americans who’d never experience such freedom in our age of over-regulation, over-protection, and litigation that brave pioneers never had to contend with.
We returned a half hour later, having done our part to reduce the number of rampaging razorbacks ravishing the landscape. At the evening banquet, it seemed like everyone was in a great mood as H4H accomplished it mission of bringing folks together to benefit from therapeutic bonding.
On Sunday afternoon I departed Dallas/Fort Worth airport on an American Airlines flight that soon encountered turbulence. It didn’t bother me a bit.
Thank you General Bolduc.
And I pondered as how to write about a H4H weekend that included camaraderie, bonding, healing, politics, flying, and hunting. Could I make a sports column out of hog hunting?
If it was good enough for Sports Illustrated, then it was good enough for me!


Thursday, January 30, 2020


By Michael Moffett
So I was with a state rep friend on a Saturday night last November at the Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon watching football on the Pub’s TV. Dartmouth was beating Princeton in a game played in Yankee Stadium, of all places. Then Tulsi Gabbard walks into the bar.
Seriously. Not a joke. Tulsi Gabbard really walked into the bar.
My friend and I later moved to a function room to hear what the Hawaiian congresswoman, war veteran, and presidential candidate had to say. We both agreed that her politics didn’t mesh with ours—doctrinaire liberal positions that she HAD to espouse to compete in the primary, positions that will be problematical in the general election for whomever wins the Democrat nomination.
But aside from her unfortunate positions, Tulsi was an engaging, appealing breath of fresh airespecially compared to the septuagenarians against whom she’s competing. We liked her.
Fast forward to January 25.
I was with some compadres at the Meredith American Legion. And Tulsi walks into the bar.
Seriously. Not a joke. Tulsi Gabbard really walked into the bar.
As a fellow Legionnaire, Tulsi had every right to join us at Post #33. Patrons there chatted her up and she was very gracious, answering questions and patiently posing for photos with fellow veterans and non-veterans alike. That she's now suing Hillary Clinton for $50 million for defamation only enhanced her luster—at least for some of us.
And then I thought of Marco Rubio, of all people, whom I’d met at a nearby Meredith restaurant in 2015. Like Tulsi, Marco was young and appealing and I signed on as a supporter for the Florida senator and GOP presidential candidate.
Then teaching at NHTI-Concord, I later received a call from a Rubio campaign official asking about Marco coming to our college to meet with students and staff before doing a campus taping for the CBS Sunday Morning show. I was thrilled. As a former Public Information Officer, I knew how difficult it was to get media attention for NHTI. Rubio’s visit—with its attendant national media coverage—would shine a light on my beloved NHTI. I referred the campaign official to the college president’s office to work out the details.
The campaign official soon called me back, and explained that the president’s office could not have been less welcoming to Rubio—basically pushing him away. He ended up going to Manchester Community College instead. I was stunned and dumbfounded. A major missed opportunity for NHTI! Why?
I soon found out why.
Hillary was coming.
Having committed to host a Hillary visit, the college didn’t want to risk having her high profile visit unfavorably compared or contrasted with a Rubio visit. So the students missed out on meeting Marco.
(Note: NHTI now has a different administration from what it had in 2015.)
The day of Hillary’s visit I and seven other professors (all women) walked from our North Hall offices toward Little Hall to see Hillary. But the surrounding streets were barricaded and Little Hall was locked down. A campus security officer, who knew all of us well, seemed embarrassed when he sheepishly told us we’d have to stay away. Hillary would meet with the then-president and two students in front of lots of cameras and media. The show was closed to everyone else. So we and the students missed out on seeing Hillary—as well as Marco.
The machinations of Hillary’s people, both at NHTI and nationally, thwarted most potential 2016 challengers, other than Bernie Sanders—who famously routed her in that N.H. primary. Those machinations dispirited the Democrat party and helped elect Donald J. Trump as our 45th President. Thank you Hillary.
Hillary’s not a 2020 candidate, but her shadow still looms large over our body politic, as she again tries to undermine Sanders. Of course, she’d earlier referred to Tulsi as a “Russian asset,” hence the Gabbard lawsuit. We’ll know in November how it all plays out, but the Hillary factor could help Donald Trump to win it all once again.
Tulsi probably won't win the N.H. Primary on Feb. 11, despite having moved to Goffstown a couple months ago. Which is probably a good thing for Republicans, because if she did win the Dem nomination she’d probably be the toughest opponent for President Trump.
No matter how many bars she walks into!
(Michael Moffett of Loudon is a retired professor and Marine Corps officer, and a former state representative.)

The founders of the Legislative Beer Caucus recently linked up with presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) at Meredith American Legion Post 33. (l-r) Tim Lang (Sanbornton), Mike Moffett (Loudon), Gabbard, Reed Panasiti (Amherst), and Howard Pearl (Loudon).