I’ve written a good deal on the need for police reform and issues with the culture within policing There have been countless examples where officers have used deadly force improperly, or at least under questionable circumstances. Some would argue it is a lack of training, while many will proclaim the issue is much deeper. In this piece, I’d like to touch on the cultural and political part of the topic. As some of you know, I’m outspoken about this issue on social media and, deservedly or not, my words seem to carry a little bit of weight because I have experience in law enforcement at both the local and federal levels. My words get bounced around on Twitter and Facebook from time to time and this resulted in me being contacted by a woman named Sheila Albers. If you do not know who she is, you should. Perhaps more importantly, you should understand something appears to be wrong in Johnson County, Kansas and she’s helping to fix things.
On January 20th, 2018, 17-year old John Albers of Overland Park, Kansas told his parents he didn’t want to go to dinner with the family. He’d been going through a rough time and, while the family was out, had made some statements on social media that alarmed friends who were concerned for his well-being. The friends called 9-1-1.
Officer Clayton Jenison responded to the Albers’ residence and was standing beside the driveway as the garage door went up. John then backed the family’s van out of the garage. Officer Jenison proceeded to fire shots into the van, striking John.
Video of Officer Jenison positioning himself next to garage door
Dashcam video showing Officer Jenison firing into van
Officer Jenison, who was clearly positioned beside the driveway, would later state he believed John was going to run him over. The video evidence shows Jenison, who ultimately fired 13 shots, was not in the path of the vehicle.
What I’m going to focus on here is the fallout, which is still occurring and completely uncertain. First, Officer Jenison resigned. Sheila Albers informed me that Overlan Park City Manager Bill Ebel failure to fire Jenison allowed the former officer to retain his law enforcement license. Okay. And he didn’t just resign. He was paid $70,000 as part of a deal to resign. In addition to the $70,000 severance, Jenison received over $11,000 owed for his regular salary. It gets more interesting. The police department and prosecutor’s office determined there was nothing wrong with Jenison’s conduct. Nothing wrong. He responded to a call of a potentially suicidal boy, fired into a vehicle that was not a threat to him, killed a kid, and got a payout to leave. But that’s not all.
Okay… so here is where we get into the “culture” issue in law enforcement that I’ve discussed many times before. In policing there is a natural instinct to circle the wagons, become incredibly defensive, and develop an “us vs them” mentality. It’s drilled into you from day one in the academy when you are told nobody will understand your job but your fellow officers. You are told, your number one job is to come home at the end of your shift, because you never know who out there may want to kill you (policing is dangerous, but isn’t in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. and most officer fatalities are from vehicle accidents). I mentioned the police found no wrongdoing on the part of now former Officer Jenison, and in fact gave him a payout. The city also settled a large wrongful death lawsuit following the shooting – although there was supposedly no wrongdoing. So, let’s say most of this is part of the cultural problem. But what about the prosecutor – District Attorney Steve Howe? The D.A. is supposed to be separate from this policing subculture and politics shouldn’t play into any decision-making, right? Right?
Well, it just so happens Mr. Howe is up for reelection. So, let’s check out his website to see what endorsements of which he’s most proud.
Mr. Howe’s Facebook page is nearly a mirror image.
So he’s backed by multiple law enforcement officials after not charging a law enforcement officer who killed a kid. You don’t say. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
One might start to think the scales of justice aren’t completely balanced here. Now we have a something that reaches further than a cultural problem, we have a systemic problem. And this isn’t anything new, this has happened in communities time and time again – particularly to minorities. This is simply one clear cut example.
Okay, now for the good news.
Back to Sheila Albers who did not stand by quietly after the tragic killing of her son. She’s part of an advocacy group called JOCO United that has been successful in getting Overland Park’s police department to take on multiple reform efforts including a change in the department’s use of force policy. Additionally, it was recently announced that federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into this case. A small amount of comfort to the Albers family, but perhaps a chance to balance those scales just a little more.
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, Bolt Action Remedy, Record Scratch, Forgiveness Dies and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
It’s 9:10 PM in the Chatham County Communications Center. The dispatchers stare at each other, afraid to move, afraid to breathe. One minute to go. Will tonight be the night? The clock on the wall changes. 9:11. A phone rings. The screens indicate the 9-1-1 call is coming from a blocked number. The dispatchers hope and pray it’s a coincidental call for service. Perhaps a car break-in or a bar fight. With all eyes on her, one dispatcher presses a button, puts the call on speaker for everyone to hear.
“Chatham 9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”
The distorted voice comes across the speaker. He gives the address. There will be a body at that location. That’s for certain. The killer dares the police to catch him and then, like before…he’s gone.
Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway and new P.I. Bethany Nolan are enlisted to look into the case of the 9-1-1 Killer and the investigation takes an unexpected turn when Galloway suggests the murderer may be a first responder. Galloway is pushed to the limit as he wonders if his hallucinations are returning and if members of a drug gang that want him dead have tracked him to Savannah, Georgia.
Galloway soon discovers he doesn’t trust the police. He doesn’t trust his client. He doesn’t even trust himself.
Praise for THE BETTER OF THE BAD:
“J.J. Hensley has pulled off an incredible feat: The Better of the Bad is a real rush with a gripping mystery at its heart. The Trevor Galloway series gets bigger, badder, and more energetic with every book.” —Nick Kolakowski, author of Boise Longpig Hunting Club and Maxine Unleashes Doomsday
Upon being released after three years of incarceration in a psychiatric facility, former narcotics detective and unlicensed PI Trevor Galloway has no idea how to begin picking up the pieces of his shattered life. Having lost the woman he loved and exacting revenge upon those responsible, he is irreparably broken, heavily medicated, and unemployable.
When former Secret Service agent Nick Van Metre knocks on Trevor Galloway’s door, the last thing he expected was a job offer. However when the head of Metal Security hands Galloway a stack of photos and asks for his assistance with investigating a series of threats against a controversial presidential candidate, the former detective is stunned.
Galloway initially takes the case, but eventually has to question his own sanity after he reports an encounter with intruders who seem to have left no trace in his home. When Nick Van Metre turns up dead and an attack is carried out against Dennis Hackney, the former detective with a history of extreme violence becomes the focal point of multiple investigations.
Galloway pulls clues from photos and searches for answers while dodging bullets in Pittsburgh and Savannah.
Get set for a mystery told at a breakneck pace, with each of the chapters being linked to photograph in roll of film.
Look for the hints. Watch for the signs. Trevor Galloway doesn’t trust himself. Can you trust him?
The answers won’t be revealed until the final photo is flipped.
Praise for FORGIVENESS DIES:
“Is someone setting Trevor Galloway up, or is his own mind deceiving him? Forgiveness Dies puts a uniquely fascinating protagonist–a detective who can’t trust his own perceptions–into a complex political thriller, and the result is propulsive. Hensley starts with a punch, and accelerates from there.” –Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Judgment and The Switch
“Inventive storytelling meets propulsive action in this wild thrill ride from J.J. Hensley, who brings real-life experiences to the page and delivers an authentic tale of double-crosses and dirty dealings. Don’t worry if you haven’t stepped into Trevor Galloway’s shadowy world yet…start right here, and you’ll soon want to read them all!” –Daniel Palmer, USA Today bestselling author of Stolen and Saving Meghan
“A snapshot of humanity in perfect focus. Edgy, furiously paced, raw. From the whip-smart dialogue to the deeply flawed characters, Hensley has a voice that will stay with you long after the final exposure.” –K.J. Howe, author of The Freedom Broker and Skyjack
“Forgiveness Dies is a non-stop, gut churning thriller that you’ll read in one sitting. Hensley has conceived a brilliant but almost fatally flawed protagonist in Trevor Galloway, a man so tormented by his past that in the battle for truth and justice he’s forced to fight enemies that are dangerously real, and some that only real to him. J.J. Hensley is one of the best thriller writers out there, and he sits at the top of my must-read list.” –Mark Pryor, author of the Hugo Marston series
“With Trevor Galloway, the tortured, likable protagonist of J.J. Hensley’s Forgiveness Dies, Hensley has created a character destined to remain with the reader long after the last page is turned. Not only that, but readers will find themselves inextricably pulled into a tight plot that bears a brutally close, and necessary, resemblance to today’s America. Read this book, and you’ll want to read everything else Hensley has written.” –E.A. Aymar, author of The Unrepentant
“There are two types of men you must fear in this world: Men who have everything to lose—and men like me.”
It’s a case Trevor Galloway doesn’t want. It’s certainly a case he doesn’t need. The client—the sister of a murdered musician—seems a bit off. She expects Galloway to not only solve her brother’s homicide, but recover a vinyl record she believes could ruin his reputation. Galloway knows he should walk away. He should simply reach over the desk, give back the envelope of cash that he admittedly needs, and walk away. However, when the client closes the meeting by putting a gun under her chin and pulling the trigger, his sense of obligation drags him down a path he may not be ready to travel.
A story divided into twelve songs from Jimmy Spartan’s final album.
Praise for RECORD SCRATCH:
“Record Scratch shocks you out of your ordinary groove. Sometimes witty, other times haunting, but when the needle jumps the track, the body count screams.” —Marc E. Fitch, author of Paradise Burns and Dirty Water
“In Record Scratch, Hensley, a former secret service agent, gifts us with a bounty of goods: a solid mystery, a damaged but relatable main character—one you root for, and swift plotting that weaves a compelling, compulsive tale of music and death and the demons carried by those in law enforcement. Bring me more Trevor!” —Shannon Kirk, international bestselling author of Method 15/33
“J.J. Hensley’s Record Scratch is a tersely written and tightly plotted gem, featuring one of the most unique protagonists around, Trevor Galloway, a man who has a way of getting himself into and out of trouble at an alarming rate. The book is action-packed with a dash of mordant wit, and I can’t wait to read more in this intense, engaging series.” —David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter
“J.J. Hensley’s tale of a stoic PI investigating the murder of a has-been rock star is equal parts classic whodunnit and gritty noir, peppered with high-octane action scenes that will leave you breathless. Record Scratch is like a throat punch: powerful, shocking, and unapologetic, but the surprising poignant ending will stay with you a long after you’ve finished the book. This is a thriller that crackles from the first page to the last.” —Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts
Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.
Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.
Official Book Announcement and Cover Reveal – The Better of the Bad
In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.
Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission. Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.
Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First NovelNamed one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air