Meet Ed Nowicki, new member of PSWA
Marilyn: Over the years I've heard your name mentioned many, many times though I don't really know much about you. Now is your chance to enlighten me and the other members of PSWA who many not have met you yet.
First, tell us about your background before law enforcement.
Ed: There's not much to say before being a cop. I grew up in a tough, working class Chicago neighborhood. We'd fight, but with no weapons. We'd have drive-by "shoutings", not shootings. I graduated from Tuley HS, which is now Roberto Clemente HS. Seems like all my buddies became cops or criminals.
Got married to my first wife at 19 (I'm still married to her, but I like to keep her on her toes). I was a dad before the age of 20. I went through a series of go-no where jobs. As a "no where man", I was adequately qualified for those jobs.
I really didn't want to be a cop, but a buddy nagged me to take the Chicago PD test. I did so to shut him up. He flunked the PD test for the third time, and I placed #14 of 5000. I talked to my wife and we decided "let's try it." My buddy who flunked the test for the third time resented me for passing, and we broke contact.
My dad was a state trooper, and he got shot in the calf while chasing a gangster. My mom pressured my dad to quit, and he did, My mom was livid when ?I was appointed to the Chicago PD.
Marilyn: And your work history--how did you get there in the first place?
Ed: I got accepted into the Chicago PD Academy at 20 years old, and was sworn in on 19 FEB 68. You had to be 21 YOA to buy a handgun, so my dad had to buy my gun. I learned police humor when terms such as "baby cop" came me way. I then, literally, had a baptism by fire when Rev. King was assassinated, and they pulled me from the academy and put me in a police district that was in the middle of rioting, looting, shooting with buildings burning. I felt the impact of "shock and awe' first-hand.
My first assignment as a patrolman was in the district with the highest crime rate in the city. This was in a black community that had a very vocal anti-police segment. My first encounter with black Muslims was scary - I felt their hared as the called me a "blue eyed devil." I got into my first shooting (of 6 total shootings)while working alone, while still on probation, and chasing an armed robber on foot during a running gun battle. Like the RCMP, I got my man!
We then had something called the Democratic National Convention of 1968. I was there in Grant Park, on Michigan Ave., and in front of the Conrad Hilton. I had confrontations with members of the SDS. I had friends injured, I was injured and every cop there was injured. The bright lights of TV cameras blinded us as we were hit with chunks of concrete, bags of human excrement, golf balls with nails driven to them. TV cameras required a great deal of light at night and they would not turn off the lights, so we did!!! ?This was only to prevent injury from flying projectiles.
During the summer of 1969, we had to deal with the "Days of Rage" from the Weather Underground, AKA Weathermen, which splintered from the SDS as a very violent faction. Dealing with the Weather men was a scary hell. They set off bombs, shot cops, and hated our guts.
The late '60s and '70s offered constant protests. Young people in general, hated cops. There seemed to be a general dislike for cops by the public. It got so bad, that people even hated the uniform and any person who wore it. I wore a windbreaker over my uniform while driving to and from work to avoid people hurling insults my way. As a young cop, I was proud to wear the uniform, but I was also pragmatic.
I experienced mankind's inhumanity to fellow man and I will never forget some of those experiences. Some will haunt me to this day.
Marilyn, I can go on and on. I got promoted to detective, worked the robbery unit, then I was transferred to the narcotics unit, and work.ed there from 1972 - 1978. I remembering coming into the narcotics unit on February 27, 1974, and I heard that 2 cops got killed: Bruce Garrison and William Marsek. I talked Billy Marsek into becoming a police officer, and I helped to get transferred into the unit, which was headed by an old boss of mine. I was in shock and felt 1000% guilty for Billy's death. I felt so guilty that I'd frequently report for duty with an empty gun. It took me 2-3 years to finally realize that what I did for Billy was for love, not malice. Billy's on the wall of the police memorial panel 61-E: 21. I "visited"Billy on the wall on 5 separate occasions. Each time I do, I get welled up in tears and break down. Imagine a blubbering 6'2" 275 lb man who is crying like a baby. After I healed from Billy's death, I said that I would do all that I could for cops and to keep them alive. I am still and will always be dedicated to that mission.
Yada, yada, yada, I got carried away - sorry!
Marilyn: Don't be sorry, I found this all very interesting. Anything you'd like us to know about what you did for the majority of your career?
Ed: I'm a street cop at heart. I do all I can to help the law enforcement profession. I look back, I was a big city cop and detective, a suburban cop for a year, a small town chief of police, a part time cop for 25 years, and a law enforcement trainer for 28 years (some years overlap, I'm not 91!) I arrested murderers, rapists, dope dealers, wrote speeding tickets, and made almost every arrest, except for treason!
Marilyn: When did you first become interested in writing?
Ed: I read many law enforcement periodicals, and I realized that there were writers, who knew how to put a story together and "experts" who could talk the talk, but I could tell that they never walked the walk. I read work by some of the typewriter commandos, and decided in 1982 that I would try to write, both as an expert and as a writer. I read all that I could on writing, and subscribed to Writer's Digest. I then wrote two articles, and got them promptly rejected. The editors were kind enough to write some constructive criticism. After my ego healed, I rewrote both articles, and had them accepted. Since then, I've been hooked.
Marilyn: And what kind of writing have you concentrated on?
Ed: The non-fiction area has been my arena. I write about one article a week. If I'm energetic, might be two or three articles. I've had over 1000 articles published in most major law enforcement periodicals, and numerous articles in many non-law enforcement magazines such as "Dog Fancy", "Navy Times", "The Teacher", "Bartender", "Western Horseman", "CrimeBeat", "Combat Handguns", EMS Magazine", Firehouse" and "American Handgunner."
There are three way yu can write a non-fiction article" as an expert, as a pure writer, and ans an expert-writer hybrid. Even though I have a law enforcement background, most of my articles are written as a pure writer. As a writer, I might know little for nothing until I do my research, interview experts and assemble the pieces. It's like putting the a jigsaw puzzle together--and you are the one who made the pieces of the puzzle.
I broke out with the original True Blue, which was published by St. Martin's Press, and had two printings. True Blue was "creative non-fiction" and it contained mainly my exploits as a Chicago cop. St. Martin's wanted me to write anther book of stories, but I was having some medical problems and I said "no."
Now, I'm ready to write both creative non-fiction and fiction, in addition to my non-fiction articles for law enforcement periodicals. I know I have another book or two of short stores and a few police related novels swirling around in my head.
Marilyn: What haven't I asked that you'd like to tell us about?
Ed: Since I write non-fiction articles, I need to take photos. I take the photos, but I don't really like to do it. I'm trying to "encourage" some copy connections to take photos for the credit. I haven't been successful.
My son is a cop and most of my friends are cops. Part of my identity is being a cop. I want to actively association with some writers. I'll do what I can to help others, but I'd like others to constructively assist me.
Now, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I don't know. Serious, I consider myself a life-long student, who appreciates all that life offers. BTW, I'm usually the guy who wears the lampshade at parties.
Marilyn: We're delighted you've become a member of PSWA and I'm looking forward to meeting you at our conference.
Ed: It will be my pleasure to meet you and the other PSWA members. As a PSWA newbie, I intend on doing a great deal of listening with little talking. I'm in awe of PSWA members. The 2010 conference can't come soon enough!
(For more about Ed, here's his official bio.)
Ed Nowicki is a nationally known law enforcement trainer, in addition to being a founder and the executive director emeritus of an international law enforcement training association: the prestigious "International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association" (ILEETA). He began his law enforcement career with the Chicago Police Department in 1968 and has held the ranks of Patrolman, Detective, Lieutenant, and Chief of Police with four law enforcement agencies. Ed retired as a Police Training Specialist with Milwaukee Area Technical College. He has trained thousands of officers across the nation covering various use of force topics at police agencies and police academies. The U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy have also used his services on numerous occasions to conduct training in Europe. During 1994 and 1999 he traveled to Great Britain and trained police constabulary instructors from England, Scotland and Wales.
A survivor of many lethal encounters, Nowicki has been judicially recognized and is nationally known as an expert witness on police training, standards and procedures, OC spray, self-defense and the use of force. Ed served as an use of force expert during the federal trial involving convicted felon Rodney King. He has received many awards for his contributions to law enforcement and law enforcement training, and is in national demand as a speaker and presenter.
Nowicki compiled and edited two highly acclaimed law enforcement-training texts, Total Survival and Supervisory Survival. He also wrote an award winning (1993 True Crime “Paperback Book of the Year” by Real Crime Book Digest) book of police short stories, True Blue. He is a widely published author, and since 1983 he has ad over 1000 magazine articles published, and still writes for many law enforcement and related publications. Ed is on the advisory board for Police magazine, and a contributing editor for Law Officer magazine, and writes a monthly “Training” column, since 1999, for Law and Order magazine. A former Wisconsin Municipal Judge, Ed holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Arts Degree in Management. In 1994, Ed received the "Award of Excellence in Law Enforcement Training for Individual Achievement" by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which was personally presented by U.S. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, in 1998 he received the “Integrity Pioneer Award” from the National Institute of Ethics, and in 2007 he received the Law Officer Magazine “Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year Award.”
Thank you so much, Ed, for this great interview.