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Johannes Spreen

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Johannes Spreen, B.S., M.P.A., and Ph.D. (ABD) was in law enforcement from 1941through 1985.  He began his career as a New York Police Department police officer, rising to the rank of Inspector. He then served as a Detroit Police Department Commissioner; and, was the Sheriff of Oakland County Sheriff’s Office (Michigan).  He has also been a newspaper columnist, and a professor at John Jay College and Mercy College.  Johannes Spreen is the author of five books: Who Killed Detroit?: Other Cities Beware; Who Killed New Orleans?: Mother Nature vs. Human Nature; The Saga of Thundercloud and Dancing Star; American Law Enforcement: Does Not Serve Or Protect!; and, American Police Dilemma: Protectors or Enforcers?

According to the book description of American Police Dilemma: Protectors or Enforcers?, “Commissioner Johannes Spreen was a police officer extraordinary; a man who helped restructure and develop New York City Police Academy training leading to a college program, a 'West Point' for officers, now John Jay College for Criminal Justice. Johannes Spreen is a man of enthusiasm, indeed a prophet; always ahead of his time and brought his talent to Detroit as Police Commissioner and later Sheriff of Oakland County." Rudolph P. Blaum, Retired Captain, New York City Police Department, John Jay College, former president American Education Association.

This book describes how policing has gradually emphasized law enforcement over the protection of people. It is a compelling book by an innovative and gifted top cop who presents a convincing case for community-oriented policing. This story of policing urban America over several decades covers politics, crime control, leadership, mental and physical conditioning, morals, and rivalries that reduce effectiveness. Besides being a role model for youth, police officers, administrators and policy analysts, Commissioner Spreen used wit and literary brilliance to describe his career and these issues through charming letters to his daughter.”

According to the book description of American Law Enforcement: Does Not Serve or Protect!, “This book describes how policing has forgotten to serve and protect citizens but emphasizes technology and quick response after a crime has been committed. It has astonishingly simple new ideas about how policing could prevent crime as well as enforce laws. These radical but economical changes in policing would not only result in more respect for police by the public but would lower the crime rate by preventing crime in the first place. This seasoned veteran brings his experience to bear in tantalizing clarity as a master wordsmith. He produces a compelling case for changing even the kind of vehicles that police use today.   Commissioner Johannes Spreen was a police officer extraordinary; a man who helped restructure and develop New York City Police Academy training leading to a college program, a 'West Point' for officers, now John Jay College for Criminal Justice. Johannes Spreen is a man of enthusiasm, indeed a prophet; always ahead of his time and brought his talent to Detroit as Police Commissioner and later Sheriff of Oakland County.”

According to the book description of Confessions of an American Sheriff: The Nicest Sheriff in America?, “In this powerful expose of the harrowing problem of political intervention upon law enforcement, a once prominent county sheriff presents an eloquent account of what's wrong with law enforcement. Johannes Spreen, sheriff of Oakland County, Michigan, for twelve years, is upset. Based on the information he presents about the obstacles presented by self-interested politicians and the media, the rest of us ought to be, also.

The purpose of this book is to provide to future and present sheriffs and other law enforcement executives information about the pitfalls and pressures of politicians and the media, which make the elected position of a sheriff increasingly difficult. Filled with colorful characters, heroic deeds and despicable acts of crime, the book details the fascinating history of the difficult job sheriffs face.

Sheriff Spreen said that his theme was this: “In our history, when a crime occurred, the sheriff rounded up the able-bodied men of his county and pursued the evildoer and brought him to justice. Today, we need a posse that can be rounded up and assist the sheriff before the crime is committed and before the accident occurs. The hope of tomorrow lies in the youth of today.”

According to the book description of Who Killed New Orleans?: Mother Nature vs. Human Nature, “Hurricanes Katrina and Rita created the most expensive disaster, the largest evacuation, and the third deadliest flood in American history. Nobody can control Mother Nature but the world's most advanced nation could have protected its citizens better. This disaster revealed the faulty psychological reactions of officials who not only failed to protect the public from danger in New Orleans, but lacked effective responses to the calamity. We elect and hire people who are supposed to protect us from attacks by nature and enemies. However, they fail us because of their human nature. They are as imperfect as we are, but we expect them to collect and heed facts that we cannot know, to prepare for predictable disasters, and to focus on long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes.

Engaged in popularity contests, politicians and officials at all levels did too little about obvious problems. The ugly picture of poor and mainly black flood victims jolted us with poverty, racism, and segregation. Leaders must not wait to improve flood protection, racial inequities, a deteriorating healthcare system, dwindling resources, and climatic changes until crises occur. This costly disaster should awaken us to re-examine and change our methods of selecting politicians and leaders.”

According to the book description of Who Killed New Orleans?: Mother Nature vs. Human Nature, “This book deals with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the psychological reactions of those who failed to protect New Orleans as well as victims of the Gulf Coast catastrophe. Unlike 9/11 when we were all in the same boat, Katrina showed us that poor blacks were left in a different boat than others in New Orleans. Who Killed New Orleans dispells myths about panic, shows the different reactions of men and women in such events, examines the roles of police and rescue workers, and describes the causes of criminal behavior which occurred in the Katrina aftermath. Other books may deal with the hurricanes using the blame game but this book helps us learn about our best side which often emerges in crises.”


Who Killed Detroit?: Other Cities Beware!
Diane Holloway Ph.D.  More Info

Who Killed New Orleans?: Mother Nature vs. Human Nature
Diane Holloway PhD  More Info

The Saga of Thundercloud and Dancing Star
Johannes F Spreen  More Info

American Law Enforcement: Does Not Serve Or Protect!
Johannes F. Spreen  More Info

American Police Dilemma: Protectors or Enforcers?
Johannes F. Spreen  More Info

Confessions of an American Sheriff: The Nicest Sheriff in America?
Johannes F Spreen  More Info

According to the book description of The Saga of Thundercloud and Dancing Star, it “ is a delightful and informative book starring Thundercloud, a brave young Native American Warrior, and Dancing Star, a lovely young maiden, and the adventures they share.The original stories were created through the imagination of an innovative and gifted New York Cop, Johannes Spreen, to amuse, enchant, and entertain his young daughter. The stories were enhanced by the research and writing of Cherie Lee, Associate Editor of Sun Life Magazine, and powerfully portrayed by the illustrations of Justin Rose.”

According to the book description of Who Killed Detroit?: Other Cities Beware!, “Who Killed Detroit explains how the automobile industry, migration of blacks, housing segregation, riot of 1967, rise of radical groups, and the resulting reactions since then have left this great city in shambles. No other American city has offered so much to so many in the first half of the twentieth century. And no other city has collapsed as completely as Detroit in the second half of the twentieth century. Who Killed Detroit explores what can be learned to prevent a similar fate in other cities. Former Detroit Police Commissioner Spreen reveals secret documents that explain the operations of groups that killed Detroit. Blame is laid at the feet of politicians, the press, pressure groups, the police and the people. Rumors that have floated about for 40 years are put to rest. Spreen and Holloway shed light on the forces and psychological factors that bring a city down. They examine problems that still exist and threaten the survival and progress of the city. They also list preventive actions that cities can take to avoid a similar fate.”

About the Oakland County Sheriff's Office 

The Oakland County Sheriff's Office “is the largest "full service" Sheriff's Office in the State of Michigan. With a current jurisdictional population of 1.2 million residents, the Sheriff's Office services over 273,000 of those residents through law enforcement contracts in 14 different communities. The coverage area also encompasses 450 inland lakes.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is organized into three divisions: Administrative Services; Corrections and Court Services; and, Law Enforcement Services.

According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, within the Law Enforcement Services Division, “Patrol Services contracts with 11 townships, 1 city and 1 village to provide around the clock police protection. That is a total of 275,000 citizens who benefit from the full service police protection of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The Investigative and Forensic Services Division is comprised of multiple units that possess specific areas of expertise. This division consists of a full service crime lab, multi-agency auto theft unit, fugitive apprehension team, computer crimes unit, fire investigation unit, narcotics enforcement team, warrants unit, special investigations unit, and the multi-agency crime suppression task force.

The Special Response Team (SRT) is a highly skilled, highly trained group of officers selected from personnel throughout the Sheriff's Office. This team responds to critical situations involving barricaded gunmen, high risk warrant arrests, drug raids and civil disturbances.”

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