Rogers right at home on FOX Newtorks


If you live in this area and have turned on the news anytime in the last five years, chances are you’ve seen Nutley Commissioner Steven L. Rogers offering commentary. He’s been a presenter on many networks, including PIX11, MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and the FOX Business Network.

However, of late, and following the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the heinous killing of five Dallas cops, then the tragedy in Nice, France, the murder of three cops in Baton Rouge, La., and the two political conventions (he was a New Jersey delegate in Cleveland) — Rogers has been an instrumental figure on FOX News and FOX Business.

But it didn’t happen overnight for Rogers.

In fact, it was more than 10 years ago when Rogers was working in the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence – while on loan from the Nutley Police Department to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – that his role as a media commentator began.

Back then, he’d occasionally offer opinions on terrorism on the aforementioned networks.

But now, it’s practically every day, exclusively on the FOX Networks.

Given that the local lawmaker’s politics are generally conservative, it’s great fit for him on the FOX networks, the retired Nutley police lieutenant says.

“They call and I go,” Rogers said. “I’ve been able to develop a very close relationship with just about everyone at FOX News, including (Sean) Hannity, (Bill) O’Reilly. It’s really a great relationship I have with everyone, from on-the-air personalities to Victor in the Green Room.

“They send a car to pick me up. They feed me. There are very good people there. And I can say they’re the best organization I’ve ever associated with.”

That’s saying a lot for a man who has served quite a few large organizations, including the East Orange Police Department, the Nutley Police Department, the U.S. Navy and the FBI’s JTTF.

Because of her conflict with Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom Rogers supports, we asked him how he gets on with Megyn Kelly, of “The Kelly File” on FOX News. Rogers, as always, was gracious and complimentary in his answer.

“She’s a great journalist who has a job to do,” Rogers said of Kelly. “She had issues with Trump in the past. No one is perfect in life. That’s it. On TV, it’s essential to be truthful all the time. Considering we have no prep before we go on the air — I have no idea what we’ll be talking about until I get to New York — I prefer it that way. If there’s a question I don’t know the answer to, I’ll say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that question.’ I wish more would be that way, instead of trying to answer the unknown questions. People look silly when they answer and wind up doing so incorrectly.”

Favorites? Dislikes?

Of all the shows he’s appeared on on the FOX networks, Rogers says it’s “Fox & Friends” he enjoys the most.

“It’s now to the point when I am on with them, when they first see me, it’s ‘Hi, Steve,” Rogers said. We all get along well.”

Rogers says he doesn’t always agree with fellow talker Judge Andrew Napolitano, another FOX News regular. But when they’re done debating the issues, they always shake hands — and they have a great rapport off the air.

“Judge Napolitano once said he saw me as the finest law-enforcement officer in the country,” Rogers said. “Imagine that. Me, the best of them all.”

A social-media star?

Meanwhile, Rogers says that since he’s become a regular fixture on FOX News, his social media following has exploded. When it all began, he had about 900 Twitter followers. Now, he’s got more than 12,000.

But the notoriety has had some disadvantage. It was on Twitter that he got a recent threat to his personal safety.

“Someone Tweeted to me that I’d ‘pay the price’ for my opposition to ISIS,” Rogers said. “I wondered if harm would come to me. But I brought it to the proper authorities, and it’s since been handled. But you see, that’s just how they operate.  They’re out there and they’re watching.”

On the Pulse shooting

Rogers spent a lot of time on the air discussing the June 12 Pulse Nightclub shooting. He says the police there did an outstanding job because cops are constantly being trained for active-shooter situations.

But he says one thing that likely went wrong at Pulse relates to the victims. And it’s something that has happened in this country for far too long.

“Remember years and years ago when planes would be hijacked often?” Rogers said. “The passengers would do nothing. (The hijackers would) kill passengers, and the rest of the passengers would do nothing. That finally changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when the passengers overtook United Flight 93. They were the first group of passengers who understood what needed to be done.

“They overtook that plane — and probably saved the White House or Capitol building. Now, in current active-shooter situations, that’s exactly what people have to do.”

No question, Rogers acknowledges, that could lead to the loss of life.

“In other active-shooter situations, people have to take charge to save lives,” Rogers said. “They have to do all it takes to take control. People need to, one-by-one, get up, rush the shooter and take him down. Yes, some will die. But it’s the best defense to save lives. Not easy. But it’s the best solution.”

Rogers also says allowing more Americans — not all Americans — to bear arms outside the home would also make active-shooter situations more bearable. While Florida is a concealed-carry state (it appears none of the Orlando victims were carrying that night), Rogers believes in most other situations, the key to less death involves arming responsible Americans.

“For police to set up tactically, it takes five minutes or more,” Rogers said. “We saw that in Orlando, in San Bernardino, Paris, people weren’t armed — and the carnage was very high.”

The carnage would have been less in all of these attacks had more people been carrying weapons, he says.

Will things ever change? 

Rogers says there are other ways to slow down the recurrence of shootings and terrorist attacks on American soil. One way, he says, is community policing, which is not exactly something new, he adds.

“Funding for community policing has, like most things, been cut,” Rogers said. “It was cut for reactive policing and things like (new) technology, advanced squad cars and surveillance equipment. Instead, I suggest it’s more important to be proactive rather than reactive. That’s exactly what community-oriented policing is about.”

The Nutley PD currently uses a community-policing method that, he says, is working — and he wishes more departments would follow Nutley’s suit. It’s called “Park & Walk.”

“Our officers are visiting classrooms all the time and the kids see them as their best buddies,” Rogers said. “When cops are out in the community getting to know the people, crime decreases. There’s no doubt about it.”

He recalled an instance of where a similar program worked for him back in the early ‘70s when he was a young cop in East Orange.

“I walked the beat in one of the poorest neighborhoods (in East Orange), and yet the folks there were among the finest people I’ve ever known,” he said. “They wanted a good relationship with their police. I remember a woman I’d gotten to know. I asked her if I could get her a present for Christmas. Her answer has stuck with me to this day. She said, ‘The best gift is peace — and knowing that my nephew, Joey, will get home each night without being shot.’

“Imagine that? Think community policing doesn’t work? Think again.”

Clergy, love & empowerment

It’s not just community policing that’s needed. Rogers says two more things must also happen for the violence to end.

“One, the clergy need to get involved,” Rogers said. “They need to engage their flock and do their jobs. Would it be so wrong to talk about sin occasionally? Churches need to take action. Synagogues, mosques, temples must, too. It’s that simple.

“Next, politicians need to get back to the basics. They need to get back to the business of spreading charity and love and empowerment instead of entitlement. Politicians must demonstrate they’re in office for the betterment of other people — and not themselves.”

And that’s why Rogers, just a few months into his second, four-year term in office as a Nutley commissioner, announced recently he won’t seek a third term in 2020. That doesn’t mean, however, that he won’t seek another elected office.

“Term limits are critical,” Rogers said. “When people make a life out of politics, they end up using their offices to do things for themselves and not for the people who elected them. I will never do that. I will not be self-serving.”

So how might Rogers continue his mission of spreading love, compassion and empowerment?

“I’ve been approached to seek higher office,” he said. “Some very powerful people in powerful positions have asked me to consider it. I’m not ruling out a run for governor of New Jersey. I’m not ruling out serving more — and being a servant to more. We’ll see what happens, but for now, I have the work I’m doing in Nutley and the TV work — I love both.”


Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.