By Steve Pomper
I normally prefer to be specific and provide individual’s and organizations’ names and several links to more information. However, rather than naming specific people and organizations, I will be more nebulous to better represent that this issue of officer flight affects more agencies and officers than those that continually appear in national stories. Still, I will provide one link in the conclusion about a mayoral candidate and situation every American should know about as a cautionary tale that emphasize the point of this commentary: retaining cops.
Law enforcement officers are fleeing jurisdictions where the political leaders do not support their police officers in myriad ways. That’s no secret, and it continues unabated. I’ve never seen anything like it in my department. But discussing and debating the issue only goes so far. It seems everyone knows the problem, but what is the solution?
The solution isn’t as easy as some may think because it involves something many people not might want to do: Vote for candidates who support law enforcement. Cops see this reluctance as a barrier to a return to sanity in the criminal justice system. I think it may be the underlying reason some officers have hung on for as long as they have. But now, they’re finally cutting the last thread and are either retiring, resigning, or moving to agencies where cops are still appreciated.
First, let’s review some items affecting cops. This is not nearly an exhaustive list but skims some of the issues cops face that the public may not think about. Or, at least, don’t think about together as symptoms of a mass infection that has sickened American law enforcement. The items are not listed in order of importance, as together they each act to force good police officers to make their heart-rending, life changing decisions to leave agencies and communities they’ve tried so hard to protect and serve.
Officials in many American cities, either by policy or intentional neglect, have decriminalized crime, which leads to de-policing. This frustrates cops who get to the point that their jurisdiction’s policies and lack of support make it impossible to enforce the law.
There are prosecutors who simply will not enforce laws equally. They exempt certain laws from being enforced and certain people from being accountable for breaking those laws. Some district attorneys now want officers or prosecutors to determine if thieves, including looters at riots, “needed” the items they stole before arresting or charging the suspect.
Politicians are taking away law enforcement’s ability to protect themselves and the public during demonstrations that turn violent. Responses to riots in certain jurisdictions across the country have been severely curtailed. Political leaders are taking away necessary crowd control strategies, tactics, techniques, and tools. In fact, many jurisdictions have even “outlawed” the accurate term, “riot.” It’s been replaced with something like, “public disturbance,” “malicious mischief,” or “messing around” (okay, that last one was mine).
Some officials have mucked up the concept that if a “protester” chooses to remain at a demonstration after it becomes violent must, necessarily, be considered a part of the riot. However, politicians, who have never been to a police academy, are deciding that officers must distinguish between “peaceful” and violent people under riot conditions. Some jurisdictions are now requiring officers to exempt from force, people wearing “press” or “legal observer” tags—again, in the fog of extreme violence, arson, and looting.
Mayors and city councils have also routinely ignored their legal obligations to police unions under negotiated labor contracts. When ruled against, they just ignore the sanctions. So, they continue the violations. Why wouldn’t they? Even more egregious, there are cases of officers who’ve been wrongly disciplined by a government entity. And, after being restored to full duty by a state arbiter, some jurisdictions have refused to reinstate the officer. This is where cops crash into judicial hostility. There are judges who will overrule “binding” arbitration, making police unions virtually powerless to seek legal remedies.
Aside from thwarting union contracts, there are mayors and city council members across the nation accusing officers of “police brutality” after they have used force to protect their own lives. In one specific case, officers sued a particularly egregious city council member for slander for repeatedly, and publicly, calling them “murderers.” Here was another collision with the judiciary, where a judge threw out the cops’ lawsuit.
There are jurisdictions forcing officers to attend partisan political indoctrination day camps. This has been going on to some degree for the last 20 to 30 years. It began slowly and, in recent years, has picked up pace. There is even one county that recently added, to its social justice indoctrination for its employees, forced segregation.
A white county executive has decided his black employees are harmed by working with white employees. So, he’s segregated his work force. How long before this includes the Sheriff’s Office. Reportedly, the DOJ investigating this possible violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (possible?).
So, this is just a small accounting of what is wrong—very small—tiny. But it’s solutions that are needed. Right now, cops in cities large and small are leaving their agencies, as if those cities have slit their own wrists but don’t believe they’ve done it. Then how can jurisdictions stop the flow before they bleed out? The cops can’t fix this; only the voters can.
This sounds easy but, in many places, seems impossible. There are voters in cities from coast to coast that have been electing the same candidates or same type of candidates who’ve been destroying their cities for decades. This crisis did not happen suddenly, though it can seem that way, considering the exceptional destruction and violence seen over this summer. But the foundation for this mayhem has been put into place over many years—through elections.
The voters in these cities continue to conduct the same experiment, electing ideological morons, expecting different results, a safe, secure, and thriving city. Never before has the adage, the people get the government (and police department) they deserve, meant so much.
There is one mayoral race, in a city infamous for its rioting, where the contest pits the second worst mayor in America against an admitted Antifa activist. The voters set up this situation. Any chance this will work to retain cops no matter which candidate wins? Not a chance in hell. Especially since that city’s police commissioner is the mayor.
So, either that city’s voters will retain an inept, cowardly anti-cop politician who tolerates and encourages Antifa, or they will replace him with Antifa. How can this not put the lucid voters in that city in a position where they feel like slitting their own wrists? Again, only the voters can fix this.