Howard Berger Stands With Cops And Community

By Stephen Owsinski

A Black Lives Matter resolution in Lauderhill, Florida created a blowback for one of the municipal government’s officials, Vice Mayor Howard Berger, when he voted against the city’s bill which reads more like an outright indictment of law enforcement (empirically, not just Minneapolis’s Derek Chauvin) than caters deserved dignity of African American citizens.

This appears to be a piece of local legislation which, as written, baselessly throws stones at one demographic while seeking support for another, ironically with language having to do with hate. The proverbially broad brush strokes painting all cops as inherently bad is self-evident; while four of five city commissioners voted for the anti-cop language in the resolution, Vice Mayor Berger (also a Lauderhill commissioner and 42-year resident of the beloved city) maintained voting in good conscience, opting away from herd mentality.

It is not that Mr. Berger opposes the Black Lives Matter movement and its inherent principles; to the contrary, he maintains personal and professional stances against racism and bigotry and less-than-kind behavior toward fellow man and women of all colors and cultures. The crux of the criticism against Berger opposing the Lauderhill governing body’s resolution is precisely based on the abject denunciation of the entire law enforcement community, even calling for the absurd abolition of police forces. The majority of police personnel who do the greater good in their respective community get little recognition, outweighed by the grotesque actions of the few bad apples in the police bushel.

Looking at it through the Lauderhill city commission scope, their own police department comprising approximately 130 sworn personnel is exposed to and included among those targeted by the following language contained in the City of Lauderhill Resolution No. 20R-06-99. Succinctly, the Resolution’s summary introduction reads:

A resolution of the city commission of the city of Lauderhill supporting the Black Lives Matter movement; providing that the city of Lauderhill adamantly opposes the use of excessive force, police brutality and the unlawful killing of black people; providing that the United States Congress and the Florida Legislature needs to take immediate action to end the existing police practices that target black people and that result in the unlawful killing of black people; providing for an effective date (requested by Commissioner Richard Campbell).

One may review that as written and logically conclude the language (as composed) casts absolute aspersions in the most negative fashion. That is what Vice Mayor Berger did, and he is being criticized for exercising critical thinking skills by suggesting the phraseology debases all law enforcement, in effect holding every American cop to account for what was grossly committed by a fractional few.

Choose any profession in the USA and examine one of the mere few individuals in that category who have maligned the role with which they were entrusted. Take school teachers, for example. Do we condemn all teachers for the inappropriate sexual escapades stemming from a few instances whereby a bona fide educator betrayed their responsibilities by exploiting a student? Should the whole of the educational institution be cast in such negative light because of a few cohorts who strayed from ethical and moral turpitude and betrayed the mission for personal fulfillment?

Mr. Berger’s stance is to not necessarily place every solitary law enforcement officer in one big ugly box, the grotesqueness created by a few who have nothing to do with Lauderhill’s sovereignty and governance delivering sanctity to its roughly 74,000 constituents. Their police chief’s message makes this pretty clear.

Those desiring harmony among all races and cultures Anywhere, USA, have Mr. Berger in their midst. As reported by the New Miami Times, Vice Mayor Berger “said he wanted to see a revised resolution that was unifying and ‘palatable to everyone—people of all races. Democrats, Republicans, and independents.’”

Berger also called the resolution “adversarial.” Who among us after reading the resolution language above can argue it justly embraces law enforcement officers for infinite accounts of great police work and humanitarian good deeds? I’m stymied.

In essence, Berger simply requested more deliberation so as to buffer and solidify the resolution and justifiably tone down its anti-cop rhetoric. He has enough foresight to realize not all cops deserve to be lumped together as one when, in reality, it boils down to the few who foolishly tarnish their badge and its oath-stated vows. Berger’s statement to the media delineates his stance and why: “If a person reads this resolution, he or she would think a police officer gets up in the morning, goes to work with the intention of shooting an African-American. There is no mention here of the 99 percent of cops who are professional, put their lives on the line, and serve the community admirably.”

Only an ignorant individual would refute that. Thus as has been the growing case, in many corners of America, people are jumping on the anti-police bandwagon, evincing the mob mentality which seems to prefer a skewed view or no perspective other than the one mainstream media narratives have been propagating, plaguing minds in the process.

Speaking of propagating narratives, we have begun to see the I-told-you-so spoils born of criminal justice reform such as measures to do away with jails and retrofit bail bonds, the early and largely unmitigated release of violent inmates, the deprivation of validated police equipment fashioned to protect life/property, and the outlandish cries to defund, disband, and abolish law enforcement altogether.

These things, too, are on Vice Mayor Berger’s mind. Per a NBC Miami News report, Berger framed it this way: “Keep in mind the Black Lives Matter [movement] does favor abolishing of prisons, the abolishing of mass surveillance. They want community control over the hiring and firing of police and the issuing of subpoenas.” Sounds like the spawning of an all-new government, a self-imposed one, perhaps with the makings of Marxism as lauded and self-proclaimed by BLM founder Patrisse Cullors in a New York Post report. Why shouldn’t such factual information be considered by elected officials avowed to serve the public and ward them against harms and illicit-minded radicals?

With that in mind, Florida State Rep. Shevrin Jones was invited to the resolution’s round of discussion and participated telephonically. After hearing Vice Mayor Berger’s reasoned opposition, Rep. Jones chose to hang up. Subsequently, Jones told the media, “Whether you agree with their entire bullet points of the movement or not, it’s the camaraderie, it’s the unity of it all that we are looking for. Mr. Berger seemed to not think it was important.” It’s always important to speak out against hatred of police personnel we are seeing all around the nation.

To the contrary, Berger thought it important enough to get it right, to get it solidified and balanced with utmost inclusivity, including the worthy recognition of great cops performing phenomenal police work on behalf of citizens of all colors and cultures. Berger added, “I believe that black lives matter, referring to the concept. I do believe as much as anybody in social justice, in opposing bigotry, in opposing police brutality.” Again, he sought to make more robust and comprehensive the Lauderhill resolution, to include facts that support law enforcement’s vital role in any community.

Despite Berger’s deliberations and articulations resulting in a Nay vote regarding the resolution, it nevertheless passed with a 4-1 vote in favor—not a word in the resolution’s entire content was altered from its original form. As such, now the Lauderhill, Florida record books falsely reflect cops are evil monsters hell-bent on killing African American citizens. Coinciding with this Lauderhill resolution is a Wall Street Journal report published recently which actually denotes the opposite.

For the better part of every day since the tragic and graphic murder of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, we have witnessed a massive push to literally dissolve policing as we know it. In doing so, Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to disband their police force, with concurrent reports immediately indicating criminals were not willing to go straight after some magical flip of a switch. Some news revelations cited victims and/or witnesses abjectly refusing to contact cops after malicious crimes were committed. Indeed, anarchy is never pretty, especially soiled when zero cops are around to help clean up the sordid artifacts of malevolent behavior inflicted by rampant wrongdoers. Be careful what you wish for, folks.

Cops are necessary in our society—we know this to be factual. It is likely why Lauderhill Police Chief Constance Stanley’s seven siblings include four who also pursued a career in law enforcement.

“If you’re mad, get mad…don’t hold it all inside,” wrote Annie Lennox, followed by “I’ll stand by you.” When the chips are down, where will you stand? Will it be on the right side, among those who seek to do good much like police officers do daily? Will it be with the mob mentality, among factions who can’t or refuse to see the broader picture, and just want to push through laws recklessly?

A voice of reason such as Vice Mayor Berger’s can use echoing. He is not dodging, he is exercising empiricism, as any elected official ought to consider. His message possesses substantive considerations supported by analysis and fact-based findings which ought to be pondered for Lauderhill’s or any other entity’s resolution outlook. His words speak not to Derek Chauvin but to the greater brand of crime-fighting cops who number roughly 850,000 nationwide and the loved ones, neighbors, friends, and citizens who support them. Are you a voice of reason? Despite his Lauderhill-centric locale and 22-year elected oversight of approximately 74,000 constituents, do you stand with Vice Mayor Berger’s general message that such a resolution condemning cops is misguided and wrought with ill-applied sentiments?

It would seem honorable and ripe with wisdom for any duly elected official to exercise due diligence and research/examine the facts of the matter. It would behoove Lauderhill commissioners to be well aware of radical motivations of Black Lives Matter and how they are perceived by extraordinarily prominent figures as well as everyday citizens who may have reality-based experience dealing with BLM members.

Of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Washington Times published an analysis/opinion which included the following line: “The legions of protesters and rioters filling TV screens don’t much care about the underpinnings of the campaign for justice, so-called, but they should. The organizers of Black Lives Matter clearly care, and it is the philosophy that animates the movement and is steering it toward a dangerous place most Americans would flee if they understood what awaits them.”

The Washington Times continued: “Americans watching the Black Lives Matter demonstrations on TV have been witnessing the handiwork of ‘trained Marxists’ practicing the dialectic. The hair-trigger harpies screaming obscenities in the faces of police officers attempting to keep the peace, masked bullies yanking down statutes of historical figures, the hooded guerillas hurling Molotov cocktails—all are putting Marxist ideology into action.”

Is Lauderhill Vice Mayor Howard Berger prescient? Or does he just do his homework well, bringing it to the classroom for deserved discussion? Likely, common sense plays an enormous role.

Should he simply just go along with what his cohorts want, or maintain his integrity in arguing the points being considered in not only Lauderhill, Florida but in similar locales pondering similar resolutions? Is it really a resolution at all? Are we realistically done with cops?

Let the Lauderhill, Florida commissioners and the media know where you stand on their Black Lives Matter resolution. These are trying times whereby law enforcement supporters can readily show their allegiance by voicing concerns and/or rendering suggestions for an amicable resolution suiting everyone, including Lauderhill PD’s roughly 130 sworn law enforcement officers. Everyone wants resolve—just not to the exclusion of the other.

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