Thinking independently and engaging in passionate debate is our birthright. Unfettered speech -provided it’s approached from a position of mutual respect- has the power to mend rifts and solve big-world problems. In order for said discourse to be effective, however, the involved parties must be committed to open, thoughtful, and honest dialog.
A sincere desire to do the right thing for the person or cause you claim to care about (in this case, the American public and rank-and-file police officers) should always be the focus and end goal. It should surpass career ambitions, prestige, and money.
Is Honest Dialog Prevalent in Policing?
Case in point.
On Twitter, one police chief asked the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) what I thought was a valid question.
Their response? To block him.
Look, I have nothing against the IACP. They’ve been cordial (though non-committal) when I’ve reached out to them. Their reaction, does however, epitomize why things stay the same in policing.
Until our leaders are willing to speak honestly about the current public safety crisis, nothing will improve. Cops will continue to leave the profession en masse, disengage in proactive policing, and suffer from lowered morale. Consequently, crime will continue to claim innocent lives.
Breaking off dialog or saying things that are disingenuous only serves to kick the can down the road.
What Do Cops Really Think?
My sense is that generally speaking, rank-and-file police officers fear expressing their true thoughts to the management class. This is symptomatic of a dysfunctional work environment.
Dealing with toxic office politics is bad enough for anyone, let alone someone charged with protecting lives and making split-second decisions.
One of the reasons rank-and-file police officers respected retired Chief Mike Koval so deeply is because he welcomed their dissent. And he defended their honor when it was warranted. Instead of playing politics with his badge, he said what needed to be said, even if it put him at odds with politicians, community leaders, and sometimes, his own people.
The call for strong police leadership is not just a Madison phenomenon. Take Joe Gamaldi, for example. There’s a reason why a whopping majority of FOP rank-and-file members voted for him to lead as their VP. He’s a fearless fighter, and he always keeps it real.
"Politicians have stopped giving a damn about the regular people in our communities."@JoeGamaldi Every community deserves to be safe. Every community member should feel like they can walk their kids to school. They deserve to have a good quality of life and they're being… https://t.co/xqJzCkbsdy pic.twitter.com/qjcN6pQuCt
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) February 22, 2023
Now imagine what the policing landscape would resemble if the type of leadership displayed by Joe Gamaldi, Chief Hughes, and Chief Koval were prevalent in policing.
For the Blue is a solutions-based initiative. I’m just an American patriot asking questions. I don’t work with any political party and I answer to nobody. For me, the health of the nation, due process (including for police officers), the rule of law, and respect for individual liberties, will always transcend party affiliation. I welcome your thoughts, even if you disagree; though personal attacks will be ignored. You can reach me at [email protected].