The law enforcement profession isn’t wrong.
That’s one of the key points Major Travis Yates wanted to make clear in writing his book, The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards and Chaos. And it rings true every time a suspect is caught, a life is saved, and a crime is prevented. So, if law enforcement isn’t wrong, why are so many police leaders apologizing these days?
Part of the answer—and part of the growing problem—is that the law enforcement profession takes the blame for almost everything nowadays, and has been the scapegoat far too often, for so many ridiculous things. So it’s understandable that law enforcement officers, who are typically civic-minded people who make endless sacrifices, would apologize more than necessary.
But this must stop.
Law enforcement professionals must stop apologizing for circumstances they do not control. This includes apologizing for the so-called “disparities” in arrest statistics—because such claims are flatly absurd.
All too often, police critics and reformers decry the arrests of too many “blacks,” too many “whites,” too many Laotians, Lithuanians, lunatics—you name it. However, in reality, law enforcement officers inherit the circumstances of crime. They don’t choose the victims—or the people who victims and witnesses identify as suspects.
So let’s make this really clear, so others outside the law enforcement profession have a better chance of understanding: law enforcement officers respond to calls for service and investigate crimes, they enforce the law; and they arrest people identified by victims, witnesses, and evidence.
Indeed, as a public service, law enforcement officers arrest people identified as suspects on behalf of victims. So instead of offering an apology, police leaders—that is, everyone in the law enforcement profession—should be offering an explanation about how arrest statistics reflect public service and the realities of crime.
Granted, some people may not want to accept such realities. Nonetheless, if a (“black”) victim identifies a suspect as “a young black male,” it is what it is. If a (“white”) witness identifies the suspects as “a bunch of Asian-looking people,” it is what it is. If a (“white/non-Hispanic”) victim alleges that “aliens are stealing my food,” that too, is what it is. The law enforcement profession does not need to make sense of any of this—or apologize for it.
But notice, just like in the parentheses above, key demographic data is often missing in discussions about arrest stats and crime in general. Yet trying to explain crime and arrest stats—without correlating suspect demographics with victim and witness demographics—is a lot like telling a fairy tale. And while such explanations may seem entertaining, if not magical, they misinform the public and ultimately make things worse for law enforcement. And in some cases, tragically worse.
Granted, there are plenty of things that can go wrong in law enforcement, and plenty of times when apologizing is the very least we can do. But whenever “arrest numbers look bad”—meaning one set of people of whatever demography were arrested more than others—there’s no need to apologize. And there’s absolutely no need to apologize for a lack of so-called “demographic parity” that arrest stats supposedly must reflect. That’s because “demographic parity” is completely fabricated, made-up nonsense that has nothing to do with the realities of crime and subsequent arrests. But that hasn’t stopped so-called police reformers from effectively using such nonsense against the law enforcement profession time and time again.
With every apology —for arresting people on behalf of victims—the law enforcement profession suffers irreparable harm. While there may not be a direct correlation, every unnecessary apology ultimately bears upon public opinion to some degree. And by their very nature, apologies create a sense that law enforcement must be wrong—and it confirms that perverted rationale that insults, violence, and ambushes against law enforcement officers are somehow justifiable.
Indeed, as a public service, law enforcement professionals ought to enforce the law, and ought to arrest suspects on behalf of victims. That’s what victims expect from law enforcement, especially victims of violent crimes. And no matter what arrest stats supposedly indicate about so-called “disparities,” or whatever arrest stats should look like, chasing down violent criminals and arresting them on behalf of victims doesn’t deserve an apology. It deserves the utmost appreciation and respect.
And that’s just part of the reason why police leaders must stop apologizing…
JC Chaix is a former police officer (and firefighter). JC is the co-writer of the best selling book The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos, and Lies. He is also a proud father and self-proclaimed “cop wife.”