A dear friend who’s a retired cop recently told me this:
“Low/no bail as well as lip service bail conditions (with no consequences for violating) are literally making our streets unsafe and our cops are sitting ducks!”
This person is right. Assaults and ambushes on cops are on the rise. In fact, within the past 48 hours, six officers of the law were shot, per the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Twitter has been lighting up with images of thousands of New York’s Finest lining up on Fifth Avenue to pay their last respects for fallen NYPD Police Officer Jason Rivera. A handful of thought leaders, politicians, and media people have also been offering their thoughts and prayers.
Expressions on Social Media Are Not Nearly Enough
We need to go further in our advocacy for law enforcement than just expressing outrage online.
Because tomorrow, after the fanfare has fizzled, Officer Rivera is a memory, and people are on to the next Big Issue, cops will still be vulnerable to attack. And when criminals are free to assault police officers without consequence, what chance do the rest of us have?
We Should Be Further Along Than We Are
Stopping the assaults and ambushes against police officers is not really that difficult. It requires a few basic things:
- Brave police chiefs who make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that attacks against their police officers will not be tolerated. The badge comes before politics.
- Union leaders who push back against false narratives (like FOP and NYC Police Benevolent Association do so well) and work with members of Congress to craft pro-police laws. (I’ll get to that below).
- Elected officials who have the courage to stand up and do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because it may or may not be politically expedient.
Serious question: Why is it taking so long for these things to transpire?
Why is Governor Ron DeSantis one of the few elected officials crafting serious public safety bills? Why is Harris Faulkner of Fox News one of the very few in the media who consistently report on the state of policing? Why are very few police chiefs vocal, instead content to placate their critics? Why has every single police union not pushed for legislation to protect cops or weed out laws that punish cops for acting in good faith?
You and I Are the Cavalry
I’ve come to the realization that if meaningful change was going to occur, it would have by now.
Few are coming to save law enforcement or to protect society from its worst offenders. It’s up to us to tell our elected representatives what we want – because they’re not going to do it on their own.
Lobbying for Law Enforcement
Any of us can peacefully lobby our elected officials independently on our own timeline. That’s always a great choice -and I encourage it- however there’s another way for you to participate if you don’t want to do it alone.
The National FOP’s Annual Day on the Hill
The FOP is hosting its national lobby day -this year it’s again virtual- starting February 7th through the 9th.
Per the FOP,
“Our event will begin on Monday, 7 February, with an online briefing on our legislative agenda hosted by staff in the National FOP’s Government and Media Affairs Center (GMAC) and members of the National Legislative Committee. The GMAC staff will make our Day on the Hill legislative and supporting materials available on the website soon. The online briefing will last approximately one hour and the details about how to register and log on to the event will be shared as soon as they are available.”
You can register directly on FOP’s website.
Though this event is designed for police officers, we citizens can -and should- also make our voices heard. Because the safety and well-being of officers impacts us all.
I’ve attended lobby days for other issues and can confirm that they’re effective. That’s because legislators are more likely to listen to groups rather than individuals. The more of us speaking out, the more apt politicians are to listen.
If you can’t attend FOP’s lobby day
You can still make a difference. Pick up the phone or email your elected officials and talk to them on your own time.
Here are three talking points you can use with your own legislators.
- Create state legislation similar to Florida’s Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act. Make assaulting a police officer during a riot or unlawful event punishable with a mandatory jail sentence (Florida mandates six months).
- Amend our state’s bail system so that repeat offenders aren’t treating the court like a revolving door, and aren’t free to prey upon innocent civilians and police officers.
- Fund mental health initiatives for police officers. As a group, cops experience higher instances of mental illness including PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Be factual. Be polite, but firm. Remember, they work for us, not the other way around.
In coming posts, I’m going to offer more actionable ways for everyday citizens to support and defend police officers. Because being outraged on social media won’t change a thing. Thoughtful, meaningful, sustained action will.
There is no cavalry coming to save the day. You and I need to be heroes for our heroes.