Over the past several years we’ve seen a sharp increase and violence against police officers. This would include stabbings and shootings with many resulting in death. We just saw a tragic one in Chicago. Last weekend’s murder of Chicago Police Officer Ella French, is part of the 47 felonious police officer killings so far in 2021. According to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted Program (LEOKA), that horrendous statistic almost equals the total in all of 2019.
I’m glad to see the media acknowledging the violence, moreover in some media acknowledging the culpability of activist politicians, extremist media, and hate groups who called for the death of police but the few that are speaking are not nearly enough.
Chaos Created By Liars
When you have politicians like Rep. Corey Bush (D-Mo.) demanding defunding of police and alleging their participation in the death of black men, weak and hate filled minds are inflamed and motivated to commit such violence as we are seeing today. Despite her $70,000 personal security brigade, she calls for the defunding of police and communities hardest hit by violence. Moreover, she uses misinformation to make her point. In 2019 the total number of unarmed black men killed by police was 14 and as Law Officer routinely points out, the vast majority of those are justified by law enforcement. The largest segment responsible for the death of black men are other black men and with thousands murdered each year, that cannot be refuted.
The Crisis Is Here
Today the crisis in law enforcement is so severe that retirements and resignations are at an all-time high while recruitment at an all-time low.
No one wants to be a cop and why would they? When the loudest voices like politicians in the media blame them for all of the woes of society, and malicious prosecutors and judges file criminal actions against officers when the incidents were justified and warranted, who could blame anyone from running away from the noble profession of law enforcement.
The physical violence against police is without question a crisis. Thugs and punks feel empowered by the words of those who hate police including the politicians and media to take physical action against officers. Ambushes have skyrocketed and the death of Chicago Police Officer Ella French only highlights what we have known for the last few years.
Without question we are facing a war on police but I want to call your attention to a second war on police.
The Emotional War
When police officers around the country see their brothers and sisters physically harmed and targeted, moreover maliciously prosecuted for incidents that were truly justified, an emotional response is necessarily triggered. When officers learn of such incidents they can imagine themselves being the victim, or those with whom they work being the subject of such attacks or investigations.
In some cases, the emotional uneasiness is created by departmental leadership. The vast majority of Chiefs and Sheriffs are honorable and stand for their officers when wrongly accused or attacked but there is a narrow segment of our leaders who are more committed to being politically correct than being honorable and standing for justice.
Too often we read of a police chief who is an activist and joins in motivating a malicious and unwarranted prosecution or investigation. It’s bad enough when officers are subjected to the harassment of politicians and media, but when they come to a place where they don’t believe they can trust departmental leadership it triggers an emotional response.
I was fortunate when serving with the Norfolk Police Department, both in uniform on patrol and as a detective. Our Chief, Charles Grant, was a cop’s cop. He served and all of the divisions starting off on foot patrol as a rookie. He worked his way through the ranks and served with distinction in every position. When this chief talked about police you knew without a doubt that he knew what he was talking about. As it turns out his son Drew and I were partners most of my career. Drew and I remain best friends and I can tell you the apple did not fall far from the tree at all.
Tragically, far too many departments are bringing in chiefs from other areas who are purely administrators. As Dirty Harry would call them, “pencil necked pencil pushers.”
Sadly, such woke administrative chiefs truly do not understand the perils and challenges of law enforcement. Today, far too many come from a progressive mindset and a woke philosophy that is doing undeniable damage to the profession and the communities that are served.
Interestingly enough, the idea of being “woke” began as a symbol of an awakening of pride and self-respect in African Americans who had been oppressed by the culture and laws. By this original definition, Rosa Parks was “woke” because she awoke from her society-induced second-class existence to realize and assert that her skin color should not dictate where she sat on a bus. The original idea of being “woke” was best exemplified by the words of Dr. King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. King’s dream has been pushed aside by the woke leaders of our day.
Today, “woke” means something very different. Those who speak of themselves as “woke” are not engaging in a cultural renaissance or a movement of reconciliation, liberty, and justice for all. Their language is that of Marxist Sociology and Conflict Theory.
The woke Chiefs are as likely to side with those who hate cops rather than the cops they lead.
They kneel with BLM before the altar of power and subjugation to the city leadership and woke culture preaching racial disparity and inequity rather than stand with law enforcement expressing the values of the good in police.
The examples are endless…
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan took a knee with BLM protesters in June 2020. Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne, Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young, along with additional officers, knelt alongside protesters June 2020. Ferguson Police Chief Jason Armstrong, who joined the department last year, took a knee in honor of George Floyd and he has criticized the killing of Michael Brown.
A year later, one would have to be asleep to not see the utter destruction this ideology has done to the safety in our cities and counties.
In a military war, no commander-in-chief would dare send an administrative general to command troops in the field. They would send a wartime general who understood the complexities of combat, who commanded the respect of the men and women who served under him/her, and who understood the art of war. No mayor or city manager should ever appoint a chief who doesn’t have the experience to command troops in the field or one who does not have actual street experience.
A true leader in law enforcement will not only identify and eliminate officers who break the law or violate civil rights – which is rare – but they will also stand up for those acts which were just. In doing so, the officers know that when they’re right, their leader has their back. Such a chief will stand against malicious prosecutors and activist politicians.
Recently in Chicago, the #2 in command, proved his incompetence. While awaiting the Emerald Society Bagpipes to provide the traditional ceremony as Officer French was taken in an ambulance, this “leader” commented – “we don’t need to wait 20 minutes for this sh*t. Drive her away.” That is not just insensitive, but rather a slap in the face of every cop in Chicago AND across the nation.
The ongoing and continuing attacks on law enforcement whether external or internal has destroyed much of the morale in law enforcement around the nation. Officers feel beaten down emotionally and insecure professionally because of the lack of support from city and departmental leadership.
The Time Is Now
The danger in declining morale is that it can lead to depression, and if left unaddressed it can lead to self-medication or perhaps suicidal ideations. Departments who are led by a good administrative team understand the critical need for emotional wellness, for a focus on the ability of their officers to ask for help when they feel distraught. City or county leadership must also understand the critical need to provide for the emotional Wellness of those who keep them safe. They understand the need to provide resources to get help and alternative resources when the officers feel unsafe speaking to those connected with the department. It is quite common for officers to not trust their employee assistance program. Their fear is that asking for help will be reported to the chief, which is in fact a violation of HIPAA.
In an ideal world, politicians and media would treat law enforcement fairly. Prosecutors would no longer be malicious in their accusations and charges, rather they would follow the law. I personally have helped two officers charged by malicious prosecutors with murder. One in North Carolina saw the charges dropped because there was no evidence. One in South Carolina was reduced to a misdemeanor. In both cases the officers had been cleared by local, state, and federal authorities. Yet the prosecutor thought it was politically expedient to go after these two officers.
One lost his job, his home, and his family….This has to stop!
It is my recommendation that in cases such as these, the prosecutor needs to be investigated for malicious prosecution. If proven malicious, the prosecutor should be removed from office and face disbarment. Again, this is in an ideal world and will never actually happen. Let’s face it, lawyers make the laws.
It is also my recommendation that the media who willfully, knowingly, and maliciously make false reports in the news alleging blame before an investigation is done should be suspended or terminated.
Moreover, any person in the media who releases personal information on an officer under investigation, or jurors in a trial, should be charged with a crime. In so doing they put the lives of the individuals and their families named in jeopardy. This can no longer be an accepted practice. And it should be a federal crime.
Likewise, it is my recommendation that no politician be given immunity from lying publicly, from the floor, or in the media. Too often politicians knowingly lie about ongoing investigations assigning blame when there is no blame to be assigned. They claim murder when a shooting is justified. Such politicians should be censored and prosecuted for fraud. They should lose their position of power and never allowed to hold office again. These intentional lies from politicians ruin the lives of those who keep us safe.
If an officer is involved in an alleged criminal activity, the media should not assign blame, and should wait until the investigation is concluded. Once the investigation determines culpability that can be reported.
The Heart of the Matter
The heart of what I’m writing is that in addition to the horrible vicious and violent attacks on law enforcement, officers are being violently attacked emotionally.
Post-traumatic stress does not just occur with violent acts. Emotional abuse such as I have described is traumatic. Officers falsely accused and maligned suffer emotional violation by those who make the accusations. Even when cleared, the falsely accused have to live the rest of their life under the shadow of the accusations with questions often remaining despite being cleared.
Additionally, officers around the country who witnessed the emotional abuse of their brothers and sisters through the media and politicians experience a secondhand form of trauma knowing the very same thing could happen to them or their peers. The same is true when they witness the physical violence against officers.
We as a profession must understand that emotional violence waged against our brothers and sisters can no longer be tolerated in the name of political correctness. I have taken to social media in the past taking a stand against those falsely accused. I’ve encouraged others to call mayors and departments to do the right thing when an officer has been maligned, or one who has been terminated because of their trauma…but it will take more than myself for real change.
Since 2011, the organization I founded, Serve and Protect, has provided emotional support services for almost 7,000 public safety professionals. And in every case these 7,000 have called us because they’re afraid to call their department, or in some cases because their department did not respond to their needs.
I encourage every member of law enforcement, active or retired, to join me in this fight for our brothers and sisters holding the ever shrinking frontline. We must stand together against this war on police that continues to wreak physical and emotional violence against those with whom we serve or serve with in the past.
We can no longer remain silent and witness the emotional carnage, too often leading to suicidal ideations.
We must challenge every false allegation by media or politicians.
We cannot sit on the sidelines.
We must encourage our brothers and sisters to seek help when they are victims of emotional violence.
Law enforcement is a noble profession and as such demands we stand together.
In this case, silence is not golden…It is deadly.