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An Open Letter to President Trump

In order to make America great again, we have to make officers and the public safe again.

January 06, 2017  |  by Ron Martinelli

Photo: Chris Miller...Imagery/Palm Springs PD
Photo: Chris Miller...Imagery/Palm Springs PD

Dear President Trump, you have vowed to make America great again. That's a big job, and I sincerely hope you succeed. But if you'll give me a few minutes of your time I would like to speak with you about how you can make the law enforcement community and the American public safe again. Which is also a big job and one that needs your urgent attention.

The last year was a violent and tragic one for law enforcement. By early December we saw an amazing 70% increase in officers being murdered. Worse, there was a 167% increase in officers killed in cowardly ambushes by armed assailants. That's a 10-year high. As I have predicted in my new book, "The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police," the increase year to year in police deaths by murder may soon top the 100% mark for the first time since the violent days of Prohibition in the 1930s.

American cities and their law enforcement communities have been besieged by militant anti-police Marxists from Black Lives Matter, the New Black Panther Party, and the Black Liberation Army; communists from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and anarchists from the Occupy movement, who march uncontrollably down streets chanting, "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!" and "Kill the cops!" These anti-police protesters vandalize, loot, and burn businesses and police cars as they threaten, assault, and kill innocent citizens.

The violent rhetoric of the left, the refusal of President Obama to more assertively support law enforcement and place officer-involved death cases into their proper and accurate context, and an ignorant and biased mainstream media have created a dangerous environment that has led mentally deranged ticking time bombs and cop-hating killers to assassinate officers throughout the country.

Adding to the dangers law enforcement officers face in contemporary America is a leadership vacuum. Police administrators are more fearful of losing their high-paying jobs and pensions than restoring order, and they have allowed disruptive and violent demonstrators to take over roadways and highways, paralyzing their cities and creating deadly medical emergencies for those who depend upon life-sustaining medical transportation to transit from points of injury to hospitals. Worse, your predecessor President Barrack "The police were acting stupidly" Obama, soon to be departing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and other politicians have criticized the police more than the criminals.

Recently, the outgoing President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police even went so far as to apologize on behalf of the law enforcement community for transgressions in the past against the minority community. What transgressions are those? Police protect the rule of law that is legislatively created by politicians, not police. How are police at fault for enforcing the laws segregationist officials elected by the public established?

Of the following professions: legal, judicial, medical, political, and educational; law enforcement ranks the highest in credibility with the public. Multiple investigations have consistently proven that police actions were legally justifiable and objectively reasonable in all but a handful of officer-involved death incidents. Yet, President Obama consistently went out of his way to either say or imply that police were at fault—and he was consistently proven to be wrong. Clearly, it is our angry, out of control, and outrageous public citizens who need to learn "de-escalation" techniques; not the police who respond to calls for service to control them.

The political correctness and lack of context as to the sacrifices of law enforcement officers on behalf of their communities, and the blatant absence of leadership from our so-called "leaders" during the past few years has been nothing short of embarrassing.

It is the police who defend civil rights and protect the public on the street level, not the president, or politicians, or the courts. I guarantee you that for every problem in society you will find at least one politician or political party responsible for it. Police are responsible for almost none of our historic problems in American society. Police respond to society's problems; they don't create them and it's high time the politicians quit lying to the public and the public educate themselves sufficiently to understand that fact.

So, respectfully, Mr. Trump, here are my recommendations.

Take Control of the Narrative

I know you are extremely busy now that your are preparing to take office, but the men and women who wear the badge are dying almost every day on our streets. We lost 19 officers in November alone, with at least five police officers ambushed. In fact, we have lost more police officers to violence in this country this year than we have U.S. military personnel fighting abroad in the War on Terrorism.

Don't wait until you are our President to take control of the narrative. Seize the moment right now before you come into office. Make a positive, public statement about the importance of the role of police in American democratic society and pledge your firm support to back the badge. President Obama has never really supported our men and women in law enforcement and this has not been lost on those in the anti-law enforcement Black Lives Matter movement and their surrogates and supporters.

The more our leaders express support and seek to educate the public about the importance and sacrifices of our law enforcement community, the safer officers and the public will be.

Bring Civics Classes Back to Schools

It is a national disgrace that elementary, middle school, high school, and most college students in our country receive no education on civics, civil rights, the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and the role of law enforcement officers in our democratic society. You just nominated Betsy DeVos as your secretary of education. Once DeVos' position is confirmed, please direct that she mandate all students from elementary school through the freshman year at college receive at least four hours of education per year in civics, civil rights, the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and the role and authority of police in society. These courses should include instruction in the appropriate and legal behavior of citizens during their interactions with police.

Any street officer will tell you that one of the most critical problems they face during encounters with the public is that the average American citizen has very little understanding of what their civil rights are and are not. Their ignorance of law, civil rights, and the role and authority of police in enforcing the rule of law leads to resistance to police authority. As we have all learned, resistance to police authority often has unintended serious and sometimes deadly consequences for the resistant citizen and increasingly for the officer encountering them. Do this and you will begin to make it safer for citizens and law enforcement officers to interact.

Make Attacks on Officers a Federal Crime

It is incredible that a police officer can be prosecuted under both state and the federal law for alleged violations of civil rights. Yet, there is zero reciprocity in federal law when a citizen violently assaults and/or kills a law enforcement officer who is not a federal officer.

It should be a mandatory capital offense with a compulsory death penalty for any suspect who is convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer. We have several states that do not have the death penalty. If a police officer is slain in those states, the federal government should automatically step in and assume the prosecution of that suspect.

Prosecutors should also be prohibited from offering plea bargains to defendants who murder officers. A time limit to exhaust all appeals should be no longer than three years. Special death penalty courts should be established to expedite the adjudication of defendants who are convicted of murdering officers so that a known date of death is assured upon any conviction. This system will go far in deterring those who would consider murdering officers. Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty is a deterrent. It is the death penalty adjudication system that is a failure in deterring murderous behavior.

It should be a federal offense for any person to assault an officer with a gun or other deadly weapon including a vehicle. I propose an automatic 10-year, non-plea bargain sentence for any person who uses a firearm to assault a law enforcement officer. I also propose that the deliberate, premeditated killing of a law enforcement officer be charged as a state and federal hate crime. A careful review of the criminal profiles of most of the suspects who have murdered police officers will reveal that most have lengthy criminal histories for violence and gun crimes, where they were released back into society far too soon after pleading down their cases. That revolving door system must end.

Stricter Sentences for Gun Crimes

Guns don't kill people; behavior kills people. If you want to significantly reduce the levels of gun violence in places like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and other crime-plagued cities, you need to change behavior. The quickest way to modify recidivist behavior that directly leads to homicide is to enact and support severe sentences for illegal gun possession and gun-related crime.

As discussed, if you research the criminal histories of suspects who seriously injure and kill other citizens and police, you will classically find that they have extensive histories for weapons possession and crimes of violence. You will also find that few spent any considerable time in jail or prison for their crimes. They have benefited from one plea bargain after another, one diversion program after another, and one failed sentence after another. And they have learned nothing but how to game the system.

If we are going to put a serious dent in our violent, gun-related crime and homicide rates, we are going to have to get serious about identifying recidivist violent criminals and locking them up in prison with lengthy prison sentences. We need to keep them in prison for lengthy periods because they are violent predators from whom the innocent public needs to be protected. A commitment to handing out severe sentences for gun possession will serve as a deterrent to those thinking about carrying firearms. However, without that level of commitment forget about any deterrent factor. It's just that simple.

Appoint Tough Judges

Judges have far too much power under our current criminal justice system. They also have the immunity of the bench. This means that they are not accountable to the public they serve. That type of thinking is misguided. In many cases, liberal, uninformed, elitist judges play a major role in the gamesmanship that has led to our failed criminal justice system. True criminal justice reform makes all actors in the system accountable to the public.

President Trump, you need to work with your new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ensure that nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, and lower federal courts interpret our constitution and do not legislate new laws from the bench. At the state and local level, judges need to be appointed and voted in who will commit themselves to a more conservative agenda and enforce a new series of strict gun-related behavior control laws that deter criminals from possessing and using firearms to commit violent crime.

Final Thoughts

Mr. President-Elect, America needs to be safe again before it can truly be great again. You have a lot of work to do, but creating an environment where law enforcement is understood and respected and our citizens are protected from violent recidivist criminals must be one of your first priorities.

Those of us in the law enforcement community wish you Godspeed and good luck as our new president in moving us all forward.

Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist/police expert who directs the nation's only multidisciplinary forensic death investigations and independent review team (www.DrRonMartinelli.com). He is the author of "The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police" available from Amazon.com.


Comments (22)

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22

Jon Crosby @ 1/10/2017 10:13 AM

Thank you for the concise and well written article. As an average citizen I learned a lot from this. I did not realize civics wasn't being taught anymore in school, and I had no idea the laws in many cases are so lax in prosecuting criminals who attack officers. Anyone who attacks a cop has no good in them, and the harsh penalties, including the death sentence are justified in my opinion. I'm only here researching some things for my writing, but I'm a supporter of the men and women in blue.

Kate @ 1/10/2017 11:11 AM

I agree with Jon Crosby on every point. No more civics classes? My grandfathers, uncles and great uncles were all cops in NYC from the 1920's through the 70's. Thank you and God bless you all.

DD16 @ 1/12/2017 3:59 AM

Thank you Jon and Kate for your support. I've been doing this job for 31 years in Central Florida (Transplant from NY) and appreciate citizens like you guys. We cannot do this alone and we need to be as one with the community which my department tries to do every day. We actually had BLM plan a march in my town and when they tried to get support from our Black Community, they told BLM not to do it and that they did not want them here. They further stated that they have a good relationship with my department. Again, thank you and God Bless!

blsmith @ 1/12/2017 9:40 AM

Great article Ron. I ordered your book and read it back in April of 2016. Excellent book, easy to read, great documented information. Your article here is right on. I will send out the link to read this article, as I did the book, to over 3000 LEO's in Utah. Take care and stay safe. I highly recommend buying Ron's book.

Charles @ 1/14/2017 10:16 AM

It is time to stand up for our law enforcement community.

If anything warrants being classified as a hate crime then surely assaults on law enforcement personnel are hate crimes.

Even assaults on mail carriers are vigorously prosecuted as federal felonies.

It is absolutely unconscionable that miscreants masquerading as Congressmen can defame the nation's capital with "protected speech" exhibits of vile hateful disgusting inflammatory vicious gutter trash.

JD Cargill @ 1/25/2017 5:47 PM

I pray each day for those that stand between us as citizens and those that choose to do harm --- I pray for all Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters, Military personnel. At my age (70+) I have seen this GREAT NATION in a different "configuration" and I have no doubt that with our prayers, hopes and hard work that this NATION will once again be the GREATEST !! Humbly, JDC

Donna @ 1/25/2017 11:59 PM

Thank you for a well written, concise and informative letter that plainly explains the issues we, the LE community, and the public in general faces.
I have recently retired from the LE Community, but remain active as a certified law enforcement instructor. Today's cadets/rookies ask tough questions on how to survive, literally, and professionally over how to handle today's issues.
I applaud you for taking this stand and hope President Trump takes all your suggestions into consideration.
I feel for him, as he has a hugh job ahead of him.
Again, thank you for your open letter.

JJ Walker @ 1/26/2017 3:18 PM

Thank you for the concise and well written article, very well done and thorough. I did not realize civics wasn't being taught anymore in school, I did however know that cursive writing is no longer practiced or taught in our schools. These two alone are enough to cause great alarm heading into our future, and I had no idea the laws in many cases are so lax in prosecuting criminals who attack officers. Anyone who attacks a Police officer has to be treated as a terrorist, and the harshest penalties, including the death sentence are justified in my opinion as well. And as for the people who decide to protest (for whatever their cause or issue may be) If they get out of line don’t follow the law and destroy property of others, they too should be prosecuted as terrorist along with any gang related attacks within any of our cities throughout the entire United States of America. I'm proud of all who serve to protect our great country, but I'm an avid supporter of the men and women in blue,

Hal Ruffner/Deputy/Miami- @ 1/26/2017 8:11 PM

It was with great pleasure reading your letter. Your topics were point on. Especially the points regarding police managers, unwilling or lacking the moral
fortitude to do what required by law. Willing to sell their officers out for political
correctness. It is because of this, that I have chosen to retire in July after 44.5
years of professional service.

GITAHI KANYEKI @ 1/27/2017 4:27 AM

As a serving police officer in Kenya this letter is very moving. God bless the people with the badge

Joseph R Seda @ 1/27/2017 5:41 AM

Ron...thank you for your tireless efforts to educate the public regarding the true meaning, intent and dangers of police service. As a retired Police Officer, I stand with you and hope that President Trump will consider your letter and implement your suggestions. As you and millions of other active/retired law enforcement personnel, their families and many citizens already know, the bottom line is that to truly make America safe again there must be a concerted effort to restore public safety and the rule of law. In closing, our President would do well to consider including you in his inner circle of advisors regarding law enforcement issues!

Sgt_Gorilla @ 1/27/2017 6:04 AM

I agree that we need to focus the criminal justice system on locking up violent offenders. Long harsh sentences for extremely violent offenders is a must. I just recently saw a man convicted of drug possession going to prison for 13 years and another man convicted of Aggravated Robbery get probation. The system is surely broken. With that in mind, please keep in your thought the brave men and women who lock themselves behind the walls with these violent predators. Corrections is often forgotten about in the discussion of law enforcement. However these brave men and women need the resources and support to do a very dangerous job. Thank you for sharing this letter with us Dr. Martinelli.

Capt. David Younce @ 1/27/2017 6:49 AM

Ron; well stated. Hope there is some way, some how your message can be read by men and women, who are in position to enact into place the changes which need to be made. It has always amazed me when some people are put into high positions at police departments, who then forget about where they came from. David

Mark Hayes @ 1/27/2017 8:13 AM

Take politics out of the Chief's Office. Appoint a "Chief where if administration's change the Chief can not be replaced at will. The only way a Chief should be removed is for "Just Cause". Wisconsin has had this law for years. Wisconsin Chief's except for Cities of the First Class (Milwaukee) operate just fine within these parameters. Politics is taken out of the Police and Fire Departments by the Police and Fire Commission. They are independent of the operations of the city, Villages and towns.
As I said it works well.

Kathy Casey @ 1/28/2017 11:52 AM

An excellent letter and message. It should be seen by all our elected officials and sent to every school in the country. I am retired from Maricopa County Sheriffs Office in Arizona, where I worked in the jails. I know that the majority of police officers are our most upstanding citizens and are genuinely there to protect and serve. I have never been so angry in my life as I have been the last eight years when, over and over I heard politicians from Obama on down, academia, and celebrities spout the myth of the racism and oppression by the police. Then we watched them stand by and see the results of their lies as more and more officers were attacked and killed. We need to see strong support for the police from the Trump administration to put a stop to the carnage.

Stan Olsen @ 1/28/2017 2:47 PM

Very well done letter. Thank you for you insight and support. I spent more then 3 decades with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Over that time I watched as attitudes and respect dropped toward law enforcement. We do have to accept some responsibility but certainly the majority of responsibility is not ours. While I did not vote for Obama as most of us felt I didn't want to see the President fail, but fail he did. He failed law enforcement, the communities and the country. Dr Martinelli is correct, its a big job. I do not want to see President Trump fail. Only those who want to see the country fail, want to see the President fail.

Jim Davenport @ 1/29/2017 6:48 PM

I also wrote a letter to Pres. Trump at the White House about law enforcement. Specifically, on recruiting problems that every agency has had for quite awhile. 35 years I've been in this and we used to have very large numbers of applicants apply to the agencies. Not so anymore and with him wanting 2,000 more in Chicago, 5,000 more Border Patrol, Baltimore needs hundreds more, etc. I asked him to consider the wasted money of Federal pork barrel spending to supplement pay for law enforcement, in areas where police are poorly paid, better equipment, training, etc. There is much that Pres. Trump can do to improve law enforcement and get people interested and dedicated in our career for reasons other than a steady paycheck.

Guy R Gula @ 2/1/2017 4:36 AM

Agree 100% and I have been saying that since obama invited 2 for beer. Me I would have never went. I have said numerous times obama is destroying America and has done that for 8 year's and since President Trump took off office his Democrat friends are . As a Past Police Chief I can say God Bless all Police Officer's

Guy R Gula @ 2/1/2017 4:42 AM

Agree 100% and ever since obama had the 2 for beer, I have felt he was not a friend of the Police and I was 100% right. 8 year's he has been destroying America
and really few notice friends with certain countries, allowing Gitmo releases also over 1700 prisoner's it's like building a Army inside the USA When are the people going to wake up God Bless America and all Veterans and Police Officers

Yvette Rose @ 2/17/2017 11:37 PM

The letter is on target regarding Civics classes the youth if today has no respect or education on any type if authority. This was a culture promoted by the previous administration. Law Enforcement for 8 years was disrespected, insulted and tarnished by the previous Administration. Hopefully, President Trump will interact, promote and empower Law Enforcement throughout the Country. Most importantly the Trump Administration needs to raise interest and moral for the Men and woman in Blue!

Michael D./Deputy/Florida @ 2/27/2017 10:45 AM

I have but 7 yrs left before retirement and even though I've loved being an officer, I've gotten to the point of wanting to give it up. Your comments were right on point. The narrative has gone so far from its base that no one can figure out right from wrong any more. From the beginning I supported President Trump simply because of his back bone and willingness to stand up for our military and law enforcement. Having worked in our school system our children need more education on our legal system. Not the one of sue happy and civil rights activism, but the system of justice. Remember, the one that is still the greatest in the world. We must get back to our roots of civility in our society and rule of law. If we do not, I'm afraid that before I end my tenure as a deputy we will have absolute chaos as the American we all know and love travels even further down the proverbial rabbit hole of destruction. God bless our brothers in uniform and God bless our President.

Anderson C. Fluellen @ 3/9/2017 5:07 PM

I do not support a narrative that puts poor disenfranchised at war with poor disenfranchised law enforcement Officers. I'm a member of both families. I don't hate myself in either of my families.

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