George Hofstetter
(Photo: ALADS)

George Hofstetter

(Photo: ALADS)

Editor's Note: This blog post was first published by https://alads.org/.

It appears Howard Bryant, a columnist employed by ESPN, is offended by police officers being honored by professional sports teams. In several rants posing as columns and posted by ESPN, he decried teams which donate a portion of ticket proceeds to Police Officer Memorial Funds, provide discount tickets to first responders to games, or allow officers to sing the national anthem. Why? Because Bryant believes that such actions are "staged patriotism" which signals an "authoritarian shift at the ballpark."

There is little doubt Bryant dislikes cops. Perhaps it is because a police officer arrested him after witnesses called the police to report he had struck and choked his wife on a sidewalk outside a pizza place. Bryant refused to get out of his car when police arrived and then allegedly battered a police officer. Bryant claimed through his lawyer his arrest was racially motivated. Notwithstanding his initial protestations, Bryant later admitted police had probable cause to arrest him, was placed on six months' informal probation, and apologized for giving the impression the arrest was racially motivated.

ESPN has willingly given Bryant use of a platform to express his dislike of law enforcement. For example, last year, Bryant wrote the "Los Angeles Dodgers pandered to police by holding Law Enforcement Appreciation Night" shortly after the Ferguson riots. At the game, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and City Attorney Mike Feuer threw out the honorary first pitch while Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Chief Charlie Beck announced the Dodgers' starting lineup before LAPD Sergeant Alma Burke sang the national anthem. 

In support of his current bile laden missive, Bryant recounted high profile incidents of police misconduct or use of force around the country before concluding that law enforcement is unworthy of being honored by the public. He has even claimed that honoring law enforcement at sports events "feeds into the 9/11 hero narrative."

It is ironic Bryant began his latest rant quoting a Chicago newspaper and the dollar amount spent settling civil cases alleging police misconduct. A better focus would have been on the rampant wave of violence engulfing the City of Chicago, where a person is shot every 2 ½ hours. That city has suffered 268 homicides this year, a staggering 67 in May of this year, alone, and 13 more since the calendar turned the page to June 1st, not to mention an additional 1,300 shot since January 1 who did not die. It is the police in Chicago, not cop haters like Bryant, who are called on to investigate and solve the true brutality occurring daily on that city's blood-soaked streets, while also attempting to keep the peace.

Apparently, smearing an entire profession for the actions of a few is fine with Bryant, especially since it fits his obvious anti-cop narrative. However, there is a reason the majority of Americans have favorable views of the police and honor their service to their communities - they know law enforcement protects and serves them, and is the thin blue line that ensures law and order. They remember, even if Bryant wishes to ignore, the death of 37 Port Authority Police Officers and 23 New York City Police Officers on 9/11. Officers that died serving their community - not choking and battering their wives.

Maybe if I had choked and beat my wife in public, attacked the arresting police officer, and claimed my subsequent arrest was racially motivated, I might appreciate the disturbing writings of Mr. Bryant. Since I didn't and I don't, I will continue to attend sporting events with the vast majority of Americans who appreciate those who serve in law enforcement and willingly show their appreciation.

George Hofstetter is President of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. ALADS is the collective bargaining agent and represents more than 8,200 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County. George can be reached at [email protected].

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