We are only a quarter into 2016 and already have seen the murders of 17 law enforcement officers along with the shootings, stabbings and assaults of hundreds more. Yet if you are watching the news or reading the papers, all you will see are snippets of video of police uses of force being manipulated into anti-police rhetoric. You will hear accusations of institutionalized racism, excessive force, and horrendous misconduct. You will see demands for body cams to protect the people from their police and changes in the fundamental mindset of policing. And the frightening aspect of this is that many of these degrading comments and stories are now coming from the political leadership of cities, states and the United States government. Our country is seeing a massive dividing line being drawn across America and the color of that line is blue.
As protest marches take place in cities across America demanding the prosecution of officers for simply defending themselves, our law enforcement community stands bewildered. They are wondering how is it possible that false narratives like the great lie of Ferguson, “Hands up don’t shoot” could be embraced by seemingly intelligent people. City officials, sports figures, Hollywood actors, members of Congress, and even a chief of police in Minnesota run around with their hands in the air, repeating the Ferguson myth more than a year after it has proven to be untrue. Prosecutors fall all over themselves grabbing headlines as they announce police prosecutions, state legislators propose changes in the law to make it easier to charge law enforcement officers, and the president of the United States ignores the murders of brave men and women who are doing their best to protect their communities.
And as incredible as it seems, law enforcement “leaders” cower in silence or worse yet voice their support for the new politically correct mantra of “softer policing,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for surrendering the “warrior mindset” necessary for survival. In Washington, DC, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a law enforcement “think tank” issued a report of 30 “recommendations” for law enforcement agencies. It is interesting to note that PERF has an executive director and a staff of 30 civilians, mostly researchers.
One chief of police who reviewed the PERF “recommendations” said this, “In my opinion, the recommendations were written based on political correctness and to appease a vocal segment of society that is supported by the news media. PERF and some segments of our society seem to be missing the primary function of police officers: law enforcement.” A national authority on reality-based police training gave this chilling forecast: "In order to get along, several of PERF’s recommendations will be accepted and crammed down the throats of American police agencies. First they will become 'best practices' as adopted by larger police agencies, then smaller agencies will be bludgeoned into adopting them by a tilted legal system that punishes those who adhere to policies 'outside of best practices.' It’s a brilliant leftist strategy."
Law enforcement officers feel betrayed by their government, their leaders, and in many instances, their communities. They are withdrawing into “de-policing,” the bunker mentality, and the most harmful aspect of psychological battery, cynicism. In addition, law enforcement agencies are already beginning to see what will be long-term effects such as severely diminished recruitment and lowered retention of personnel, as officers are retiring as soon as they are able or simply quitting.
It is time for police leaders to unite and in one voice demand an end to police persecution and stand up for justice. There is strength in unity and power in solidarity. Law enforcement leadership must avoid the politicization of “use of force” issues and stand firm against pressure for “reform,” as expressing a need for “reform” is nothing short of an admission that policing is broken and feeds the false narrative of institutionalized racism and misconduct.
Policing has always faced challenges but in this hyper-political climate fed by a manipulated media there is much more at risk than in the past. The very lives of those who serve and protect lie in the balance and it is they who will face the consequences of today’s leadership decisions.