(This article, by yours truly, appears in today’s issue of Florida Today Op-Ed page)
Anyone applying for a police officer job these days is doing so at great risk. Never before have public servants been the target of so much undeserved hate and condemnation. The real losers? We, the people.
Police officers were my extended family for 30 years in Miami-Dade County. Times have changed, not for the better. No sane and selfless man or woman would voluntarily enter the pits of hate, surrounded by enemy cameras, weapons and rebels, subject to unrestrained harassment and assault. It’s difficult enough knowing you are a target for rogue criminals simply because you wear the uniform, protecting the very people who hate you.
No one mentions how police account for the sixth highest rate of suicides among all professions, according to a recent CBS study and behindthebadge.com. In 2018, 159 cops killed themselves, more than the numbers killed in line of duty, according to the Huffington Post. In my career, I personally knew 10 officers who killed themselves.
There’s a lot of stress out there.
Worse times are ahead for law and order, particularly in larger cities. The more breaking of laws and demeaning of cops, the more disorder will explode. Perhaps that’s the intended goal.
When law enforcement is openly denigrated, assaulted and stripped of authority and power without support from political leaders, the more we will see escalated crime and chaos in the streets. Those water buckets dumped on the heads of New York officers by young men were not lethal weapons, but they were lethal to the heart of law enforcement personnel and, ultimately, to America’s future. Many qualified potentials will be looking for other jobs.
In recent debates, some presidential candidates stupidly revisited police shootings, particularly the Michael Brown case in Missouri in 2014, in which Eric Holder’s Justice Department found civilian witnesses who completely exonerated the officer. That cop did nothing wrong, yet politicians still fuel the fires.
In the Baltimore fiasco of 2015, six officers were charged broad-brush without an iota of evidence that any cop had killed Freddie Gray in a transport van. Three were acquitted, the other charges were dropped. The city exploded into riots causing millions worth of damage. The mayor stated at a press conference, unbelievably, “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” The city shamefully settled with the Freddie Gray family for $6.4 million before any trials were held, prejudging the officer’s guilt.
In 2018, while eating, two officers in Central Florida were shot dead through a restaurant window, for no other reason than wearing the uniform. In 2017, two Brooklyn cops were parked in their patrol car when a hater walked up and shot each in the head, for no reason. Protesters in New York organized a street march in 2015 chanting, “What do we want? Dead cops” In another hate-cops march, Black Lives Matter spewed, “Pigs in a blanket, Fry em like bacon.”
The political climate is worsened when certain governors and mayors act as law breakers, openly defiant to federal agencies while declaring their jurisdictions “sanctuary cities and states.” That translates to open season for crime and violence. Defiant officials, like the mayor of Oakland, forewarned illegal immigrants that ICE agents were coming for them. If that’s not “obstruction,” what is?
Every day is a risk for police. In 2018, 144 line-of-duty cops were killed, 52 by gunfire, 26 in car crashes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 31,000 officers suffer non-fatal injuries annually. Between 10 and 15 cops are killed in ambushes each year.
Officers these days will answer calls, but many will avoid pro-active policing. What for? To be doused with water buckets? Next time, it might be acid.
Police and military are the life-blood of our democracy. We better protect them, or else.