The thin blue line keeping criminals and citizens apart is being stretched to the breaking point as more and more city governments are acceding to progressive demands that local police be “defunded” in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police.
The movement spawned by the Floyd killing led to demonstrations and riots that paralyzed cities including Louisville, Ky., Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., in the summer of 2020.
In some departments, groups of police officers have quit at the same time, fearing city officials would not back them up in times of crisis. A study featured in The Epoch Times conducted by the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum found that from April 2020 to April 2021, police “retirements were up 45 percent and resignations rose by 18 percent” over the previous twelve months.
Across the nation, meanwhile, the number of attacks committed on law enforcement officials has increased, taking just six months in 2021 to surpass the total for the previous year.
The national Fraternal Order of Police said Thursday the number of attacks on police officials had already risen 91 percent from 2020, with 150 officers shot and 28 killed already in 2021. Alarmingly, that includes what the FOP said were 50 “ambush-style” attacks, which suggests progressive, anti-police rhetoric has made law enforcement officials targets for political action.
The 2020 Year-End Summary of Law Enforcement Officers Shot in the Line of Duty describes ambush-style attacks as those “carried out with an element of surprise and intended to deprive officers of the ability to defend against the attack.”
The demands that local police departments be “defunded” is clearly, a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows, outside the mainstream of American thinking. “Fewer than one in five voters think America should spend less on police,” the polling firm said, “and a majority want to spend more.”
According to its latest survey, 52 percent of likely U.S. Voters believed America must spend more on police while just 18 percent said less should be spent, which suggests the reality may be starting to hit home. The perception exists that the crime rate is rising and that the Democrats – President Joe Biden in particular – are responsible.
The recently released Washington Post-ABC News poll found only 38 percent of all Americans approved of the Biden Administration’s handling of crime. Nearly half, 48 percent, disapproved. Politically, the Democrats’ failure to correct that impression could have profound repercussions in the November 2022 congressional elections, a sentiment echoed in a recent opinion piece written by former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
In 1988, Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee, blew a lead of as much as 17 points, losing the election to then-GOP Vice President George H.W. Bush, largely because Bush managed to convince voters his Democratic opponent was not only soft on crime but insensitive to its victims.
The tide may be turning, but slowly. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Friday that a Hennepin County, Minnesota judge “has ordered Minneapolis leaders to keep the number of police officers at a level required in the city charter,” in what can only be described as a defeat for progressive activists who successfully pressured the city council and the mayor to cut the department’s funding. In doing so, Judge Jamie Anderson said, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council “failed to perform an official duty clearly imposed by law.”
While no police officer is above reproach and no police department is perfectly run, the data indicates the police are not the problem. The problem remains the various criminal elements who disrupt every facet of American life, particularly in the inner cities, with their violent, often lethal behavior. Unfortunately, no one has yet hit on a way to successfully defund them.
With the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the tragic death of George Floyd, recent police shootings, and continuing riots all dominating news coverage, it is time to have a serious conversation that honestly examines the situation. To be honest, whatever we are doing right now doesn’t seem to be working — unless the goal is to tear the nation apart.
No reasonable person can watch the video of George Floyd’s arrest and say it was good policing. Likewise, no reasonable person can seriously argue that an officer’s wrongdoing convicts an entire nation of 330 million people. Whatever Chauvin’s motivations may have been, they do not make you or I racists or even complicit. We are each responsible for our own actions — not for the actions of others. But we are responsible as citizens to create a society based in freedom, opportunity and accountability.
The truth is virtually all of America was horrified by the video of George Floyd’s arrest and tragic death. While his condition may have been compromised by an overdose of fentanyl, virtually no one who saw that video thought it was good policing, or that Floyd deserved to die. This fact is proof that America is not broadly or fundamentally racist.
The mad rush to label America a racist nation and to conclude racism is so ingrained in Americans that we are racist even without knowing it is not factual, accurate, fair or reasonable. And perhaps even more troubling, it misdiagnoses the problem and thus won’t correct things. In fact, the so-called cure will only further divide and Balkanize our nation.
The evidence is strong that Americans want justice and opportunity not only for themselves, but for others. In a nation of 330 million people, there are certainly some who are racists. But they are a very small minority. Most Americans properly see racism as loathsome. That is why people of color from all over the world try to make their way to America — they see it as a land of opportunity.
So let’s look for real solutions and leave the slogans out of it. For example, defunding the police will fix nothing. In fact, where police departments have been defunded, crime rates and murders have soared and city councils are scrambling to undo the harm they predictably helped cause by their foolishness.
What might actually help? We now know that Chauvin had 22 complaints filed against him for inappropriate policing tactics. Yet the union backed him and only once was he disciplined — when it now seems clear he shouldn’t have been a police officer. Had he been fired years ago, George Floyd would likely be alive and Chauvin would likely be making a living in some other field for which he was better suited. Perhaps we should look at how public employee unions blindly protect their membership from accountability. We can also look at police training.
Likewise, we must honestly admit that many police officers every year are killed in action — some execution style. And in many of the police shooting cases, the victim fights and/or pulls a weapon. As a society, we should teach and encourage respect for the police and the law.
Some commentators now frequently claim that people of color are more afraid of police than of a criminal trying to gain access to their home. That makes no sense at all. The data is very clear that the overwhelming majority of gun shot victims in the minority community are at the hands of violent felons, not police officers. If there are people of color who are more afraid of police than criminals, it is because media coverage has repeatedly misrepresented the facts and exaggerated the risks. This in turn is likely to increase the very circumstances that could lead to more tragedies.
Injustice occurs when people do things that unfairly harm others. Some of those things may be relatively small — like being cut off in traffic. And some may be quite significant and even tragic, like George Floyd’s treatment. But in a nation of 330 million people, we will experience or see small injustices every day. And we will likely hear of larger more significant injustices every week or month. That’s just a statistical probability in a large, populous nation.
But we seem to have entered a very unhealthy and irrational sphere of thinking where every time an officer shoots a minority that is proof of a broadly racist society. In fact, it is not only the most frequently repeated explanation in the media, we have gotten to the point where reluctance to accept this explanation is itself viewed as racist. We should examine the facts of each case, not merely assume or presume that race was the deciding issue.
If we assume that every slight and every injustice is racially based, we will become more racially divided. If I assume that when I get cut off on the highway by a person of a different race, that it was racially motivated, I’d be wrong almost all the time. They might have been distracted, or not seen me, or misjudged the space available and speed of traffic. But it’s very unlikely that they saw me and thought, “I’m gonna cut that guy off because I hate him for racial reasons!”
As a nation, let’s strive as Martin Luther King encouraged, to judge each other “by the content of their character” rather than the “color of their skin.” Let’s hold police accountable when they act outside the law. But otherwise, let’s respect and honor the law and the police. And let’s not rush to label every error or misdeed a racially motivated attack. Let’s seek to unify and recognize that despite our differences, virtually every America seeks a just and fair society where freedom and opportunity abound and where individuals who break the law are held accountable in accordance with the law.