Tragic, horrific, disturbing, dangerous…these are just some of the words that came to mind as the news circulated about the ambush murders of three police officers on Sunday. The situation in America regarding law enforcement and the media storyline is getting worse with every news cycle. Over the past two weeks, five officers murdered in Dallas, a terror attack in Nice and three officers murdered in Baton Rouge. The President has stepped up to the microphone each time to deliver a reaction to the events. Instead of offering the words necessary to calm a nation and inspire confidence and solutions, in each case he made it political. Guess he really took former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s words to heart about never letting a good crisis go to waste.
You may remember that Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago now as murders skyrocket on his watch… but that’s for another blog post.
Sad, disgusting, inappropriate, dangerous. These are the words that came to mind as I watched the President deliver his remarks yesterday. His focus was on political rhetoric and divisive speech. He wants the American people to believe that there are two equal sides at play here. On one side, people with legitimate grievances against the police and on the other the need to keep law enforcement officers safe. The problem is that the sides are not equal. To raise an incident that resulted in a man’s death during an arrest to the level of an assassination of officers responding to a 911 call is inaccurate, disingenuous and wrong.
One is a criminal act designed to murder someone because they wear a uniform. The other is a mistake based on circumstances. Prosecutors and Grand Jury decisions continue to reinforce that even why someone dies as a result of police action, their death is a terrible accident. And more often than not, entirely justifiable. In the case of the shooting in Minneapolis, details are emerging that places the incident in a very different light than originally reported. In Baton Rouge, evidence will be reviewed and if the cops acted improperly, you can bet there will be charges.
Many activists in the Black Lives Matter movement would have you believe that racist, poorly trained cops are out preying on innocent victims. This narrative is ludicrous and completely false. The second narrative that bad cops don’t face justice is equally false. There are numerous examples of cops being charged and convicted after killing someone in the line of duty. Let’s not forget the more recent case of Michael Slager.
It’s critical to put the issue in context. There are 900,000 law enforcement officers in the nation arresting more than 12 million people every year and making tens of millions of traffic stops. Think about the sheer volume of interaction between the public, perpetrators and police. Questionable shootings and killings at the hands of the police are almost non-existent from that perspective. Even the Washington Post reported on the 990 people killed by police in 2015 and concluded that the overwhelming majority were armed and threatening police.
Let’s go back to the original point. The ambush and murder of police officers responding to a 911 call is a heinous evil act. The act itself potentially jeopardizes response time as officers may wait for backup. The violence may give cops a reason to potentially be distracted by thoughts of their own safety while trying to stop a crime in progress. Yet, despite the rising danger of being a police officer today, the one thing can count on is that the brave officers in the Baton Rouge Police Department will be responding to 911 calls today and in the future. It’s why we call them heroes.
Politicians like the President and others must stop the race-baiting and fear mongering that has left law enforcement vulnerable to barbaric attacks. The focus of the President’s remarks should’ve been about offering leadership through a difficult time and practical solutions to provide our nation’s peace officers with the tools and support they need to continue to keep our communities safe.
There is a very thin line between savagery and civilization…and that line is Blue.