For years to come, one ignorant, murderous cop in Minneapolis has destroyed race relations and community trust in law enforcement. The result of his actions caused billions in damage and personal injury when public protests were infiltrated by agitators who turned them violent. A tipping point is upon us, and every one, on all sides, needs to stop, take a breath, and think before acting any further.
In my experience as a police chief, before making a punitive decision, I learned always to get the facts first. However, if there is an argument for Officer Chauvin's interactions with Mr. Floyd's neck, the country would love to hear it.
Most times, there is an unseen "something" that evokes an officer's response that leads to the moment when we observe perceived police brutality. But this situation has an officer nonchalantly kneeling for all of us to see. Even if something violent did happen in the eight minutes before Mr. Floyd's death, this officer would need a miracle to justify his actions.
Watching the video for those eight long minutes was horrific. Particularly because Floyd pleaded for his life and bystanders shouted warnings. When a grown man cries out for their mother, it is the most grave of situations. Suffice to say, we all witnessed a murder, and our nation is collectively suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress.
I've watched the video completely a couple of times. In an attempt to avert my attention from a dying man's face, I couldn't help but notice officer Chauvin's uniform shield on his chest is pinned on noticeably crooked - what a fitting analogy.
Emotions are bursting out of everyone, some with revenge at the forefront. But, just as we warned on September 11, 2001, to not condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few, we need to abide by that same advice when considering our law enforcement officers. The apparent blood-lust in Chauvin's heart is an anomaly not found in many people, let alone our police officers.
People who were previously biased against the police are getting in the faces of politicians and screaming to get rid of police departments. Weak kneed politicians are giving in to the demands that taxpayer money should be diverted to social programs. Such an emotional decision made by a government body to abolish police departments is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Unfortunately for the police, New York politicians are known for knee-jerk legislation.
During a time of civil unrest, looting, and violence, the effort to 'defund the police' seems completely irrational and frankly, crazy. Regrettably, it is gaining steam, but it needs to come to a controlled stop. The people who will suffer the most from a reduction in police budgets are those who most need the police; those who live in low income, high crime neighborhoods. The cop bashers better be careful what the wish for, as it might come true, and if you break it, you own it.
Even with good intentions, power abhors a vacuum. In 2003 I lived in a large city with no police, and it was criminal chaos. The town was Nasiriyah, Iraq, a community of 500,000 people, about twice the population of Rochester, NY. The turmoil there was created by US forces ousting the Baghdad controlled evil Baath Party police officers. Our job was trying to replace them with recruits from within the community.
My military unit spent months rebuilding Nasiriyah and its police force. We conducted Security and Stability Operations (SASO), the primary starting point of any civilized community. After months of training, mentoring, and spending millions equipping the new officers, our best efforts resulted in the new Iraqi police patrolling in nervous groups of 20 at a time for their safety.
I understand the outrage from the protesters; even the police I've spoken to are angry and ashamed of one officer's criminal actions. In more than one conversation with local officers, a common theme is not all protesters are looters, just as all cops aren't corrupt. It is up to each group to denounce and weed out the bad from their ranks.
Just a couple of weeks ago, police officers were hailed as heroes along with all the other front line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the heaping of praise was appreciated, veterans in law enforcement know the populace and their attention span are indeed fickle. Last year those on the left wanted the immigration officers, known as ICE, disbanded. Now the fantasy is all police should disappear.
For years the pendulum has been swinging to the left, and cop-bashing has become in vogue. In New York, cop killers are released from prison as fast as a parole board can process them in their attempts to make jails obsolete. The 2019 bail reform laws have given more rights to criminals than to victims, and a 'woke' tolerance for illegal activity is becoming more mainstream thinking.
Judges, district attorneys, and lawyers in the criminal justice system may want to update their resume because if the vocal minority gets their way, logically, you're next on the list of jobs to be eliminated after the police are gone.