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Guest Opinion: A Virginia “progressive in law enforcement” on de Blasio, Garner, etc.

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The following thoughts come from a Virginia cop who describes himself as a “progressive in law enforcement” (he adds, “There are some of us actually LOL”). I had emailed him and asked what he thought of this article (“2nd NYPD officer honored at funeral; many again turn backs on de Blasio”). I don’t agree with everything he says (e.g., I strongly DISagree on the Garner case and on police turning their backs on the Mayor at a funeral), but I felt that his perspective was newsworthy, since I know this individual is generally progressive and a strong Democrat. Also note that he is white.

In regards to the officers turning their backs on the Mayor at the funerals and at the hospital, I understand their anger and frustration with everything that has been going on. Two officers were killed, ambushed while these “anti-police” or “anti-brutality” (whatever you view them as) are on going.  It happened when video showed protesters chanting for “dead cops” and wanting them “now.”  

Do I think those protesters and anti-police rhetoric lead to the ambush?  In a way, yes…..Much like the “targets” on various congressional districts, like Gabby Gifford’s fueled the shooter in her attack. I think it’s unfair to totally ignore that factor much like people did during the Giffords shooting. The mayor definitely didn’t attempt to defend or differentiate between 99% of NYPD officers who do an extraordinary job day in and day out and the bad ones when asked to comment on it. Do I think the officer in the Garner case acted maliciously? No. Do I think he acted criminally to be charged based on current case law. No, absolutely not. Civilly? More than likely……A lot of this anti-police anger comes from people not understanding case law relating to the subject and that’s understandable, it’s very complicated and hard to fathom.

For the mayor to see protesters attack police officers, those in his city on video and call it an “alleged attack” will get a lot of officers angry because he wouldn’t use the word “alleged” if an officer is accused of something. If the officer in the Garner case was charged, he still holds the same rights as any other defendants, innocent till proven guilty. The mayor and many already convicted him.  That is where a lot of this anger is coming from with officers.  He has allowed protesters to shut down traffic and block bridges which they have no right to do, and has stood by them. That’s where the anger from the officers come from, so I understand why they did what they did. He only came out with these statements of support for his department after two officers were ambushed by someone wanting to put “wings on a pig.”  Many officers see it as convenient for him to do that but where was he when officers in his city’s department were attacked?  I don’t believe they feel their voices are heard which is why they did what they did. I can’t even start to put myself in their situation because I’m in a much different community and city that has a huge support for their officers.  

I think the mayor needs be part of a conversation with the rank-and-file officers who feel their concerns are not being heard or listened too as equally as the protesters.  Whether or not it’s true, it’s about perception and that is the way it is with everything in life. Perception is everything.

My girlfriend lived in Los Angeles when Commissioner Bratton was the Chief of LAPD and turned the department around. She says the mayor needs to listen to him in order to get the trust back with his department. It’s a fine line he needs to walk in recognizing the dangers and difficult jobs police face every day and support the 99% of officers who are good. However, it’s a two way street.

Officers, and this is easier said than done, need to recognize that there are bad officers out there. They need to recognize that things evolve all the time and there needs to be a conversation about what can be done to improve policing in certain areas. Both sides need to find a common ground and put their differences aside. The PBA president has a job to do, much like a defense lawyer, to advocate for who they represent.  He’s speaking for the anger many of his members feel right now.  I’m hoping he’ll take a step back for the best interests of his members, and I know from first hand experience it’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. He didn’t do his members any good with his initial statements even if it helped make his members feel better at the time.

Personally, I think President Obama is walking the perfect line balance wise with all this but conservatives in law enforcement won’t recognize that. Honestly, I’d like to see Joe Biden step up as he has always had an amazing relationship with law enforcement leaders from his days in the Senate.  I don’t think Eric Holder has made the best use of some of his statements in various speeches but he is on the way out and preparing for the next phase of his life outside of government work.

So that’s it. Hope it gives a perspective from one who’s not your “typical cop.”