During my 20 years in the NYPD, I never really gave that position much credence. We had a job to do and there are some people who don't like the police, for a variety of reasons, and there are infinitely more who do support us and stand behind us. That said, there are also some people who enter into the law enforcement profession, as in every other profession, with, let's say, less than genuine motives, or who lack the requisite people skills to be effective. Those people need to be identified earlier, properly educated or trained, or removed from service. Keeping them on does a dis-service to the agency, the community and the officers who desire to do their job properly and serve with pride.
In more recent years, I have begun to re-evaluate my interpretation of this mentality. I see more and more, each and every day, law enforcement officers who engage in encounters with the populace, perform their duties effectively and efficiently, and yet become lionized by the media, the race-baiters and hustlers who otherwise earn their living by twisting, contorting and misrepresenting circumstances to better fit their narrow view of what is actually permissible under the law. I have watched pundit after pundit opine on television about how the police should respond to incidents, how they should act once on the scene and, further, how "their people" are not going to take this abuse any longer and are going to rise up against the police. The unfortunate reality is that, all too often, these folks have no clue as to what they are speaking about. They have never worked in law enforcement, have never responded to an emergency call for service, have never had to wrestle a gun from an armed combatant. They know their side of the story, their version of events and they are not open to anything that disagrees with their "Opinion". For there are facts and there are opinions, and there are opinions based upon facts and there are opinions based upon biases and prejudices. On each side of the coin.
This rhetoric has traversed from the streets to the pulpits of too many American churches, and to the first and second highest pinnacles in the country, the Congress and the White House. The thought that any respectable community leader, minister, representative or even the President of the United States would make assertions to the public that the police are the enemy, and that anyone should stand against the police is reprehensible. Particularly when so many of the law enforcement officers they rail against are later proven to have acted in accordance with departmental policy, local and even federal law. Those same laws that are written, passed and enacted by our politicians. The damage that comes from speaking prematurely, before all of the evidence is in, and explored, is detrimental to the overall cause of peace in our streets. We can all remember President Obama taking to the airwaves and announcing that "the Cambridge Police acted stupidly" when they arrested his friend, a supposedly erudite college professor. We can also remember when he took to the same airwaves and, very prematurely, and before any evidence was presented, declared that the police officer in Ferguson Missouri who shot the 'poor young boy' who had just robbed a convenience store through use of physical force and his overbearing size, then attacked and assaulted the same officer, was a murderer. He subsequently sent his Attorney general, the highest law enforcement officer in the land, out to visit and repeat his misplaced assertions. Disastrous bully pulpit diatribes such as these, not only from the president, but also from a seemingly never ending plethora of elected and appointed officials, is in no way shape or form beneficial to the greater good. It serves to separate, drive a wedge between the community and law enforcement and perpetuate the 'Us vs. Them' mentality among law enforcement, and conversely, also among the community.
We have watched in the last few years as violent crime nationwide has increased exponentially, particularly in cities and municipalities where Democrats hold the reins of government. The policies put forth by these administrations are culpable in causing the decay, disenfranchisement and overall decline of these once great urban centers. Law enforcement and the community are most effective when they work together towards the same goals. We also work best when we have a strong leader who understands this principle and does not seek to further political ends by driving the two groups further apart. Great things have occurred in cities across this country when the two have come together, led by the right leaders. No god comes from dividing the masses.
As time progresses, I wonder if the adage "It's Us vs. Them", relates more to the police vs. the race-baiters, politicians and pundits, than it does to the police and the public?