Police powers are granted by the 10th Amendment to our constitution, which empowers the states to delegate their powers to their political subdivisions to protect the safety, health, welfare and morals of the community. As political governance shifts from one ideological party to another over short or long periods of time, the police, all too often and unfortunately, become a pawn in those changes in governance. One party may seize control of the government and decide that there are laws, policies and policing strategies that were in place, but counter the political philosophy of the party in power. We are experiencing such a dilemma in New York City, Baltimore, Washington DC and several other large cities across the country right now. Policies that were effective in reducing crime, providing for a safer community and, as a direct by-product, increasing the financial prosperity of the city, town or community. Safer communities are breeding grounds for successful businesses.
I can recall my early days in the NYPD, sitting through a training session at the Rodman's Neck Pistol Range, when a salty old instructor, whose name I can not recall, gave a lecture and told us about how the NYPD had changed since he 'came on the job'. This was in the late 1980's and there was a paradigm shift, described by our instructor, as going from being the 'Police Force' to the 'Police Department', our uniforms changed from a dark navy blue to a light blue shirt with navy pants. Our cars went from 'black and white with loud, ominous sirens' to 'Mary Jane Blue and Carvel White with softer, more soothing sirens'. His words seemed funny and entertaining to a young rookie who, at the time, didn't have a full understanding of the history of the NYPD, or a true appreciation of the importance of police officers being able to convey and ensure an overwhelming sense that no matter where they were, or with whom they were interacting, that the police are 'large and in charge'. This critically important component is also lost upon the majority of our politicians. Most of whom have never worn a police uniform and do not truly understand just how dangerous the world of a law enforcement officer is.
When a police officer arrives on any call, the most critical time is the first few minutes after their immediate arrival. This is when the officer takes control of the situation and uses their physical appearance, their professional uniform and their professionalism to convey to those present that the situation will be addressed properly and proper police action will be taken, if necessary. This is a critical factor, especially for those officers who do not have the benefit of working in pairs, or when back-up is miles or critical minutes away.
A study was conducted many years ago, in which the author conducted interviews with a broad sampling of inmates who were incarcerated after being convicted of shooting, killing or otherwise seriously injuring police officers. They were each asked a number of questions, but one questions stood out, as did the overwhelmingly consistent response from each inmate. They were each asked "Why did you assault the officer?" Each respondent stated, in similar language, that "the officer gave me the opportunity". They expanded, that the officers were not in control of the situation, and, had they been, they most likely would not have taken the action they did to assault or kill the officer. This information is typically overlooked when the political class consider making changes to the policies that provide the guidelines for those officers to respond professionally and safely to those calls for service. The professional, properly fitted, and para-military appearing police uniform is a significant part of that entire process.
When our politicians begin to make decisions relate to our police agencies, based upon political expediency, at the expense of the officers personal safety and the overall safety of the community, they are negligent in their sworn responsibility to enforce the federal and state constitutions, as well as the state and local laws. 'Softer uniforms' as put forth by our president, will serve to create a further risk to our law enforcement officers at a critical time on our nations history. Our police need to know that our government, at all levels and in all corners of the nation, stand firmly behind them. Removing effective tools and policies while also refusing to enforce the laws on the books creates a considerable risk and threat to those whom we entrust with enforcing our laws and keeping us safe.
It is almost comical that our politicians, who are also our legislators (you know, those folks who write the bills that they then pass into law and then expect everyone else to obey), followed by the judges who are tasked with sentencing those convicted of violating those laws who regularly fall short in their duty, and either sentence lightly or release recidivist criminals back onto the streets to prey again on our citizens, are never held to task when their laws fail and their sentences fall short. No, it is the police who are to blame in almost all instances. The same police who give life, blood and sweat in their daily performance of their duties. Yet now we think that dressing the police down will solve the nations problems. I beg to differ, perhaps we should focus on educating our children properly, teaching them to respect the police, since they are the face of government, and hold those who violate our laws strictly accountable for their actions. Softer does not work in law enforcement. Physical resistance must be met with heavier physical force, firepower with overwhelming firepower and talk with talk. Time has proven these responses to be effective, keeping police officers alive, which, at the end of the day, is of paramount importance. If the politicians want to wear calming colors and embrace violent crowds with open arms, i wish them all the best. Our police need to be able to properly respond and display their strength and professionalism, which is effectuated through the para-military police uniform.
These are the same politicians who have never run a business, yet believe they know better than those who have been successful. The same politicians who want to take over our national health insurance. Our national safety depends upon keeping that thin blue line properly attired. Let's leave law enforcement to the professionals, huh?