This past week, LET Unity aired the newest episode of of Law Enforcement Today, a news show about the world of policing in today’s climate. As always, Kyle Reyes and Lt. Ryan Shea were behind the desk to cover the hottest topics from inside the world of law enforcement.
Their first topic?
Why would anyone want to be a cop?
We see nationwide that there are shortages. For example, Dallas, Texas is understaffed by roughly 1600 officers. This is trending all over the country from Texas, to California and back to Connecticut.
So, what’s causing this shortage?
Lt. Shea’s reply:
“I don’t think there’s one definite reason why there’s such a shortage in the amount of individuals who want to become part of law enforcement today. What I do think is the ones that are seeking out careers in law enforcement are those that really have the heart and the passion to be a part of public safety, building communities and enforcing the laws of the United States of America, the state that they live in and the town or city that they want to be officers in.”
Speaking of enforcing the law, what about politicians weighing in and telling cops that they cannot do that very thing? As an example, you had the mayor of Portland telling local law enforcement that they cannot communicate or coordinate with federal agencies on matters of immigration enforcement.
Is it possible that the more we see the mainstream media reporting that politicians are successfully ‘handcuffing’ police, the less likely it is that people will say, “yeah, that’s a field I want to go into.”
Shea was quick to respond:
“I think it is important to look at what cops do with the laws that are in place. It is our job to enforce the laws that are in place. We don’t have a say as to what those laws are. It is up to the politicians and lawmakers to form those laws. It’s our job to go and enforce them. So, when it come to that back and forth with the politics, it is important for law enforcement to remain neutral in those situations. As a law enforcement officer, I don’t look at what the political atmosphere is, I enforce the laws that are on the books that day.”
And what about the moral of not only the individual officers, but that of entire departments? We see, in New York City for example, cops get a really bad guy off the street, then turn around the next day and he has been released, back on that street…all because of politics.
What it all boils down to is the passion that most officers have of doing the job of enforcing public safety and making sure that their communities are safe. Cops don’t look at what happens after their job is done and a violator has been taken into custody. It is important for officers not to be frustrated by the after effects of what happens in the court system. It comes down, once again, to officers enforcing the laws that are on the books. They cannot assume responsibility for district attorneys, judges or politicians that make it so simple for career criminals to walk out the door.
How do you look at issues facing cops today, such as ambushes and destruction of personal property, and not get discouraged?
One great way is to do exactly what Kyle and Lt. Shea are doing on set, which is talking about those issues.
Another hot topic for discussion: the Victim’s Compensation Fund for 9/11 Survivors. LET welcomed retired NYPD Detective David Chianese, a frequent contributor, to the show to discuss it.
As we have chronicled here at LET, the Victim’s Compensation Fund was held up for a bit, but it finally passed, thanks in part to people like David and Jon Stewart, the comedian who has become the face of the drive for getting the fund financed long-term.
Now that Congress has funded the program, where do we go from here?
“First of all, I think, as a country, we need to work on removing some of these filthy politicians who couldn’t rise up for their nation and for all those who stood up when she was down, and vote for these bills and get us what we need to move on,” Chianese said.
He continued, saying that he wanted to remind everyone that the battle isn’t over. This is merely a compensation fund for those that are sick from 9/11 related illnesses. But we still have people who lived in the area and came down and helped with clean up and recovery, that as they get older, daily life becomes a nightmare.
“I am constantly hearing stories along the lines of Detective Alvarez, who went 10 years without anything, then, boom! Cancer linked to 9/11. That is still going on for plenty of people. People are coming down with 9/11 diagnoses every single day,” he said.
How can other agencies learn from the battles fought by the Compensation Fund when it comes to them addressing officer wellness within their agencies?
In what was easily the most poignant moment of the episode, Chianese’s response spoke volumes.
“To these agencies, first things first, get off of your ass and cut the bulls—, it’s not politics, it’s lives,” he stated. “And let’s do the right thing. Stop being afraid of offending people, hurting people, stop worrying about the purse strings at this time and let’s keep guys safe.”
In moments like 9/11, emergency responders are not thinking about what’s going to happen 20 years down the road; they are thinking about how to do their jobs and save lives right now. We, as a nation, must be better and do everything we can to make sure they are taken care of down the road, and not forgotten because of budgetary reasons.
As a parting thought, Chianese said that best thing people can do to support these efforts is to “get their head in the game” when it comes to politics. Pay attention to who is doing what in DC, as well as state and local levels, and get rid of the people that will not support our law enforcement and emergency responder communities. He said that more former cops need to run for public office.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Next to join Kyle on set was Officer Ashley Smith. If you are familiar with Behind the Uniforms, then you undoubtedly have seen Smith before.
Smith has gained a massive social media following and has become an influencer on several platforms. While she originally got on to look at the memes everyone else was looking at, she quickly identified a niche for herself as both a cop and a fitness enthusiast. In just over 2 years, she has gained over 143,000 followers.
One of the areas that she is know for is how aggressive she can be in defending the Thin Blue Line. How does she manage to pull that off, when so many agencies have a very strict policy about social media conduct?
For starters, as an employee of the state of New York, she is protected from losing her job over something as simple as social media posts. She said it has to be something really bad, and you have to be convicted of the offense to be fired.
Secondly, anytime you see her post in uniform, the patches, badges and names are blurred. While she is not required to do so, she does it by choice. Her department did not have a social media policy before she got active on the social stage. Now they have one and it is affectionately known as the Officer Ashley Smith policy.
Why is it so important for Smith to show the ‘behind the scenes’ of her job?
“The day that you even apply to become a police officer, and you tell your friends you become public enemy number one. That is unfortunate because that is not how the world was, but in 2019, and probably over the past six years, that is how it has become, we are now an enemy,” she said. “So, my basic goal behind this whole thing is to say, ok, listen, I chose to be a police officer 11 years ago. That is my profession, that is what I do for a living. I do that eight hours a day, and yeah, you are never “off-duty”. Well, this cop is. When I get off-duty, I am off-duty. If I have to act, of course I will act. Otherwise I am a normal human being… and I want everyone to see that.”
Her social media presence had landed Smith some endorsements and sponsorships. As such, she made a little money last year. What did she spend all that extra cash on?
She had a separate account that her endorsement money went into.
Her dad’s truck broke down and he couldn’t afford to buy a new one. Smith new from the time she was 15 that his dream truck was a Ford F-150. So, she took all her earnings and bought her dad a new truck.
“It was literally the single best thing I have ever done in my entire life.”
To close the show, tribute was paid to the law enforcement community members who have been killed in the line of duty so far this year. The tribute video is set to Last Call by Dave Bray.
It is our fervent hope and prayer that we do not have to add any additional faces to this video.
To catch the entire episode and see exclusive interviews with other heroes visit the members section of Law Enforcement Today.