The article was submitted by Craig W. Floyd. It contains editorial content which is the opinion of this writer.
McLean, VA: Alarms should be going off in the halls of Congress and in every city and state in this country warning that the safety of our police officers needs urgent attention. I cannot believe I even have to say this, but let’s stop with the insanity of defunding and defaming the police. Instead, let’s give them the support and respect they need and deserve. This will help keep America and themselves safe.
For the second year in a row, the number of law enforcement officers shot while on duty, and those killed by gunfire, has far surpassed recent historical levels. These facts should be clear and convincing evidence that the “defund and defame the police” movement has led not only to a public safety disaster but has also put every officer patrolling America’s streets in grave danger.
Last month, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) reported that, as of mid-December, 323 law enforcement officers were shot in the line of duty in 2022, including 124 in pre-meditated ambush-style attacks. The number of officers shot last year is 13 percent higher than the 293 shot in 2019, according to the FOP. And, just a few days ago, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that 64 officers were killed by gunfire in 2022, which is 21 percent higher than the annual 10-year average prior to 2020.
The Impact of Defunding Police
This should not come as any big surprise. The “defund and defame” movement, which started in 2020, has meant reduced funding for the training and equipment that is so vital for officer safety. The hateful rhetoric toward law enforcement by anti-police activists and politicians over the last few years has led to a troubling disrespect for both officers and the rule of law. And, the soft-on-crime district attorneys and criminal justice policies, like no- cash bail, has meant that police must encounter the same dangerous criminals over and over again.
This police safety crisis is doomed to get worse if drastic corrective actions are not taken. Just consider that due to a lack of respect and support—especially from politicians—the most experienced law enforcement leaders and rank-and-file members have left the profession in droves. And who can blame them. As one officer who recently left the profession explained:
“We are one bullet away from death, and one mistake away from indictment.”
Is it any wonder then, with this backdrop, that police recruitment has dropped dramatically, and many agencies are having to lower their standards and resort to monetary inducements to attract new applicants.
Prior to the “defund and defame the police” movement, we had the best prepared and largest force of law enforcement professionals in the history of our country. The result was the lowest crime rate this nation has experienced in more than 30 years. Now, we have police agencies having to beg for the personnel, training and equipment needed to do their job, and we have the lowest per capita number of law enforcement officers serving our nation in over a quarter century. And, our nation’s murder and violent crime rate has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the early 1990’s.
There are several commonsense ways we can remedy this catastrophe, but it will take immediate action. First, there can be no more “defunding and defaming” of our police. Funding must be restored and boosted to achieve the level of law enforcement personnel, training, equipment and technology that is needed to keep our communities and our officers safe. Cities and states that demonstrate this support for their police agencies should be rewarded by Congress with increased federal funding through grant programs. Similarly, those who continue to “defund” and go soft on crime should be penalized.
Second, the adoption of no-cash bail and other pro-criminal policy reforms resulting from the “defund” movement need to be reversed in order to restore public and police safety. The citizenry has an important role to play in this matter. We need to elect strong law-and- order political candidates. They are the ones who set public policy. Similarly, we need to vote out the “go soft-on-crime” district attorneys. They have failed in their mandate to preserve public safety.
Third, to ensure the safety and well-being of our officers, we need tougher penalties for assaulting or killing a law enforcement professional, and increased mental health resources for officers who are facing ever increasing stresses and dangers of the job. Shockingly, the number of officers who die by suicide each year is higher than the number who die performing their duties.
Finally, our law enforcement officers need to hear a loud and clear message from our nation’s citizens and our elected officials that they are highly respected and that their service and sacrifice is appreciated. This is one of the main reasons Citizens Behind the Badge was formed and will ensure that we retain and recruit the best possible individuals for the vitally important work of keeping our communities safe.
More than 400 new names will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in May. This will bring the total, dating back to the first line-of-duty death in 1786, to nearly 24,000 fallen heroes. Many more have been injured, some catastrophically. It is a sobering reminder that our officers are willing—and sometimes required—to make extraordinary sacrifices for the benefit of others. We need to do a much better job of letting our officers know that their work is valued, and so is their safety and welfare.
About the writer: Craig W. Floyd is the Founding CEO of Citizens Behind the Badge, and is the Founding CEO Emeritus of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, where he led the effort to build the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the National Law Enforcement Museum.
Have you read these other LET stories?
- A young driver thought she didn’t need to pull over and led police on a chase. She called 911 on the police and was transferred to the same department. Can’t make this stuff up.
- Remember Scott LoBaido? The Thin Blue Line artist who defied Mayor DeBlasio and fought the ‘defund the police’ nonsense. Well there’s a documentary coming out about him and the trailer is AWESOME. A must see.
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