NEW YORK, NY
– At a press conference
June 9, New York Police Benevolent Association President Mike O’Meara famously and emotionally voiced the frustrations experienced by law enforcement, in New York and nationwide, in the wake of the protests over the death of George Floyd.
He spoke of the 375 million annual interactions police have with citizens throughout the country with “overwhelmingly positive responses.”
Referencing former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent assertion
that African-American mothers are concerned that their children would not make it home safely due to the presence of police, O’Meara asked:
“What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen. It does not happen.”
“I am not Derek Chauvin. They [the police officers behind him] are not him. He killed someone. We didn’t…. Everybody is trying to shame us. The legislators, the press.”
“We’ve been left out of the conversation. We’ve been vilified…. We don’t condone Minneapolis. We roundly reject what he did. It’s disgusting.”
Such control and voice appear to be noticeably diminished, if not absent, in the wake of recent negative publicity of law enforcement, attacks on police, and efforts to defund and dismantle police.
Daily, the media shows videos
of Black Lives Matter anti-police protests and riots. Law enforcement officers face violence
from protesters, and have even been assaulted
while trying to help victims at protests.
Recently in Tampa, officers were lured into an ambush
after a fake call and surrounded by hundreds of people who assaulted them.
Multiple cities across the country have taken steps to defund, dismantle, or otherwise restrict the police.
The Minneapolis City Council
recently unanimously voted in an amendment
to the city charter which would remove the police department entirely and replace it with a department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
The State of Colorado
recently passed SB20-217
, which, along with other restrictions, disallows contact with citizens without “legal basis,” meaning that police may not proactively approach a person who appears to acting suspiciously.
All such actions, and more, understandably strike a blow to the morale of law enforcement.
Robert Harris, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told CBS News
he agrees with the need for reform:
“But the vilification and the constant verbal battering of our profession has taken a huge toll on top of what they were expected to do with the protests and COVID, so morale is low right now.
“I’m hearing officers who are probably the most phenomenal officers in the country, they are by far the most professional I’ve ever worked around, and they’re beaten. And they’re bruised. And they’re down. I had one officer tell me that he feels like a Vietnam soldier returning home to a country that hates him, and that’s not a good place to be.”
A Law Enforcement Today source employed by a police department in Colorado echoed Harris’ sentiments:
“We’re under attack for something we didn’t do and for something we don’t agree with…. With the hate that we’re directly receiving, and all the attacks and injuries we’ve received, we’re trying to keep the community safe and we’re trying to protect property and our police station. We’re at a low because we’re tired and we’re scrutinized and being judged and not even given a fair chance.
“With the political climate also where it is, we’re not allowed to have a voice, and I feel like we’re getting unfairly attacked… Everybody is just on eggshells.”
Such difficulties present themselves even away from the job, according to our source.
“I have a hard time showing up to community events because of what I do. It affects personal lives because people can’t disassociate you from what you do. Even [family members are] feeling attacked… and you can’t disconnect when you go home because it’s all on social media.”
Peace officers are more than willing to discuss changing things for the better, if only the police were allowed to come to a peaceful table.
“We can work towards the changes that will positively affect the coming generations. It seems like there’s fire being thrown on it instead of having a conversation.
“I think the bottom line is that there has been suffering on both sides, and I don’t want a ‘Woe is us’ kind of thing, but we want to move forward. We want to build these bridges. I love my community and I love the people that I serve. It’s been hard to give something that you’re not allowed to give.”
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