Political propaganda is mortally wounding American law enforcement. There are news bullet points and sound bites filled with deception that are designed to disable rational thought because pragmatism conflicts with the left-leaning agenda that is crippling our nation.
Radicalized thoughts have become mainstream and some policy makers embrace them as beneficial.
- Jurisdictions with sanctuary city policies who refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities.
- Attorney’s and politicians like Marilyn Mosby.
- BLM and their radicalized movement.
- The Al Sharpton’s of the world.
I could go on and on, but will stop there.
When listening to people associated to the above-mentioned examples, you’d think there was a rogue cop around every corner just waiting to pounce on some poor, unsuspecting soul.
As a matter of fact, police officers wearing body cameras have exposed more intolerant haters of law enforcement authorities than people realize. Cops get vindicated everyday; it just doesn’t make headline news.
The Dreaded Internal Affairs Investigations
Late in my career I was assigned a role that most cops abhor. I handled major Internal Affairs (IA) investigations at my department—not the run of the mill complaints, but those that could lead to severe discipline or termination.
“I want facts. Leave conjecture and personalities out of it.”
Chief Paul Sorrell (ret.)
I did not enjoy the experience, although I took it serious. “Keep us out of the PORAC Magazine,” was one directive from the chief when I assumed this position.
“So you want me to be fair and impartial while acting reasonably?” I mockingly responded to my good-natured boss.
“Exactly,” he said. “I want facts. Leave conjecture and personalities out of it.”
“Good,” I thought. “We are on the same page for this dreadful, yet necessary, assignment.”
The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) Magazine is a publication distributed to members of law enforcement associations (unions) in my home state. They publicize overturned personnel investigations. Since the articles are written from the perspective of the labor force, the tenor of each one articulates why the disciplinary process maligned peace officers.
I recognize there is some posturing in each commentary, but the facts remain that discipline is overturned.
Several years removed from this position, and living in another state, I read through recent copies of the PORAC Magazine. While reviewing the legal cases, I continue to be amused at the reported facts that have led to the reversal of punishment.
There is one organization after another hitting their thumb (reputation) with a hammer (personnel investigation) that is aimed for a nail (accused officer).
These are some of the common threads:
- Compromised ethics due to flawed pubic opinion.
- Officer is a sacrificial lamb due to politics.
- Opinions get in the way of facts.
- Personnel investigations are driven by personalities, not truth.
- Perceived promotional aspirations.
- Perceived retribution.
- Inflated view of questionable behavior.
- Excessive punishment for minor acts of misconduct.
- Self-righteous opinions condemning questionable split second decisions.
- Questionable investigative integrity.
Consequently, when you combine various elements on this list you have police agencies effected by—and contributing to—political propaganda, and it ought not be that way!
Caretakers or Building Gallows?
Police command staff should be the caretakers of our organizations! Ethical leadership demands that we combat anyone pursuing unjust punishment regardless of his or her position of trust. In doing so, this leader is simply building gallows.
While the rank and file may not like personnel investigations due to complaints or other manner of discovery, they are necessary to maintain the good order of a healthy organization.
I’m not trying to play both sides of the fence. For me there is only one side, and my teammates include truth, honor, integrity, courage, and accountability.
If the agency does not keep its’ nose clean, there are other painful remedies to do so, and no one wants to be subjected to civilian review or commission mandates. Ask those who are!
Clearing Personnel Complaints
My department has four options to dispose each personnel investigation:
- Sustained – The allegation of misconduct could be proven.
- Not-sustained – The allegation of misconduct could not be proven one way or the other.
- Unfounded – The allegation of misconduct was proven to be false.
- Exonerated – The allegation of misconduct was actually lawful and justified action by the officer.
Ironically, most of the major investigations I handled resulting from citizen complaints were exonerated or unfounded because the public generally does not understand policies and procedures, let alone criminal law. It was the avoidable misconduct, discovered internally, that was typically sustained.
Governing Response to Political Propaganda
Department heads cannot avoid the political climate in which they operate. But they can govern their response to inappropriate demands.
As I read the daily news, I applaud some chiefs and sheriffs tackling the ignorance of their accusers, while I cry foul when others bite their quivering lip and cower.
Appropriately, those educating their complainants seem to maintain employment more frequently than some high profile police commissioners with a trembling lip. Because truth matters!
Hiring From the Human Race
Let’s face it, we hire from the human race. Cops are fallible people who will mess up on occasion. When this happens, we need to clean up the mess as ethically, morally, and legally reasonable people. But every cop should be given the benefit of the doubt until there is no doubt that he or she is unworthy of the benefit.
Any leader who discounts this philosophy will not have a trail of loyal followers, but a select few appeasers that are generally untrustworthy.
Law enforcement is operating in a bizarre political climate. I don’t want to tar and feather the overwhelming number of good prosecutors in our country, but political propaganda is real, and it affects the trustworthiness of government. Impartiality must be maintained.
Finally, for the good of our communities, and the morale of each organization, we need to stand firm and remain unyielding to the persuasive power of noise—ignorance with a microphone! In the social media circus that misleadingly dictates right from wrong, courageous and ethical leadership need to be trending values combating political propaganda.
– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today