VANCOUVER, WA – Today, a huge membership of the Vancouver community came together to honor, support, and love on our police.
Today, the officers felt that love. They felt lifted up and appreciated in a way they haven’t felt in a very long time.
Today, the Chief of police, Chief James McElvain, spat in all of their faces.
Let me back up. I know bylines and biographies of our writers are removed from Law Enforcement Today right now for safety reasons, so let me just say that I’m a medically retired police officer from the Vancouver Police Department, and I’m also married to an officer.
A dear friend of mine, Ashley, who is also married to an officer, had been trying to think of a way to show support to our boys and girls in blue for months. Long before George Floyd and protesting and riots. Way back to earlier this year when police were still considered heroes by the mass majority of people for being on the COVID-19 frontlines.
Due to social distancing mandates and other stupid things, it kept getting put off. After George Floyd, we realized that our officers NEEDED to feel some kind of love. So we decided to get a group of people together from churches and other groups and decorate the outside of the precincts (since lobbies are still closed up due to the virus).
Of course, we got permission by the Public Information Coordinator, Kim Kapp, who asked us to take photos so she could share it on their social media pages.
We had planned on doing it a couple of Fridays ago but moved it because Black Lives Matter decided to do a march that day as well and we didn’t want to cause problems. So, we did it today.
Vancouver has two precincts, east and west. We dedicated a specific amount of time to each one.
It was amazing. There were so many people there so happy and excited to show their support for the police, and many more that couldn’t make it so they sent their signs and well wishes. We hung signs, cards and flags, and kids drew on the ground with chalk.
It was the best moment I’ve had in a long time when the officers walked outside and people literally cheered for them. They were so happy to see them. so happy to shake their hands or hug them (don’t tell our governor) and just to say thank you.
People were taking pictures with the officers like they were pop stars. They were talking to children and answering their questions. They were having positive and encouraging conversations with their community members.
My teenager made fun of me more than once because he could see that I was welling up with tears. I pretended not to notice when some of the manly-man officers had tears in their eyes.
The day was much needed. It was needed for the officers, it was needed for their families, and it was needed for the community.
A few hours after I got home, my phone rang. My heart skipped a few beats in fear because it was an officer calling that I don’t talk to regularly, so of course my mind went straight to my husband, who was working.
Thank God, it was not about that. It definitely wasn’t good news, though.
The officer, whose voice was quivering, said that the Chief ordered everything that was put up by our families and community to be taken down.
Because it was divisive.
Soon after, other texts and calls started coming in from officers, spouses, family members, and community members expressing how upset they were over it.
One officer told me:
“I can’t believe they took that stuff down. I’m so upset. I was crying from all the support and now I’m crying from command’s lack of support. I don’t understand.”
“You have no idea how much today meant to us. We weren’t expecting it but wow did we need it. We were so grateful, and we feel so bad that they took it down.”
“I don’t even know what to think. I’m so hurt! And those poor kids that were so excited to be a part of it. I feel so…defeated. Just when I thought morale couldn’t get any lower around here.”
This is TERRIBLE leadership. Plain and simple. Chief McElvain is a very data-driven person. He likes statistics; he likes facts.
Here’s some facts:
Chief McElvain decided today to follow in Clark County Sheriff Atkins’ pandering footsteps and ban the thin blue line from being displayed outside or inside the precincts, on cars, and on mourning bands.
The thin blue line, of course, was everywhere in the things we had decorated the precincts with.
Here’s the most important fact regarding this:
The thin blue line is divisive, but not in the way those who are uneducated on its history thing.
The thin blue line is a symbol of the division between order and chaos. It isn’t about “us vs them.”
It’s us FOR them.
It’s the police standing on that line selflessly, risking their own lives to protect those that can’t protect themselves.
It’s also a symbol of sacrifice that has stood for over 30 years. It was officially adopted by the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial as a “meaningful expression to honor fallen officers.”
THOSE are facts.
To see the area go from this:
is heart breaking. I’m actually shocked he didn’t order the American flags to be taken and a hose to be run over all of those divisive chalk hearts and “thank you’s.”
Here are some more facts.
It was ok and encouraged to show support last week, as seen in the tweet below, but not this week.
— Vancouver Police USA (@VancouverPDUSA) June 12, 2020
Here’s some more facts.
Chief McElvain was asked to join in a Black Lives Matter parade of sorts with the NAACP. Great, right? That’s a positive thing to do with the community to show unity.
Except for one thing: they asked him to be in the parade WITHOUT his uniform because they didn’t want a police presence.
And he did it.
Awesome turnout for today's @NAACPClarkCo Rally For Black Lives. Great to see the community come together and to see SO many supporters! Chief McElvain, Assistant Chief Mori and Assistant Chief Price drove in the event and appreciated the invitation to participate. pic.twitter.com/TaPU1gGHjM
— Vancouver Police USA (@VancouverPDUSA) June 6, 2020
Sorry Chief, what was that about not wanting to promote divisiveness?
What follows is a letter that I wrote to my former Chief McElvain after hearing the pain in so many voices because of this poor and weak decision.
I know it won’t change anything that happened. It won’t change his decision. But it will make sure that he knows that our officers are NOT alone. Our officers are loved. They’re appreciated. They’re supported.
And he is going to see that support. He’s going to feel the support. I can promise you that.
To my brothers and sisters at the Vancouver Police Department and everywhere that are hurting and that are getting figuratively slapped in the face like this:
We see you.
Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank your families for their sacrifices.
Thank you for always being the thin blue line.
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