Military and Police

Presidential Support for Law Enforcement is a Welcome Change

How refreshing for a President of the United States to side with instead of against America’s cops. We’ve transitioned from President Obama’s “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” to President Trump’s “Politicians who spread dangerous anti-police sentiment make life easier for criminals and more dangerous for law-abiding citizens and police. It must stop now.”

(America’s cops may insert a long sigh here.)

President Trump made his comments during a speech before the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando, Florida on October 8, 2018. People who are not or have not been cops can only imagine what this gesture means to law enforcement officers across our nation.

Just as President Obama’s anti-cop sentiment was a presidential stab in the back, President Trump’s pro-police comments were a presidential pat on the back. And American cops appreciate it.

Another reassuring gesture President Trump is making, with the help of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is reversing the Obama-era push for federal interference in local law enforcement through court-supervised consent decrees. President Trump spoke about one consent decree, absent a Democrat federal DOJ, Illinois’ attorney general, Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, intends to inflict on the Chicago Police Department (CPD). They’re already suffering under a similar leftist-driven agreement with the ACLU.

To make the point as to why he believes consent decrees are bad for cops, the president also revisited the out-of-control violence in some Chicago neighborhoods. The violence, which, in part, many believe is due to these agreements, certainly hasn’t gotten any better under Democrat leadership; it’s gotten demonstrably worse.

Most consent decrees issued under the Obama administration were not-so-veiled attempts at leftist political indoctrination of the nation’s cops. A leftist view that sees cops as the problem rather than the solution for dealing with criminals.

Leftist anti-cop groups and Democrat politicians exploit a few high-profile, use-of-force anomalies and then paint the entire agency with the broad strokes of a leftist paintbrush. I know; I worked under one of these bogus consent decrees.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this way about these decrees. Former U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy put it this way, “They’ve [Obama’s DOJ] had their thumbs on the scales from the beginning.” I don’t believe President Obama’s DOJ ever went into a police department it didn’t find “corrupt.”

For example, the left highlights the recent second-degree murder conviction of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke as evidence of out-of-control cops. Now, I also wonder what the officer was thinking when he shot Laquan McDonald—so many times. But, I wasn’t there; I’ve never spoken with Van Dyke. I don’t know what was in his heart or mind when he made that decision. Only he does. In most jobs, when people make mistakes, people don’t die. In police work, it happens, sometimes on a tragic scale.

I’m not implying this shooting was a mistake rather than a negligent, reckless, or something else act. People do bizarre things under extreme stress. And I don’t know of many things that would rival, for extreme stress, deciding to use lethal force against an armed suspect under any conditions. Who knows what the officer perceived that night? Only him.

So, without making excuses for the officer, since a jury of his peers found him guilty after considering all the evidence, there are things cops think about that the average person doesn’t. I’ll just pick three:

  1. Refusing to drop a knife when cops tell you to is against the law.
  2. Walking away from cops when they tell you to stop is against the law.
  3. What if the cops had let him walk away, and he stabbed an innocent person or carjacked a passing motorist?

Cops have to consider all these things and more in a split-second and under tremendous duress. Now, none of these considerations takes away from the officer’s responsibility for his actions. But they provide the context for what a police officer faces. And it wasn’t like McDonald was an angel, strolling down the sidewalk, minding his business, and then Van Dyke walked up and shot him. McDonald was high on PCP, carrying a knife, and refusing to obey police commands when a cop shot him.

Were they crimes that should have resulted in McDonald getting shot and killed? In this situation, it appears not. But, I’m tired of anti-cop myth-makers turning criminals killed, even in “bad” shootings, into saints.

As Heather MacDonald points out in her book The War on Cops, which I quoted from in my latest book De-Policing America, “while cop critics should be able to fill a roster of ‘eagle scouts’ who’ve been ‘victimized’ by the police, it seems many people complaining about ‘police abuse’ are criminals.”

In Seattle, Holder’s DOJ exploited five high-profile, “controversial” police use-of-force (only one involved deadly force) incidents. Investigations determined four of them were justified, one violated department policy (that officer was fired), but they found none of the incidents were criminal. Yet, the DOJ imposed a sham consent decree the cops are still suffering under today.

These decrees lead to disastrous results for a community—less law enforcement. Cops are pulled off the street to write a statement if, while putting a suspect into their patrol car, the suspect says “Ouch!” Some departments now require cops complete a use-of-force report anytime they point their guns at a suspect—mine does. How can these actions not affect how cops do their work? Cops are human beings.

And, just like everyone else, cops normally operate in a pain- or discomfort-avoidance mode. People naturally flow toward the least negative consequences. If you know you will have to come off the street to write a statement, even if your suspect makes a false complaint of pain, wouldn’t you, even subconsciously, avoid any proactivity that might lead to an arrest? Even worse, if you know merely pointing your weapon at a suspect means having to head into the precinct to write a report leads to hesitation? Of course it could, and hesitation gets cops killed.

It’s amazing how often the left accuses the right of what the left is doing. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson issued one of the most ironic statements I’ve ever heard: “The Trump Administration never ceases to amaze, and this is just further proof that they are out of step with the people of Chicago and out of touch with reality.” This is exactly what the Democrats running Chicago are. The proof is in the headlines everyday.

Out of touch with reality? Under whose watch have thousands of murders occurred? I won’t go through the litany of how toxic Democrat politics have had a devastating effect on certain areas of the nation’s third largest city. President Trump wants to make Chicago great again (yes, I just said that).

Back in July, Police Superintendent Johnson told us CPD confiscates one illegal gun per hour. But we’re sure not seeing one illegal gun prosecution case every hour.

Columnist Anita Alvarez, in the Chicago Tribune, explained, “Under our current statutes, a felon who is convicted of carrying a firearm in public serves less than half of the sentence imposed by a judge or jury — about 15 months. When a violent street gang member is arrested on the streets of Chicago with a loaded gun, he or she typically serves just 12 months, also a fraction of the sentence imposed. To be very frank, these criminals know and understand our system. Gang members themselves tell our prosecutors that Illinois gun laws are ‘a joke.’

“Studies show that 63 percent of these gun offenders will reoffend within 12 months of release, and they are four times as likely to commit a homicide. This is a blood-soaked statistic demonstrated very clearly in the vicious murder of Nykea Aldridge and so many other innocents.” Nykea Aldrige was shot and killed while walking to register her children for school.

About consent decrees, like the one they want to inflict on Chicago’s cops, AG Sessions said, “they can unfairly malign officers.” Chicago’s police union agrees. The union argues, “the consent decree will make it harder for officers to do their jobs.”

Out of touch with reality, Mayor Emanuel? Extreme violence is a reality for all too many of your constituents. Again, I know; I worked under one of those fraudulent agreements.

Think about this: Doesn’t it make sense that the folks who do police work know best that consent decrees make their job harder than it should be? In fact, they work opposite to the way their proponents say they’ll work. Communities don’t get better law enforcement; they get less law enforcement. Anti-cop myths, such as the Eric Holder-debunked hands up, don’t shoot, are not proper bases for changing police procedures.

In speaking about a similar agreement with the Illinois ACLU (the “L” now stands for Leftist), AG Sessions said, “Chicago’s agreement with the ACLU in late 2015 dramatically undercut proactive policing in the city and kicked off perhaps the greatest surge in murder ever suffered by a major American city.” This agreement put an end to stop and frisk, which, among other things, affected CPD’s ability to combat crime.

An end to stop and frisk, essentially a Terry Stop, which is constitutional, takes away an important tool cops use to reduce crime. A University of Utah study blames the “Spike in Chicago’s violence” back in 2016 on the policy change.

From De-Policing, I also noted Heather MacDonald validated my contention that so many “victims” of police shootings are not the saints the left would have us believe: “A central claim in the anti-stop and frisk crusade is that NYPD officers regularly accost countless squeaky-clean New Yorkers without cause.’ MacDonald then goes on to describe some of these ‘squeaky-clean’ complainants:

“‘Plaintiff ‘W.B.’ had already been arrested ten times, despite being only 17…’ and ‘Forty-one-year-old Letitia Ledan… had been arrested about 15 times…’ for drugs, prostitution, and giving police an alias, and ‘Antoine Ledan…had racked up between ten and 20 criminal convictions over the last 15 years.’” So, I suppose the one thing you can say about Chicago’s dismal record is they’re not alone.

Ending stop and frisk, requiring reports for fake complaints of pain, and reporting mandates for pointing a gun at a suspect, are just a few of the nonsensical, social justice-inspired, leftist negative impacts on law enforcement. Combine that with the witch hunts that occurred that got two of my friends fired, and it’s not hard to understand the damage being done by these consent decrees.

While it’s uplifting to have the Trump administration’s support, it’s equally important to understand what will happen if the Democrats gain more political power at the federal level. Law enforcement can’t afford to let the neo-socialist, anti-cop Democrats gain control of the House or Senate.

There are too many local jurisdictions run by leftists, as it is. They do enough damage without any help from the feds. Let’s try to keep the federal government’s pro-law enforcement trend going by helping to keep Congress in conservative hands.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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