Not satisfied with giving ICE the cold shoulder, some leftist-run cities are expanding their lack of cooperation to other federal law enforcement agencies. According to Christian Boone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (reprint at PoliceOne.com), the Atlanta Police Department (APD) will no longer allow their officers to participate in joint task forces with the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Marshals.
Why? Because the feds refuse to sanction Atlanta officers wearing body cameras during their joint operations. Conversely, the APD mandates officers wear body cams and apparently won’t make an exception. Do I think cops wearing body cameras is worth a discussion? Sure. After all, even if you don’t agree with the policy, the reality is APD officers are likely violating city policy if they don’t wear their cameras while operating within the city. And the federal agents might be violating their policies if they allowed APD officers to don cameras during their operations.
Of course, exceptions are likely made during joint activities. Not every agency’s policies will be identical. But it takes two parties willing to compromise to make task forces work. Still, why do I reflexively believe this rupture may not be in the public’s best interest? I just look at those folks and groups supporting Atlanta’s policy of estrangement toward more federal cops, and I see they are the usual leftist suspects, which makes me look askance at their motivations.
In fact, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms absolutely refuses to cooperate with ICE. In a 2018 tweet, Mayor Bottoms announced, “Atlanta has permanently ended its acceptance of ICE detainees and will immediately transfer all those remaining out of our City jail.” (To where?) We will not be complicit in an immigration policy that intentionally inflicts misery on vulnerable populations.” Vulnerable populations? Incarcerated illegal immigrants who’ve committed other crimes against U.S. citizens?
Does Atlanta have a 14-year-old brutally murdered little girl in its near future?
Reading the statements from proponents of the federal law enforcement dissociation reveals the disingenuity. Boone reports Carlos Campos (not a cop), former newspaper reporter and editor and current public affairs director for the APD, “said ending task force participation will not hinder efforts to combat drugs or collar fugitives. ‘We don’t have to be on a task force to go after gangs.’”
Well, that’s true; they don’t. But doesn’t that statement make you wonder what value joint federal-local task forces had in the first place? Didn’t the agencies join forces to make catching dangerous criminals easier? Agencies combine resources to make law enforcement operations safer and more productive to get more bad guys off the streets, right? If the partnership “will not hinder efforts…,” as Campos implies, then why form them in the first place?
No, the social justice warriors talk a lot about trust, but it only goes one way: they don’t trust their cops. And the leftist politicians are better off politically if the people don’t trust the cops either. They need the political wedge issues so they can scare constituents and dominate in elections. Their motivation is simple: they don’t like how cops do real, practical, and effective police work. They want to change it, and they’re working to do just that, often by denigrating the men and women who do the job. And by creating rifts between federal and local law enforcement agencies for political expediency. Public safety be damned!
These leftist municipal leaders never give cops the benefit of the doubt they’ve earned. Officers must pass a substantial battery of physical, mental, and medical tests, background checks, polygraphs, layers of basic and advanced physical and academic training, and swear a solemn oath. But if an officer’s actions don’t appear in a nifty little Spielberg-quality reality video, leftists presume the cops are lying and the criminals have been abused.
I’m not arguing that police in-car and body-worn cameras are not a good idea in all circumstances. Videos have cleared too many officers of purported wrong-doing when their recordings reveal the truth. However, many agencies set up video policies that effectively place officers in harm’s way—both professionally and physically.
I know too many cops whose departments have disciplined them over inept and unfair video policies. More officers disciplined for frivolous policies creates an illusion of accountability where none is necessary. It would be silly not to be wary of leftist city leaders’ motivations when they create department video policies. The video policies and procedures they taught me in my training classroom were not how they applied them in reality.
Is this leftist antipathy toward law enforcement, local and federal, at the heart of Atlanta’s decision? I can’t know for sure, but it seems so. Still, if leftist leaders are trying to convince us that ending a professional law enforcement partnership will make no difference, we can bet it’ll make a great deal of difference—to public safety.