In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Proclamation 3537 to give us the Peace Officers Memorial Day and the corresponding Police Week (May 9-15 this year). In its text were an apt description of what most of us believe Police Week should be about “commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities, and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.”
Are we still in a place that such a bipartisan show of support would be possible? Not even close.
President Joe Biden’s role as head of a Democratic Party that would be unrecognizable to President Kennedy places him in an awkward position. Normally an ally of our nation’s police officers, he is also beholden to a party that has aligned itself with the “defund the police” movement and seesaws back and forth between the two diametrically opposed worldviews. In his speech to a joint session of Congress, he noted that most police officers serve honorably, then proclaimed that policing is a “knee on the neck of Black Americans.” Both cannot be true.
But the president is simply parroting the left’s talking points that have become increasingly anti-police. That he does or does not actually believe this is of little consequence to our men and women wearing the badge. They spend their lives and careers in the real world, where the consequences of good or bad policy are literally life and death, not data points on a spreadsheet or approval polls.
Defunding the police is really more about abolishing the police; that is becoming increasingly clear and some on the left are no longer bothering to hide it.
It has been quite the year for our police officers. Ironically, an entire movement dedicated to not painting everyone of a particular race with the same brush roundly condemns an entire profession for the sins on one officer in Minneapolis. The left is not known for its avoidance of hypocrisy. Riots raged through our major cities for nearly a year in the name of protesting “police brutality,” but seemed more aimed at getting free sneakers or other goods than at promoting a healthy dialogue on policing.
Police officers were spit on, taunted, assaulted, and recorded in the hope of catching them in a human response to such abuse. Assailants hoped to record the next viral video that would spark the ready tinder of a city; this seemed always a retaliatory push or shove away.
Police pulled back when leftist politicians allowed their precincts to be overrun, despite their ability to defend it. And officers handled it all remarkably well. I believe that most police officers know that those screaming the loudest are usually not in the majority, that most of this country still appreciates them and their service. The vast majority of Americans recognize that policing is an essential role of government and community, and they shed tears when one of them makes the ultimate sacrifice.
We owe it to our police officers, and by extension the communities they serve, to make them the best they can be, to train them properly and effectively and to give them the resources they need for that training. Defunding our police will eliminate training—and we know that a lack of training will lead to more, not fewer, viral videos, as mistakes are bound to happen more frequently and tragically.
I have had the honor to talk to current police recruits and ask them about their motivation to enter the profession under the current circumstances. There are fewer in their ranks, but their answers are universally the same, and awfully inspiring. Each responded that the profession needs good people right now, and they wanted to be a part of that. Our nation is lucky to have such young men and women, despite the best efforts of some to chase them away. I am confident that these future officers will steadfastly continue to serve and protect us, sometimes in spite of ourselves.
This week is a good time for all of us to reflect on our nation’s men and women in blue. Tell a police officer you appreciate him or her. They really do need to hear that. Trust me when I say that you will not be bothering them if you do.