We see this dynamic across America and the Globe. From Seattle, Detroit, and Paris…cities both nationally and internationally. Police, your police, are being targeted for assassination by criminals and terrorists. If you check the media it is happening at an alarming rate and it is happening everywhere. I won’t be able to keep track with the incidents as I write this posting.
I think we can all agree that that it is wrong and terrible when ANYONE is targeted for attack. But the point I want to make is that the police are those persons you have hired and trained, equipped with specific tools, and given explicit authorities. And they are thought to be the front line in the defense of YOUR life. I am certain that you expect that your police will protect you from the dangers and threats of this world.
This world has become more and more dangerous each day. Staying home is dangerous with home invasions, burglaries and assaults. Going to the movie theater can be dangerous with persons coming into theaters and randomly shooting people. Going to the mall to shop or just hang out can be threatening with groups or individuals showing up armed with semi and full automatic weapons. People, regular citizens and tourists face the danger of being killed or injured.
Sending you child to school where you expect them to receive a normal, good and safe education has become questionable. Instead your children may be targeted by individuals who kill randomly or mentally impaired persons who attack specifically chosen persons.
You choose to enrich your life with world travel. We now find that the world is either directly in war like conflict, or there are cities that are under seize from hostile acting people with no regard for human life. You cannot casually get onto public transit without giving some thought to “is safe” to even enter the terminal, let alone ride the system.
The unfortunate reality is that we find terrorists and/or criminals in Third World and First World countries (those living a high standard and those living a lower standard of living) alike. Terrorists, acting in place of warriors on a battle field take to beautiful cities around the world and bring death and fear from the true battle fields, as in the case of Paris on multiple occasions.
In cities, unlike the battle field you rely upon your police forces to, as the Los Angeles Police Department motto goes “Protect and Serve.” You rely upon them to be where needed first, see the threat first, and prevent the predators and killers from acting. You expect your police to step between you and the weapon toting, bomb carrying people that would willingly take your freedom and that of your family.
What I am addressing in this posting is that in fact, there is a new dynamic. Those very people, the police, are themselves under attack. It seemed that before this current environment of attacks for the most part, an officer had to go out to find a crime in progress, or search out and find a criminal with lethal and deadly intentions, before the officers’ job lived up the the danger that we all understood. Not today. Officers sit in their patrol cars and are attacked. They stand post watching over you and your family, and are attacked. They attempt to maintain law and order providing visible deterrent-patrol and are attacked.
The hunters, the sheepdogs…the officers, have become the hunted. They are now the target. It is possible that an officer can today go out on patrol, respond to calls or search for criminals and they are thinking of their own safety before yours. That is not how we, how you, want it.
The danger in that last statement is that they, the officers, to some degree, may feel the need to take their eye off the ball. When the Sheepdog can no longer focus on the herding Sheep, the predators, wolves, lions, tigers and criminals…can stay a big step ahead of the Sheepdog. And in that process, in a better position to attack you.
An officer watching out, first, for his own backside, cannot effectively watch out for you. And they do have a right to protect themselves. You didn’t hire sacrificial lambs. The job descriptions do not include language that suggests that they are to simply give up their lives. The idea is for officers to use good tactics to help find the bad guys, and to watch out for the good guys. And at the same time, they are expected to return home to their own families at the end of the day. Unless you had a different opinion about that!
Yes, they will, as it is often said, “take a bullet for you” or “run towards the threat” when in the face of danger. That is a part of the job. But if they become sitting targets for these bad guys, then we are all doomed…or at least in need of a better plan! The numbers simply do not support that kind of plan. An example of the point is that there are over 4 million people that live within the borders of the City of Los Angeles, with an additional million or so that live in other cities that fall within the broader borders of L.A. For those more than 4 million people the city struggles to maintain a force of somewhere between 8k to 10k officers. And remember, not all those officers are in uniforms and driving around on the city streets or sitting in a patrol car parked in front of your house. When you begin to divide the forces up into specialties and necessary support and management positions the number of personnel actually out in cars patrolling the streets is diminished greatly.
We are talking about officers to counter the dangerous people who would break into your home and steal your property, or worse, attack you and your family. The people who would go to your children’s schools and attack them while they study and play. The people who would invade your social, entertainment and vacation places and rain chaos and death upon the unaware and unprotected.
While it can be said that the terrorist problem is different from the criminal problem, the result of the harshest actions of either can be the ultimate sacrifice. The distinctions between the two, matter little to John and Jane Doe, your average person on the street.
So, you may ask, what are the reasons for this new dynamic? There are so many differing views on this question that it may not be worth the effort to explain. There is the obvious, a terrorist will likely be acting from a religious extremist, social or cultural standpoint. It may be that they see themselves as having been victimized by those they attack. Many want to call themselves “freedom fighters.” The suggestion being that they are in a situation in which they are fighting for their lives, property and causes, against an adversary that has in their minds already or will soon harm them. Their response is to attack their oppressors. When you look at all the civil, cultural, religious, economic and geo-political factors that come up in discussions and arguments today there seems to be an endless amount of perceived justifications. A good example would be the Palestinians versus the state of Israel. This is not to say their argument is valid or not. Just to offer the point of view from a clear example.
A criminal, on the other hand can have no reason or justification for their actions at all. It may simply be their choice to take from others without regard for right or wrong. There could also be a social explanation. Perhaps the criminal feels that they have been deprived by others and has a right to take what they deserve. Those persons would be saying it is not their fault, they had no choice but to take desperate actions to feed their family or get the things that are kept from them from those they victimize.
None of these arguments will win a debate or find a home in a reasoned discussion. Crime is wrong, terrorism is wrong, taking from others and harming others is wrong all the way around. It can be said by many that the punishment for those who do these things is wrong, but necessary.
So, what are we occupants of civilized society to think and do? Rhetorical question, perhaps the subject of a next writing.
What about our police though? Can we see our police continue to be under attack and not be especially concerned? What this means is that the bad guys, the attackers, have no regard for their own safety and are willing to put their lives on the line to attack another well armed and trained person. That well armed and trained part does not apply to you. Correct me if I am wrong, but, most of you are not armed and trained because you have been relying upon those persons in uniform. If the criminals and terrorists do not fear the cops, and are willing to attack them, can you and your family expect better treatment and more freedom of movement and life? Again, rhetorical, no, you cannot. I promise you, you can expect the worse. When the law is rendered mute, safety, security, comfort, freedom, peace and life itself are at risk.
France has buried several officers in the last several months and will soon do so again. Washington state and Texas have buried some of their Sheepdogs as well, with the potential for more in every major and minor city across this great country.
There are those that do not sympathize with the officers. They may regard this growing trend as a price officers pay for a perceived civil and social injustice against certain groups. There are many who have made comments to this effect, saying law enforcement deserves these attacks based on a view that LE has been abusive and allowed to violate the rights and liberties of citizens. I will not hide my disagreement with that point of view. I was for a full career, one of those LE professionals. To Protect and Serve was a motto we took to heart. The job is difficult. LE is an in-exact science. You cannot perfectly learn everything, prepare for everything or find the perfect solution for everything. Life is unpredictable, people are unpredictable. L.E. officers are people too.
You have an opinion on this. What is needed today is for those who have not spoken, to speak. Make your opinion and feelings known in the greater civil discussion going on today. At present, we only hear from the demonstrators, the victims and the officials. Each giving their point of view, which is usually impacted by the most recent event. What we don’t get is your opinion, your thoughts, your feelings…
How do you feel about the state of things today? Is the crime ok? Are the actions of terrorists, or as they would have you call them, “freedom fighters” an acceptable response to their perceived plight? Are you safe and secure in your home, your mall, your neighborhood theater and are your kids safe in their schools. Can you stand or sit in your front yard without fear of the car driving slowly down the street with the windows down?