When I began my career as a police officer in 1975, the turmoil and civil strife of the Vietnam war era, where police often clashed with protesters, had subsided. The anti-police violence of militant, radical revolutionary groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground had greatly diminished, as their leaders were killed in police shootouts or imprisoned.
Relations between the police and minority communities was improving, as more progressive city and police administrators openly recruited for officers within those communities, and agencies became more diverse.
Police work back then was refreshingly simple. There were good people and the bad guys. The basic job of policing was to be the “Thin Blue Line” that formed a protective barrier between the two groups. Civil rights lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and protests resulting from allegations of excessive force were few and far between.
The police could generally depend upon the support of their communities, who mostly understood the symbiotic relationship between the cops, communities and public safety. This was before the advent of the 24/7 news cycle, #journalism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Now, as a direct result of those three entities, expedient politicians and race-baiting so-called “community activists” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, a War on Police has surfaced; and America is now tragically caught in the middle of it. Despite what the uninformed media pundits express, American law enforcement officers have suffered more officers killed and injured in the line of duty than in the past thirty years.
Without a doubt, we have had more police killed in armed ambush attacks than we had during the Prohibition and Bonnie and Clyde rolling bank robbers era. The paradigm of police work will now change from community policing to self-protection. What will this mean for police and our communities in the future and how did we get here?
The false narratives – As I have written and predicted in my new book, “The Truth Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement and the War on Police,” the Fourth Estate continues to do a horrible job at informing the American public about the forensic facts of deadly officer encounters with suspects — especially those in the minority community. The media misunderstood and falsely portrayed the actual, factual circumstances of high-profile police death cases such as Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), Freddie Gray (Baltimore, MD) and most recently Anton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LO).
The fires of anger against, and distrust of law enforcement have been further fueled by the militant, Marxist Black Lives Matter movement that seeks to disenfranchise, diminish, defend and dissolve police who protect the public and our Democratic form of government by enforcing the Rule of Law.
Expedient politicians – at the Federal, state and local level, who are either too lazy, racially biased, and/or under-informed, do our nation and its citizens no favors by having an emotional reaction instead of a patient, informed and studied response to police enforcement actions where minorities are killed during police encounters. They focus on the race instead of behaviors of the subjects that precipitated each unique encounter and use of force.
A failure to “de-escalate” creates the environment of violence – Rather than police needing more de-escalation training; it is the public who needs to calm down and control their behaviors. In every instance I can think of where police were provoked to resort to a use of force, it was the behavior(s) of the subject encountered that singularly brought about a forceful response by police; often with deadly consequences.
It should be remembered that police don’t create society’s problems; they respond to them. It has become far too easy to deflect and redirect blame to police and the media. Our President and Black Lives Matter surrogates are prime offenders in this scheme.
So what are police to do now? American society has created its own conundrum. You have finally managed to put a target on the backs of all law enforcement officers. Now you are going to have to live with the unintended consequences of this unfortunate circumstance. Police officers are not stupid. They are not out there to become targets for cowardly snipers, active shooters and agitated-chaotic “ticking time bomb” lone wolf assassins. They will protect themselves at all costs.
Despite what police administrators might idealistically envision, America is looking at a new shift in policing that will include military-style “force protection” tactics; enhanced protection vehicles; sniper over-watch; more heavily-armed officers responding to high-risk calls; call perimeter security and less time if any negotiating with barricaded armed shooting suspects intent upon making a political statement by killing officers; rather than demands.
You are, in effect, potentially looking at a Second World policing model. Let me know how that works for you.
Martinelli is a nationally renowned forensic criminologist and police expert who directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations and Independent Review Team. He is a retired San Jose (CA) police detective. His book is available on Amazon.com and his forensic site is found at www.DrRonMartinelli.com.
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