1:00 a.m. EST, December 25, 2014
In the aftermath of tragic assassinations of two NYPD police officers, I hope that some good can come of this horrible act.
Police officers have one of the most difficult jobs. They are asked to respond to the scenes of the most horrifying crimes and be a calming professional presence. They see crime victims on the worst days of their lives and are then counted upon to treat those who commit those crimes with unimagined restraint.
While many celebrate Christmas and other holidays with their loved ones, police officers are patrolling the streets in an attempt to keep our communities safe.
Police officers see the unintended consequences of comments made by politicians and community activists as they recklessly pander to their political base. Police officers are an easy target for race baiters and politicians who seek to deflect the public’s attention from their inability to improve the lives of their constituents. I warn that the result will be a more hostile society, not a safer one.
How do police leaders attract the best and brightest to serve our community when the President of the United States of America characterizes police agencies as having systematic issues of violence against minorities? Branded as racists, hearing chants encouraging police killings, unsupported by political leaders, it is amazing that so many choose to honorably serve as police officers.
As my career comes to a close; I have hope for change, but not the kind of “Hope and Change” that we’ve seen in the past six years. Our cities are dying from the inside out and the cancer is spreading. Leaders in our communities are afraid to be candid in identifying the causes of the decline. It is much easier to blame one of our brothers or sisters in blue who come to work every day to help those who they are called to serve and who hope to return to their loved ones when they complete their shift.
I have been in policing since 1972. I have served with thousands of law enforcement officers at all levels. There have been some officers that discredited their uniform and embarrassed their brothers and sisters in blue. Those officers must be held accountable. Their actions should not be allowed to tarnish the shields of the vast majority of police professionals any more than the actions of a few thugs should define a community.
What can we do to treat our law enforcement professionals professionally? Some things include: stop the divisive rhetoric; pay them like professionals; support training; support appropriate staffing levels to allow for safe policing; equip them as professionals; and elect officials who will ensure that public safety and support professional policing.
Don’t let the media drama that was created in Missouri and New York, when two criminals died while committing crimes in the presence, and yes, at the hands of, police officers, distract your attention from the real cause of the eroding of American family values and the disappearance of the traditional family unit which served to provide conformance to societal norms.
Finally, my message to leaders in the community is clean up your house and we’ll clean up ours.
God Bless the families of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu, and God Bless those who choose to serve in blue, as well as their families and friends who support them.
R. Kenneth Meekins is Hampstead’s Chief of Police.