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Defund or Defend the Police?
By Jim Glennon
   
 
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“DEFUND THE POLICE!” 

“ABOLISH THE POLICE!”

These are the rallying cries being shouted by many as I sit writing this column. Never in my lifetime did I ever think such demands would be bellowed by so many different people—at least not at the level we’re all hearing it now. Of course, I’ve heard these demands before, but they were always spouted by small, fringe anarchist groups that no one really took seriously.

Well, it’s different today.

It is only a very small percentage of the population who wants to literally abolish their police forces. In reality, safety is still the number one concern of most sane people; a world without police would be one that is completely unsafe.

People Have Confidence in the Police

Prior to the atrocity that happened in Minneapolis in May, the vast majority of the more than 12,000 local police agencies enjoyed a very good relationship with their communities. That’s not hyperbole—it’s a fact. Local agencies have been surveying their own cities, towns, and villages for decades now and have consistently found that those they serve are very satisfied with their peace officers.

I lived and worked in a town right outside of Chicago which had a population of 45,000 or so. It was one town in a metro/suburban area which has a population of around 9 million. Every time we did a survey (which was also sent to people we arrested), our positive/confidence ratings were well above 80%.

That number is not uncommon for most municipalities.

Although some of our nation’s largest cities do have problems when it comes to satisfying those they are sworn to protect relative to other parts of the country, they generally also enjoy quite high marks from their citizens. According to a 2018 Gallup national survey, the police were ranked third behind the military and small business when it came to confidence in U.S. institutions. 85% had at least some confidence in the police; 54% had a great deal of confidence.

Why are the numbers for the police so high? Well, according to every survey I’ve seen, the vast majority of people have positive interactions with the police—even when they are getting tickets or being arrested. Most people believe they were stopped for legitimate reasons or arrested for cause.

Anecdotally, most people liked us during my time as a cop in the town I lived in for 30 years. Why? Because we were members of the community. We didn’t act like hired mercenaries. We had positive interactions. We knew business owners, community leaders, and church pastors. Most importantly, we knew the people. We treated the average citizen with respect, and they treated us in kind.

I’ve travelled the country instructing officers for over 25 years now. I have stood in front of tens of thousands of police officers. I have had countless conversations with officers of every age, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. And virtually every time one of these interactions ends, I’m prouder to be part of this profession. These are good, dedicated, caring human beings.

So, where is the defense of the police right now?

There’s some. But there’s not much. 

An Absence of Support

I do see friends, acquaintances from my past, and some family members defend the cops while browsing my personal social media accounts. But, as with everyone else, I generally “friend” like-minded people.

But where is the public support? Where are the elected representatives who know the truth about their police agencies? Where are their statements of support?

For the most part, they are AWOL.

And it’s terrible.

I talk to police officers all over the country every single day. In my 40 years in and around this profession, I have never, ever heard what I’m hearing now from cops.

In a word, they are despondent. Each one I talk to is feeling a sense of despair. That affects all of us…and not just in the present. The black cloud that has settled over the law enforcement profession is going to severely impact the future safety of this country. That’s a fact.

In a recent Calibre Press poll on the state & future of policing more than 10,000 officers from around the country shared their thoughts on policing. Only 7.2% said they would recommend law enforcement as a career to their children.

These are people who were sickened at the sight of an officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. 

These are people who, again, come from every walk of life, every ethnicity, and every social identity. They are great police officers who are dedicated to their communities and who have risked their lives for strangers. They care about others and prove it daily.

And they are being lumped in with the officer from Minneapolis.

They are being called despicable names. 

Many have been spit on, have had bricks thrown at them, or have been labeled racists and murderers. Many have been shot, have had firebombs hurled at them, or have been run over by motor vehicles.

Black cops have been called traitors and worse.

These people are the exact opposite of how they are being recklessly characterized by protesters, the media, and politicians—politicians who, by the way, should realize that demonizing and defunding the police will literally result in deaths of citizens.

Where are the defenders of these dedicated peace officers?

Where are they?

Where are you?

Conclusion

I have to admit, I’m disappointed. I’m actually hurt.

I’ve recognized that many people are afraid to show public support of the police, as the “cancel culture” we live in today is ruthless and relentless.

I’ve seen some despicable and statistically ridiculous comments on my own social media platform written by friends of friends, friends of family, and a few actual friends.

Many of my cop friends have had it. Some have decided to log off social media altogether. Others have flat-out eliminated relationships with lifelong acquaintances because of their anti-cop vitriol.

I’ll end with this: Police officers are human beings. They became cops because they wanted to be involved, help others, and provide assistance to their communities. They don’t want to be called heroes; most I know are very uncomfortable with that type of moniker.

But they also don’t want to be abused, threatened, and prejudged as racist and evil because they wear the uniform. Those calling the names and hurling the salacious and unsubstantiated accusations should be ashamed of themselves. But to be ashamed, they would have to have some level of honor, and most who are spewing the despicable vitriol have proven that they have little.

For everyone else, how about a little support? Reach out. Post. Tell the human beings in the profession that you recognize their dedication and efforts. Tell them that you appreciate their integrity and honor.

They’re real people. They’d welcome it.

They need it. 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

E-mail us at: editor@calibrepress.com

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Jim Glennon
Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, Ill. PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.
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