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By March 27, 2016 Read More →

Words Matter

Dennis Slocumb is a 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and currently serves as the Legislative Director for the International Union of Police Associations in Washington, D.C.

Dennis Slocumb is a 32-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and currently serves as the Legislative Director for the International Union of Police Associations in Washington, D.C.

By Dennis Slocumb

It seems that every time we check the news, another officer has been shot.

In February:

* Harford County, MD: Two deputies shot and killed, suspect dead.
* Fort Worth, TX: Officer shot, suspect dead
* Virginia: Three officers shot, one dead, suspect in custody.
* Chicago: Three officers shot, suspect dead.
* PG County, MD: Officer shot and killed after gunman opens fire on police station, likely friendly fire.
* Chester, PA: Officer shot, suspect dead.
* The Bronx: Officer shot, suspect shot, in custody.

And so it goes, almost daily.

Why? Hard to say, but much of it has to lie at the foot of the rhetoric that has come out of the mouths of the President, the media and the fringe groups that march through the streets calling for the killing of cops.

Words matter.

Since the death of Trayvon Martin, there have been 531 (as of this writing) law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. There has been silence from the White House. It is not as though this President will not speak to police issues. In fact he has a history of anti-police sentiment.

In July 2009, when Professor Henry Louis Gates refused to identify himself to a police sergeant who had been called to the scene by one of Gates’ neighbors who observed him forcing his way into his own home, Mr. Obama commented on the event, saying, “I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home, and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement isproportionately.”

Words matter.

In August 2014, Michael Brown committed a strong armed robbery and attacked the police officer who attempted to detain him. Every investigation, by the agency, the grand jury and the Department of Justice, concluded that the shooting was reasonable and justified. This President sent emissaries to the robber’s funeral. Rioting followed spurred by erroneous reports repeated by the press which postulated a false narrative of Michael Brown having his hands up and crying “don’t shoot.” This was proven by every investigation and the forensic evidence to be false. The damage, however, had been done.

The President commented, “The finding that was made by the Department of Justice was that it was not unreasonable to determine that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Officer Wilson. That was an objective, thorough, independent federal investigation.” He further added, “We may never know exactly what happened. But Officer Wilson, like anybody else who is charged with a crime, benefits from due process and a reasonable doubt standard.”

We do know what happened, and the President, also knows exactly what led to Michael Brown’s death. He robbed a local business; he attacked a police officer and tried to take his gun. He refused to submit to arrest and tried to charge the officer. This time, thank God, the police officer survived and the assailant did not. Justice was served, brutally, but in keeping with the events for which Mr. Brown was wholly responsible. Had Michael Brown been able to wrest Officer Wilson’s gun from him, it is highly likely that America would have suffered yet another dead policeman and the President and the media could have, once again, ignored the tragedy. The President knew it, the Attorney General knew it, and the media knew it, but none of them could force themselves to say it. It simply did not fit their narrative.

Words matter.

On December 20, two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot and killed while sitting in their marked police car. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, posted days earlier on Instagram his intention to kill police officers in response to the killings of Brown and Eric Garner.

On March 12, 2015, two police officers were wounded by gunfire outside the Ferguson police headquarters. The officers, one from nearby Webster Groves, the other from the St. Louis County Police, were providing security at a protest being staged outside the station. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani accused Obama of creating a hostile environment toward the police, stating, “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the President, that everybody should hate the police. I don’t care how you want to describe it, that’s what those protests are all about.”

Words matter.

Protests surrounding the death of Freddie Gray became violent in April, 2015. Police cars were damaged, businesses burned and numerous people were injured. The Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in a press conference said, most protesters were respectful but a “small group of agitators intervened.” She also stated that “It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”

Words matter.

Protesters marched in the streets of New York chanting “What do we want? Dead pigs. When do we want them? Now!” Many of these protests were connected to the group calling themselves, “Black Lives Matter.” That group has met with this President and with the leading Democratic Presidential candidate. Black Lives Matter is a leaderless group that, with the assistance of the media, is spreading the notion that somehow the police are the enemy of black men. While others are arguing over whether or not All Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter, I offer that the better question is “To whom do black lives matter?”

Between the years 2009-2012, 1,492 people died from the police use of force. Of these, 32.2%, or 481, were black. During the same time period, 17, 719 black people were killed in criminal homicides, more than 93% of all homicides nationwide. While we have yet to see ANY protests regarding the slaughter of black citizens, including children, there are always law enforcement professionals working diligently to bring justice to the victims and their families—often without the help of witnesses who are willing to cooperate.

Almost 90% of black males murdered were murdered by other blacks. More than 40% of the police officers murdered are murdered by black males. It is profoundly apparent that if anyone cares about “black lives” it is the men and women who patrol their neighborhoods, solve the crimes against them, and keep the peace, rather than boisterous agitators with a slogan on a t-shirt.

There have been twenty Presidential debates. I have not yet heard any candidates questioned about police shootings nor causes or cures. Not once.

This President has been absolutely mum on the recent tragic uptick of police officers being shot. It is happening at an unprecedented rate, especially this year. No emissary from the White House has attended a police funeral nor commented on these tragic deaths.

We can take heart in the Gallup poll conducted in December, 2015—after Ferguson, after Baltimore, after the months of half-truths and outright lies coming from the media, the Administration and the pandering left side of the aisle. When America was asked which professions they trusted most, police officers were trusted just behind nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors and high school teachers; and far ahead of clergy, the media and politicians.
If Hillary, the media and even the President himself can blame Donald Trump for causing violence and violent people to disrupt his events due to his words, then they can take credit for the increase in violence against police officers.

They simply cannot have it both ways—because words do matter.

Posted in: The Job

1 Comment on "Words Matter"

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  1. Mr. Slocumb has written a strong revealing article citing situations where the media and politicians have twisted the facts and lowered the trust of our police officers. Lets be straight up and say that we do have individuals that just give law enforcement a bad name when they conduct themselves so wrongly, but with thousands of us that pound the beat, get dirty when necessary, and serve in the name of justice and community service, no one but our agencies (if any) recognizes the tasks that are done daily. Our politicians and the media just don’t get it and for the ones that do, they stand next to silence or take a lower profile of the matter. Words do affect our profession, so without politicians and the media being educated of police procedures, etc., at best, we might be able to get them to tone down or simple shut-up. I offer no solutions but to praise Mr. Slocumb in a well written article of what law enforcement has to deal with across the country. I recently retired but I have not laid down my commitment to stand and support a law enforcement officer. Be safe everyone.