Opinion: Do we still have consent?
There is a perception that politicians and LE leaders are making public safety and personnel decisions based on what the loudest voices demand
The modern concept of policing is that we police by the consent of the people, so what does law enforcement do when that consent is no longer there? If the people remove their consent, now what?
Is our perception our reality?
Currently, in our country, it appears we no longer have consent. Those with the loudest voices seem to be defacto running our law enforcement departments through protests, riots, looting and destruction of cities.
The impression is that politicians and law enforcement leaders are making public safety and personnel decisions based on what these loud voices demand. Is that reality? Hopefully not. However, there is a saying that perception is reality.
Talking to many front-line law enforcement officers and hearing their sentiments, they believe we are the fire insurance to be sacrificed if needed to prevent cities from burning down. This is an unfortunate perception. To ignore it would be as equally derelict as ignoring those who have valid grievances against law enforcement.
Where is the consenting majority?
In reality, I believe we still have the consent of the majority of the public but it is a silent majority. In their silence, they have ceded power to those with the loudest voice. This silent consent is being controlled, just as politicians and police leadership are being controlled by fear of the small mob.
What is manifesting itself on the streets of our cities and decisions being made by politicians and law enforcement leadership does not match what the silent population has given us consent to do. They want law, they want order, they want peace and they want rest from all the agendas driving the chaos driven by a false narrative. This false narrative is one I do not have to name and the rare leader in law enforcement dares to stand up to and speak out against. Yes, we can do better, but leaders are standing silent as their officers and deputies are labeled as racist killers. I, as a part Black and white officer vehemently know this is untrue.
Have we lost confidence or lost consent?
Police leadership has talked about losing the confidence of the public. We may be past that. We have politicians and groups who are not only talking about defunding and abolishing the police but are actively engaged in making this a legal reality. It is no longer an issue of whether we have the confidence of the public. The concepts of defunding and abolishing the police are akin to saying, “You no longer have our consent." That could lead to a catastrophic, chaotic collapse of our society and our nation. Do we have the public's consent to police? The answer to that is monumental.
Do officers still have rights?
I hear over and over from large numbers of officers, especially the younger officers: “I do not want to be the next officer on national media for doing my job.” It is not necessary that I analyze or give my opinion about such a statement, but to those in leadership, if this is the mindset of the majority of officers, how do you think they are policing, particularly when it comes to proactive policing? It is very telling when officers come to work worried more about being fired or arrested than being killed during their duty shift.
Why are officers leaving?
Officers are retiring and quitting at historic levels. We can no longer function like this. A sense of service, patriotism and love for our country can only keep us going for so long. We find ourselves in an isolated place and moving into self-preservation mode. We are used to those outside of law enforcement not having our six. However, what is causing us to leave is the perception that our leadership is not willing to have our six any longer. This is not the thin blue line turning a blind eye to police brutality or corruption. If the line is crossed into brutality or corruption, then that officer or deputy needs to be dealt with like any other criminal. In the absence of wrongdoing, the backing of our leadership is desperately needed.
One thing that could slow or stop this exodus from agencies nationwide is to hear from our chiefs or sheriffs that if we are involved in an incident but did everything within policy and the law, that those chiefs and sheriffs will have our six. Is law enforcement leadership willing to take such a stand?
We are nearing a breaking point
Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, the majority of us go out and do our jobs with honor and integrity, sacrificing body, mind, and, for some, their lives.
Can I respectfully ask the public, politicians and law enforcement leadership, "What do you want from us? We don't have much more to give. Do we have your consent?”