Following the controversy of the recent fatal police shooting of a black suspect in California, Democrat lawmakers there have proposed a bill that would change the current “reasonable force” standard to one of “necessary force.” This means that police officers potentially faced with imminent serious injury or death in a confrontation with a suspect would be allowed to shoot only if “there were no other reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force,” according to the ACLU, which predictably backs the proposal.
Law enforcement officials representing officers who put their lives on the line every day vehemently oppose this change. Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll, for example, told The Sacramento Bee that the proposed legislation “is a knee-jerk, politically feel-good piece that will not solve the very difficult split-second decisions officers make in very high-stress conditions.”
True, but politically feel-good legislation that will not solve difficult problems is the Democrat Party way, particularly where the problems of law enforcement are concerned. Nothing characterizes the Progressive left today quite like an open contempt for law and order. On every issue, from Black Lives Matter to Antifa to sanctuary states to illegal immigration and more, the left always sides with the lawless.
Exacerbating matters is a left-dominated national news media, which perpetuates the hateful myth that racist police officers across the country are willfully gunning down innocent minorities. The anti-cop animus stoked by that mendacious narrative, coupled with the increasing implementation of racial preference policies born of a social justice agenda, have resulted in a hamstrung police force that all too often resorts now to a strategy of self-protection known as de-policing. That is a phenomenon in which cops avoid pro-active patrolling because they know that if a serious situation goes down, they likely won’t have the support of their own superiors or of the city administration – or even worse, their leaders will actively take the side of the officers’ “victims.” The result is rising violent crime in precisely the areas that need the most policing.
Now one retired cop is speaking out about this dire situation in a very readable new book from Post Hill Press titled De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. As a police officer in the very Progressive haven of Seattle, Washington for 22 years, Steve Pomper was frustrated with how “government-sponsored social justice, liberal political indoctrination camouflaged as law enforcement training, and the lack of public education about police work have cops constantly looking over their shoulders.” That reflexive caution means that officers facing a situation that could easily escalate into a career-ending debacle and a public tarring-and-feathering in an unsympathetic news media now pause and ask themselves, “Should I?” The answer, Pomper notes, has increasingly become, “Why should I?”
To pick just one example of what an extreme impact the current anti-cop, politically correct culture has on an officer’s psyche, Pomper relates the story of a female Chicago police officer who was savagely beaten by a suspect high on PCP. She later told her superintendent that “she thought she was going to die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to because she didn’t want her family or the department to have to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news.”
“De-policing should scare the hell out of every American,” Pomper writes. “Especially at this critical time when our enemies, ISIS and other Islamist terrorists – not to mention our own criminals – are, in the truest sense of the phrase, hunting Americans in the streets.” Why, he asks, “would the left engage in something so suicidal as marginalizing police officers at a time like this? Because ideology and politics trump all.” Bingo.
That politically correct ideology – identity politics – is force-fed even to the cops themselves. In Pomper’s own Seattle, for example, under a Race and Social Justice Initiative established several years ago, officers are required to attend social justice day camps where they are lectured about white privilege, minority victimhood, and “how unconsciously (and consciously) racist and bigoted cops are – especially white cops. Don’t even try to argue; to argue also means you are even more racist. The left isn’t interested in your point of view.” Similar programs have been instituted on other major cities across the country.
An exasperated Pomper asks, from the perspective of an officer of the law, how can such social justice aims be reconciled with Constitutionally-guaranteed equal justice? “Social justice favors the group. Equal justice favors the individual… Are the police to enforce laws based on treating individuals according to their race, ethnicity, and other nonrelevant factors to level some theoretical playing field? Isn’t this in contravention of the Constitution?” Well, yes, but that never stopped leftist ideologues like Barack Obama, who considers the Constitution a “flawed document” that stands in the way of utopian Progressivism.
Speaking of former President Obama, Pomper is understandably not a fan of the man whose legacy is the fanning of racial flames and a murderous animosity toward police officers. “What are cops supposed to think,” Pomper asks rhetorically, “when an American president invites anti-cop, [Black Lives Matter] radicals to the White House? This is the vehemently anti-law enforcement, pro-Marxist, redistributionist, social justice group largely responsible for promulgating the Ferguson, Missouri, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ myth – you know, The Washington Post’s 2015 Lie of the Year.”
With a wry sense of humor and a pull-no-punches voice of experience, Steve Pomper’s book De-Policing America is an honest, first-hand, Constitutionally-grounded discussion of topics that know-it-all keyboard warriors debate routinely on social media and in the pages of op-eds across the country: gun rights, hate crimes, gun-free zones, zero tolerance policies, federal government overreach, racial politics, police militarization, and many more. The difference is that the keyboard warriors usually aren’t on the front lines facing the real-world consequences of these issues, and Pomper's former brothers and sisters in blue are.
How can this trend in law enforcement be reversed? One suggestion Pomper makes is for police officers themselves to speak out more, albeit thoughtfully, respectfully, and with eyes wide open about the backlash they are likely to receive, which Pomper himself is familiar with, having spoken out against "liberal tyranny" in several forcefully direct articles (included in the book) for the Seattle Guardian in 2010 and 2011 which drew serious flak. Apart from that, “de-policing will not stop until trust is restored,” Pomper concludes. “Trust, but not as the left frames the issue. Not only trust of a community in its cops, but trust by cops in their communities that the people will support them.”
Photo: Tony Webster / [email protected]