Have you ever been so angry that you instinctively knew you had to say something but were simultaneously at a loss for words? That, my friends, is my current situation. Bear with me and we”ll get through this.
In 2009, in response to the Cambridge, Massachusetts arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, then President Barack Obama stated, “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 disproportionately.” Condensed: President Obama, as the highest elected official in the land, made it perfectly acceptable to automatically assume that law enforcement ‘acted stupidly’ while, at the same time, acknowledging that he was yet to “have all the facts”. Huh. Isn’t that something? I guess ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a right only some of us enjoy?
Since then, what were once back-handed insults and defaming comments about the American police officer have turned into outright open handed face slaps.
Months back, the law enforcement community in New Jersey got an up-close taste of just how biased our country has become against their police officers. In October of 2018, Robert Wood Johnson Executive Vice President, Michellene Davis, used her personal Facebook account to, unsolicited and unprovoked, ignorantly react to a NorthJersey.com article detailing the hiring by the Fair Lawn Board of Education of certified police officers to serve as School Resource Officers in their district’s schools. Her reaction to the appropriate measures being taken to safeguard our children?
That’s right. Read it again. This accomplished, educated and respected member of her community, tasked with being one of the leaders of a billion dollar non-profit healthcare network, thought it was appropriate to ask, “Who is going to train them not to shoot black children first?”. Now, before you go defending her clearly biased insinuation that the American police officer is predisposed to shoot black children first and so much so that they actually require training NOT to be by saying that she was “only asking a question”, let me cut you off right there. As a grown adult, you can clearly discern that her ‘question’ was rhetorical, at best. No. That ‘question’ was, in fact, a clear and to-the-point statement on her core bias against the American police officer.
How do her superiors and community leaders respond? Well, she was initially placed a paid vacation masked as a ‘leave’ and then reinstated with a vote of confidence from Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health CEO Barry Ostrowsky, without her statement ever once being declared baseless or unfounded.
To add insult to injury, in April of 2019, Ms Davis, along side of retired New Jersey Manufacturers CEO/President Bernard Flynn and former Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, is set to be enshrined in the Junior Achievement of New Jersey Business Hall of Fame, recognizing her as, among other things, a “community role model”. Let that marinate. Baselessly making biased claims against the American police officer has now become fitting of a community role model.
So why bring this up now? Why again? Wasn’t this just an isolated incident of a misstep made into more? Fast forward to this week where it seems police officers are, once again, under attack as it pertains to serving as school resource officers. The claims, this time, however, are far more laughable and ignorant.
On January 2nd, 2019, approximately 20 Portland, Oregon, public school students walked out of class in protest of police officers being in their schools. Sans any factual logic other than clear bias, the students claimed that “police have no place in our schools” and that “stationing police officers in schools will further contribute to an environment of fear and distrust”. The students went on to explain that the police officers’ presence made them feel, of all things, unsafe while contributing to discrimination in school, even stretching so far as to describe the feeling as a “hostile and unsafe school environment”.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re asking yourself why the immature words and actions of misguided youth are so important, consider the fact that these CHILDREN are not being corrected. In fact, they are being encouraged and empowered; especially when they have ‘role models’ like Ms Davis to lead them.
I hate to be the one to say “I told you so”, but here I am. Many in the law enforcement community couldn’t understand why the fight against Ms Davis’ statement was so important; why the fight against ALL false narratives is one that should never be pushed aside. Many of our leaders actually worked in congress with Ms Davis and her camp to undermine the outcry; and merely months later, under the very same circumstances, you see almost the exact scenario playing out again with, what is sure to be, the same result: Leaders making excuses and falling back on emotion and police officers brushing it off as nothing.
When Michael Burke founded Brothers Before Others in 2014, the goal was simple: to send a flower arrangement to every line of duty death funeral, no matter where they occur in the United States; a task this group has almost flawlessly accomplished to the tune of nearly an average of $55,000.00 per year. What BBO has grown into, however, is charity that offers a safe haven for police officers, their families and their supporters to meet, gather and shamelessly show their appreciation and love for the job that is getting done and the ones who support the work; all the while impacting both sworn and civilian in our communities.
There is a very real, aggressive, shameless and biased attack underway and the American police officer is the target. In NJ, backed by the Attorney General, Governor Murphy recently tried to limit the number of rounds an off-duty police officer could carry in a magazine, making it an indictable CRIME to possess over a certain amount. Naturally, they corrected the number, claiming it to be “an oversight’, but make no mistake: this was NO oversight. This was the political equivalent to an attorney saying something inflammatory out loud, knowing full well that the jury will have heard it regardless of it being ‘struck from the record’. This was no oversight. This was them telling you EXACTLY what they wanted and hoped you missed.
While BBO may have learned a valuable lesson in 2018 as it pertains to picking up fights for people who aren’t even interested in fighting for themselves, make no mistake, we will ALWAYS speak out and speak up for our members and for ANYONE who wears a shield. No one cares for a police officer and their family like a police officer and their family.
For Information on the NJ Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame: