In my youth, I shingled roofs. To do it right, you hung onto a hammer, ladder, shingle stack, and eventually the roof. From such experiences comes the phrase “get a grip.” Right now, America is sliding. We need to “get a grip” – fast.
“Justice” is a principle derived from “just behavior,” which refers to “moral” grounding, or knowing the difference between right and wrong, good character and bad, fairness, decency, truth, and lack of it. Social or racial justice describes equal treatment between races.
Without a thesis on racial inequality in America, and our continuing battle to promote justice and equal treatment, suffice to say the death of George Floyd at the hands of a law enforcement officer with no sense of humanity – has turned the public upside down.
This week, our nation has seen a combination of peaceful protests – thousands marching for racial equality – and violent riots driven by organized forces intent on committing property and personal crimes, including arson, burglary, assault and murder, and a radical leftist ideology.
Lost in all this are facts, including the enormous risks taken and good done by law enforcement officers – local, state, and federal – every day. The point resounded like a rung bell when a liberal friend emailed to say she wondered if America was a “failed state.” Failed state?
This is where my phrase “get a grip” comes in. Having spent time setting up police forces in places like postwar Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, as well as Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and locations rife with day-and-night terrorism, we are not a “failed state.”
More to the point, our future is preserved and protected, against foes foreign and domestic, by American law enforcement. We are blessed with the best law enforcement professionals in the world. Japan is a close number two, but then we trained them after WWII. That is why we are not and are nowhere near becoming a “failed state.”
While the importance of justice, social justice, racial justice, and a cultural grounding in equal treatment is vital – so is the appreciation for those who protect us every day. The law enforcement community is composed of men and women, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters who volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way – for you and me. They take inordinate risks every day to keep our society safe.
Now we have Democrat leaders around the country – in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, Minnesota and elsewhere – calling for cuts to police budgets, presumably to punish the officers who make civil society, the rule of law and protection possible. I kid you not.
This again is where “get a grip” comes in. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to cut $150 million from the police budget, to punish a police force among the most undermanned in the country. Los Angeles has roughly 4 million people protected by 9000 officers, creating a ratio of officers to residents of 1 to 444. Without deterrence – without manning, training, equipping, and public support – the force would be overwhelmed. What is the mayor thinking?
San Francisco, with a population of 805,000 homeowners and 400,000 commuters, is policed by 2,108 officers. That yields a ratio of 1 officer for every 569 persons in the city daily. Mayor London Breed wants to reduce the police budget in response to the protests and riots, while he runs a $1.7 billion deficit. Mr. Mayor, what are you thinking? Get a grip.
In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney wants to cut the civilian oversight board and anti-violence initiatives, while in New York, “40 City Council candidates” want to cut the New York Police department budget “by one billion dollars” to address people “harmed by over-policing and police violence.”
Frankly, these political leaders are rocking backward off the ladder, losing hammer, shingles, and any grip on the roof. How in the world can cutting police budgets solve problems of a fractional number of errant officers, while most struggle to keep crime down in high-crime cities?
For the record, New York City in February 2020 saw a whopping 22.5 percent jump in the major crime index. Meantime, “crime in Philadelphia is up by double-digit percentages – across the spectrum of illegal activity – in the first three months of 2020,” including a 16 percent jump in violent crime, 11 point jump in property crime, retail theft up 59 percent, aggravated assault up 20 percent. What can these mayors be thinking?
Look at the ratio of officers to population in New York and Philadelphia. New York has 38,421 officers policing 8,398,748 people, producing a 1 to 218 ratio. The job is compounded by a bail reform law that, as police interviews confirm, lets apprehended rioters back out on the street if they cannot make bail.
Philadelphia has 1.58 million people, policed by 6.300 sworn officers, producing an officer to resident ratio of 1 to 251. Meanwhile, liberal prosecutors in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and St. Louis are letting “looters and rioters” back onto the streets, infuriating overworked police. What gives?
All this adds to straight-forward observations. We are missing common sense, good judgment, and basic appreciation for facts when our leaders advance the notion of punishing police forces – the people who protect our society – in the name of politics.
While rooting out racism, advancing justice, and equal protection under the law is essential, so is the robust appreciation for the harrowing job done by largely selfless, overworked, over-stressed police forces – aiming to keep us safe. If democracy is hard, so is policing a democracy.
If holding tight to the idea of ordered liberty takes serious thinking, many of those faulting our police forces need to stop and ask – how is it that you, your family, staff, and days are safe? The answer is deterrence created by round the clock law enforcement. In a phrase, get a grip.