1 July 2021

NOTE FROM NORM: If the cops are gone who will stop the criminals

The headline of a story in the May 19th, 2021, Star Tribune should be enough for all of us to stand up and take notice: “Suspects getting increasingly violent with cops in Twin Cities, other areas.”

Since early May, there have been at least 18 assaults on law enforcement officers from suspects.  Equally concerning are the actions of bystanders who throw rocks, bricks, and other objects at law enforcement personnel as they attempt to break up groups of people engaging in criminal activity.

And there is the case of one suspect who spit on a police officer and said, “I hope you get COVID.”

Police officers being assaulted by suspects is not new.  As a former prosecutor and Mayor, I have spoken with enough cops to know that the job we ask them to do on our behalf is dangerous during the best of times. But, unfortunately, being asked to willingly put yourself in harm’s way and subjecting yourself to severe injury and, far too often, death is part of the job when you take the oath and put on the uniform.

Yet, the job we are asking Police Officers to do is becoming more and more dangerous every day as a combination of forces and factors further reduces respect for the rule of law and those we employ to enforce it.

Indeed, the actions of convicted former Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd expose multiple issues related to law enforcement, training, the criminal justice system, and society as a whole.

There are sincere and legitimate efforts to offer law enforcement reforms that could address some of the most pressing issues that create conflict between law enforcement and the communities they have been sworn to protect and serve.

Removing cops from the street who have no business wearing a badge, eliminating unnecessarily violent physical restraints, enhanced training, and a host of other reforms have been advanced, some successfully, others not, as well-intentioned lawmakers seek to find credible solutions.

Then there are the nonsensical and dangerous notions of more and more politicians, policymakers, and “advocates” contributing to the increasing level of mayhem in their own cities because of their naïve notion of what it means to uphold the rule of law in America.

All across America, politicians and activists everywhere are demanding policy proposals that would defund police, reduce the focus of law enforcement on actually enforcing the law, and turn the other cheek when it comes to so-called “minor” crimes.

The truth of the matter is that Democratic candidates for House seats in Congress lost their races, often because they embraced, or refused to reject, extreme measures that would put their communities at risk from these policies.

In Minneapolis, the City Council initially proposed defunding their police department.  When public outrage grew, they backpedaled.  But it wasn’t in their desire to defund the department. That’s an initiative that’s alive and well.  They just changed the name and the terminology.

The murder of an increasing number of children in Minneapolis, and the growing alarm of its citizens wanting to know why something isn’t being done to stop the violence, is met with the arrogant posture of the City’s councilmembers who are convinced they know exactly how to stop crime:  Get rid of the crime fighters.

Lest we forget, several of these same Councilmembers spent $150,000 of taxpayers’ money for their own personal security at a time when their constituents were being shot, robbed, assaulted, and murdered.

Violent crime is rising in America, and far too many politicians want nothing to do with creating real-world solutions to real-life crime in more and more of our neighborhoods.

In the City of St. Paul, the City has seen one of the smallest class of police recruits in decades driven, in large part, by the diminishing interest that men and women have in putting themselves in harm’s way as long as their elected officials see them as a valuable tool to attack to prove their fealty to political correctness run amok.

A New York Times story reports that “A survey of almost 200 police departments indicated that retirements were up 45 percent and resignations rose by 18 percent in the year from April 2020 to April 2021 when compared with the previous 12 months, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington policy institute.”

As neighborhoods find themselves with fewer police officers because the leadership of their cities has undermined their authority, cratered their morale, and made their jobs even more dangerous, the calls for somebody to do something are increasing every day.

Dead children, terrified homeowners, frustrated business owners, and beaten and bloodied police officers should not be the price we have to pay to find legitimate, meaningful, and implementable law enforcement reforms.

After more than a year, America is winning the war against a terrible pandemic.

Yet, no sooner do we find our nation recovering from that devastation than we find ourselves facing an epidemic of violence throughout America.

It’s not law enforcement that’s a danger to our communities.

It’s the criminals.

And, if law enforcement isn’t there to stop them, who will?