The dog-whistle language of politics excites the police haters

If someone yells “gun” in a theater they shouldn’t then be the one calling  for calm. The red hot rhetoric aimed against public workers, police officer benefits and government in general is coming home to roost. And the anger in the street has been turned toward those who are most visible and most vulnerable—street cops. The dog whistle language of politics intended to excite and incense the political bases of both parties is working.

From one side we hear the police are over militarized, racists, and overall just out of control. On the other side we see a movement to destroy officer working conditions.

For some time now, we have heard elected leaders from both the left and right talk about police pay and deferred compensation items such as earned retirement benefits as entitlements. This inference places cops on the level of con artists and thieves. The linguistics of disrespect drip from their vocabulary. ‘Unsustainable’ is the word most commonly used  by those seeking to turn the public against you.

The great enablers to the political class are the national media who constantly seek to stoke the fires of  division and hatred by identifying someone attempting to take an officer’s gun and murder him as “unarmed.”

The problem with their dog whistle language of politics is that sometimes it alerts the wrong creatures. Those who are mentally unstable are still listening to the same news casts, hearing the same politicians and obviously purchasing guns.

Law enforcement personnel have always been exposed to violence and have borne the brunt of a violent, criminally well-armed society. Texas has lost the most of all the states with more than 1,700 names engraved on our memorial monument wall in Austin. So the sudden interest in honoring law enforcement by some in the media and politics begs to question where have they been?

When there is a public slaying of an officer, the real people converge into the public light to grieve and to show where their priorities are, and to illustrate the high esteem they hold for their hometown heroes. And of course, the media and those in political power emerge to publicly wring their hands and wonder aloud just who could have caused all of this?

The recent public attacks against law enforcement officers should be a time of national introspection, thoughtful prayer and even contrition. But we shouldn’t allow those who helped start the war to suddenly and magically present clean hands and turn this into another campaign opportunity. Of course now they will offer to broker endless meetings, fund studies or drink their way through “beer summits” in an effort  solve the very problem they helped to create. But no matter how hard they try, they cannot remove their fingerprints or undo the damage or bring back the officers to their families. 

The campaign cycle in Texas is beginning. It’s a good opportunity for local CLEAT leaders to ask who tried to destroy your retirement? Who filed bills to stop you from participating in the political process? Who tried to limit your arrest authority and jurisdiction?

And of course, who filed the bill that doubled the in the line of duty death benefit in Texas? It was both Representative Bryan Hughes and Senator Eddie Lucio.

Who carried the amendment that protected your right to privacy in the camera bill when all the other police groups were calling CLEAT unreasonable? It was old CLEAT friend, Senator Jose Menendez.

The politicians in Texas should not be able to count on you to support their habit of only supporting the police during the campaign cycle. 

 

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When we say CLEAT, what we really mean is ‘the best’

“Bringing CLEAT closer to you” has been our goal as CLEAT hosts training classes across the State, spends months at the negotiating table to get the best contract possible, and sends the best attorneys in Texas to the scenes of critical incidents in the late hours of the night.

It is our mission to deliver the most as well as the best in service and benefits to every CLEAT member.

LEGAL SERVICES
We’ve expanded and improved our regional attorney program so that we can guarantee an attorney is provided to you within minutes of a critical incident. Remember, CLEAT guarantees an attorney to the scene of a critical incident within two hours of being contacted or we pay you $1,000.

To date, we’ve responded to the highest number of critical incidents in our history. In the current climate of extremism and violence in communities against law enforcement, we intend to back you up no matter what happens. In addition to expanding our regional attorney program, we have hired an additional attorney in South Texas and will soon hire a new attorney in the Panhandle and Region 5.

We also have brought on labor expert Craig Deats, of Counsel, for assisting in negotiating contracts and advising the Executive Director and Legal Division.

CLEAT founder and former President, Ron DeLord is currently negotiating the San Antonio and Corpus Christi contracts for CLEAT as well. While providing attorneys for individual cases, CLEAT has also spent heavily in legal fees for the Fort Worth pension lawsuit and the San Antonio bargaining lawsuit.

We have hired the best attorneys in the nation for these cases. If you have not yet taken advantage of the free Will Program as a member of CLEAT, we encourage you to do so.

FIELD SERVICES
Last year, CLEAT successfully bargained 14 contracts. This year, we are in the process of negotiating all across the State. CLEAT also doubled its training budget this year. Many of the training classes hosted by CLEAT are provided either free of charge or at cost to members.

By the end of the year, we will have trained more than 10,000 officers.

POLITICAL REPRESENTATION
This recent legislative session, law enforcement was under strong attack due to the national scrutiny of recent officer involved shootings. CLEAT was prepared for the fight in the Capitol. Our depth and experience in the legislative process helped us stop bad legislation.

Prior to the start of the legislative session, CLEAT PAC spent its funds on the campaigns of state representatives and senators and held private meetings informing new legislators on law enforcement issues. Being active during the political season helped us save your retirement.

We will not become a party to risking or losing any of your rights or benefits during a legislative session. As you will read throughout this issue of the Texas Police Star, our lobby team and leaders of law enforcement associations were fighting tooth and nail for you.

MEMBERSHIP SERVICES
This year, we launched our new state of the art database that provides our members with more convenient access in registering for training classes, updating your contact and payment information and communicating with your fellow officers in your association. Our Tactical Bag app is also updated through this system.

BRINGING YOU THE BEST
While CLEAT has the most members in its history, and provides more services and member access to attorneys than ever before, we have no intention in slowing down. As you work overtime on your department job and later make your way to your extra job, we too are striving to bring CLEAT closer to you. And when I say CLEAT, I mean the best.

A far different narrative would have emerged if Officer Wilson had been killed

If Officer Darren Wilson had been murdered with his own weapon, the sod would already be level over his grave and the dormant roots of autumn grass would be waiting patiently for spring.

If he had not regained control of his service weapon inside his own unit, he would be dead.

If Officer Wilson had been the one to die, there would have been no federal inquiry, and the media would not have covered it except the local news might have had a few shots of the bagpiper at the police funeral. President Obama would not have said anything.

Some will say that we have arrived at a new place in the American experience. Not true. The majority of the public has never cared much about the deaths of law enforcement officers, except perhaps in the abstract. Police deaths have always been treated as a wreck they pass on the freeway. Regrettable, but unavoidable.

With the death of a law enforcement officer comes the stoic acceptance. The loss is buried deep beneath the sounds of the riderless horse, Amazing Grace by the bagpipers, the final bugle calls and the jarring sounds of the 21 guns.

Law enforcement is forced into the loneliest job in the world — mourning its own. The entire country mourns drug-addicted Hollywood stars and ignores her heroes.

There is never a police protest. The anger, the grief are all silent to the outside world. Everyone is under strict orders from the local DA’s political machine to remain quiet. The accused perpetrator retains a plethora of lawyers and a well-choreographed dance plays itself out in the deep shadows.

Ever been to a police funeral where the priest or pastor pounds their fist on the podium and calls for justice? Me neither. Ever seen the officer’s mother allowed to speak openly on television? No, and you probably won’t until years later when she and her widowed daughter-in-law are on the courthouse steps saying justice was finally done. No one knows what she is talking about and no one remembers. Imagine if law enforcement families encouraged burning down the area where a cop was murdered.

A law enforcement officer’s death is seen as part of the cost of doing business. A sad tax that falls randomly upon someone who applied for the job and therefore somehow deserves his or her fate. The officer’s family is expected to understand that this is a byproduct of a dangerous, violent war in the streets.

Law enforcement pays the heavy price of empty chairs, fatherless children and sad memories for Christmas.

However, if the police use high-end technology to protect the streets, they are becoming too militarized. Sound like fair criticism? No, but law enforcement community is simply too numb to say anything. After more than 1,500 law enforcement deaths in Texas alone, who can blame us? Texas leads the nation in officers killed in the line of duty.

Perhaps it’s time to begin shedding the bitter tears in public. Maybe it’s time to let everyone see the heartbreak. Now is our time to say “Stop murdering cops.” The media and the politicians need to see and feel just a few of the millions of tiny, broken pieces of loss that our families deal with every day.

In the upcoming legislative session, CLEAT will once again be on the front line looking out for you and your family. If Texas really values her law enforcement officers, then maybe its time to show it. Stop trying to strip the hard earned retirements of the living and raise the death benefit for the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Let’s see which elected leaders will be willing to step up for you.

‘Right on crime, ‘smart on crime’ initiatives are really just ‘soft on crime’

After years of being marginalized as the nutcase enemies of the police, the far left and far right are now converging with a brand-new scheme.

Across the country comes the various “right on crime” and “smart on crime” initiatives that have at their core a sweeping plan to neuter law enforcement.

After failing at successfully bringing for-profit prisons and jails to the mainstream, the same crowd now aims to tear down the structure and bring your arrest powers, the number of police, the equipment you use, your job and your pension all down in one fell swoop.

Remember a short time ago the businesses that pushed for a massive overhaul of the criminal code? Changes to juvenile code, enhancements of federal immigration law?

These movements spurred a massive buildup of private, for-profit prisons and county jails. As time has gone by the political tides have turned and public distrusts for profiteering in prisons has become less appealing. Also the raw scandals behind many of the prisons have come to light.

Now that it’s clear that the criminal justice system will never be a long term profitable venture — the bottom feeders and vultures have moved on torward finding new money.

They are now eyeing  the costs of law enforcement, calling for a wholesale reduction of criminal penalties. This thinly disguised attack on law enforcement is a political game changer in that it is an bad idea wrapped in reasonableness. The sneakiest of the sneak plays.

The powerful people who helped lure millions to this country to lower labor costs have decided to send them home. The people who bankrolled the private jail industry now want the money from public safety budgets in your city, your county diverted away.

They also look at your pension, your retirement, your health care benefits  and now believe you’re your benefit package is  too rich and needs to be destroyed.

Open insults from the public regarding  your risk, your sacrifice, your service to your community are  just part of the overall new norm. Claiming that the police mentality in this country is anti-minority, becoming militarized are new tools in the public relations arsenal to switch you from “good guy who risks all to protect and serve” to “testosterone-pumped racist with anger issues.”

Claiming that your job is not all that dangerous after all combined with the massive plan to decriminalize makes the current political climate very volatile.

The demographics of Texas are experiencing a hyper explosion.

People from across the globe are pouring in to Texas and with very different attitudes toward basic issues connected to law enforcement.

It’s clear that your profession, your rights and you as an officer are now under full scale attack.

You have to be more discerning than ever in your political connections as an officer, union member and citizen.

This next statewide election is very important and the next legislative session in Austin is of even more importance.

That’s why we have developed a brand-new legislative strategy that will be unveiled to members and local union leaders at our biennial workshop held in conjunction with our convention in November in San Antonio.

Changing political conditions deserve new strategies and tactics. We’ll be ready.

Stay tuned.

Charley Wilkison is the executive director of CLEAT.

They don’t just want to take away your Taser, they want to permanently alter policing

Several months ago, a rural Central Texas Deputy Sheriff who was working as a school officer used his Taser on a student. As a result of the shock, the student fell backward, hit his head and later went into a coma.

There was an immediate outpouring of anger against the deputy and an equal outpouring of sympathy for the student and his family. The family retained legal counsel, school officials apologized and social media exploded. There was also a video of the incident. It was played over and over and over on the national news. The ethnicity of the student was different from that of the white deputy.

The national media came to the hospital and the small town where it happened and interviewed anyone who would speak with them.  It wasn’t long before the media  began calling CLEAT. I was working out of town, so the CLEAT public affairs division assured the reporters that the deputy wasn’t a CLEAT member and we had no information that they didn’t already have.

However, as the situation turned political, the CBS national evening news crew kept calling. There were two reasons: 1) The deputy’s statewide union refused to be interviewed on camera. 2) CLEAT has been the organization that has spent years in the state Capitol defending your right to use a stun gun.

When I got to the CLEAT State Headquarters, the CBS news team from New York were camped out in my office. The first questions were national in scope. Then came the questions about the specific Texas case. I defended the honor of the deputy although I didn’t know any facts of the case. That’s what CLEAT does.

We’re not afraid of the national media and we always take the side of the working law enforcement personnel.

I stood my ground  as a police apologist for Taser use; they’ve saved lives and officer injuries are down. So are the injuries to those being arrested.

I have been a strong advocate for the local control of Taser training and operating procedures.  I’ve always believed the best Taser Use Policy will be in the General Order written for a law enforcement agency headed by a police chief answering to an elected city council or a Sheriff elected by the voters.

CLEAT has always pushed back against having a statewide law enforcement Taser Use policy handed down by the state legislature.

As the questions intensified, I realized why they wanted to speak with me. During the past legislative session in 2013, CLEAT testified in opposition to a moratorium on the deployment of stun guns in schools. The reporter hammered me pretty hard on our position of supporting the use of Tasers, period. And she was pretty pushy about why law enforcement officers assigned to schools need them at all.

In the end, it got kind of testy, but I hoped the takeaway for the viewer of the CBS Evening News was that if you have Texas cops in your school—they will have their Taser. No question about it.

If you don’t want a real Texas Peace Officer in your school, hire a security guard. Or have the parents take turns walking around guarding the school. Hire babysitters if you want.

The school belongs to the taxpayers and the local school board is elected. So, do whatever you want. But if you hire or assign an officer to work a school, we want he or she to have all the tools they need to be able to do their job and win the peace.

While this was happening, there were middle school reading assignments going out across the state strongly criticizing the use of Tasers in schools. In fact, the CLEAT Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution that we sent to the Texas Education Agency protesting the strong didactic language and the leading questions that would cause students to believe officers were somehow the bad guys for simply bringing their equipment to work.

It seems relatively clear that the far left and the far right are joining forces to create a super libertarian-leaning bloc that fully intend to weaken your arrest authority and jurisdictional rights.

The left will continue to beat the drum that Tasers are used far too often on minorities, people of low income, and  people of color. While the far right will work the other side of the street warning of a police state, erosion of individual rights and even push for schools to be Taser free.

The 2015 Legislative Session in Texas will be one in which Texas Peace Officers will see major attacks against your technological advances as well as your authority to do your job.

My advice is to cling to your Taser, your gun and whatever religion you have left. Stay tuned.

Charley Wilkison is the Executive Director of CLEAT

We won’t stand quiet when it comes to your private information and your family’s safety

Keeping the fight alive for protecting the private information of ALL peace officers in Texas

Thirty five years ago, CLEAT fought a big political battle to secure Texas Peace Officers’ personal and private information. We wanted your data shielded from the criminals you pursue, apprehend and bring to justice.

And as a result of that fight, it is now illegal for a political subdivision, law enforcement agency or governmental entity to release the home address or personal information of any Texas law enforcement personnel. In our view, the law should be strengthened, not challenged.

Over the past 20 years that I’ve been at CLEAT, we have witnessed several nefarious attempts to weaken that law. We’ve beaten back every attack and won.

In fact, for the past several years we’ve attempted to further strengthen the law by proposing that your information be redacted from county Tax Assessor/Collector rolls. That battle continues.

But the latest attack on your privacy leaves us scratching our head.

A few days ago the Arlington Municipal Police Officers Association, an affiliate of TMPA, filed suit in a Tarrant County District Court demanding that the City of Arlington release home addresses of all Arlington police officers to a private business, the American Arbitrators Association. This was done in an effort to hold an internal, police department election in hopes of making the Arlington Police Officers Association the official collective bargaining agent.

In other words, this move to force the city to give up police officers’ home addresses and private information was done solely to attempt to beat the local union, the Arlington Police Association, out of its position as the current collective bargaining agent. It’s simply hard to believe.

In all of our history, CLEAT has never ever filed a suit to obtain the private addresses of law enforcement officers or ever sought to put one officer’s family at risk for political gain. We believe this shameful behavior goes against the core values of any real law enforcement union.

We’ve always supported every civil service election, every pay referendum and every collective bargaining election—regardless of union affiliation. We’ve always believed the greater good of the individual officer weighed heavier than what union he or she was affiliated with.

It’s behavior like this lawsuit that explains why the CLEAT Executive Board broke off merger talks with TMPA in 2010. Yes, there are a few things that are still sacred in law enforcement and an officer’s private information and his/her family’s residence is still one of them. Your privacy and your family’s security come first, no matter which union card you carry in your wallet.

Rest assured, CLEAT will do whatever is legally necessary to protect ALL of the fine officers in Arlington and anywhere else they might be put at risk. We care about their privacy and their family’s security more than we do about who sits at the bargaining table with the city.

And we will fight TMPA or any other organization that attempts to strip away your right to privacy that could put the security of you and your family at risk. You have my word.

Charley Wilkison is the Executive Director of CLEAT