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.