A Bad Day to Wear Blue

The protesters that swarmed the streets in Baton Rouge proudly chanting: “‘What do we want?’ ‘Dead cops!’ ‘When do we want them?’ ‘Now!’” seems to plainly indicate a war against police. However, Edward Conlon, an ex-NYC-police officer, seems to disagree in his New York Times opinion article titled, “Why There Is No War on Police.” Although one might be inclined to trust an ex-police officer, it’s clear that Edward Conlon is out of touch with reality.

Unfortunately, it seems every week there is a new story about police officers being targeted just for wearing the badge. These brave men and women swore an oath to protect and serve their communities, and now are being targeted for their loyalty to the service. Although the danger of being a police officer is implicit, in today’s day and age it’s more dangerous than ever. Just look at the story of the twelve Dallas police officers carefully targeted and attacked for their commitment to the community. Tragically five of the officers were killed and the other seven were lucky to leave with their lives. The attack was “well-planned,” with military precision and when speaking with negotiators the killer said, “that he wanted to kill white people — especially white officers.” One might argue that the Dallas attack was an isolated incident, and was orchestrated by a mad man. However, the anti-cop attitude has gathered significant national momentum. During the summer there were 3 explicit threats against Philadelphia police stations and anti-cop protests were common place across the country.

The phenomenon of targeting police is a brand new one and indicative of the feverous war on police. Growing up we would mourn police officers that bravely gave their lives protecting their communities, however, today we grieve for officers who were singled out and targeted without any warning. According to a report, in the first half of 2016 there has been a 78% increase in shooting deaths of police officers. Additionally the report indicates a substantial increase in ‘ambush,’ style shootings. The increase in not only violence directed at police but also ‘ambush,’ shootings illustrates a new terrifying trend of targeting police. After reading these statistics how can one support the notion that, “There Is No War on Police,”?

Beyond the violence against police officers there is a clear anti-police sentiment in the media. Accusations of racial prejudice and biased accounts of police shootings dominate today’s media. Although I do agree that police officers must be held accountable for their actions, the media today will crucify a police officer even if he was acting out of self-defense. For the most part police violence or anti-cop rhetoric spikes after the police shooting of an African American. The belief is that the police force is representative of systematic racism and that police officers intentionally target African Americans. The emotional Rolling Stones article titled “Black Lives Matter: 11 Racist Police Killings With No Justice Served,” plainly illustrates this phenomenon. Unfortunately, this provocative journalism only stimulates tension between police and the African American community. My argument isn’t a defense of the officers in the Rolling Stones article, in fact, it’s far from it. Police accountability is crucial to our society and injustices need to be recognized and dealt with. However, the article villainizes police as a whole and depicts each and every cop as a threat to the African American community, even when the statistics clearly indicate otherwise. The fact of the matter is that police officers are, for the most part, not the problem; instead, the real villains plaguing the African American community are poverty and crime.

Even certain politicians are capitalizing on the anti-cop fever. Specifically, Mayor de Blasio of New York City has stoked the flames and in the process made an enemy of his police department. In a recent survey 96% of the 6,000 police responded saying they had an “unfavorable,” opinion of the mayor. Additionally 95% of those surveyed said “he has established an environment that is combative to police.” The mayor of a city has the responsibility of holding the police accountable, not villainizing them. Mayor de Blasio is riding the anti-cop political wave and as a result he puts his city’s public servants in danger. Mayor de Blasio may be successful in getting re-elected but his tenure has been downright disastrous to the city of New York.

We live in a time where any moment can be recorded, published, and shared to the whole world. It's important to understand that social media has given momentum to a mis-informed movement and created a feverous hatred of police. The videos of police officers killing African Americans are disturbing to say the least. In fact, the tragic and upsetting nature of the videos is what makes them so significant and moving. However, these horrifying videos are not indicative of racist epidemic. While it is true that accountability needs to be enforced more strongly, the notion that the police force is a systematic racist institution is just not true. However, we live in a world where this message is being broadcasted daily, by mass media and by politicians. Its truly a bad day to wear blue.